Saturday, August 13, 2005

Border Issues

This story from the Washington Times points out why it is so difficult for US and Iraq troops to control the border. Tribes that span the Syrian-Iraqi border have been crossing it with impunity since it was first defined after WWI. This maks it particularly difficult to police and control. I have spoken to a few Syrians from the Jazira region who have explained to me how their families have earned their livings for generations by smuggling across the border. They are good at it and regard smuggling as a family business, of which they are proud.

Smuggling across Syria border seen funding insurgency
By Antonio Castaneda
August 11, 2005

SINJAR, Iraq -- When U.S. soldiers reached this stretch of Iraq's border with Syria, some expected to face off against foreign fighters they thought would be crossing into the country in trucks packed with weapons.

Instead, they found caravans of mules crossing the border without their human masters, a tactic of smugglers in Syria who load contraband on dozens of mules or donkeys and set them free to amble down familiar paths.
"They can just smack the mules on the rear and they'll meet them at a rallying point" across the border, said 1st Lt. Scott Weaver, of Susanville, Calif., an intelligence officer with the 1st Squadron of the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment, which patrols this area.

Though smugglers here traffic mostly in gasoline and cigarettes -- sometimes up to $200,000 worth of cargo in one trip -- military officials say the trade helps fund the insurgency that has gripped cities to the east, such as Tal Afar and Mosul.

U.S. and Iraqi officials frequently call on Syria to close its side of the border. But the smuggling problem also has roots on the Iraqi side. Some Iraqis in the area consider their ties to the government second to those with their fellow tribesmen, who live on stretches of land that cover both countries.

"It's not a geographic boundary. It is a political boundary where the British and French divvied things up" after World War I, said Capt. James Pavlich, an intelligence officer from Pinetop, Ariz.

In one Sunni Arab Iraqi border town, the local sheik also oversees villages in Syria, often crossing the border to visit family, U.S. soldiers said.

"[Insurgent] forces within their towns are still their people. There is tremendous cultural hesitation to provide information to an outside force," said Capt. Dan Ruecking of Elmhurst, Ill., a battery commander in the 1st Squadron.

The U.S. military has focused on stopping human trafficking of insurgents willing to launch suicide attacks inside Iraq. Fifteen of those arrested crossing the border in this area since May have confessed to trying to join the insurgency, said officials. They estimate that insurgents pay $150 to $200 to local handlers for help with passage.

Iraqi border guards say other illegal crossing tactics include bribing Syrian guards to fire their weapons or stage fake arrests to attract the attention of Iraqi guards while smugglers quickly sneak across.

"The same Ba'ath Party is also in Syria, so they're helping the bad guys inside Iraq," said Garby Nasser, an Iraqi border guard, referring to the party that ruled Iraq for decades under Saddam Hussein and that still rules Syria.

Though much of the area along Iraq's border with Syria is desert flatlands, parts have gullies and even a ridge of mountains that help conceal border crossers from U.S. armored vehicles and helicopters that peer out at night with high-power observation equipment.

Even the legal border crossing point to the north in the city of Rabiah is a concern for U.S. commanders. Several Iraqi guards were recently fired for corruption.

Another article by the same reporter, but in the LA Times, poiints out how difficult it will be for Americans to hand off authority to Iraq troops in the towns along the Iraqi-Syrian, such at Tal Afar: "U.S. Gambles in Handing Security to Iraqis."

Syrian authorities engage in a "media war" with Muslim Brotherhood"
The privately owned Al Mustaqbal newspaper reported in its August 11 issue that, after a non declared truce, a media war recently reignited between the government of Damascus and the “Muslim Brotherhood”, which is banned in Syria. The newspaper reported that in a statement issued by the Brotherhood’s Shura Council, the group attacked Syrian President Bashar Assad for the first time since he was elected in year 2000, and said that the “regime cannot be reformed."

The newspaper added that the Syrian regime had, in its latest Baath Party convention, described the group as an “opposition group weaving conspiracies against the regime and having contacts with lobby powers hostile to Syria.” The newspaper added that the Baath Party convention also accused the Brotherhood of “secretly inciting against the Syrian regime in the United State”, while the Muslim Brotherhood denied it is maintaining any contact with the U.S., and is “constantly declaring an attitude that rejects any foreign intervention to change the regime.” - Al Mustaqbal, Lebanon
This declaration of war by the Brotherhood ends a period of "negotiation." Perhaps it wasn't direct negotiation, but the two sides - the government and Muslim Brothers were feeling each other out in an attempt to create some elements of an understanding. The government issued all exiles Syrian passports on demand. Laws against the Brotherhood were not revised, making it impossible for party memebers to return unless they made personal arrangements with the regime to have charges dropped against them before entering the country. The president let most of the imprisonned MBs out of jail over the last five years. For a while, the government seemed to be making a genuine attempt to put Hama and Syria's dark period of civil war behind it. That period has now come to an end. The many arrests of Kurdish opposition leaders and increased anti-Muslim Brother rhetoric on the part of the regime over the last few months have polarized the situtation. The government is worried that Lebanon may once again become a launching pad for anti-government groups and opposition members.

Al-Hayat reported today that the most recent closures of the border crossings to cargo trucks has been solved and that 100 trucks passed through customs yesterday.

Syrian-Lebanese customs agreement to solve the problem of cargo on borders
“A recent Lebanese Syrian meeting discussed the border problem between the countries and reached a solution to open the borders according to a schedule,” Al Hayat, a pan Arab newspaper, reported on August 11.

The meeting also called upon both countries to possess the technical devices that will make the searching process easier on the borders because the time consumed by searching cargo is so high. On the other hand, Nasri Khouri, the head of the Syrian Lebanese Higher Council, said that the borders problem between Syria and Lebanon was a purely security issue and that the Syrian authorities were able to catch many smugglers as a result. “Lebanese Minister of Industry, Pierre Gemayel, commented however that if it is really was security reasons behind the borders closure," one doesn't stop smugglers on legal border lines, Al Hayat added. - Al Hayat, United Kingdom

In the meantime, Iraq shut its borders to trucks for a while, and Jordan threatened to do the same. How much this effort was coordinated by the US as a counter-measure to relieve Syrian pressure on Lebanon is not know.

Syria: trucks on borders with Iraq cross
Syria announced on Wednesday that all Syrian trucks on the border with Iraq were allowed to pass into Syria, noting that an "unspecified Iraqi barrier," was the cause behind this issue.

Syria's Director of Customs Basel Sannoufa told SANA that "All Syrian drivers were permitted to enter into the Syrian territories yesterday except 20 of them who are expected to pass later on today."

Answering a question on empty Syrian trucks that were stopped at Iraqi crossing point of Rabiaa, the official noted that "he who halted those drivers was an unidentified barrier from the Iraqi side of the borders."

Meantime, He denied rumors of procedures form the Jordanian side against trucks coming from Syria pointing out to the presence of an agreement with Jordan to ease truck passage between the two sides and saying that it was abided by, and that there was an understanding to install projectors to enhance the efficiency of truck inspections coming from either side of the border.

The Good news is that Syria is donating 1000 tons of wheat to Iraq
The head of the UN's World Food Program in Syria, Mohammad al-Kouhene, thanked Syria who has become "one of the promising donor countries for the Program," pointing out that Syria supported the WFP operations in the occupied Palestinian lands last year. It should be added that Mohammad al-Kouhene has been working on the effort to organize

Britain said on Friday, Aug. 12 that it would bar a London-based Syrian cleric, Sheik Omar Bakri Mohammed, from ever returning to Britain.
Mr. Bakri Mohammed, the founder and vociferous leader of the British branch of the radical group Al Muhajiroun, drew the attention of the British authorities after delivering sermons praising the Sept. 11 attacks, referring to the hijackers of the four planes used in the attacks as "the magnificent 19," and calling for British Muslims to join an Islamic jihad against the West.

After the July 7 attacks in London, Mr. Bakri Mohammed publicly said he would not report potential suicide bombers to the British authorities.

The Home Office said Home Secretary Charles Clarke had written to Mr. Bakri Mohammed to tell him that he no longer has the right to live in Britain. "The home secretary has issued an order revoking Omar Bakri Mohammed's indefinite leave to remain and to exclude him from the U.K. on the grounds that his presence is not conducive to the public good," the ministry said in a statement.

Bakri is a Syrian, but holds a Lebanese passport which he acquired in the 1990s before traveling to Britain. He is there now and was detained by the Lebanese police yesterday. Today.. Syria seeks Islamist's extradition:-Syria has asked Lebanon to extradite Omar Bakri, an extremist of Syrian origin who left Britain last week under threat of a crackdown on hard-line Islamists. ...


At 8/13/2005 06:58:00 PM, Blogger Vox Populi - Agent Provocateur said...

He was born in Aleppo in 58 but his father established himself in Tripoli and all the family was naturalized in 65. I don't know how he got the citizenship since Lebanese law is extremely restrictive on this issue.

At 8/13/2005 09:26:00 PM, Anonymous Syrian Republican Party said...

One single comment for 2 days posting. This lame blog with it’s illiterate futureless members break my heart. Okay we ‘ll post comment out of sympathy to you f^%$#^%#^$ers.

At 8/13/2005 09:30:00 PM, Anonymous Syrian Republican Party said...

Common Josh, who giva a damm about the boarder issues. Why don’t you post a comment about The President visiting New York next month to see how the bloggers feel about it.

At 8/13/2005 09:39:00 PM, Anonymous Syrian Republican Party said...

Yeah, if you want to talk about Iraq, talk about serious issues such as where all the Billions of Dollars are coming and going. The real number of casualties among the Liberators and the uncivilized Iraqis. Try to discuss why Syrian trucks are harassed but not Rami Makhloof's refined jet fuel carrying trucks to the U.S. military. Like how and who this contract signed for / by, or would that get you killed for sure.

Instead you offer silly boarder topic for discussion and comments that remind us with College homework.

At 8/13/2005 10:28:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Assad Family is here:

At 8/14/2005 03:27:00 AM, Anonymous Mukhtar said...

The USA is surely having a laugh. They can't patrol and keep so-called 'illegal aliens' out of their own country's long border with Mexico! However they expect Syria and Iran to control their long border fully with Iraq and monitor all crossings & traffic and prevent 'terrorists' and weapons from going into Iraq! The Americans also expect Pakistan & Afghanistan to monitor & control their border and prevent the Taliban, al-Qaeda, UBL and his buddies from criss-crossing both countries!
If the Americans can't really do this job properly how do they expect others to?

At 8/14/2005 05:55:00 AM, Anonymous Ibrahim said...

Illegal mules should be prevented from crossing the border.


At 8/14/2005 08:14:00 PM, Blogger Vox Populi - Agent Provocateur said...

The increasing number and precision of attacks, the logistics and the high degree of intelligence required to carry them out make it clear the Iraqi insurgency has shifted into higher gear. A report from an Arab embassy in Baghdad, a copy of which Intelligence Online has obtained, provides details about a dozen outfits gravitating around a hard core composed of former officers of Saddam Hussein.

The ex-Iraqi army officers operate under the name of Secret Islamic Army and the Iraq Islamic Army. The first is made up primarily of ex-intelligence men and the second of army officers proper. The two groups, the best organized, number 10,000 men in all.

Former Ba'ath party members, for their part, have flocked to the Jaish Mohamed and number between 5,000 and 6,000 men based on the frontier with Syria, in Mosul, Ramadi and Baghdad. The Majlis Shura al Mujahidin includes the former Saddam Fedayin. Active mainly in Baghdad they specialize in mortar attacks on American troops.

Members of the former Republican Guard mounted their own guerilla force named Armed Resistance of Sufi Moslems in March. For their part, pro-Nasser nationalists and Communist dissidents founded the Jaish al Mujahidin. Skilled in intelligence work, they cooperate with Jaish Mohamed.

The Abu Musab al Zarqawi group, which became the Iraqi wing of Al Qaeda last October, made a business out of using non-Iraqis - essentially Saudis and Yemenites-in suicide bomb attacks. With a rear base in Iran and supporters in Saudi Arabia, Zarqawi cooperates only rarely with other groups.

Veterans of the Afghanistan war hailing from all corners of the Moslem world - but primarily Wahabis from Saudi Arabia - operate under the banner of the Jamaat al Sunna. Numbering between 2,000-3,000, they eschew ties with Zarqawi's men, with whom they have ideological differences.

Another organization composed of Kurdish Islamists, Ansar al Sunna, carries out numerous operations in the north against the UPK and KDP but also strike in the center and the south. Sheikh Mehdi al Jumeidi's Salafist Resistance movement survived the arrest of its founder in April. It receives financial aid from Iraqi imams living in Qatar and Kuwait.

Sunnis from the Moslem Ulemas Committee and the Wakf (religious affairs) organization have set up their own militia known as the Brigades of the 1920 Revolution. The 2,000-strong militia lives in the big Sunni cities and has a lot of financial muscle due to subsidies from the Gulf countries. The big Sunni tribes have their own armed groups for self-defense.

At 8/14/2005 08:18:00 PM, Blogger Vox Populi - Agent Provocateur said...

HEADLINE:Rifaat Waits for U.S. Go-Ahead


According to information obtained by Intelligence Online, Rifaat al Assad, who announced in May he would shortly return to Syria (IOL 501), sent a document to the American and Saudi authorites on June 12 outlining a plan to overthrow the Damascus regime.

His objective, he claimed, is to avoid a repetition of the Iraq situation.

Consequently, he is advocating a "peaceful putsch" that would see part of the Alawite elite which has remained loyal to him snatch power from president Bachar al Assad and put a halt to Ba'ath party rule.

In his document Rifaat called for the formation of a government of national union that would welcome opposition movements, including the Moslem Brotherhood. He advocated dismantling Syria's 11 intelligence and security agencies and claimed to have solid backing within the armed forces, and particularly among senior officers.

With regards Israel, Rifaat said he would be ready to make peace with Tel Aviv and cut off all support for terrorist organizations. Lastly, he pledged to cooperate with Washington in pacifying Iraq.

Obviously, all that would be music to the Bush administ- ration's ears. But while Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld and the National Security Council are determined to bring about a change of regime in Damascus they harbor strong misgivings about Rifaat's capacity to deliver on his promises.

Active on the international scene, Rifaat is also cultivating his contacts in Syria. He is reportedly in regular contact with his nephew, colonel Maher al Assad, commander in chief of the powerful, 30 000-strong Republican Guard. But one of his leading supporters, general Bahjat Suleiman, head of the Internal Security agency, has just been fired.

At 8/14/2005 11:38:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sheikh Abd Al-Muhsin Al-'Abikan, advisor to the Saudi Justice Ministry and member of the Saudi Shura Council is one of those rare voices out of the religious establishment who were willing to stand up and declare that something is wrong. I don't know much about Sheikh Al-'Abikan and his relation visa vie the religious establishment in Saudi, but I know that the region and the world would be a much better place with more Abikans around.

Sheikh 'Abikan said: "the ideology of the Muslim Brotherhood movement was the reason for the emergence of some of the armed terrorist groups in several Arab countries, among them Saudi Arabia. According to him, "the aim of most of the Islamist groups is political, not religious… One of them is the Muslim Brotherhood movement. Their ideology was the reason for many of the explosions and civil wars, since [the movement's leaders] amuse themselves with the religious aspect while, in truth, they are interested in the political aspect."

Well said Sheikh.

At 8/15/2005 12:47:00 AM, Anonymous Syrian Republican Party said...

The problem with Islam is not the Moslem Brotherhood who campaigned to free the people of Syria of Baathist oppression that this subhuman devil worshiping Sheik Al-Abikan (curses what he worship, most likely ALAT pussy) said it is.

It is this demonic and diabolic sheik Al-Bikan himself who cares more about enriching his Swiss and U.K. bank accounts than the suffering of the Moslem people of Syria. Considering that this human garbage is member of the Saudi Shura Council ( I guess the Harim rooms, imported European whores by the plane load) and adviser to the illegitimate rulers of Arabia who plunder the wealth of all the Moslem, one would assume that he is the one advising those rulers to support the Baath in Syria, kept quite about the genocide of Hama and he is such an immoral Moslem that he was fucking some 7 year old boy while a 16 year old Syrian Moslem boy was sent to be tortured in Syrian prisons upon his return from Saudi Arabia just because this kid father was member of the Moslem Brotherhood.

Someone needs to tell this Abikan to make room in this unholy dump that is called Mecca, he should get ready to receive the bones of this Arab genocidal butcher Khalid Ibn Alwalid in a garbage bin when Syria is liberated. Rather we see a pile of cow manure filled in his grave than the desecration of our holy city by the bones of this butcher.

Let curses be upon Abikan and all his children and grandchildren.

At 8/15/2005 12:56:00 AM, Anonymous Syrian Republican Party said...

Sheikh Abd Al-Muhsin Al-'Abikan
A nice name for African dog.

At 8/15/2005 01:21:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Islam was designed to facilitate Arabic imperialism and the same qualities that ensured its success in the first few centuries of Islam are now holding back the progress of Muslims. That is why Muslims are today amongst the most backwards, unhealthy, uneducated people in the world - facts which are acknowledged by Muslim leaders.

At 8/15/2005 01:56:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is this primitive beastly specie of slugs called Abikan that turned me off about Islam years ago when I was a child. I learned early on in my life about these hypocrites religious scum’s. In Homs we had this mufti (the city religious leader) from the SIBAI family. The town youth used to chase his 3 daughters down the city streets because they dressed up in the shortest mini skirts, stepping up the street curve will surely show off the clits sending the youth howling. Yet he runs around telling everyone else that they are Kaffers because they following western way of life.

When my family transferred me to a public school in Homs (9th. grades) from the Jesuits school. His nephew was the teacher of Islamic curriculum at the school ( was a mandatory course with 20 points to grad). He was so upset that as a Moslem will spend my youth at a Jesuit school and practically raised by nuns that he insisted on making sure that I will graduate his class with full 20 points. One day, he walks into class all red puffed faced and said next week there will be an exam (out of the blue) you must ready and study the Soura (chapter) Al-Anfal and come to class with enough papers to write the whole fucking thing word by word by memory only.

Did not have a Quran at home, my dad was totally against it and never ever prayed, so as my Grandfather who once stood up at graduation ceremony at the American University in Aleppo and said loud to the microphone “you do not need prayer, you need 3 things to have a better future and they are: education, education and education” I borrowed a Quran from my neighbor and started to read this huge chapter that is called Al-Anfal. I was immediately repulsed, it turned out that the whole crap is about how you kill in war and how you divide the spoils of war. Which I think that is what the title is, but not sure.

I said to myself, fuck this Moslem Arab shit, aint wasting my fucking youth reading this crap about who you should kill and how you suppose to share the spoils. Who needs a fucking god that is so fucking stupid that he will waste his time coming down to talk to someone having a body odor worse than a skunk and illiterate Arabian Bedouin caravan manager about subject matter as this.

Well, the test started and the SIBAI scum gets a chair and sits right next to me after he thoroughly checked my hands and desks for any cheating evidences. Non were there, I simply refused to read and take a test on such crap. Few minutes passed by and we stared at each others, fifteen minutes gone by and face was puff and red, he turned into a devil looking beast. I was scared then. So I started to write page after page to save my life,

Taking time to look up and see if he will move away just enough to make a dash to the door. Bastard got closer and as I write his face gleamed with joy. Half time into the test hour, he gets up, and pull the papers out of my hands with huge smile on his face.

Seconds later, that demonic diabolic face started to come back and he blocked my escape route to the door. You see I was scared from him so all I did is write 10+pages of the first sentence of that chapter, something the Quran is so famed of making this memorable start as a sign from god. I just repeated the 6 words over and over again for 10 2 sided pages.
I have desecrated the Quran he was screaming historically and started beating me up, My Alawites classmate in the backroom came to the rescue and I escaped and refused to attend his class again, fuck the 20 points, I made it up in geography and history.

This is a story that belong to the comment made about that Moron Sheikh. There are nothing wrong of being a religious person, an ideologue or committed to a cause that is noble or a scientific endeavor that will advance mankind. There is something wrong in you if you are not in one of those category and all you are is a consuming numbered beast who all you care about is your Swiss bank account like Sheik scum whatever.. Spirituality is healthy and many New Age believer follow what seems to be a religion.

Sheikh Abikan is not a religious or spiritual person, he is a human scum that has no feeling about the suffering of those same people that he claims he is a notable protector.
The faster you reach hell, the better mankind will be.

At 8/15/2005 02:15:00 AM, Anonymous Metaz K.M. Aldendeshe said...

Hearing what this Sheikh Abd Al-Muhsin Al-'Abikan said and taking into account how Moslem rulers turned blind eye to the suffering of Syrians. If I was the Moslem Brotherhood Leader, I would convert my organization to the Syrian Orthodox Christian Brotherhood within hours.

At 8/15/2005 03:03:00 AM, Blogger Innocent_Criminal said...

Why the hell do all discussions go back to religion and hating it on the comment section? Even if the post is about falafel people here put a twist on it to get back to cursing each other’s religion. And Metaz, give it up man. Stop posting under different names no one cares about your family history. You tried, failed, The End.

I share Vox’s surprise on how the hell did the Lebanese give a passport especially in the war ravaged 80's to a Muslim??? But that Rifaat’s article was wishful thinking to say the least. The only reason why anyone in the west takes that clown half seriously is because of the lack of options to Neo-cons. I am sure they are brewing something sinister but whatever it is it’s going to take time. In the mean time they are trying to keep options like Rifaat on the back burner in case theirs doesn’t work and he is more than happy for a chance to get back in the game.

An-Nahar reported that Rifaat “is reactivating his "Red Knights" dissident organization in Alawite-populated regions surrounding the northern port city of Tripoli” to stage a comeback in Syria. Well then, I guess Syria’s worry that Lebanon will becoming a haven for Syrian opposition groups wasn’t so ridiculous after all.

At 8/15/2005 07:59:00 AM, Blogger Joseph ALi Mohammed said...

To the criminal:

You confuse Syria with the regime in Syria. The two are separate, and their interests are not the same at all.

I know for certainty that there is absolutely no one who would ever defend this retarded regime unless he or she is a beneficiary in a great way. Usually those who support this regime are the least respected in our society who suddenly had the opportunity to get some facilitation to their business whether in smuggling, stealing, or educating their sons in some local or foreign university. I suspect you are a beneficiary in at least two ways, sent abroad when you did not deserve it, as well as getting some opportunity to steal openly in Syria (probably your parents not yourself). I am absolutely certain that you can not love this regime if you were raised normally with a human conscience. No one would ever accept the crimes and oppression of this gang unless they are a part of it.

Have an ugly day.

Joseph Ali Mohammed

At 8/15/2005 08:31:00 AM, Anonymous Metaz K.M.Aldendeshe said...

To Tarek,
My dog poop is more honorable than all those that are born and yet to born in your family. And sure you don't care about anyone family history because your is famed for cleaning our toilets. Soon you will be caught, charged and back continuing your family traditions of cleaning the notable Syrian family toilets. You days are numbered and I know how many days left for ya.

At 8/15/2005 09:33:00 AM, Blogger Innocent_Criminal said...

Joe, I don’t know why i would even tell you this since you wont believe me anyways. But i am not a beneficiary in any special way. I moved abroad cause my father who has worked abroad most of his life moved us with him. I don’t know anyone who is truly powerful in the government and i don’t care to do so. My point has always been and will continue to be that the other possible options are worse than the current one. There is NO way in hell that the powers to be of the region and the world will allow us to develop in a democratic way for the better. And if there will be a change in the government it will be by force and for the worse. So i rather stick with the current option see changes for the better slowly (unfortunately, too slowly) but hey i am just that stupid.

Metaz, I loved that toilet bit, it really made me laugh. Can you insult me some more on my blog? PLEASE?

At 8/15/2005 09:58:00 AM, Anonymous Syrian Republican Party said...

The current option maybe acceptable to you, since your daddy stole so much of the Syrian people treasury and earned so much
income from extortion and bribery before he packed up and left to live abroad, living off the loot. But it is not acceptable to the majority of Syrians 99% of them and change by peacefull or forcfull mean is a must. Ofcourse Tarek would like nothing more than living on that loot peacefully but it aint going to happen for you dude, you will be paying for your daddy crimes just like that 16 years old Syrian boy is paying up for his daddy supposed crime of belonging to the MB. Will drag you back and cease all your assets to pay for damages incurred by your daddy criminal activities. Your days are numbered.

At 6/11/2008 08:32:00 PM, Blogger xicao said...

ewq e博客
弹簧ew rt


Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home