Wednesday, December 15, 2004

US mulling military options against Syria

The following article was sent around by The Reform Party of Syria, Farid Ghadri's group in Washington. It would seem quite accurate, especially because several friends told me that William Kristol's article, recommending military action against Syria, was causing a stir in the office of the Secretary of Defense. Of course, the strategy of bombing Syria raises the question of how much power Bashar has over his generals. The idea would be that if he does have control the US could force him to confront his renegade generals by bombing Syria. Bashar would shut them down, something he may not have the motivation to do so long as Syria does not have to pay a price for letting them cheat. If Bashar doesn't have control over them, then he will be unable to stop whomever it is that is working with the Iraqi opposition. In which case, the situation in Syria could deteriorate. The generals could decide to up the anti with America and really confront Washington by pouring more resources into the Iraqi opposition in the belief that they could drive the US out of Iraq.

The worst-case scenario would be to hasten Bashar's ouster. We don't really know what this would mean or who might come to power in his place. Possibly Kanaan, the interior minister, could rise up. He is considered pro-American. But of course V.P. Khaddam could gain power as a result. He is pro-Iran. Then of course there is the possibility that the whole clique at the top would fall from power and Islamic currents, now far from power, could find themselves elevated to a new position of authority in Syria. The truth is that no one in Washington has the slightest idea what the result of such a policy would be. If Washington decides to risk a confrontation with Bashar and push him either to confront his hardliners or fail in trying, a new world in Syria could open up. Very risky. But Washington likes risk these days and those in power may feel they have little to lose, given the present dangers in Iraq.

*US mulling military options against Syria* Here is the article.

Despite recent Syrian overtures towards Israel. Intelligence information confirms Damascus is continuing to actively aid and abet Iraqi insurgency.

Washington DC, December 15, 2004 /RPS News/ - Washington is reassessing its policy towards Syria, in light of increasing evidence that President Assad has no intention of keeping his promises to the US to stop cooperating with the Iraqi Sunni insurgency.

A senior intelligence source has confirmed that the administration is currently conducting discussions over Syria at senior levels. These discussions are not only limited to the policy itself, but include possible operational scenarios in the event it is decided to change US policy.

The main debate is whether any US military strike should be confined to a few targets, destruction of which would inflict enough pain on Baschar Assad and his regime to prompt them to rein in the anti-US forces operating from Syria, or whether a broad military campaign aimed at regime change would be preferable.

Until now the leading administration doves, outgoing secretary of state Colin Powell and ex-CIA director George Tenet held sway. They strenuously opposed a second US military campaign in the Arab world, saying the fallout would be more damaging then any possible advantages. As a result Washington issued Assad a series of ultimatums, which he consistently flouted.

The first was the US-Syrian agreement signed in September, in which Syria agreed to cooperate with the US military in curbing the two-way traffic of smuggled guerrillas, terrorists, arms and money through the Syrian-Iraqi border.

The main difficulty pinpointed at the time was the Arab smuggler-tribes who for time immemorial have ruled the border regions and were liable to fiercely resist any attempt to bring them under control. Within two weeks it had become clear that Syria had no intention of honoring its commitment, when Syrian vice president Halim Khadam was discovered at the Syrian-Iraqi border town of Abu Kamal in a secret huddle with the chiefs of those very tribes.

By now it has become clear that Damascus has opted out of its military accord with the Americans. The volume of fighting forces and war materiel crossing from Syria to Iraq has increased rather than diminished, and armed bands of tribesmen, among whom Iraqi insurgents, al Qaeda and Hizballah terrorists mingle, have expanded their control of broad regions on the Iraqi side of the border and aggressively attack any American force or vehicle venturing on their turf.

Tribes dominating the border region are on the Iraqi insurgents’ payroll, receiving large weekly payments from Iraqi Baath headquarters in Damascus.. The Damascus center is the hub of the 4,000 ex-party leaders and army chiefs living in Syria. It awards the tribes a bonus for every attack they mount against American or Iraqi forces in the border vicinity, as well as a rake-off for every illegal transfer of weapons or explosives. Syrian regime high-ups, top military brass and officers stationed on the border also get their share of the cut.

There have been several unpublicized battles between American and Syrian forces, when Syrian troops intervened to try and prevent the Americans from carrying out a hot pursuit of Iraqi insurgents at the border, Several Syrian soldiers have been killed and captured in these firefights, and senior leaders of the Anaza tribe taken prisoner. Six weeks ago US special-ops forces raided Anaza encampments, uncovering large volumes of weaponry destined for Iraq. They also discovered approximately 10 million dollars in cash and gold coin, and over a hundred terrorists in hiding.

However now, with the departure of Powell and Tenet, and a second term safely in hand, the military option has again risen to the surface.

Proponents of this policy are saying that unless decisive action is taken against Syria, there is a real danger the gains from the Fallujah campaign will disappear.

Two weeks ago, shortly after the fighting died down, the Americans noticed that many of the Sunni guerrillas who fled the embattled town towards the Syrian border found sanctuary with the Anaza tribes, were awarded new identities, money and arms and returned to Fallujah among the returning refugees. These infiltrators now threaten to reverse the US purge of Fallujah as the central base of insurgents and terrorists.

The Bush administration and the US military in Iraq are in no mood to let this happen. There are however, several factors that complicate matters.

Limited strikes will not destroy the various smuggling networks operated by Sunni tribes in the border regions. The fate of the Assad regime is of supreme indifference to them, in fact they would shed no tears if the current regime, dominated by the despised Alawis, considered by many Sunnis to be heretics, was to disappear. Limited strikes are also unlikely to cause enough pain to convince Assad to take action against the tribes.

The next three months are not conducive to military action against Syria. The Palestinians go to the polls on the ninth of January, the Iraqis three weeks later. US military action against an Arab states could have an adverse impact.

Anything more than limited strikes could alienate Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah, whose diplomatic and financial backing the Bush administration is seeking at the moment to further its plans for an Israeli-Palestinian accord.

Some of the Syrian targets on US drawing board have an Iranian component, either in the form of a financial investment, or the presence of Iranian military or civilian liaison personnel. Tehran, which fears an US-Israel strike against its nuclear plants, will be watching closely to gauge how far the Americans are willing to go in their military punishment of Syria. This could provide valuable information as to the limits of American patience with them, and, more importantly how to prepare for a possible American strike against them.

The tentative conclusion is that a limited US strike in the near future is unlikely, but a major military operation, possibly in coordination with Israel slightly further down the road is a real possibility. The fact that Washington has supported, and perhaps even advocated Israel’s decision to ignore all recent reports of a possible Syrian overture, and interest in resuming peace negotiations could be a reliable indicator of what lies ahead.

Today the London based Saudi owned Arabic daily Asharq Alawsat published a report quoting “knowledgeable sources” that President Bush had decided to make an Israeli-Syrian peace agreement a priority. According to the report, Israeli-Syrian negotiation would resume in February.

The report claims that UN Sect.-General Kofi Anan is also involved, and has told his main Middle East troubleshooter Terja Laerson to begin preparing for these talks.

However Israel has, with US full support, and according to some reports, at the US’s request, rebuffed a series of attempts by Syria to resume peace talks. Israel has insisted that Syria must cease all its cooperation with terrorism, and close down Hamas and Hezbollah headquarters and offices in Syria before peace talks can resume.

The fact that this change of American heart has been reported in a Saudi newspaper is also suspect. When US officials want to prepare the groundwork the leaks are usually to a major US publication. The fact that the Saudis are desperately tying to prevent any US military action against Syria should also be taken into account with regard to this report.

3 Comments:

At 12/17/2004 10:43:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The incredible ignorance of the radical Bush agenda is getting more appalling every day. After consistently getting our ass kicked by the freedom fighters in Iraq, some are comtemplating attacking Syria. During the Clinton adminstration Syria was used as an ally in both the Lebanon and Palestinian issue. The government of Syria could be very helpful in lessening the chaotic situation in Bremerville.
The assetion that Syria is supplying arms and assistance to the insurgents is a lie. The insurgents have access, by the U.S. governernment and Defense Intelligence admittance, thousands of tons of very sophisticated armaments, taken from stockpiles that existed before the war. They don't need the help of Syria to bog down U.S. forces in a protracted daily onslaught that could last 5 to 10 years.
Also, the Administration would never partner up with Israel in an attack on Syria. This would make things even worse in the world of Jihadist recruitment and Islamic hatred for the U.S and Israel. If they went it alone, they would have to face a well equiped and relatively potent Syrian defense. This would be untenable for the American public seeing hundreds of U.S. soldiers killed every week.
Bush and his War Bureau should do four things at this point.

Own up to the lies of our intentions in this war.
Pay up for the inhumane treatment of the Iraqi people and their civil society, and for what they destroyed.
Pack up and withdraw our troops in a gradual and persiistent manner.
And shut up-and stop dictating how the whole world should live.

Own up! Pay up ! Pack up ! Shut up !!!!

 
At 1/06/2005 07:25:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Cambodian invasion was an effort to stem the influx of men and arms into Vietnam, an action that brought about the Kent State shootings and ultimately resulted in the Pol Pot regime.
The law of unintended consequences seems to be working in full force once again.

 
At 8/05/2005 12:52:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

There is never a way to negociate with murderers. We need to have the resolve of Ronald Reagan who refused to back off from addressing the former Soviet Union as an evil empire and ultimately brought it to its knees. Syria has never been an ally to the United States. More horrible acts of terror against the United States happened during the Clinton administration than during any other presidency. The only difference the fools refuse to acknowledge was that the democrates were too cowardly to stand up for the American people. Whether it be Carter or Clinton, democratic presidents always take the low road of the French - wave a white flag and hope for the best. Hitler loved it.

 

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