Posted by Joshua on Monday, October 27th, 2008
Syrian foreign minister condemned U.S. for its “terrorist aggression” on Syria. ·”Killing civilians in international law means a terrorist aggression,” he said. ·Syria would “defend our territories” if the U.S. launched a similar operation again.
Helena Cobban at Just World News has a very smart post on the raid. She reminds us that such an opperation would need the special permission of the White House. Here is what she wrote SC:
I just saw you had written that it “had the fingerprints of the White House.” That was good– but your main argument was that it had been designed/decided by the Joint Chiefs. No. The JCS is an orderly, very high-level team that fully supports the work of the regional commands, including Centcom. The JCS themselves don’t make risky decisions like this one. It had to be some form of “Special Forces” that executed the raid– as Pat Lang wrote. But the key point is that none of these forces make their own decisions when it comes to infringing on the sovereignty of a sensitive but as-yet-unviolated country like Syria. A decision like that is in the realm of high politics/diplomacy, where decisions are made only by two men.
She has much more.
Foreign Fighters Smuggler Believed Killed In Syria-US Official, WASHINGTON (AFP)
A top agent smuggling foreign fighters into Iraq is believed to have been killed in a U.S. cross-border raid into Syria, a U.S. official said Monday. The official identified the man as Abu Ghadiya and said he was “one of the most prominent foreign fighter facilitators in the region.”
“The operation was successful,” the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity. “He is believed to have been killed.”
Cross-border strikes are an increasingly common tactic by U.S. forces operating along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border. U.S. missile-firing drones reportedly killed at least 20 people on Sunday in Pakistan’s South Waziristan province close to the Afghan border, an area suspected of harboring Al-Qaeda and Taliban fighters. Andrew Exum, a former U.S. army officer who served in Iraq and Afghanistan and founder of the influential Abu Muqawama counter-insurgency blog, suggests that the American action in Syria shows that the tactic may simply have been exported. “The precedent has already been established of crossing borders into safe havens. Operational commanders would have to be thinking, if we can do it in Pakistan, why can’t we do it in Syria,” he says.
Experts with knowledge of the region say they suspect the raid into Syria was conducted by a U.S. special-operations unit, rather than regular military forces. They cited Task Force 88, a hunter-killer team, as the unit that most likely carried out the attack. By having such clandestine teams carrying out these strikes, the U.S. government restricts how many people inside the government are aware of the details, and enables Pentagon spokesmen to honestly say they know nothing about them.
How does one explain this operation?
At present; the Bush Administration and its perennial and unending hostility to Syria is about to disappear, negotiations between the US and Iraq are in a delicate condition, Syria has signaled a desire to improve relations with the US, Israel and Lebanon, there is a new US commander in Iraq.
Where in all of that is an explanation for this US commando raid into the Syrian border country?
- The US Special Operations Forces (USSOF) counter-terrorist forces may have been “off the leash” on this one. These forces are exclusively focused on hunting down terrorist people and support group world-wide. Rumsfeld made them largely independent of the regular military chain of command. They amount to a global SWAT team. They develop their own targeting intelligence and make their own plans. The amount of control that the local US joint commander has over them is not very clear. They are not noted for a great deal of insight into geopolitical niceties.
- General Odierno, the man who replaced Petraeus in Iraq, is not famous for nuanced reactions to frustrating situations.
Whatever the cause, the result of ham fisted actions of this kind can be disastrous for the chance of making something better emerge from the situation that Bush/Cheney is leaving for President Obama and his team. pl