More on the Raid

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.

Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Al-Moualem speaks during a news conference in London October 27, 2008.

Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Al-Moualem speaks during a news conference in London October 27, 2008.

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.”

Blanford in Time:

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.

Col. Lang writes:

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?

Some thoughts:

– 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 

Comments (47)


1. Helena Cobban said:

Josh, there is no way this raid could have been undertaken except with explicit permission from the White House. Neither you nor Pat Lang makes that important point.

So why, and why now? Those are the important questions. They are also the questions I’ve explored in these two blog posts today: 1, 2.

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October 27th, 2008, 9:58 pm

 

2. Helena Cobban said:

Hi again. I just saw you had written here that the raid “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 (contra Lang) is that none of those 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. (It should be one man, but nowadays we have Cheney in the loop, too.)

So why? And why now? That’s what I was exploring. This is not, repeat not, just a “routine” operation. It’s the politics of it that are key.

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October 27th, 2008, 10:09 pm

 

3. Wassim said:

Helena, do you think it was Delta Force or Jack Bower?

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October 27th, 2008, 11:21 pm

 

4. Solomon2 said:

As more and more news comes out, it seems that those who should feel most embarrassed by this raid are those who believed in the words from Syrian officials, rather than taking a wait-and-see approach.

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October 27th, 2008, 11:40 pm

 

5. norman said:

The US might be luring the extremists away from Syria and Lebanon to the border.Things might be more coplicated than they appear.

U.S. raid in Syria targeted smuggler

Reuters
Monday, October 27, 2008
By Marwan Makdessi

A raid by U.S. forces inside Syria on Sunday is believed to have killed a major smuggler of foreign fighters into Iraq, a U.S. official said on Monday, as Syria condemned the attack as “terrorist aggression.”

The official spoke on condition of anonymity about the raid, in which residents and Syrian officials said U.S. troops landed by helicopter and killed eight civilians.

A second U.S. official said U.S. forces had targeted only people they considered a threat and that women and children were alive at the site when they left.

The Pentagon and the White House have refused to officially confirm or deny U.S. involvement in the incident, which alarmed France and Russia. Both countries called on the United States to respect Syria’s territorial sovereignty.

If confirmed, it would be the first U.S. military strike inside Syria since the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

Syria says four helicopters attacked al-Sukkari farm in the Albou Kamal area in eastern Syria, close to the Iraqi border, and that U.S. soldiers stormed a building there.

The first U.S. official said the raid targeted Abu Ghadiya, a former lieutenant of al Qaeda in Iraq leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, who was killed in a U.S. airstrike in 2006.

“It was a successful operation,” the U.S. official said by telephone. “He (Abu Ghadiya) is believed to be dead. This undoubtedly will have a debilitating effect on this foreign fighter smuggling network.”

‘CRIMINAL, TERRORIST’ AGGRESSION

The Bush administration, which will leave office in January after the U.S. presidential election on November 4, blames Damascus for not doing enough to stem the flow of al Qaeda fighters and other insurgents into Iraq.

But Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moualem said on a visit to London it was not possible for Syria to patrol the entire length of its long border with Iraq.

He accused the United States of trying to derail recent diplomatic overtures between Europe and Syria.

“The Americans do it in the daylight. This means it is not a mistake, it is by blunt determination. For that we consider this criminal and terrorist aggression,” he told a news conference.

Reuters Television footage showed a small fenced farm and a truck riddled with bullet holes. Blood stained the ground.

Syrian state television showed a building site and a nearby tent with food and blankets and spent bullets laying around.

The official Syrian news agency SANA quoted a survivor, Souad al-Jasim, as saying U.S. soldiers fired on her and her children in the tent.

“Then they opened fire on the workers on site,” she said.

Jasim’s husband was killed in the attack and one of her children wounded. Thousands of people attended a funeral held for those killed in the raid, SANA said.

The second U.S. official said U.S. military forces acted in support of “another agency” in conducting the operation. The official declined to elaborate but that description could suggest the involvement of the CIA.

He described Abu Ghadiya was a “bad dude” who ran one of the most prolific networks bringing foreign fighters and suicide bombers into Iraq.

SYRIA WANTS INVESTIGATION

Moualem said Syria would ask the United States and Iraq for an investigation into the raid, which the Iraqi government said targeted insurgents responsible for attacks inside Iraq.

“We put the responsibility on the American government and the need to investigate and return back to us with the result and explanation why they did it,” Moualem said.

Asked whether the Syrians would use force if the Americans conducted a similar raid in future, Moualem said: “As long as you are saying if, I will tell you if they do it again … we will defend our territories.”

Iraqi government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh said the attack was launched against “terrorist groups operating from Syria against Iraq,” including one which had killed 13 police recruits in a border village.

“Iraq had asked Syria to hand over this group, which uses Syria as a base for its terrorist activities,” Dabbagh said.

Syrian Interior Minister Bassam Abdel Majeed said last week his country “refuses to be a launching pad for threats against Iraq.”

Russia, whose invasion of Georgia in August drew strong criticism from the United States, accused Washington of fueling tensions in the Middle East and said it viewed the raid with “great concern”.

“It is obvious that such unilateral military actions have a sharply negative effect on the situation in the region,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

Paris said it deplored the loss of civilian life.

“France calls for restraint and underlines its attachment to the strict respect of the territorial integrity of states,” President Nicolas Sarkozy’s office said in a statement.

(Additional reporting by Samia Nakhoul, Adrian Croft, Mariam Karouny, Will Rasmussen, Christian Lowe, Randall Mikkelsen, Andrew Grey and Tabassum Zakaria; Writing by Dominic Evans, Yara Bayoumy and Ross Colvin; Editing by John O’Callaghan)

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October 28th, 2008, 12:09 am

 

6. Findalaawi said:

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/10/28/world/middleeast/28syria.html?hp=&pagewanted=print

October 28, 2008
U.S. Officials Confirm Commando Raid on Syria
By ERIC SCHMITT and THOM SHANKER

WASHINGTON — A raid into Syria on Sunday was carried out by American Special Operations forces who killed an Iraqi militant responsible for running weapons, money and foreign fighters across the border into Iraq, American officials said Monday.

The helicopter-borne attack into Syria was by far the boldest by American commandos in the five years since the United States invaded Iraq and began to condemn Syria’s role in stoking the Iraqi insurgency. The timing was startling, not least because American officials had praised Syria in recent months for its efforts to halt traffic across the border.

But in justifying the attack, American officials said the Bush administration was determined to operate under an expansive definition of self-defense providing a rationale for strikes on militant targets in sovereign nations without those countries’ consent.

Together with a similar American commando raid into Pakistan seven weeks ago, the operation on Sunday appeared to reflect an intensifying effort by the White House to find a way during the administration’s waning months to attack militants even beyond the borders of Iraq and Afghanistan, where the United States is now at war. Administration officials declined to say whether the emerging application of self-defense could lead to strikes against camps inside Iran that have been used to train Shiite “Special Groups” that have fought with the American military and Iraqi security forces.

American officials who spoke on condition of anonymity due to the secrecy of the mission said the mission had been mounted rapidly over the weekend on orders from the Central Intelligence Agency when the location of the suspected leader of the insurgent group, an Iraqi known as Abu Ghadiya, was confirmed. About two dozen American commandos in specially equipped Black Hawk helicopters swooped into the village of Sukkariyeh near the Iraqi border just before 5 p.m., and fought a brief gun battle with several militants, including Mr. Ghadiya, the officials said. It was unclear whether Mr. Ghadiya died near his tent on the battlefield or after he was taken into American custody, one senior American official said. One United States official described Mr. Ghadiya as Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia’s “most prominent” smuggler of foreign operatives crossing the Syrian border into Iraq, and in February the Treasury Department named him as one of four major figures in that group who were living in Syria. The official said that Mr. Ghadiya was in his late 20s and came from a family of smugglers in Anbar Province in western Iraq. He was also suspected of having led an attack in May against a police station in western Iraq that killed 11 Iraqi officers, an American official said.

Spokesmen for the Defense Department and C.I.A. declined to comment on the incident. On Sunday, an American military official had denied that American military helicopters had played a part in the raid.

Since the Sept. 11 attacks, the United States has attacked suspected terrorists in the ungoverned spaces of countries like Yemen and Somalia. But administration officials said Monday that the strikes in Pakistan and Syria were carried out on the basis of a legal argument that has been refined in recent months to justify strikes by troops and by rockets at militants in countries with whom the United States is not at war.

The justification is different from the concept of preemption the administration articulated immediately after the Sept. 11 attacks, and which was used as the rationale for the invasion of Iraq. While preemption was used to justify attacks against governments and their armies, the self-defense argument would justify attacks on insurgents operating on foreign soil that threaten American forces or its allies and interests. Administration officials pointed Monday to a passage in President Bush’s speech to the United Nations General Assembly last month as the clearest articulation of this position to date.

“As sovereign states, we have an obligation to govern responsibly, and solve problems before they spill across borders,” Mr. Bush said. “We have an obligation to prevent our territory from being used as a sanctuary for terrorism and proliferation and human trafficking and organized crime.”

In seeking to carry out cross-border missions inside Pakistan and now in Syria, the United States government is expected to make the case that these operations will help protect the lives of American troops. It is not clear how far-reaching the White House might be in seeking to apply the rationale, but several senior American officials expressed hope that it would be embraced by the next president as well.

The American military has on occasion mounted attacks on Syrian soil to support its military operations in Iraq, but they mostly have been cross-border missile strikes and there was a rare case of ground forces briefly crossing the frontier in hot pursuit of insurgents.

In London on Monday, Syria’s foreign minister, Walid al-Moualem, accused the United States of “terrorist aggression” in the raid, in which Syria said eight civilians were killed. A senior American official all the people killed in the assault were militants, and that women and children living with the militants had been left unharmed.

In seeking support in international law for its actions, the Bush administration is joining a list of nations that have cited Article 51 of the United Nations charter, which enshrines the right of individual or collective self-defense to all member states.

Over the years, a growing body of legal argument has made the case that this right of self-defense allows a nation to take military action on the territory of another sovereign nation that is unable or unwilling to take measures on its own to halt the threat.

This argument was emphasized when the Israeli military mounted a hostage-rescue mission at Entebbe airport in Uganda, and similar arguments have been made to defend actions by the Colombian military against FARC guerrillas seeking haven in neighboring Venezuela, and Turkish troops pursuing Kurdish militants in their sanctuaries in northern Iraq.

Israel also made this argument when its warplanes last September attacked what Israel said was a nuclear reactor in Syria that was nearing operational capability.

Earlier this month, Gen. David H. Petraeus, the former top commander in Iraq, said that the flow of foreign fighters into Iraq had dwindled to less than 20 a month from a peak of more than 120 a month a year ago.

But one military officer said Monday that while Syria had been able to take specific steps like detaining combat-aged men found flying into Damascus airport on one-way tickets, there had been less success in halting the flow of money and weapons to the insurgency.

The Iraqi government found itself in an awkward position on Monday as it sought at once to remain on friendly terms with Syria, which is a neighbor and now home to more than a million Iraqi refugees, but also to bolster the United States in going after people believed to be fomenting anti-government unrest in Iraq.

“This area was a staging ground for activities by terrorist organizations hostile to Iraq,” said Ali al-Dabbagh, the Iraqi government spokesman. He said that Iraq had previously requested that Syrian authorities hand over members of the insurgent group that uses Syria as its base.

Mark Mazzetti contributed reporting from Washington and Alissa J. Rubin from Baghdad.

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October 28th, 2008, 12:16 am

 

7. AIG said:

From the AP report on the raid:
——–
However, local officials said seven men were killed and two people were wounded, including a woman. An AP reporter saw the bodies of seven men at the funerals Monday.
————-

In short, the Syrians are lying through their teeth again or is the AP reporter a neo-con? There were no women and children killed. It is amazing that Syrians do not believe their government on anything except when it concerns lies about US actions.

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October 28th, 2008, 12:43 am

 

8. alia said:

Helena, Josh,

Is there any proof or shred of evidence of what the special forces and/or the command are stating about this newly emerged Abu-…?

We have witnessed many cases over the years of blunders, mistakes, and plain incompetence that were covered up with a posteriori concocted stories.

There must have been clearance from both the White House and Israel – To my knowledge, nothing can be done without clearing it with the ally in the region first- but I am not convinced that what they are saying is the whole truth-

Remember Patrick Tillman

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/05/03/AR2005050301502.html

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October 28th, 2008, 1:40 am

 

9. norman said:

Alia,

Look at this,

Back to Article Click to Print Monday, Oct. 27, 2008
What’s Behind the US Military Raid on Syria?
By Nicholas Blanford / Beirut

Sunday’s surprise raid by helicopter-borne U.S. troops in eastern Syria raises at least three key questions. Given that the U.S. is saying the number of volunteer fighters infiltrating Iraq from Syria has dwindled significantly in the past 18 months, why was this action deemed necessary? Does the raid signal a shift in U.S. tactics in the region? And with just over a week before the U.S. presidential election, why now?

In what is thought to be the first such incursion from the Iraq side since the U.S. invasion of Iraq in March 2003, at least four U.S. helicopters crossed Iraq’s western border with Syria and attacked what officials in Damascus said was a half-constructed building in Sukkariyeh Farm, 5 miles from the Syrian frontier town of Abu Qamal. Eight people were reported to have been killed in the raid. Damascus “condemns this aggression and holds the American forces responsible,” said the Syrian government in a statement that went on to demand that the Iraqi government launch an investigation into “this serious violation.”

The flow of foreign fighters from Syria into Iraq was Washington’s chief complaint with Damascus following the 2003 invasion. Analysis of al-Qaeda documents seized by American troops in Sinjar in northern Iraq last year suggested that 90% of foreign fighters entering Iraq came from Syria. However, the figures have dropped significantly, according to U.S. officials. In July, an estimated 20 fighters per month were reported to be entering Iraq, an 80% drop compared with a year earlier. In September, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice told the pan-Arab daily Al-Hayat that the number of foreign fighters crossing from Syria into Iraq was down. She ascribed the reduction to the efforts of coalition forces and the Iraqis rather than a change of policy by Syria.

Last week, Major General John Kelly, commander of coalition forces in western Iraq, said security along Iraq’s borders with Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Jordan was fairly tight but that the Syrian frontier remained porous. “The Syrian side is, I guess, uncontrolled by their side,” Kelly said. “We still have a certain level of foreign-fighter movement.” He told Pentagon reporters via teleconference last week, “We’re doing much more work along the Syrian border than we’ve done in the past,” adding that Iraqi security and intelligence forces “feel that al-Qaeda operatives and others operate, live pretty openly on the Syrian side.”

Cross-border strikes are an increasingly common tactic by U.S. forces operating along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border. U.S. missile-launching 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 as well as founder of the influential Abu Muqawama counterinsurgency 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 cite 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, enabling Pentagon spokesmen to honestly say they know nothing about them.

This is not the first such raid into Syrian territory in recent years. In September 2007, Israeli jets bombed a site in northeast Syria suspected of being a nuclear facility. Syria has also been shaken by attacks from within its borders. In February, Imad Mughniyah, posthumously identified as the top military commander of Lebanon’s militant Shi’ite Hizballah, was assassinated in a car-bomb explosion in Damascus. Last month, a rare car bomb exploded in the Syrian capital, killing 28 people.

That car-bombing was blamed on jihadists. It was followed by a gun battle in a Palestinian refugee camp outside Damascus in which a number of militants were killed and arrested. Syrian troops have also deployed along the northern border of neighboring Lebanon in what Damascus says is an attempt to block jihadists from slipping into Syria. These recent developments have raised speculation that Syria is threatened by a blowback from jihadist militants who no longer have easy access to cross the border into Iraq and instead are turning their attention to the secular regime in Damascus. “We assumed the Syrians were chucking people in jail, which they could be doing, but it could also be that the foreign fighters are backing up at the border with Iraq and they can’t go home because their own governments will arrest them,” says Andrew Tabler, a Damascus-based analyst and editor of Syria Today magazine.

Analysts in the region suspect that the decision to mount a cross-border raid into Syria was driven more by the military needs of Army commanders in Iraq than by political calculations from Washington. According to the analysts, the Joint Special Operations Command has considerable autonomy in choosing missions in the Iraq and Afghanistan theaters. “This is coming out of the Army. I don’t think this is a parting shot from the Bush Administration,” Tabler says.

Still, there are widespread suspicions that political rather than military considerations dictated the timing of the raid, since the Republicans could be expected to benefit from any renewed concerns over terrorism. “This is all related to the elections in the U.S. The timing is so close,” contends Sami Moubayed, a Syrian political analyst. “Bringing out the ‘terrorist threat,’ magnifying it, projecting it as a monster that needs to be dealt with on the spot … serves nobody but John McCain.” A parting shot from the Administration of President George W. Bush, or the beginning of a new military policy in the region? Syria — and the rest of the world — will be keeping a close watch on its eastern border.

— With reporting by Mark Thompson / Washington

Click to Print Find this article at:
http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,1854169,00.html
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October 28th, 2008, 1:45 am

 

10. AIG said:

Alia,
What we know so far is that the Syrians are lying. The AP reporter at the funeral saw only bodies of men, contrary to the story of the Syrian government about dead women and children. Or are AP a bunch of liars also?

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October 28th, 2008, 1:47 am

 

11. Alia said:

Thanks Norman- but you see these are reflections, the military strategy description and anology with cross-border raids in Pakistan is an analysis, not a proof coming from those who are claiming the action.

1. Syria’s position vis a vis the U.S. has always been different from that of Pakistan- regardless how the Pakistanis want to describe it, there was much more leeway there, even if the Pakistanis do not like what is going on. Not with Syria; every overt action form the U.S. has been measured there and Russia has been looming again in the background recently- this consideration cannot be dismissed either.

2. Even the author of the article concedes that the political agenda is probably much higher than the technical one here.

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October 28th, 2008, 1:58 am

 

12. Alia said:

AIG,

OK -the Syrians have shown themselves to have misrepresented the results of the attack….How can we prove that what the Americans are describing of their motives is the TRUTH and not a convenient story that we are again being fed ? why should we believe them ?

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October 28th, 2008, 2:05 am

 

13. Enlightened said:

I don’t want to sound trite here!

But here goes. With the expected Syrian government outrage at the American incursion across its borders, The FM’s call for an investigation was quick as was his loud call that it was a “terrorist action” by American forces.

Here’s the trite bit! Will we see the expected investigation results this time? Heck we have been waiting for the results of the Imad Mugniye hit, The asassination of the two generals, the Israeli demolition of the supposed reactor.

If I was a Syrian government minister, I would be milking this for all it was worth, have a hasty investigation, conclude that innocent civilians have been targeted, there was no insurgent activity there, and milk the free publicity in the Arab and the foreign world.

But pigs might fly and we will wait indefinitely for the results of the investigation. Or will we?

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October 28th, 2008, 2:31 am

 

14. ugarit said:

AP = American Propaganda

Sorry it was too tempting

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October 28th, 2008, 3:25 am

 

15. AIG said:

Alia,
Here are the relevant options:
1) The US randomly chose a house in Syria to attack
2) The US attacked a wrong house in Syria based on bad intelligence
3) The US attacked the right house in Syria based on good intelligence and succeeded in killing a top Al-Qaida operative

So far all the evidence points to 3. The US army says so (not politicians) and the Iraqis back it up. The Syrian government chooses to lie about the details because they want to hide the fact that they harbor terrorists thus giving more credence to what the US Army is saying.

Unlike the WMD error, here we are talking about something based on actual facts on the ground and not intelligence estimates. The US army did not invent WMD’s in Iraq or try to fabricate evidence that there are indeed WMDs. It acknowledged its erroneus estimates and admitted that no WMDs were found. In this case the Army is saying AFTER the raid, that it killed a top Al-Qaida operative because he was identified as being there. Why should we not believe them?

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October 28th, 2008, 3:53 am

 

16. Alex said:

6. AIG said:

In short, the Syrians are lying through their teeth again or is the AP reporter a neo-con? There were no women and children killed.

The official Syrian story says:

http://www.sana.sy/eng/21/2008/10/26/198617.htm

“The source identified the civilians killed in the aggression as Daoud Mohammad al-Abdullah and his four sons, in addition to Ahmad Khalifa, Ali Abbas Al-Hassan and his wife.”

A man and his four “sons” .. not children. But in Arabic some people translate “son” as “child” (Awlad) .. some assumed they were young children.

I will try to check the validity of the story regarding the wife part.

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October 28th, 2008, 4:53 am

 

17. Thomas said:

Prof Landis should go right over there and take some pictures and take some DNA evidence (just like on Miami CSI)from house that was attacked before the neocons (or someone in Cheney’s office of course) orders that the place be bombed to destroy the evidence. He might even be able to bring some of his Hizbollah evidence technicians with him….same ones that were supposed to investigate the Imad Mughniyah decapitation.

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October 28th, 2008, 5:03 am

 

18. Shai said:

Alex,

Forgive me for saying this, but aren’t you just slightly entering into AIG’s “Let’s Play Private Investigator” gig? It is clear people died. It is clear U.S. violated Syrian airspace. It is highly probable the U.S. did not share intelligence with Syria regarding these people.

If the U.S. believed Osama Bin Laden was amongst 9 people sitting at the lobby of a small resort hotel on Costa Del Sol, Spain, would it send 4 helicopters in with commandos, or would it share this intelligence with Spain first? Ah, but the only thing Spain and Syria have in common is the first letter in their name. So it’s not a good example…

Now let’s hypothesize for a second. If we’re Syria, let’s say we only occasionally try to stop terrorists going into Iraq (ya’ani, we KNOW about them, and we still let them operate on Syrian soil, go in, come back, undisturbed.) Now suddenly American forces appear on our soil, and kill 9 people, innocent or not. What do we do? Do we start “behaving”? Do we shape up? Or do we now say “You know, if we were making 70% effort until now, maybe we’ll make 7% effort for a while…”? It’s funny, but when we disregard and disrespect the sovereign rights of certain nations, we may find they’re less-than-happy to help us out. What a strange notion, eh?

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October 28th, 2008, 5:11 am

 

19. Alex said:

Shai,

Yes : )

It is always this test of self control … should I answer him, should I ignore him.

I just spoke to Offended .. he will ignore him tomorrow.

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October 28th, 2008, 5:24 am

 

20. jad said:

(A second U.S. official said U.S. forces had targeted only people they considered a threat)
What a bad movie scenario is that?

The dead men are 16, 18, 22, and 28yo all four brothers and work as construction workers with their 51yo father along with a 44yo construction worker and 60yo guard and his wife was injured. They are just numbers nothing more for you AIG, they are also Syrians and they might be a regime lover, therefore in your sick mind they deserve to die…what a racist man you are?
Here are 3 options,
you are a nazi German guard who pretend to be an Israeli
you are a KKK ‘full member’ who enjoy the suffering of others who are not the same colour (religion) as you.
you are nothing but a sole less corps..
So far all the evidence point to ALL THE ABOVE…

Solomon2 & Partners,
Yes, as a Syrian, I am very embarrassed for only one thing, that the Syrian freaking army didn’t shot down those helicopters, that what I’m truly ashamed of, nothing more.
On the other hand, you and everybody who wrote with joy about this incident should be very proud of the achievement of the US army. Congratulations. They achieved the impossible!
I’m just wondering, since that army is so cleaver, how come it couldn’t stop the attack on its soldiers inside Iraq before the 4188 soldiers died?

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October 28th, 2008, 6:13 am

 

21. offended said:

here’s another brilliant analogy brought to me by a British friend:

Would it be ok for our SAS to silently drop into the USA and kill the ex-IRA terrorist that live there… and kill the US citizens that openly gave money to the IRA (sorry i meant NORAID) to support their terrorist activities against the US closest allie? It would be a nice revenge for the families of those that were murdered by the IRA who were funded with US money…. or have they forgotten about that already?

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October 28th, 2008, 9:01 am

 

22. Solomon2 said:

Jad, Syria is a nest of multiple and competing secret services. We don’t know if the regime’s “outrage” is fake or real – we don’t know if, at the highest level of the Syrian government, where all the threads are held, that there wasn’t secret cooperation with the U.S. in this raid. The fact that this network has been known about for a year yet the U.S. did nothing until now and past Syrian cooperation with the U.S. in the War on Terror plus the lack of critcism of the Syrian regime by official U.S. government spokesmen suggests this is possible, wouldn’t you agree?

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October 28th, 2008, 10:00 am

 

23. AIG said:

Offended,

If indeed an IRA terrorist who killed British civillians was hiding in the US, and the US does not do anything about it after being alerted to the fact by the UK, then the UK has EVERY RIGHT to go after him, and in fact it should. Harboring terrorists is unacceptable whatever the case, even if the US does it and by doing so the US would lose its right to sovereignity.

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October 28th, 2008, 11:09 am

 

24. qunfuz said:

AIG has as much understanding of the law as you would expect from a zionist. Britain would need an extradition agreement to take the IRA man from the US. Or ‘go after him’ probably means, to a Zionist, kill him, as Israel would try to do, but that is also illegal.

Even if the people killed were al-Qa’ida men (and I thoroughly despise al-Qa’ida men) this raid was illegal and contrary to the system of national sovereignty on which world stability depends. It was an act of terrorism.

The apartheid state that AIG comes from is harbouring thousands of zionist terrorists with blood on their hands, some of them in the government.

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October 28th, 2008, 11:30 am

 

25. qunfuz said:

Put better, here in the UK there are al-Qa’ida men. Every so often the police arrest them and put them on trial.That’s fair enough. Of course British foreign policy contributes to the growth of wahabbi-nihilist groups here, but once they exist the security services have to keep an eye on them, and once they start planning acts of violence they must be arrested. But if the US Air Force bombed what it claimed to be an al-Qa’ida house in Birmingham, there would be a furious response from the British people, enough to scupper the so-called ‘special relationship.’

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October 28th, 2008, 11:44 am

 

26. norman said:

Iraq denounces U.S. raid on Syria

Tue Oct 28, 2008 7:46am EDT
BAGHDAD (Reuters) – Iraq’s government denounced on Tuesday a U.S. air strike on the Syrian border, but also called for a halt to what it said was insurgent activity in Syria.

“The Iraqi government rejects U.S. aircraft bombarding posts inside Syria,” spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh said in the first official Iraqi criticism of the raid.

Syria has said U.S. helicopters struck a border village on Sunday night, killing eight people. Washington has refused to confirm the raid, which Iraq said targeted staging grounds used by militants.

Iraq “reiterates its demand to halt all activities of organizations that are using Syria as a staging ground to arm and train terrorists that are targeting Iraq,” Dabbagh said.

The Iraqi government’s criticism of the raid could be politically significant at a time when Baghdad and Washington are trying to rescue a stalled agreement to allow U.S. forces to stay in Iraq for three years.

The cabinet met on Tuesday to look into the pact. Iraqi Shi’ite leaders say one of their concerns is that the accord does not prevent U.S. forces from using Iraq as a base for attacks on its neighbors.

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October 28th, 2008, 12:00 pm

 

27. Alia said:

AIG,

Your gullibility when it comes to the motives of the U.S. military and their modus operandi is very touching.

You may want to start looking at the Guantanamo trials for an insight into what double, triple play may mean -or plain ruthless illegal behavior when it comes to the U.S. military under this administration.

Check out the Guantanamo files at Andy Worthington’s site.
http://www.andyworthington.co.uk/

and stop repeating the WMD, Syria was lying litany …

Solomon2,

Nice thinking, but then why would the Syrian Government blow it and protest about the matter if they were in on it? I mean it is not like the world’s eyes have been focused on what is going on in Bou Kamal all along! they could have kept quiet and no one would have noticed…

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October 28th, 2008, 12:16 pm

 

28. offended said:

Indeed, the prosecutor delivered his opening statement while the helicopter door slid open. The judge squeezed in the defense statement while the SWAT team was running toward the safe house. The jury had its redundant deliberation while the men in the hard linen overalls charged through the back and the front of the boundary wall after punching them with explosives. The judge ordered a quick break while the tough men swept through the courtyard. The judge summoned the court for the verdict and the jury found everyone was guilty and they were shot dead simultaneously. Chapter closed. The end.

That’s justice, neocon style for you.

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October 28th, 2008, 12:17 pm

 

29. offended said:

And for the ignuramos who’s pontificating about the IRA terrorists and how it’s OK for the UK to track them down and kill them on the american soil: read Jerry Adam’s “making peace in northern ireland”. Everything was written off as ‘political struggle’. That was the only way for everybody to dust themselves off and get on with peace.

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October 28th, 2008, 12:23 pm

 

30. AIG said:

Qunfuz,

Spare us the bull. Not one Arab state is based on the rule of law yet some Arabs feel that while they can totally ignore basic human rights at home, they can preach to others about what is illegal or not. You follow the rules that you like and and ignore those you dislike. You use “international law” as an instrument to further your interests and not because you believe they can be a foundation for an international system. The world has seen through this childish ruse and that is why all your complaints are not taken seriously. Practice what you preach, it is that simple. When Syria and Egypt and Saudi Arabia show even the slightest intention of applying the basic tenents of “internationl law” internally, then you will have the right to say anything.

For example, in the recent prison riot in Syria there were several people killed. Till now, no one knows exactly how many and the families of many have not been informed so that the large number of dead will not be known. Did you Qunfuz and Offended complain to anybody about this breach of “international law”? Was there any outrage about it on this blog even though more Syrians were killed and by THEIR OWN government? Was there outrage that the government did not even give details of what happened? I can give you many other examples. You just look silly complaining about “international law” when you are not willing or do not believe that it should be applied internally in Syria or any other Arab country for the matter.

As for the specific example about IRA terrorists in the USA. If the UK asks for them to be extradited and the US ignores this despite several requests from the UK, the UK has every right to ignore the sovereignity of the US to bring the terrorists to justice. This is the interpretation of many “international law” scholars, but for me it is just basic common sense and I really don’t care if anyone deems it “legal” or not according to some bunch of laws that he choses to pick at that moment.

Converesly, if the US sees that the UK after several requests, is not willing to stop Al-Qaida activities in the UK that are targeted at the US or its citizens, the US has every right to ignore UK sovereignity to remedy the matter. But since the UK is taking the Al-Qaida threat seriously and cooperating with the US, of course the US will not attack the UK.

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October 28th, 2008, 12:30 pm

 

31. ugarit said:

assisting the Iraqi resistance to american occupation is not the same thing as supporting al-Qaida. The americans can’t distinguish the difference. Notice how victims of american violence are usually labeled as supporters of al-Qaida.

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October 28th, 2008, 12:49 pm

 

32. offended said:

AIG,
Don’t preach to me about how I should have reacted to the matter of the prison’s riot. It’s precisely because potential innocent civilians were killed here that I am angry and furious. Following your argument, the Syrian regime couldn’t care less about bunch of people getting killed in the middle of nowhere. If they are as indifferent about human rights as you’re claiming then why should they? You see what I mean? Your argument is shallow and void. This raid did nothing to undermine the regime; on the contrary, it might have served to alien people even more firmly behind the current regime policy of resistance. So you’re kindly advised to revisit your claims and I’d be happy to lend you a mirror on a stick.

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October 28th, 2008, 12:55 pm

 

33. norman said:

With the US attack inside Syria to kill extremist , If we can believe that,

Is Syria now justified in attacking inside Lebanon to kill the same kind of extremists.

Any comments.

Where is QN.

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October 28th, 2008, 1:23 pm

 

34. AIG said:

Offended,

You are angry and furious because the US did the killing and not your government. When the Syrian government kills or imprisons its citizens you do NOTHING. You are not furious, you just accept it. You are not against innocent deaths in general. You are against innocent deaths only when the US or Israel do it. Actions speak louder than words. The prison riot happens and proabbly tens of Syrians die, and what do you do? NOTHING. Not even complain about it. And that is just one example. Who are you fooling with your false sincerity? Practice what you preach. Show the world that Syria is sincere about human rights and “international law” and then maybe someone will take you seriously. But so far your rhetoric is 180 degrees opposite of what you actually practice and the kind of country that you support. What do you think that people are stupid and don’t see this?

And of course the Syrian government does care one iota about a bunch of people getting killed in the middle of nowhere. That is my whole point. They are using the incident to gain political points not because they really care about human rights or international law.

Instead of giving me a mirror, why don’t you take a mirror and look at yourself, your country and the regime you support. Then tell me you are not ashamed of yourself.

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October 28th, 2008, 1:30 pm

 

35. offended said:

AIG, first of all thanks for the implied acknowledgment that the American raid and the subsequent killings are a heinous crime that deserve all condemnation and reproach.

Now what happens inside Syria is none of your business. I may or may not accept Syrian policy in handling prisoners or squashing dissidents. How I react to my government is none of your business. This is entirely an internal affair. On the other hand; an American aggression, especially unwarranted and audacious one like this, will garner my deepest contempt and condemnation.

Let’s talk about you though, how do you feel about the Americans killing civilians? Do you not feel outraged? Ashamed? Embarrassed?

No?

That’s what I thought.

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October 28th, 2008, 1:48 pm

 

36. ugarit said:

AIG:

Are you then supporting al-Qaida operations in the US? Since you don’t care for the rule of law, in your view then al-Qaida did the right thing in NYC because the US was not listening to al-Qaida’s demands.

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October 28th, 2008, 2:01 pm

 

37. Outrageous Aggression against Syria « The Long Gone Daddy said:

[…] The Bush administration has forged ahead with its idiotic good-versus-evil, non-realist foreign policy. Now Bush has made this devastating final salvo (at least, I hope it’s final), which is going to leave President Obama with a mess to clean up. (Read Joshua Landis’s full and deep analysis on the matter on Syria Comment.) […]

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October 28th, 2008, 2:07 pm

 

38. AIG said:

Offended,
You just demonstrated your moral bankruptcy. Something is moral or not without any regard to whether it is “internal” or not. You sound just like the Sudanese government that says that the West’s should have no interest in Darfur because it is an “internal” business.
Would you accept it if Israel mistreats its Arab citizens and Palestinians and then says it is nobody’s business because it is an “internal” Israeli affair? Do you see what a morally bankrupt argument this is?

Until Syria shows by ACTIONS that it is sincere about human rights and international law, then everybody sees that your complaining is no more a than a political game and not a principled moral position. You are fooling no one. Practice what you preach. It is so simple. You are a champion of human rights? Show us your great Syrian human rights record. Lead by example or shut up. But what is lower than Syria having one of the world’s worst human rights record, yet complaining about violations of “international law”? Why do you accept the Syria killing tens of prisoners, many of them innocent and are only worried when the US kills Syrians?

I am an Israeli and I would be first in line to condemn my government or any other government that intentionally targets civillians. That kind of government should not stay one second in power. But so far, it is clear that a terrorist target was attacked and not a civillian one.

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October 28th, 2008, 2:07 pm

 

39. offended said:

AIG,
Stick to the subject, will you?
And stop talking to me like I am some spokesman for the Syrian government, because I am not. Again, whether I was outraged at the handling of the prisoners’ riot or not, it’s none of your business. And you dare to compare that to how Israel treats its ‘Palestinian population’? You’re an occupier, mister. You’re up to your neck in crime. 😉

So far as I could infer from your whole mishmash of comments: you’re okay with this recent raid because all the evidence so far point toward those victims being ‘terrorists’.

Okay let me ask you then:

1-Has every one of those killed been proved, beyond reasonable doubt, to be a military combatant already? (because you know, it’s not fair to kill people who had just been recruited by Al Qaeda. They might have changed their minds at the last minute before crossing the borders.
2-When does a foreign fighter become a foreign fighter? I believe the word foreign would imply that he’d already crossed the borders. Those people clearly didn’t.
3-Now his excellency general Petraues said that the syrian have been warned. And I said bullshit. Because if they have been warned about the safe house. And if they are, as you and every other neocon believes, implicated in the whole thing of supporting foreign fighters and facilitating their movement; they would have warned those fighters. They would have moved them. They wouldn’t let them lie their as a prey for a potential American kidnapping operation.
4-Have you looked at those faces in the funeral? They seem to be feigning anger aren’t they? or maybe they are all mukhabarat agents? You know how each and everyone feels in those tribal communities right now? Congrats! you’ve just won yourself some enemies!

In short my friend, your justice is the bankrupt and the void one. Spare me your sermons.

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October 28th, 2008, 2:28 pm

 

40. AIG said:

Offended,
You are hopeless. You are not about making the world a better place. You are about attacking the US.
Your arguments are basically:
1) The US needs to be able to read minds if it wants to attack terrorists because at the last moment they may change their minds.
2) Syria was not warned because if it were warned it would have stopped the terrorists itself or protected them. Also you expect the US to give Syria detailed intelligence. Quite amusing that one.
3) For some reason I should care if people on the Syria-Iraq border hate me. They should hate their government for aiding terrorists and for keeping them poor 40 years. Why haven’t you and other Syrians done anything to develop those areas? Oh yeah, these people are only important to you when attacked by the US.

And yes, you represent Syria and its government on this blog. Time and time again you have shown yourself to be a supporter of the regime. You cannot even bring yourself to state your opinion on the way the regime handled the prison riots in which tens of Syrians died. Is it cowardice or are you ashamed to be a regime supporter?

Ugarit,
Al-Qaida attacked in NY and killed 3000 innocent civillains. It did not only attack the pentagon. If Al-Qaida would have made a convincing case that the US is a terrorist state and asked it to stop, it would have a right to attack the Pentagon. But attack innocent civillians? Never.

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October 28th, 2008, 2:54 pm

 

41. JustOneAmerican said:

Helena and Joshua,

Military operations are not the function of the JCS. The JCS are simply advisers to the President on military matters – they are not in any chain-of-command and as a result they have no command authority over any military forces.

The chain-of-command runs from the President through the Secretary of Defense and then to the various US Combatant Commands (COCOMS). For the purposes of this raid, two are relevant: CENTCOM and USSOCOM. Centcom probably everyone is familiar with as it is a geographic command in charge of most military forces in much of the middle-east. USSOCOM, or US Special Operations Command, is a functional, not geographic (like CENTCOM), command that controls many of the US special forces (commandos and the like).

Now, one of these two COCOMS had primary responsibility for this raid. My guess is that it was SOCOM for a variety of reasons I won’t go into here. This is what Pat Lang means when he talks about US Special Operations Forces in his post. When he talks about control from the local joint force commander, he’s talking about the commander that’s subordinate to CENTCOM and wondering if that commander and, by extension, CENTCOM had any involvement. He’s right to point out that the relationships are not very clear regarding SOCOM forces operating in CENTCOM’s backyard. Where I think he’s wrong is in suggesting this was “off the farm.” It wasn’t, it was simply a mission coordinated and approved through the SOCOM chain of command and not through CENTCOM (if my guess is correct).

And so I think it’s so obvious that this mission had Presidential authority (through the SOCOM chain) that debating that point is fruitless. US military forces are obsessive about getting proper authorization and a raid into another country would require Presidential approval.

The interesting question to me is whether or not Syria was given the opportunity to deal with this particular infiltration cell before this raid.

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October 28th, 2008, 3:14 pm

 

42. offended said:

AIG, you want to talk about prisons? Let’s see what’s your take on Abu Ghuraib, the mother of all prison scandals. What do you think of that?

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October 28th, 2008, 4:53 pm

 

43. offended said:

AIG, yeah.

It was quite amusing that one, could you then explain to me how the Syrian government was warned?

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October 28th, 2008, 4:54 pm

 

44. offended said:

And AIG, why don’t you help those poor Syrians direct their anger the right place by providing concrete evidence about the terrorist activities their government is conducting?

You don’t get it do you? You’re as clueless as a 5 years old kindergarten girl; al qaeda operative living incognito wouldn’t have this many mourners on his funeral. Or are you saying all those people are just mukhabrat agents disguised in tribal attires?

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October 28th, 2008, 4:59 pm

 

45. offended said:

And finally AIG,

Why would I be hopeless if I was a staunch regime supporter? The general mood is very hopeful in Syria. The previously uptight French and Brits have thawed great deal. Baboon is on his way out. The future is going to bring Syria more good than bad. I am full of hope and confidence. This particular incident assured me that Syria has been doing the right thing by not sharing intel with the yanks. And now Syria has more reasons to turn a blind eye at the borders. What Petraeus is going to do? Whoever the next American is, and going by the law of average, the number of watchful eyes will drop dramatically the coming years. they will have to come and talk to Syria. Whether they like it or not. I’d wish God will extend in your miserable life until then. Let me hear what you’ve got to say. As we say in Arabic : darb al kalb 3a al’assab.

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October 28th, 2008, 5:08 pm

 

46. Friend in America said:

F.P. – Regarding #39.
Late last winter a list of 95 operatives in Syria was circulated among several governments. Most were minor workers working for pay. It identified by name the 4 top leaders. Abu Ghadiya (an Iraqi) was identified as Al Qaida in Mesopotamia’s chief of administrative operations in Syria (that means its leader) and its most prominent smuggler of foreign operatives in Syria. I have no doubt a copy of this list came into the hands of the foreign ministry or internal security in Damascus not later than mid May. Nothing happened. The ‘policy’ or ‘doctrine’ statement was made last month. Nothing happened. Then a military opportunity presented itself. Who would pass it up? Thus guy is killing Iraqi men, women and children, big time.

I was surprised at the comment that the policy announced at the U.N. evidenced a claim of moral superiority. I see it as both a restraint on incursions and a motivation to restrain the activities of non citizen provacateurs within ones country. One may call that moral, or call it a pragmatic attempt to address a serious problem. I think the latter. There is more mobility in the world than ever before and it is outstripping old policies.
This incident has caused much concern among very responsible participants on this site. I submit within 5 to 10 years we will see an incident that makes this pale. To illustrate, suppose your government receives reliable information of a plot by foreigners in another country to set off a WMB in your country and there is credible evidence they have the materials. What action would you recommend? Is this fanciful?
See El Baradei’s press release today:

ElBaradei Warns of Nuclear Thefts
There were close to 250 thefts of nuclear and radioactive material in a 12-month period that ended in June, a figure International Atomic Energy Agency Director General Mohamed ElBaradei yesterday called “disturbingly high,” the New York Times reported (see GSN, Sept. 29).
“The possibility of terrorists obtaining nuclear or other radioactive material remains a grave threat,” ElBaradei said in an address to the U.N. General Assembly. “Equally troubling is the fact that much of this material is not subsequently recovered.”

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October 28th, 2008, 9:55 pm

 

47. Attack on Syria Is Bad for America | The Morningside Post said:

[…] The Bush administration has forged ahead with its idiotic good-versus-evil, non-realist foreign policy. Now Bush has made this devastating final salvo (at least, I hope it’s final), which is going to leave President Obama with a mess to clean up. (Read Joshua Landis’ full and deep analysis on the matter on Syria Comment.) […]

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November 16th, 2011, 3:15 am

 

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