Jihadists and the Syrian Border – Saudi Press

Whose fault is it that jihadists get into Iraq across the Syrian border? There is a lot of blame to go around according to latest reports.

America's fault. This is according to a high placed Iraqi politician. McClatchy's quotes the official explaining that roughly half the 300 million dollars being spent in Anbar province for reconstruction is going directly into the pockets of resistance groups. A portion of this gets spent turning Syrian border guards so they "look the other way." The story is here. 

Despite several devastating U.S. military offensives to rout insurgents, the militants – or, in some cases, tribes with insurgent connections – still control the supply routes of the province, making reconstruction all but impossible without their protection.

One senior Iraqi politician with personal knowledge of the contracting system said the insurgents also use their cuts to pay border police in Syria "to look the other way" as they smuggle weapons and foot soldiers into Iraq.

"Every contractor in Anbar who works for the U.S. military and survives for more than a month is paying the insurgency," the politician said, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter. "The contracts are inflated, all of them. The insurgents get half."

Senator Lieberman has blamed it on the Syrian government and believes the solution is closing down Damascus airport.

Dennis Ross blames it on Iraq's Prime Minister Maliki, because he is making nice with the Syrians instead of getting tough with them. He also blames it on Bush, because he refuses to embrace the Baker – Hamilton report and set benchmarks. Ross argues that if America used leverage and refused to give more money to Maliki on condition that he treat Syria as an enemy, he would, and Syria would shape up or be treated to Maliki's enmity. You might have noticed that Ross is getting tougher on Bush now that elections are in full swing. Obama just announced that Ross is his main Middle East go to guy.

Is Nasrallah, the leader of Hizbullah, really an Iranian devotee? 

A pro-Israeli reader posted a story written by Roee Nahmias on Israel's largest webnews site, Ynetnews. It claims that "Nasrallah’s allegiance is not to Lebanon."

The story purports to be "an interview given by Hizbullah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah to Iranian national television." It quotes him:

"We are ready to be torn apart, spliced into tiny pieces, so that Iran will remain exalted. For if Iran remains exalted, we too shall be exalted. I am a lowly soldier of the Imam Khamenei. Hizbullah youths acted on behalf of the Imam Khomeini, with the aid of Imam Hussein, and sent their blessings to the Iranian people," said Nasrallah in an interview with reporter Bijan Nobaveh on the day marking the start of the Second Lebanon War according to the Persian calendar.

Another commentator quickly pointed out, "The Ynet story posted by Akbar is based, without attribution, on a report by the Saudi outlet Elaph." Elaph is not know for its accuracy, and Nasrallah is not so stupid as to say something that his enemies would chew him up for, such as the above statement.

Al-Hayat is banned in Saudi Arabia. (Thanks Norman)

Saudi Government Bans Leading Arab Paper
Associated Press Writer

6:48 AM PDT, August 28, 2007

CAIRO, Egypt — Saudi Arabia has banned the influential Arab newspaper Al Hayat from distribution in the kingdom, just days after it reported a Saudi man had served as a key figure for an al-Qaida front group in Iraq, journalists and diplomats said Tuesday.

One of the country’s most influential journalists said the ban was a sharp retreat from growing press freedoms in Saudi Arabia.

Al Hayat’s Saudi edition did not appear on newsstands Monday and Tuesday, several Arab diplomats told The Associated Press in telephone calls from Riyadh, the Saudi capital. They spoke on condition of anonymity because of the issue’s sensitivity.

Saudi information officials had no immediate comment. Al Hayat officials in London, the newspaper’s headquarters, also had no comment.

But a Saudi journalist with knowledge of the situation said the Ministry of Information and Culture had imposed the ban after the paper published an article Monday about the Saudi man, Mohammad al-Thibaiti, thought to be a key figure in the Iraqi extremist group, the Islamic State of Iraq.

“They (authorities) confiscated the copies before going to stands, and imposed an indefinite ban on the paper,” said the journalist, who is a member of the Saudi Press Association. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he feared reprimand.

A private distribution firm in the kingdom, the National Company of Distribution, also confirmed the ban.

One of Saudi Arabia’s most influential journalists, Dawood al-Shirian, who is a former regional director at Al Hayat and still writes a weekly column, said he believed there was a different reason for the ban.

Al-Shirian, who now is deputy head of Al-Arabiya TV, said Al Hayat staff had told him that Saudi Information Minister Iyad Madani had asked that some writers be stopped from appearing in the newspaper, but that the paper had refused to comply.

Madani previously had been considered something of a reformer.

Israel's Defense Minister Ehud Barak said of Bashar al-Assad: ""Asad junior is like Asad senior: coolheaded, careful and willing to check opportunities. He has positive elements that could allow for talks to develop. The key to beginning negotiations is in his hands."

Here is the Jerusalem Post story:

[Report by Gil Hoffman: "Baraq: With 20,000 Rockets, Hezbollah Stronger Than Before"]
The Jerusalem Post website on 28 August
BBC MidEast: Text of report in English by Israeli newspaper

Defence Minister Ehud Baraq sent contradictory messages about Syria to members of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defence Committee on Monday [27 August]. In his first address to the committee since becoming defence minister in June, he said Hezbollah, which receives its rockets via Syria, had increased its supply from an estimated 10,000-15,000 before the Second Lebanon War to some 20,000 today. He said Hezbollah had also acquired antitank missiles and was trying to re- establish its infrastructure in southern Lebanon.

On the other hand, Baraq said Syria was "showing preliminary signs of easing tensions with Israel". He said Syrian President Bashar al-Asad was acting like his father, former Syrian president Hafiz al-Asad. Baraq said four Israeli governments had made diplomatic progress in talks with the father, adding that the son could not be ruled out as a future peace partner. "Israel does not have an interest in escalating tensions with Syria, and I think the Syrians don't have an interest in escalating tensions with us," he told the committee.

"Asad junior is like Asad senior: coolheaded, careful and willing to check opportunities. He has positive elements that could allow for talks to develop. The key to beginning negotiations is in his hands."

Comments (7)

Enid Houston said:

Gertrude Bell was wrong in creating this failed State…The British still call it longingly “Mesopotamia,” but these Shia 12’ers are Arabs and not Persians…Iran will not have that much influence in the final outcome…Syria will have the courage to forge a peaceful, if not totally “free” (pray tell, what exactly is freedom without order) society on the West bank of the Tigris…let the Arab 12’ers (Shias) fight it out amongst themselves as the Pashtun people will have to do after Peshawar becomes their Capitol saving both States of Pakistan and Afghanistan…perhaps read some Leopold Kohr on the break-up of the Nation-state and apply his tenets beyond Europe and North America….

August 29th, 2007, 6:50 am


3antar said:

I too find the comments that Nasrahlla supposedly made, to be unfounded. For Nasrallah to declare an unparalleled loyalty to Iran over Lebanon the end him as a a Lebanese public figure. Even his partners couldn’t weave a defensive line of argument out of that one. From what i’ve seen and hear of his speeches and public announcements, his first and last concern is Lebanon regardless of his personal believes.

August 29th, 2007, 9:02 am


George Ajjan said:

15,000 troops along the Syrian border in 2 12-hour shifts would place one solider every 262 feet. That’s a human net and would completely stop the infiltration.

15,000 troops is less than 10% of the US manpower in Iraq.

So the question is: is the foreign fighter problem worth 10%?

Obviously the generals don’t think so. But the politicians like to place an easy blame.

August 29th, 2007, 12:10 pm


Sami D said:

“Whose fault is it that jihadists get into Iraq across the Syrian border?”

Is it the Syrians who are not serious about blocking the borders (according to Joseph Lieberman)? Or is it the Maliki government for not doing enough or for making nice with Syria (according to Dennis Ross)? Or is it the Americans for not being vigilant enough (according to Iraqi cited above)?

What happened to the violent, illegal and immoral invasion/occupation of Iraq, which followed a decade of genocidal sanctions by the United States as THE CAUSE of jihadists to want to go to Iraq in the first place?

PS. Prof Landis: Wrong link to Lieberman’s view.

August 29th, 2007, 12:28 pm


SimoHurtta said:

“Whose fault is it that jihadists get into Iraq across the Syrian border?”

Normally that country, which doesn’t want “visitors” from the neighbouring country, is considered to be alone responsible for the its own border security. Now Israelis do not want “visitors” from Egypt so they are planing the building a wall (which US taxpayers money as usual most probably) instead of threatening to bomb Cairo airport (terrorist hub) and make laws in Knesset to ban international carriers to fly to Egypt.

USA has wasted so much money in Iraq, that building a wall on Syrian and Iranian border would be a small extra investment. At least much, much cheaper than starting new wars. The cheapest solution for USA would naturally be to call troops home and prepare to buy oil with hard cash as we others do. Sadly the US Jewish Pro-surge group (Freedom Watch – what irony in the name choice) doesn’t like the cheapest alternative.

August 29th, 2007, 1:17 pm


Saudisk-Israelisk desinformation said:

[…] Intressant nog dyker det nu upp nya obekräftade uppgifter från elaph på samma sätt. Denna gång sprids dom om nasrallah ledaren för hizbullah. Det ska bli intressant att se om även dessa fortplantar sig till svensk media. Att man siktar in sig på nasrallah som främst ett verktyg för iran och inte libanon är troligen en del av det informationskrig som pågår i mellanöstern. Är elaph det nya memri kanske? Via Syria Comment bloggen Is Nasrallah, the leader of Hizbullah, really an Iranian devotee? A pro-Israeli reader posted a story written by Roee Nahmias on Israel’s largest webnews site, Ynetnews. It claims that “Nasrallah’s allegiance is not to Lebanon.” […]

August 29th, 2007, 9:54 pm


SK said:

What are INSURGENTS? The American Heritage Dictionary says it is:
1. Rising in revolt against established authority, especially a government. 2. Rebelling against the leadership of a political party.

Could it be the people of Iraq,or the governments of the regiion, do not believe that the puppet regime of Maliki is legitimate? Could it be that the real people in charge are the KSA in Anbar, Iran in the south and the U.S. in the Kurdish north?
Could it be that they don’t believe that an illegal war can result in a legal government?

So Syria is helping this uprising…it’s helping people kill occupying forces in Iraq. Isn’t that what neighbours and allies are for?

Let’s hypothetically say that Germany, with Hitler running it, decided that the U.S. is led by some moronic guy (let’s say Bush) and decides that it is a threat to the collective intelligence of mankind and calls the campaign “spreading democracy”. He invades…would the U.S. population “welcome this new Democracy”? Would Canada or the U.K. send arms to help the people fight, on U.S. soil or would they call it aiding and abetting a moron?

A little off-subject: How is it that U.S. soldiers in a “war” as Bush calls it, can be kidnapped? I thought civilians are only kidnapped. Soldiers are called Prisoners of War.

And another thing, there is no such thing as a “Jihadist” in Arabic or in Islam in the way the U.S. media means it. By the U.S. English definition (http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/jihadist) every Muslim is a Jihadist (jihad actually means a moral, psychological or physical struggle for betterment of self and community) — does this mean that Bush really is waging a 21st Century Crusade?

August 30th, 2007, 10:35 am


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