Thursday, October 30, 2008: xymphora
- A possible explanation for the American attack on Syria is that it had nothing to do with the particular target, but was the last chance for the neocons to extend the 'Bush Doctrine' to include the concept that the Americans don't have to recognize national sovereignty if they are in 'hot pursuit'.
- The idea that Syria secretly agreed to the attack is still kicking around. Of course, this could be Zionist propaganda. On the other hand, Syria and the U. S. are much closer than either will admit since the neocons have been largely deposed in Washington, and I find it hard to believe that the new order of adult rule in the United States would risk losing Syrian cooperation for some lowly smuggler. We also have to remember that the Israelis proved, last September, that the Syrians have working air defense (that's the only reason why Israel hasn't attacked Syria), and it wouldn't have looked very good for the Americans if they lost a couple helicopters. Maybe Syria agreed to turn off the radar for a few hours.
Analysts Question Timing of Syria Raid
WASHINGTON, Oct 28, 2008 (IPS) - A cross-border raid into Syria by U.S. forces in Iraq, and a subsequent stonewalling by U.S. officials unwilling to divulge details, has led to rampant speculation among U.S. analysts about the origins and meaning of the attack.
"So the question is: Why?" wrote geo-strategic analyst and journalist Helena Cobban on her blog, wondering if the raid could have been pulled off without explicit permission from the highest levels of the President George W. Bush administration.
"So why now at the end of the Bush administration, with Washington trying to play nice with Damascus and tensions easing throughout the region, would U.S. forces stage such a gambit?" echoed Borzou Daragahi on the Babylon and Beyond blog at the Los Angeles Times website.
The questions started to swirl late Sunday afternoon when U.S. helicopters allegedly crossed five miles over the desert border between Syria and Iraq. According to reports, eight U.S. soldiers alighted when a helicopter landed, attacking the al-Sukkari farm in the Syrian Abu Kamal border area.
The cross-border raid -- the first of its kind involving a helicopter attack and U.S. boots on the ground that far into Syrian territory -- left eight dead, according to Syrian press reports.
The attack is especially curious since, according to a report this weekend in the New York Times, Bush appears to have rolled back his initiative to lead troop-driven cross-border attacks -- initially approved this summer -- by Afghan-based U.S. forces into Pakistani territory.
The raid also comes as Syria is negotiating with Israel, through Turkish mediation, presumably in a calculated effort to alleviate tensions with the West and the U.S. The Bush administration's take on the Israel-Syria talks has been lukewarm at best.
More immediately for the U.S., the raid could complicate negotiations on a Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) with Iraqi authorities to allow U.S. forces to keep operating in Iraq after the U.N. mandate expires at the end of this year.
The talks on the SOFA have been bogged down, and a persistent Iraqi demand has been that Iraqi soil not be used as a launch pad for attacks on other countries.
"The Iraqi government rejects U.S. aircraft bombarding posts inside Syria," a government spokesperson, Ali al-Dabbagh, said Tuesday. "The constitution does not allow Iraq to be used as a staging ground to attack neighbouring countries."
The U.S. Department of Defence has repeatedly declined to comment on the Syrian incident, including to a direct request by IPS, but several press reports have quoted unnamed U.S. officials confirming the attack, and saying that it was ordered by the CIA.
Syrian riot police encircle U.S. embassy as thousands protest raid
| By The Associated Press|
Hundreds of Syrian riot police ringed the shuttered and closed U.S. Embassy in Damascus on Thursday, as tens of thousands of Syrians converged on a central square for a government-orchestrated protest to denounce a deadly U.S. raid near the Iraqi border.
The troops, wearing helmets and armed with batons and shields, took up positions around the embassy and the adjacent U.S. residence building. Two fire engines were parked nearby although the massive anti-American rally was to take place at a square about 1.6 kilometers away.
The Syrian government has demanded that Washington apologize for Sunday's cross-border helicopter strike by American special forces that killed eight people.
The embassy was closed because of security concerns related to the protest, and the American school was also shut for the day. The Syrian government has ordered the closure of the school, expected within a week, and the immediate closing of the American cultural center linked to the embassy.
As the protesters filled the Youssef al-Azmi square and surrounding streets in the upscale al-Maliki neighborhood, some Syrians formed circles and danced traditional dances while women and students joined the peaceful crowds.
America the sponsor of destruction and wars, read one of the banners carried by the protesters, who waved national flags and totted pictures of Syrian President Bashar Assad.
Read the rest at Haaretz
Everyone's still scratching their heads about Sunday's dramatic U.S. attack on a Syrian village five miles from the Iraqi border.
Plenty of unanswered questions remain, like why didn't the Syrians do anything to thwart the Americans, such as launching anti-aircraft batteries deployed along their border?
Ronen Bergman, an Israeli intelligence expert and author of the recent "The Secret War with Iran," speculates that Syria green-lighted the U.S. operation.
Read the rest: LA Times
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From the "News Cottage" blog:
Wednesday, October 29, 2008The Syrian cabinet decided on Tuesday to shut down an American school and an American cultural center in Damascus, the Syria's official SANA news agency said, two days after a U.S. military raid in Syria. Syria said the Sunday helicopter strike on the village of Sukkariyeh, five miles (8 kilometers) from the border with Iraq, killed eight civilians..
In wake of U.S. attack, Syria shuts down American institutions
The Syrian cabinet decided on Tuesday to shut down an American school and an American cultural center in Damascus, the Syria's official SANA news agency said, two days after a U.S. military raid in Syria. Syria said the Sunday helicopter strike on the village of Sukkariyeh, five miles (8 kilometers) from the border with Iraq, killed eight civilians while a U.S. official said the raid was believed to have killed a major al Qaida operative who helped smuggle foreign fighters into Iraq. Syria said four U.S. helicopters attacked the border region in eastern Syria. Iraq, which said the raid targeted staging grounds used by militants, denounced the air strike. France and Russia have also condemned the attack.
According to the SANA report, the Syrian cabinet also decided to postpone a Syrian-Iraqi bilateral committee meeting which was scheduled for Nov. 12- Nov. 13 in Baghdad. Moallem has characterized the attack as a "terrorist aggression" and said if repeated, Syria would defend itself. He has called for U.S. and Iraqi investigations into the attack. Meanwhile Tuesday, Syria rejected the allegations that the raid had targeted an al-Qaida operative.
"What they are saying is just unjustified. I deny it totally," Moallem told reporters. A U.S. official said on Monday that the raid was aimed at Abu Ghadiya, a former lieutenant of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the leader of al-Qaida in Iraq who was killed in a U.S. air strike in 2006.
"What they are saying is not accurate," said Moallem, who is on a visit to London.
"Do you imagine that a man with his three children are terrorists?" he said, referring to one of the civilians Syria said was killed in the raid. He stressed that the victims of the raid were innocent civilians, and repeated his accusation that the attack was a "terrorist act" by the United States.
"This is a war crime attempt by the United States against Syria," he said. Asked if Syria planned any further diplomatic steps, Moallem said "we are awaiting their response.
According to what we will receive, we will decide our options." The Bush administration, which will leave office in January after the U.S. presidential election on Nov. 4, accuses Syria of not doing enough to stem the flow of al-Qaida fighters and other insurgents into Iraq.
Iraq's government denounced the U.S. action on Tuesday in an unusual rebuke of Washington. "The Iraqi government rejects U.S. aircraft bombarding posts inside Syria," spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh said.
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From the "Impudent Observer" blog:
Syria Threatens Retaliation Against USA
October 30th, 2008 by Fred Stopsky · No Comments
The Syrian government reacted with fury to the American attack inside its borders which resulted in the death of several people. American military sources insist the raid was necessary in order to kill key leaders of militants who were behind the movement of al-Qaida forces through Syria. Damascus denounced the act as “criminal and terrorist aggression” and warned there would be retaliation against the Americans. The first step to implement Syrian threats was closing of an American cultural center and the American school in the capital. The American military refuses to back down from its claims they killed important al-Qaida leaders, but Syria insists civilians were killed in the raid including several children.
The daylight raid made impossible any denial on the part of Americans they could not see who they were blasting. Syria, in particular, was furious the raid came from Iraq territory and it will be interesting to see how the Iraq government responds to Syrian charges concerning utilization of its territory for staging of attacks on Syria.
Egypt and China joined in Syrian anger at the attack. Lost in discussion of this even is the fact that Turkey has been trying for months to organize an Israel-Syrian peace accord How does this attack fit into any long term goals of America?
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America’s Military Attack in Syria—Possible Reasons and Likely Costs
Details are finally emerging of the American military operation inside Syria in Abu Kamal on Sunday afternoon. While there still has been no official on-record briefing from the Pentagon, unnamed DoD sources have filled in some of the gaps and reports on the operation appear in today's press. The target was apparently "Abu al-Ghadiyah" (Badran al-Mazidi), described alternatively as a high-ranking AQI (al-Qaeda in Iraq) operative or facilitator of smugglings and infiltration networks from Syria into Iraq, and vice versa. While it appears that there have been instances of cross-border "hot pursuit" by U.S. forces across Syrian borders before, today's Washington Post makes the assertion that this is "the first acknowledged instance of U.S. ground forces operating in Syria." Syrian and Arab T.V. have been full of pictures of the area of the raid and its aftermath, interviews with the civilian wounded in hospitals, and now images of thousands attending the funerals of the 8 civilians who it is claimed also fell victim to this attack (there are claims that American forces nabbed two AQI operatives--these are as yet unconfirmed--there might still be a DoD briefing today).
Condemnations have been prevalent in the Arab media, with the headline of the UAE daily al-Khaleej being typical: "U.S. Aggression Against Syria". And criticism has not only come from the obvious places--Syria, Iran, Lebanon, Iraq and elsewhere in the Arab world--but also from Russia, Europe and beyond. There have also been some interesting exceptions to this trend within the Arab world--notably Saudi Arabia, leading some to speculate that the Saudis encouraged or were even complicit in this operation. But even as the details are emerging many are still baffled as to why this raid took place, and especially why now. As ever when it comes to the Middle East, and especially where Syria is concerned, tantalizing and mischievous theories proliferate. Here is an attempt, then, to make sense of why this happened, and what the implications might be. [source]
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