Iraq: May 26, 2005

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 Syria says it ordered police to pick up foreigners along the Iraq border and send them home. Some 1,200 people were removed in the past few weeks. Syria insists that this was the latest effort to help the United States fight terrorism. But Syria plays it both ways. There is much evidence, largely from tourists and residents in Syria, that the government tolerated considerable terrorist activity. The United States has continued to pressure Syria to cut support for terrorism, and now Syria says it will stop it's anti-terrorist efforts, the ones that the U.S. calls inadequate and a smokescreen that hides continued support for terrorists.

Syria's problem is that it is a police state run by the Assad family and the Baath Party. Since the 1960s, the Syrian Baath Party feuded with the Iraqi Baath Party (run by the Hussein family). With the fall of the Baath Party in Iraq, the Syrian Baath Party has made up with their fellow party members in Iraq and supported efforts by the Iraqi Baath Party to get back into power. But this had to be done secretly, or at least denied publicly, as the United States was fighting a war on terror, and to publicly admit support for terrorists was to invite attack. But Syria has supported terrorist organizations, often openly, for decades. This was done as a cheap way to attack enemies (mainly Israel and Iraq, but Western nations as well.)

The Syrian Baath Party is holding a major meeting soon, to decide its future. Apparently it comes down to continued support for terrorists, and the possibility of war with America, or some alternative. Democracy is not considered an option, because the Syrian Baath Party is dominated by the Alawite Moslem minority, which fears retribution from the Sunni Moslem majority if the police state were dismantled. Thus, while the Syrian Baath Party fiddles, Syria begins to burn down. 

The al Qaeda organization in Iraq is coming apart. Two years of effort to build an informer network, and train and organize an Iraqi police force and army, have paid off. There are more leads coming in than the Iraqis and Americans can act on. But there are enough Iraqi police and SWAT teams to raid the most likely targets. There are enough Iraqi police to allow American troops to move into rural areas of western Iraq that have been left to anti-government Sunni Arab tribes for the last two years. The shock of these attacks over the last few months has led to the capture of several senior al Qaeda leaders in Iraq, and the capture of many documents and computer files. This led to even more raids, and the capture of more leads. The al Qaeda response was to carry out as many suicide attacks as possible, as soon as possible. This was driven partly by necessity, because more bomb workshops were being raided, so the stockpile of car bombs had to be either used, or the police would capture them. Now, many of those workshops are being captured. Although some are car repair operations that do suicide car bombs on the side, in plain sight, many of these are being turned in by informers, who then collect a reward. While the rewards for tips works, the desire to eliminate the terrorist attacks is an even greater incentive.

 

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