Syria in the crosshairs

It's getting Syrious...

There were reports today that some force attacked some installations in Syria, although what exactly happened isn't clear. The BBC has a number of comments published from people who witnessed what happened, but whether this signals greater instability in the last Baathist republic or merely another incident is very unknown. Al Jazeera claims that "foreign special forces" implied to be the Americans did this operation and fled into the city. I really don't know what to make of that:

It is widely known coalition special forces based out of Iraq are in operation inside the Syrian side of the Iraqi boarder to stem the flow of foreign fighters. This incident is the first which has targeted the capital Damascus.

Maybe...

(my following speculation was posted to the Kos this afternoon, now slightly updated and better linked)

Just to run down the menu, since the invasion of Iraq, Israel has bombed an abandoned/dormant Palestinian training camp about 30 miles outside Damascus, towards Lebanon. This location was roughly at the center of the Syrian 'regional presence' if you include the places they occupy in Lebanon. Also at one point in the past year the US army chased a set of retrofitted gas trucks into Syria from Iraq, killing about 20 people and seizing four Syrian border guards, who were later released. (I'm going from memory here, so I might be mistaken) That whole incident turned out to be based on bad intel, but it got the US military raising havoc in the territory, which was, I think we all have to admit, a prime objective of neoconservative strategy.

The thing about Syria that everyone forgets is that their government is fundamentally opposed to the Muslim Brotherhood/Al Qaeda type political forces, and they've been in conflict for decades. Syria also provided a great deal of al Qaeda intelligence to the CIA after 9/11 as Seymour Hersh reported. But that didn't save them from losing the oil that Saddam was surrepiticiously pumping to them after the war.

Syria is probably one of the most badly calcified and repressive states in the world, but at the same time it is against Al Qaeda. And after all, until four years ago Israel was occupying south Lebanon, as well as the annexed Golan Heights. All this military activity forced Syria to remain a state mobilized for war, vesting more power in the dictatorship and less in civil society.

I don't really think this is the popular revolution at the gates like everyone's speculating... However how the hell can we even decode what's happening in a secretive place like Damascus when Hezbollah and Hamas are chillin there?

Yes, the Israelis would like to see it destabilized. I don't really think that Mossad did it, but maybe they helped some crazy Arabs get bombs and such. They are that impulsive these days, but there are plenty of other parties.

On the other hand, the only other big news from Syria lately is that some Kurds fought with the government in the wild eastern section of the country after a soccer game. It would not be surprising at all if the Kurdish militants are taking advantage of their greater freedom and Iraqi basing to go after the Syrian Baathists. After all, the remote sections of Syria are as much part of their heritage as Damascus'. (and for that matter, the free-for-all in Iraq provides a great deal of terrorist-haven space to attack the Saudis and Jordanians from, as well, which is a prime reason that Iran is generally interested in peacefully stabilizing Iraq)

There's the whole issue of Syria letting foreign (read Arab) fighters come across the border to fight the United States since before the war. I would be interested in someone explaining to me why it was morally wrong for them to leave the border open. There are a lot of cross-border Sunni tribal connections, and I would suspect that much of the resistance in al-Anbar province is supported by Arabs with Syrian family ties, perhaps especially Sunnis who got completely screwed when Bremer dissolved the Iraqi military.

Also it is worth noting that Pentagon Office of Special Plans schemer David Wurmser wrote a funny and wildly inaccurate report alongside the famous Clean Break document called "Coping with Crumbling States: A Western and Israeli balance of power strategy for the Levant" which makes all these weird claims about Syria evaporating in the desert. ('Western and Israeli balance of power' couldn't possibly mean Israeli-American hegemony, could it??! How silly!)

In the Clean Break, Perle, Feith, Wurmser declared that 'rolling back' Syria was a principal objective of Israeli policy that could be accomplished by overthrowing Saddam Hussein. Is this chaos part of that scheme, or merely the waves of wreckage stemming from their incredibly poor and Sunni-hostile postwar management?

This is not a situation with a great deal of 'moral clarity,' let me put it that way.

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