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Bush Close to Bombing Syria

By IIMCR, http://blog.iimcr.org  Posted by David Swanson (about the submitter)       (Page 1 of 1 pages)   No comments

David Swanson
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Washington---Within the past several weeks, President Bush has come within hours of ordering U.S. military forces to conduct aerial bombing raids against insurgent training camps inside Syrian territory that are being used by foreign fighters as a staging ground in which to enter Iraq and kill American soldiers. But Secretary of State, Condeleeza Rice and representatives from the Central Intelligence Agency have until now prevailed in convincing President Bush that Syrian President Bashar Assad can be reasoned with, according to high ranking officials within the Bush administration.

Heretofore Secretary of State Rice and the CIA have advocated patience in dealing with the Syrian leader on two accounts. For one, following September ll, 2001 Syrian officials, particularly its chief of military intelligence, Asef Shawkat, Assad's brother-in-law, now a key suspect in the death of former Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri, worked closely with U.S. counter-terrorism agencies. Secondly, CIA officials have told the White House that a U.S. military attack inside Syria may destabilize the Assad government and there is no guarantee that a worse government, possibly an Islamist fundamentalist one, might replace it. Israeli intelligence officials have also expressed similar concerns to their Western counterparts.

White House insiders, however, report the reservoir of patience for Syria is all but evaporating by the hour. One official known to be strongly advocating a strike against Syria is President Bush's national intelligence director, John Negroponte.

In recent months, President Assad has been shown unmistakable evidence by representatives of the U.S. government of insurgent military training camps that are being operated inside Syrian territory. Assad has reviewed such information and repeatedly promised to do something about it. But to date he has done little or nothing to quell the insurgent attacks, most of which are comprised by Saudi nationals.

"We do not have the least doubt that nine out of l0 of the suicide bombers who carry out suicide bombing operations among Iraqi citizens"are Arabs who have crossed the border with Syria," Iraqi national security adviser, Mowaffak Rubaie, told journalists in Cairo last weekend.

In an exercise of pan-Arab solidarity, Syria's President Assad expressed hope back in 2003 that Americans would lose the war in Iraq , which rankled feathers with Washington.

"The problem with any U.S. aerial strike inside Syria is that we are not a thousand percent sure where all of these camps are located," explains one U.S. intelligence official. "But any such attack would surely bolster President Bush's sagging popularity in the short term."

Acting as if he knows what is coming, Syrian President Bashar Assad delivered a highly confrontational speech last Thursday at Damascus University in which he warned his nation to prepare for tougher times with the international community. "We cannot give in to anything that could enter our houses and try to humiliate us from the inside or play with our national stability," said Assad.""This country is protected by its people, by its state and above all, as the popular saying has it, 'Syria is protected by God.'"

Assad seems to have pushed Syria into a tight corner by balking at complete cooperation with the United Nations' lead investigator, Detlev Mehlis, regarding Syria's complicity in the assassination of former Lebanese premier Rafiq Hariri's murder. He has characterized the UN's investigation into the February l4th assassination of Hariri as part of a United States attack on Syria.

Several well-placed members of the U.S. intelligence community report to IIMCR that members of the Syrian intelligence apparatus were definitely involved in orchestrating the assassination of Mr. Hariri. U.S. and Israeli intelligence authorities have hard evidence of Syrian officials discussing plans of Hariri's death. But neither U.S., nor Israeli intelligence officials, warned Hariri directly. That responsibility was left to French President Jacques Chirac, a close confidant of Hariri. It is also known that Hariri was actively involved in the year before his death in attempting to overthrow the Assad regime in Syria. And yet others suggest the evidence the United Nations has on the Hariri investigation is not an open and shut case.

What is clear, however, is that one of Assad's primary supporter, Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak is believed to be exhausted in helping the Syrian leader extract himself from daily crises.

Syria's 40-year-old leader, a former eye doctor who spent a year training at a St Mary's Hospital unit in London, is believed to be in way over his head. Not equipped to run a country to which he ascended to power in June of 2000, Assad is no longer being given the benefit of the doubt. He continues to frustrate his own aides on almost a daily basis.

But can Assad save himself with the West if he were to do more to try to block the flow of Arab volunteers going to join the Iraqi insurgency? Very few are willing to take such a bet today.
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David Swanson is the author of "When the World Outlawed War," "War Is A Lie" and "Daybreak: Undoing the Imperial Presidency and Forming a More Perfect Union." He blogs at http://davidswanson.org and http://warisacrime.org and works for the online (more...)
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