Monday, July 21, 2003

The indispensable Billmon highlights the opening paragraphs from a UPI dispatch on a border clash between American Iraqi occupiers and Syrian troops on the Syrian border:

Depicted by the Pentagon as a mere border skirmish, the June 18 strike into Syria by U.S. military forces was, in fact, based on mistaken intelligence and penetrated more than 25 miles into that country, causing numerous Syrian casualties, several serving and former administration officials said.

Although diplomatic relations between the two sides have been frosty after the fall of Saddam Hussein's regime in Iraq, the two nations have close intelligence ties, which have become strained as a result, these sources said.

"I think this was a deliberate effort to disrupt cooperation between U.S. and Syrian intelligence agencies," an administration official said.

According to a report in The New York Times, administration officials said that attack, carried out by Task Force 20, a Special Operations force, was based on intelligence that a convoy of SUVs, heading for Syria, was linked to senior fugitive Iraqi leaders.

I've suggested before that regimes like Syria's make strange allies in a general war on Terror; their populations are more likely to see them as allies of Terror. But in al-Qaeda specifically, we and they have at least a common enemy; the Baathist Syrian government is overtly secular, and al-Qaeda would love to be rid of it, if only to install its own brand of tyranny. And so Syrian state security has what is, from the American perspective, a treasure trove of intelligence on al-Qaeda and its allies.

How close has American cooperation been with the Syrians? Seymour Hersh (via Eschaton) has more, with specifics:

In one instance, the Syrians learned that Al Qaeda had penetrated the security services of Bahrain and had arranged for a glider loaded with explosives to be flown into a building at the U.S. Navy's 5th Fleet headquarters there. Flynt Leverett, a former C.I.A. analyst who served until early this year on the National Security Council and is now a fellow at the Saban Center at the Brookings Institution, told me that Syria?s help "let us thwart an operation that, if carried out, would have killed a lot of Americans." The Syrians also helped the United States avert a suspected plot against an American target in Ottawa.

Syria's efforts to help seemed to confound the Bush Administration, which was fixated on Iraq. According to many officials I spoke to, the Administration was ill prepared to take advantage of the situation and unwilling to reassess its relationship with Assad's government. Leverett told me that "the quality and quantity of information from Syria exceeded the Agency's expectations." But, he said, "from the Syrians' perspective they got little in return for it."

Needless to say, the Iraq war has put something of a strain on things, particularly since the Syrians regarded it as ill-advised to start with, and cooperation isn't nearly now what it was. But the reckless American border attack seems intended to gin up tensions further, perhaps to provoke yet another war.

And why would anyone in the administration want to provoke a war with a strained Arab state which also has a simmering border dispute with Israel, the region's ultimate tinderbox? Let's go to the Rense archives:

Jack Van Impe Question Of The Week

Do you think President Bush, a Christian man, believes or knows he's involved with prophetic events concerning the Middle East and the final battle between good and evil?


... Rexella and I were in the home of President Bush Senior. What a great time we had with his wife Barbara, in fact, she's even written us four personal letters and we have them hanging up in our memorabilia room. We gave her the message on video, "The Coming War with Russia" and many of our books to share with her husband, George Bush Sr. Of course, I now have sent the video, "Jerusalem: War or Peace" to all the leaders of our nation.


I know that he as seen this video, "Jerusalem: War or Peace". His brother in Florida, Jeb Bush, has seen it because he wrote me the most heartfelt letter. So, yes, I think George W. knows that he's destined for this final hour in prophetic history.


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