Analysis: Syrian raid suggests new US stance

This is from IHL.

This is not really a new stance. The Bush ultra rogue state doctrine has always been that the US has the right to strike anywhere in world be it territory of friend (Pakistan) or foe(Syria) on the grounds of self-defence or even more vaguely as part of the war against terror. It is so common that the press doesn't even bother to mention that the policy is a clear violation of the UN charter and international law. Notice that they do not do this in countries such as Russia which might not just reply with rhetoric. Nor do they do it in cases where the terrorists are helpful to the US as with MEK in Iraq and they certainly do not help out Turkey with the PKK. The raids can simply be seen as a symbol of US imperial supremacy showing others, especially those that are weak, that the US is the world boss and policeman. Or to put it in the moral crapology of the US itself: The leader of the free and democratic world in the war against terror and the dark forces of evil. The article is correct however in that there seems to be a new emphasis upon the doctrine in actual practice.

I am wondering if Obama will have anything to say about these policies. He certainly did not take the opportunity to condemn this raid. Perhaps Bush and McCain hoped that this would happen. As far as Pakistan attacks are concerned from Obama's own comments he probably thinks that this was a great idea! Whoever wins the presidency there is bipartisan agreement upon continued US military domination of the world and Obama wants to increase the size of the military.

Syria has been trying to mend relationships with the West and even with Israel. Perhaps the US thinks that this is a bad idea. There was even to be a meeting with a US official but this has now been cancelled by Syria. These policies are alienating Pakistan an ally and also Iraq. Iraq worries about the US using Iraq as a jumping off point to attack neighbours such as Iran or Syria. This action will just make that worry more real. Also, Iraq wants good relationships with Syria and this action will not help.

Note the way in which a detailed justification is given by anonymous US officials for the attack showing how valuable it was in the war on Al Qaeda. Of course nothing is verified! Officially nothing is even admitted. People should surely see through this transparent bit of psychological warfare and management of disinformation.

Analysis: Syria raid suggests new US stance
The Associated Press
Monday, October 27, 2008
WASHINGTON: Bold U.S. raids into Pakistan and Syria show the stark choice the Bush administration is putting to both friends and adversaries in its final weeks: Clamp down on militants and terrorists or we'll do it for you.
Raids like the one in Syria on Sunday hold the potential to kill or capture wanted al-Qaida terrorists or other militants, but they also risk killing civilians and angering foreign governments and their citizens.
Selective U.S. military action across the borders of nations friendly and unfriendly reflects increasing willingness to embrace what U.S. commanders consider a last resort: violating the sovereignty of a nation with whom the U.S. is not at war.
It's a demonstration of overt military strength that the U.S. has been reluctant to display in public for fear it would backfire on U.S. forces or supporters within the governments of the nations whose borders were breached.
Now, senior U.S. officials favor judicious use of the newly aggressive tactics, seeing more upsides than down. They reason that whatever diplomatic damage is done will be mitigated when Bush leaves office and a new president is inaugurated.
The raid in Syria also comes about a week before a presidential election that sees John McCain, the candidate of President George W. Bush's Republican Party, lagging behind Democrat Barack Obama. Such a show of strength could boost McCain's standing among some voters.
A new administration could, in fact, help mend fences with Syria, where the government has already said it is looking forward to a better relationship with the next U.S. president, said Anthony Cordesman, a Middle East expert with the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
In Pakistan, however, special operations raids could box in the new American president by inflaming an already outraged public.
"Public opinion is already very strongly against the U.S. and 'anti' any U.S. role or interference," Cordesman said. "It's not clear that you are not building up a broad public resistance that will bind the next administration."
The target of Sunday's raid in Sukkariyeh, Syria, just over the Iraq border from Husaybah was a man known as Abu Ghadiyah, the leader of the most prolific network to move al-Qaida associated foreign fighters into Iraq.
The U.S. operation was precipitated by intelligence that he was planning an imminent attack in Iraq, a senior U.S. official told The Associated Press. U.S. intelligence picked up similar reports last spring. The information — not detailed enough to take action on — was followed by the killings of 11 Iraqi policemen just over the border from Abu Ghadiyah's Syrian compound. He personally led the attack, the official said.
"The trip wire was knowing an attack was imminent, and also being able to pinpoint his location," the official said.
Abu Ghadiyah, the nickname for Badran Turki Hishan Al Mazidih, was among those killed, a U.S. counterterrorism official confirmed Monday. All the officials spoke anonymously to discuss sensitive intelligence about the raid.
The attack was carried out at 4:45 p.m., timed to coincide with the customary afternoon rest period. A ground attack was chosen over a missile strike to reduce the chances of hurting civilians not associated with Abu Ghadiyah's network, the official said.
Syria said troops in four helicopters attacked a building and killed eight people, including four children.
The U.S. official confirmed that women and children were at the house, but he said "they were protected at the objective and left behind." He did not specifically address whether any women and children were among the casualties. He said "several" men were killed and identified them as Abu Ghadiyah's body guards.
The cross-border action from U.S. positions inside Iraq comes at a touchy time in U.S.-Iraqi relations. The two sides are negotiating an agreement to extend the legal basis for American forces in Iraq after a U.N. mandate expires on Dec. 31.
Opponents led by Iran worry that a long-term U.S. military presence in Iraq is an invitation to the Americans to use Iraq as a staging ground for attacks against its neighbors. The Iraqis insist they will not allow that.
The attack comes at time when Syria has been working to improve its image in the world. And periodically, U.S. commanders have noted that Damascus has worked harder to clamp down on the use of its country by terrorists.
Bush secretly approved a separate directive three months ago allowing special operations forces to cross the Afghan border to conduct raids inside Pakistan.
Just one such raid has been carried out, according to a senior Pakistan government official. Helicopter-borne U.S. special forces conducted a raid Sept. 3 inside Pakistan. Islamabad has complained bitterly about the move, which it says killed two dozen people, including civilians, and violated its sovereignty.
The raid capped nearly a year of debate among the CIA, U.S. special forces and commanders in Iraq about how to handle the Syrian tributary of the Iraq foreign fighter problem, according to a former intelligence official and a current U.S. military official who deals with Iraq.
The United States has been asking Syria to hand over, capture or kill Abu Ghadiyah for months or years. The U.S. Treasury Department claims he ran a resupply operation on the Syrian border.
Syria rebuffed the U.S. request, saying it was monitoring Abu Ghadiyah's activities, said two U.S. military officials with direct recent knowledge of U.S. intelligence in western Iraq.
The raid came just days after the commander of U.S. forces in western Iraq said American troops were redoubling efforts to secure the Syrian border, which he called an "uncontrolled" gateway for fighters entering Iraq.
Syria called the raid a "serious aggression," and its foreign ministry summoned the charges d'affaires of the United States and Iraq in protest.
The U.S has become frustrated with the use of Pakistan's northwestern tribal areas as a safe haven for militants over the nearly seven years since the Taliban was rousted from Afghanistan for harboring Osama bin Laden.
U.S. forces, including the CIA, continue to conduct missile attacks inside the border region but is doing so in closer coordination with the Pakistan government, a Pakistani official said. He spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive intelligence matters.
On Monday, suspected U.S. missiles killed 20 people at the house of a Taliban commander near the Afghan border on Monday, the latest volley in a two-month onslaught on militant bases inside Pakistan, officials said.
Missile attacks have killed at least two senior al-Qaida commanders in Pakistan's wild border zone this year, putting some pressure on extremist groups accused of planning attacks in Afghanistan — and perhaps terror strikes in the West.
EDITOR'S NOTE — Pamela Hess has covered national security in Washington since 1993. AP writers Zeina Karam Albert Aji in Damascus, Hussein Malla in Sukkariyeh and Pauline Jelinek in Washington contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2008 The International Herald Tribune


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