Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Serious about Syria

Click here for AmazonIn the fall of 1998, the Turkish army mobilized for war against Syria. For years, the Kurdish PKK had trained in Syria and used it as a base from which to wage a terrorist campaign in neighboring Turkey, at a cost of some 35,000 lives. PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan lived more or less openly in Damascus. Years of Turkish diplomatic pressure on Syria to close the camps and expel Ocalan had been unavailing. Finally, the Turks made it plain to then Syrian dictator Hafez Assad that he faced a choice between expelling the PKK for good and having his country invaded. Assad capitulated. Within a year, Ocalan was in jail and the PKK had ceased its attacks...

...It helps to understand the full scope of Syrian malfeasance [in Iraq]. So far, the U.S. has accused Syria only of allowing foreign fighters to transit to Iraq. But a report in the Washington Post notes that a global positioning signal receiver found in a Fallujah bomb factory "contained waypoints originating in Western Syria."

Fedayeen interviewed by Western media say they received training in light weapons, explosives and hit-and-run operations at camps in Syria. These camps are likely financed by the $2.5 billion Saddam Hussein is believed to have stashed in Syrian banks before the war. In April, Jordanian intelligence captured an al Qaeda cell as it planned a chemical-weapons attack in Amman. That cell, too, was apparently trained in Syria.

...In an interview in the Lebanese paper Al-Safir, Syrian President Bashar Assad was no less explicit when he offered Lebanon circa 1983 as an example of how the U.S. was to be fought in Iraq: "Lebanon was under Israeli occupation, up to its capital, but we did not consider that a disaster. Why? Because it was very clear there are ways to resist. The problem is not the occupation, but how people deal with it. . . . [In Iraq] the solution is resistance."

...Mr. Assad's calculation is that the U.S. is too tied down in Iraq to entertain any action against Syria.

Maybe. But the fact remains that Syria is providing material support to terrorist groups killing American soldiers in Iraq while openly calling on Iraqis to join the "resistance." So far, the Bush Administration has responded with mixed political signals and weak gestures. That's not something that impresses the Assad family, as the Turks found out. But as the Turks found out as well, there are ways to get the message across to this regime.

WSJ: Serious about Syria

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