Thursday, November 6, 2008

Rogue States & Terrorists Respond Only To Force & Deterrence!!

Rogue States & Terrorists Respond Only To Force & Deterrence!! 
By: Elias Bejjani*

November 06/08

There have been numerous reports and analysis as well as vague and conflicting official statements issued by Damascus, Washington and Baghdad that have appeared in the regional and international media outlets, in regards to the U.S. helicopter-borne Special Forces raid that recently targeted the Syrian village of Sukkariya in the Abu Kemal region seven kilometers inside Syria on October 26th.

A US counterterrorism official stated that the American Special Forces that executed the raid had killed the head of a Syrian terrorist network that funneled fighters, weapons and cash into Iraq. He declared that the raid targeted the home of Abu Ghadiyah, leader of a key cell of foreign Jihadi fighters in Iraq. Syrian villagers, where the raid took place, told reporters that US forces grabbed two men and took them away by helicopter back to Iraq.

It is worth mentioning that this successful raid is the first in its accuracy and nature that US troops executed inside Syria since year 2003, although these troops have carried out several military operations in Iraqi territories just a few miles adjacent to the neighboring Syrian borders in pursuit of terrorist militant groups.

Several official US statements have said that the raid's main target was the home of Abu Ghadiyah, leader of a key cell of foreign fighters in Iraq and that he was killed in the armed confrontation. According to these US officials, Abu Ghadiyah was centrally involved in smuggling militant terrorist fighters and weapons from Syria to Iraq. Informed reports have stated that Syria has purposely declined to patrol its boarders with Iraq thus facilitating the infiltration of militants and weapons via its borders to Iraq. In Washington, an unnamed military official told the Associated Press that the raid targeted elements of a "foreign fighter logistics network". It was because of Syrian inaction, the official said, that the US was "taking matters into our own hands". It is the first known US attack on Syrian soil.

Damascus, on its part, alleged that the U.S. helicopters attacked a civilian building under construction and opened fire on the workers inside it causing the death of eight civilians and wounding one. Syrian television was not able to provide any convincing actual footage of these alleged civilian casualties. It only showed a few scenes of a wounded child which according to many a/v experts were altered and even fabricated. The Syrian newspaper Tishrin called it a US war crime, while Syria summoned the US Charge D'Affaires in Damascus to explain the attack. Also in response, Syria called on the Iraqi government to prevent its airspace from being used in such a way. Sami al-Khiyami, the Syrian ambassador to London, told Reuters, "This is an outrageous raid which is against international law. It is a terrible crime. We are expecting clarifications from the Americans".

Ironically, Syria's outspoken and arrogant foreign minister, Walid al-Moallem, was in London conferring with high ranking US and English officials when the raid occurred and continued his talks afterwards, while uttering on the sidelines empty threats of retaliation.

Despite the hostile official statements and angry Syrian media coverage and statements of protest, the Syrian President Bashar Assad and his rogue regime surprisingly did not file any official complaint with the UN and nor did call for an emergency Arab league meeting at any level.

This US raid adds to at least five unexplained serious security incidents and breaches that have occurred in Syria over the last year. This begs to ask the question of 'why' has Syria remained relatively silent and 'why' have these incidents been hushed and swept under the so-called 'diplomatic rug'? All these events have shaken the stability of the internal Syrian domestic scene and it has also lifted the air of invincibility and control that the Baathist Stalinist regime struggles to portray and exert.

The Syrian authorities have yet to announce the findings of the police investigations of any of these incidents, which are chronologically listed below:

1. The Israeli bombardment of a secret Syrian military base in Deir Al-Zour on September 6th of 2007, under the pretext that it was a Korean-style nuclear reactor.

2. The assassination of Hezbollah's number two man, the notorious terrorist Imad Mughniyeh on February 13th of 2008, by a car explosion in the middle of the Syrian capital, Damascus.

3. The assassination of Syrian Brigadier General Mohammed Suleiman, security adviser for Syria's President Bashar al-Assad, on August 1st of 2008. Brigadier Suleiman, 49, was shot dead at his chalet in the Rimal al-Zahabieh luxury resort nine miles north of the port city of Tartous on the Mediterranean.

4. The recent killing of a high rank Syrian officer who was extensively involved in Lebanon's late PM, Rafiq Al-Hariri's assassination. The officer was one of 17 other people who were killed and 24 injured by a devastating explosion that took place on the Damascus Airport highway this past September.

5. Bloody clashes in the Yarmouk Palestinian refugee camp near Damascus between Syrian security officers and what Syrian authorities described as a group of gunmen. Three of the gunmen and one security officer were killed, while another was injured as stated by the Syrian government.

Observers questioned the timing of the US raid, speculated on its actual objectives and wondered why now and not before? Answers to this question varied according to their sources. Many US and European media outlets interpreted the raid to be a fiery personal warning to President Assad saying that Syria's alliance with rogue Iran is no longer acceptable and that its harboring of fundamentalists and terrorists, notably al-Qaeda and Hezbollah, will not continue without a painful price and dire consequences.

Other western observers considered the raid to be a one-time operation that has no political motivation and came in the context of hundreds of similar military operations carried out by U.S. troops on the Syrian-Iraqi border since 2003. The same observers were also puzzled by the disproportionate and unjustified Syrian media reaction and negative coverage.

Some analysts even speculated that the Bush administration and the Pentagon aimed to give leverage to John McCain in his presidential campaign and warn the coming US president that certain restrictions and red lines should not be broken or overlooked if and when US negotiations with Syria and Iran take place.

Syrian and Iranian media as well their mercenary mouthpieces, the terrorists organizations in Lebanon and Gaza, notably Hezbollah and Hamas, alleged that the raid was a kind of psychological support for the US allies in the region. They interpreted it as a sign of weakness and a failure of the US Middle East democracy project!

Some anti-Syrian Lebanese politicians envisioned the entire US operation as a military pre-emptive deterrent for a Syrian plot to invade North Lebanon. This plot in the making was to attack anti-Syrian Lebanese masses and politicians under the guise of fighting Sunni terrorists that Syria alleges have taken refugee in North Lebanon.

In neighboring Israel, the Yediot Aharonot newspaper quoted an unnamed American source as saying: "The American raid was fully coordinated between the Syrian intelligence services and the United States in the realm of Syrian-US coordination in the ongoing war against al-Qaeda and its subsidiaries. The same argument was also adopted during the last few days by many other well known American and British media facilities.
(Sunday, November 02, 2008/News Agencies: BAGHDAD — Despite reports that Syria denounced a violent U.S. Special Operations raid that took place near the Iraq border last week, intelligence officials in Damascus may have approved the attack, the London Times reports. The operation, which was intended to be fast and bloodless, was meant to target Al Qaeda commander Badran Turki Hashim al-Mazidih — also known as Abu Ghadiya — an Iraqi-born terrorist in his late twenties, according to the paper. Syrian officials — who feared Ghadiya as a threat to the secular regime in Damascus — plotted to have U.S. forces kidnap him and take him to Iraq for questioning. But the U.S.-led raid did not go as planned. A fierce gun battle broke out following the launch of a rocket-propelled grenade from a local American compound, blowing the cover on the covert operation. Eight people were reportedly killed in the raid, which Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Muallem called an act of "criminal and terrorist aggression." Officials could not confirm whether Abu Ghadiya was among the dead.)"

Many experts on terrorism in the region applauded the much delayed American military response against the rogue Syria and openly encouraged the US to execute more of such raids. Personally, we fully agree with this argument and consider that the raid came five years too late and that it was not strong enough. Accordingly, no matter what the raid's military and political motives and objectives, it was a very clear message to the Syrian Baathist regime officials, cautioning them to come to their senses and stop harboring terrorists and fundamentalists or otherwise face the consequences.

We strongly believe that it is time for all the free world governments, Sunni Arab regimes, Israel and the USA in particular, to begin speaking to the Axis of Evil countries and organizations, namely Syria, Iran, Hamas, Hezbollah, and Al-Qaeda, with the only language that they comprehend and understand; that being the language of force.

It is time to make the Syrian regime, the Mullahs of Iran, and all their proxy terrorist and fundamentalist organizations, understand very well and without any doubt that there will be dire prices and severe consequences for any criminal acts they commit, among of which is the change of the Syrian and Iranian regimes by force as was the situation with Iraq's dictator, Saddam Hussein.

Had the free world and the Arab Sunni countries adopted and implemented the courageous, straightforward and firm stances in their dealings with Iran, Syria, Hamas, Hezbollah and Al-Qaeda, including the use of strategic military force, the whole world would have been in a much better position of peace, thousands of lives would have been spared and trillions of dollars saved.

In the context of the global war against terrorism, it is worth shedding light on the Middle Eastern press trend of soft condemnation statement releases. These statements appear every time a rogue country, a terrorist group, or a terrorist individual or a leader is hit or captured. These condemnations are trivial and are merely empty words and accordingly should not by any means be taken seriously by any country that is taking part in the waging of anti-terrorism war. Hundreds of such double standard releases were issued in Syria, Lebanon, Iran, Gaza, Russia and other countries in the aftermath of the US raid on the terrorist camp inside Syria. They all ignored the fact that Syria is a breeding centre for all kinds of terrorist, Jihadists and fundamentalists among of which are Hezbollah, Hamas, Jund Al-Sham, Fateh Al-Islam, Al-Qaeda and many, many others.

The righteous and ethical condemnation should in fact be targeting the USA administration because of its failure to destroy Iran's nuclear reactors, overthrow the Syrian Baathist regime nor did it eradicate fundamentalist organizations, especially Hezbollah, that has erected a mini Iranian state inside Lebanon, crippling by force all Lebanese efforts to rebuild the country and reclaim its independence, freedom and sovereignty.

The USA, Europe, Israel and all other free world countries, as well as the Sunni Arab countries should once and for all forget their hesitation, fear, procrastination and double standards in regards to Iran, Syrian and all the terrorist organization that revolve in their orbit. 

All these countries, specially the new US Obama administration should speak to the Axis of Evil countries and terrorists organizations the only language that they comprehend; the language of power and deterrence. All other means are futile and time-buying especially for the Syrian Baathist regime.

*Elias Bejjani
 Canadian-Lebanese Human Rights activist, journalist and political commentator
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