Where does Terrorism Come from in Iraq: Hundreds Killed but There’s No MysteryOctober 26, 2009
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You know that two car bombs hit three government buildings in Baghdad on October 25 and killed 132 people. You probably know that this was a devastating hit against the effort to stabilize the country, which in turn is a precondition for U.S. withdrawal. Many analysts viewed this as an attemt to discredit the January election and to pull the rug from under Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki who has staked his job on reducing violence to a minimum.
But here’s what you don’t know: Where did the bombs come from? Where did the terrorists come from? Where did the orders to stage a very politically focused attack come from.
The Iraqi government has now answered these questions with one word: Syria.
Remember that the Iraqi government has been warning about this for months, blaming Damascus for specific attacks based on evidence and interrogations. When this last happened in September, the U.S. government refused to take Baghdad’s side. Nor was there any break in the move to engage Syria. Nor was there any interruption–in fact, the exact opposite–in the European move to make a partnership agreement which would pump more money into Syria.
Nothing. No denunciation. No UN resolution. No international investigation. No U.S. efforts to punish those responsible.
Just as with the 241 American soldiers killed in Beirut in 1983 through similar means.
So what is the result of Syria being involved in sponsoring, financing, organizing, and facilitating terrorist attacks on Iraq without any cost?
More attacks on Iraq. U.S. policy unintentionally sent Damascus a signal: you can do whatever you want and not fear retribution from the United States or its European allies. Naturally, the Syrians stepped up attacks.
This has happened before, notably in 1990, when a soft U.S. stand in defending Kuwait convinced Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein that he could invade and take over that country without the United States reacting.
Iraq was wrong in 1990–the George Bush administration did fight back and defeat Iraq–but Syria might well get away with aggression in 2009, and of course what Damascus is doing now is more subtle and thus easier for Washington to ignore.
True, the Obama Administration has declared the “war on terror” to be over and stated that only al-Qaida and its allies would be the target of American wrath.
But wait a minute! Isn’t al-Qaida the group that is being based in Syria and carrying out many of these attacks? Doesn’t that make Syria an ally of al-Qaida?
When one of my readers raised the issue in a university class on the Middle East, his professor said, no, not so, it is very complicated.
Well, how complex can it be? Al-Qaida terrorists operate in Syria with the government’s approval. They get money, arms and training there. They cross the border into Iraq to launch attacks and at times cross back into Syria.
Can anyone refute that? Why then is Syria getting away with murder at no cost, not even verbal denunciation?
More people die; U.S. efforts are destabilized. There’s a very serious mistake being made here. American soldiers and Iraqi civilians are paying the price. Think about that when you hear news coverage about these attacks and all the attacks to come.
Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal. His latest books are The Israel-Arab Reader (seventh edition), The Long War for Freedom: The Arab Struggle for Democracy in the Middle East (Wiley), and The Truth About Syria (Palgrave-Macmillan). To read and subscribe to MERIA, GLORIA articles, or to order books. To see or subscribe to his blog, Rubin Reports.
Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal. His latest books are Lebanon: Liberation, Conflict, and Crisis (Palgrave Macmillan), Conflict and Insurgency in the Contemporary Middle East (Routledge), The Israel-Arab Reader (seventh edition) (Viking-Penguin), the paperback edition of The Truth About Syria (Palgrave-Macmillan), A Chronological History of Terrorism (Sharpe), and The Long War for Freedom: The Arab Struggle for Democracy in the Middle East (Wiley).