Syria’s involvement in hosting and facilitating foreign terrorists and elements of the Iraqi insurgency has been common knowledge for some time now. While the Asad regime claims to continue with the arrest and deportation of foreign terrorists entering Iraq, the Iraqi government appears to be losing patience. Iraq’s Minister of the Interior Bayan Jabr has stated he has have made specific requests to Syria to turn over wanted members of the insurgency. Predictably, Syria responds by using the Israeli card.
Syrian authorities have been sent the names of 25 people wanted for crimes committed in Iraq, as well as documents proving they are currently in Syria.
“We handed the documents and are waiting for the answer in the coming days,” Jabr said. “The killers are infiltrating from most neighboring countries in order to reach Baghdad.”
[Syrian Foreign Minister Farouk] Al-Sharaa, however, said Washington would continue saying Syria’s actions were insufficient until Damascus changes its position on the Arab-Israeli conflict. He reiterated Syria’s call for dialogue with the United States to improve their strained relations.
Iraqi Minister of Defense Saadoun al-Dulaimi is blunt in his criticism of Syria and issues a not-so-veiled threat; “When the lava of the exploding volcano of Iraq overflows, it will first hit Damascus.” al-Dulaimi explains the route taken by foreign terrorists infiltrating from Syria:
The first one is in the far north, passing through Tal Afar, south into Baiji and Kirkuk and then into Baghdad.
The second route is along the Euphrates River, from the border town of Qaim into Falluja, west of the capital. From there, fighters proceed to other places — such as Abu Ghraib outside Baghdad and the “Triangle of Death” towns south of the capital — Yusifiya, Latifiya and Mahmoudiya.
The third course is near Iraq’s border with Syria and Jordan. Al-Dulaimi said most car bombers use this route, a desert stretch easy to penetrate. [Note: this would be in the area of Rutbah where US forces are stationed.]
Pressure on Syria is coming from outside quarters as well. Secretary Rumsfeld recently met Iraqi Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari, and encouraged the Iraqi government to get tough with Syria; “They need to demonstrate that they’re a big country, they’re a wealthy country, that they’ll be around a long time, and they don’t really like it.” Congress is investigating if Syria has used oil money to fund the insurgency and allowed their banks to launder money. Joshua Landis reports there are rumors floating around the Pentagon that punitive strikes may be in order for Syrian complicity in supporting the Iraqi insurgency. Tony Badran reports that Syria continues to play a shell game when investigating the recent assassinations in Lebanon, drawing the ire of the European Union.
Despite the multiple warnings to Asad, he continues to interfere with Lebanese politics and colludes in the murder of Iraqis and Americans. These are dangerous games, and one he cannot play forever without consequence.
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