Baseball Crank
Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
May 14, 2009
WAR: Lebanon and Hezbollah, Syria and Al Qaeda

Michael Totten warns that the ever-shifting landscape of Lebanese coalition politics could lead to a Hezbollah victory in June's elections. And Bill Roggio reports that the Treasury has officially designated a senior Al Qaeda leader in Syria as a terrorist subject to asset freezes and other sanctions, which of course will come as news to those who insist that Al Qaeda exists only in Afghanistan and Pakistan:

Shammari, who is better known as Abu Khalaf, is known to recruit suicide bombers from North Africa and aids in setting up their travel arrangements into Syria and ultimately Iraq. “The facilitator recruited a few suicide bombers, who attempted to travel to Iraq," the Treasury press release stated.

Khalaf also helped al Qaeda suicide bombers based in the Persian Gulf region travel to the Levant to conduct suicide attacks.

Roggio notes that stopping Al Qaeda infiltration into Iraq from Syria was one of the major elements in progress in Iraq over 2007-08:

Syria has long supported or looked the other way as al Qaeda and Sunni insurgents used the country as a transit point and safe haven for fighters entering western Iraq. More than 90 percent of the suicide bombers who have entered Iraq since the insurgency began in 2003 have been estimated to have entered Iraq via Syria.

Al Qaeda's Syrian network is thought to have suffered a setback as the US implemented a counterinsurgency program in 2007 and a covert operation in Syria 2008 targeted and killed a senior member of al Qaeda facilitation network. An estimated 120 plus foreign fighters are thought to have entered Iraq from Syria a month at its peak in 2007. The number is now estimated in the single digits, but there is concern that the Syrian network is being rejuvenated, according to a report in The Washington Post.

Needless to say, the U.S. needs to be keeping the pressure on to prevent a revival. As I've long argued, we don't need to stay in Iraq forever to help the Iraqis keep the lid on their own people, but as long as foreign enemies are sending people across the borders to try to destabilize the country, it's still very much America's business to stop them. As both sides recognize, a reasonably stable, democratic Iraq is a major strategic and propaganda victory for the United States, while the opposite is a major strategic and propaganda victory for Al Qaeda. We've come a very long way towards our goal, but the job is not done yet.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 12:58 PM | War 2007-14 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
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