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.
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.
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.