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Syria's Double Game Backfires

Defense Minister Ehud Barak: 'U.S commando strike inside Syria is part of global war against terrorism but no special implications for Israel'

Israeli sources: 'Syrian president Bashar Assad is playing double game on several fronts which have backfired'

IsraCast: 'could u.s. also be warning Iran to halt its infiltration of terrorists into Iraq?'

(photo: U.S airforce)

The American commando raid against the Al-Qaeda operation inside Syria is apparently a clear signal that the Bush administration is fed-up with Syria's collusion in infiltrating terrorists into Iraq where they have been killing and wounding U.S and Iraqi soldiers. But Iraq is only of several fronts on which Syrian President Bashar Assad has been playing a double game. IsraCast also raises the question if the U.S. operation is a stern warning to Iran.

The U.S commando strike launched from Iraq inside Syria marks a new milestone. The Special Forces airborne raid may have knocked out a key Al-Qaeda operation for infiltrating terrorists inside Iraq to attack American and Iraqi soldiers. Israel's Defense Minister Ehud Barak refused to say whether he had been apprised of U.S operation beforehand. Barak viewed as part of the global campaign against terrorism with no special implication for Israel. Recently, a senior American military officer in Iraq warned of a deteriorating situation along the Syrian border with Iraq where terrorists have long been infiltrating for attacks on American and Iraqi forces. Israeli sources say the American operation indicates that Washington is fed up with Syria's turning a blind eye to Al-Qaeda's activities inside Syria.

Syrian President Bashar Assad

Efraim Halevi, a former Mossad director, has said that Syria claims it has trouble controlling the border area and even requested American surveillance equipment for this purpose. However, the U.S rejected this Syrian request saying the equipment could be used against Israel. What is clear is that Syria could prevent its territory from been used as a terrorist base if it so desired. Damascus has sealed its cease-fire line with Israel along the Golan Heights as well as its border with Turkey, and totally prevents any "rogue" attacks by either Palestinian or Kurdish gunmen. Assad is fully aware of the consequences if he dared provoke Israel or Turkey.  Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Mualem has called the American raid "a terrorist and criminal attack" to which his country will respond if it happens again. However, Syrian President Bashar Assad has let it be known he has high hopes for improving relations with the U.S, if Democratic candidate Barack Obama is elected president, so Damascus is not expected to retaliate. But will it now crack down on the infiltrations form Syrian territory into Iraq?

Warning to Iran?

Past experience indicates that Syria has been playing a double game on several fronts. President Assad has forged a strategic alliance with Iranian president Ahmadinejad permitting Syrian territory to be used as a supply route for Iranian rockets and weapons to Hezbollah in south Lebanon, where they pose a new threat to Israel. This at the same time that it tries to break its isolation not only in the international community but also in the Arab world, by conducting peace contacts with Israel under the aegis of Turkey. Just over a year ago, Israel also launched an operation of its own inside Syria when it bombed a nuclear installation being built by North Korea. In addition, Damascus hosts the Palestinian terror organization Hamas, which like Iran also vows to wipe Israel off the map. Moreover, after being expelled from Lebanon Syria has conducted a campaign of assassinations in that country against anti-Syrian personalities including its Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.

Rafik Hariri assassination (2005)

Assad has been the subject of an international investigation for the Hariri killing. Israeli sources say the young, inexperienced Syrian leader has been playing a double game which has again backfired, this time by being in cahoots with the terror attacks in Iraq. This at the same time it signals Washington that it is looking for better relations and being crossed out of the axis of evil. 

The U.S has now signaled the Syrian leader that it has had enough of his duplicity and that it expects Damascus to get serious about closing its border with Iraq. Might it also be a message to Iran that it might be in America's crosshairs, if it continues with its support of terrorist operations inside Iraq?

David Essing

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