Friday, August 10, 2007


Syria has been playing with fire by supporting Sunni jihadis in Iraq and acting as a conduit for Sunnis from the entire world to go to Iraq and kill. The Syrians have essentially become West Iran.

Syria is a Sunni-majority state ruled by a Shia minority (the Allawites are an offshoot of Shia Islam). The triumph of Sunni jihadis in Iraq would be a disaster for Damascus.

Yet when Syria tries to imply that they are on the same side as we are, noting they have been attacked by these jihadis, it is very misleading:

Mansoura dismissed U.S. accusations that Syria is letting militants cross into Iraq to fight U.S. forces there and repeated the official line that Islamist militants were as much a threat to Syria as to Iraq.

Syria is ruled by the secular Baath Party, which crushed a revolt led by the Muslim Brotherhood in the 1980s.

Western diplomats have questioned whether Syria has softened its stance against militants as a way of countering U.S. pressure and showing that its secular system is the only guarantor of stability.

Mansoura said Syria was resolutely against the spread of militant Islamist influence in the region.

Yes, Syria should be very afraid of jihadis. But Syria isn't trying to foster a Sunni jihadi-run Iraq, Syria is trying to weaken Iraq to benefit their long-time ally Iran and to gain leverage to lessen our threat to Damascus via Lebanon. Syria wants the jihadis to bleed us in Iraq--not defeat us and take over in Iraq.

If jihadis who flock to Syria and then cross into Iraq increasingly see Iraq as a one-way ticket to defeat and pointless martyrdom, those jihadis may decide to stick around for an easier target--Boy Assad. If our side can publicize the short lifespan of foreign jihadis in Iraq, this might accelerate this change of view. If inbound jihadis don't continue on to Iraq, that would be real pressure on Syria to halt the flow into Syria.

Could it be that the Syrians see the trends in Iraq moving our way despite hope raised by the Pelosi road trip and just want some distance from their old policyof allying with Iran:

Syria recently condemned attacks against Iraqi forces as "terrorism" and backed explicitly the Shi'ite-led government in Baghdad for the first time.

Syria plays a delicate balancing game to survive. Do they sense our coming victory? Have they just shifted away from Iran?