Sunday, May 10, 2009

The Challenges from Across the Border

If you are wondering why violence continues in Iraq despite our victories over al Qaeda and the Sadrists so long after the surge ended, General Odierno explains:

We are fully aware that the challenges are still in front of us, as Iraq continues to involve and improve the problem -- as the situation continues to involve and it continues to improve, the problem set actually becomes more complex as we move forward.

But we still see evidence that Iran is funding, training and equipping surrogates who are conducting disruptive operations within Iraq. While the level of Iranian interference is somewhat lessened, it is nevertheless not what Iraq should expect from a neighbor. We expect that Iraq will have a relationship with its neighbors, and Iran has had an opportunity to make that relationship a positive one based on respect for Iraq's sovereignty. It should be clear to Iranian leaders that the ratified security agreement, which Tehran has strongly opposed, and the recent provincial elections, which largely repudiated outside interference, that the Iraqi people demand respect.

Likewise, some elements of foreign fighters continue to traffic through Syria. This rate has also been reduced, but Syria also has the opportunity to improve its status with Iraq through actions that demonstrate a commitment to eliminating the use of its soil as a staging area for foreign fighters.

It has been difficult to snuff the remaining terror groups because the Iraqis aren't as good as our forces and because Iran and Syria continue to bolster these enemies. Iraq's forces will continue to get better, and will eventually beat them down.

But for now, our enemies continue to kill our troops and our allies' people, even as we reach out our open hand to them--instead of making them pay for killing our people.

Is it any wonder our friends worry we'll betray them to strike a deal with Iran?

UPDATE: The Syrians value their Iranian alliance more than improving relations with America:

After a long hiatus, the Syrian pipeline operated by the organization al-Qaeda in Iraq is back in business.

The revival of a transit route that officials had declared all but closed comes as the Obama administration is exploring a new diplomatic dialogue with Syria. At the same time, Washington remains concerned by Syrian activities -- including ongoing support for the militant groups Hezbollah and Hamas, as well as activities involving Iraq.

On Wednesday, acting Assistant Secretary of State Jeffrey D. Feltman and National Security Council official Daniel Shapiro arrived in Syria for their second visit since Barack Obama's inauguration as president. Two days later, however, Obama renewed U.S. sanctions against Syria, accusing Damascus of supporting terrorism in the Middle East and undermining Iraqi stability.

I guess bad relations with Syria weren't George W. Bush's fault, after all.