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Forgotten History: Assad has the blood of American soldiers on his hands

Forgotten History: Assad has the blood of American soldiers on his hands

The notion that Assad is only Syria’s problem ignores the history of the Iraq insurgency, Lebanese assassinations, and the global Iranian-Hezbollah war against Israel and the United States.

One of the reasons most often cited why the United States should not get involved in any way despite the use of chemical weapons by Syrian government forces is that Assad may be a brutal thug inside Syria, but he poses no threat outside Syria.

Indeed, Assad’s brutality inside Syria long pre-dates the current civil war, as The Telegraph reported in 2005:

Syria’s ruling Ba’athist regime has launched a brutal crackdown on dissenters in the run-up to a landmark gathering of senior party leaders this week.

Damascus’s feared secret police have detained at least 14 opposition figures and have been blamed for the murders of two more.

So what?, you say.  Let them kill each other, it’s not our business.  What is forgotten is that Assad has a murderous history outside of Syria. 

A U.N. investigation into the murder of Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri found senior Syrian intelligence officials to blame:

209. It is the Commission’s conclusion that, after having interviewed witnesses and suspects in the Syrian Arab Republic and establishing that many leads point directly towards Syrian security officials as being involved with the assassination ….

Assad’s brother and brother-in-law initially were listed as being involved, although their names were removed from the final report. 

In a refrain which now sounds familiar as to the use of chemical weapons, it was hard to prove that Assad personally issued the order to kill, it just so happened that his senior apparatus did it:

Syria’s former vice president said in a television interview Friday [December 30, 2005] that President Bashar Assad threatened former Lebanese prime minister Rafiq Hariri in the months before Hariri’s assassination and that the sophisticated operation to kill him could not have been carried out on the authority of only one agency.

“Hariri was subjected to many threats from Syria,” Abdul Halim Khaddam, who resigned the vice presidency in June after two decades as a confidant of the Assad family, told al-Arabiya television in an interview from Paris. “Dangerous things were said.”

Khaddam stopped short of accusing Assad of personal involvement in the decision to kill Hariri on Feb. 14 in Beirut. But he said that “in principle, no government body in Syria, be it a security apparatus or otherwise, can single-handedly make this decision.”

Assad also long supported Hamas, which was based in Damascus until the civil war started, as well as other Palestinian rejectionists.  While true that Assad didn’t militarily challenge Israel on the Golan Heights, that was only because the consequence would have been the end of his regime.

Syria under Assad also became a key forward base for Iranian Revolutionary Guards and the supply chain to Hezbollah.  It is for that reason that the Iranians play key support roles in the civil war, and Hezbollah has thrown it’s troops into battle for Assad and vowed to fight for Assad to the bitter end.  While Assad is not al-Qaeda, he is a key player in the global Iranian and Hezbollah war against Israel and the United States.

Assad also supported the transit of al-Qaeda fighters on their way to kill American soldiers in Iraq and pro-American Iraqis. 

Assad has the blood of hundreds of American soldiers and thousands of Iraqis on his hands.  Here is some of that now-forgotten history:

  • Rebels Aided By Allies in Syria, U.S. Says (2004): “U.S. military intelligence officials have concluded that the Iraqi insurgency is being directed to a greater degree than previously recognized from Syria, where they said former Saddam Hussein loyalists have found sanctuary and are channeling money and other support to those fighting the established government. … [Jordan’s King] Abdullah noted that the governments of both the United States and Iraq believe that “foreign fighters are coming across the Syrian border that have been trained in Syria.”
  • Syria’s Role in Regional Destabilization: An American View:  “During his testimony to Congress on September 10, 2007, General David H. Petraeus, the U.S. commander in Iraq, presented maps illustrating Syria’s pivotal role as the source of foreign fighters entering Iraq. One of his maps showed three arrows that illustrated infiltration routes from Syria into Iraq; they were labeled “Foreign Fighter Flow.” A week earlier, in an interview with al-Watan al-Arabi, Petraeus described how Syria allows thousands of these insurgents to arrive at Damascus International Airport and then cross the Iraqi border.”
  • Syria’s Financial Support for Jihad: “Al-Qaeda in Iraq has long benefited from a network of associates in Syria, which it uses to facilitate travel to Iraq. In a 2003 investigation of foreign fighter recruiters operating out of Italy, prosecutors noted that “Syria has functioned as a hub for an al-Qaida network.”[32] Transcripts of operatives’ conversations “paint a detailed picture of overseers in Syria coordinating the movement of recruits and money” between cells in Europe and training camps in northern Iraq run by Al-Qaeda affiliated, Kurdish Ansar al-Islam.[33] Syrian cell leaders facilitated travel for recruits and provided them with funding while European members gave false travel documents to recruits and fugitives and monitored their travel. Some of the recruits traveling to the Ansar camps stayed at the Ragdan Hotel in Aleppo for some time and later stopped in Damascus. Indeed, the Italian investigation revealed that operatives in Europe who worked for Al-Qaeda leader Abu Mus’ab al-Zarqawi acted on the instructions of his lieutenants in and around Damascus and Aleppo. These men included Muhammad Majid (also known as Mullah Fuad), described as the “gatekeeper in Syria for volunteers intent on reaching Iraq.”[34]
  • Syria reportedly encourages Sunni insurgents (2007): “Syria, which the United States accuses of channeling Islamic militants into Iraq, denies any role in organizing groups opposed to the Iraqi government. Analysts and diplomats, however, said that they strongly doubted that the groups could operate in Syria, a police state, without the government’s approval.”
  • Syria’s Role in the Iraq Insurgency (2009): “From 2005 to 2008, Syria was cited in successive quarterly Department of Defense reports, titled “Measuring Stability and Security in Iraq,” as a factor for instability. The May 2006 report, for example, points directly to Syria as a significant source of foreign fighters in Iraq and highlights “Syrian government assistance [to insurgents] before and during Operation Iraqi Freedom.” The August and November 2006 reports identified Syria, along with Iran, as contributing to ethno-sectarian tensions that undermined the fledgling government in Iraq.”
  •  Syria’s Path to Islamist Terror (2010): “Speaking at a press conference held in Baghdad in 2004, Gen. Richard Myers, then-chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said, “There are other foreign fighters. We know for a fact that a lot of them find their way into Iraq through Syria for sure.”[18] According to some estimates, perhaps 80 percent of foreign fighters who infiltrated Iraq crossed the Syrian border.[19] These were disproportionately responsible for the most devastating suicide bombings in Iraq.[20] An Italian investigation of foreign fighter recruitment in Italy found that “Syria has functioned as a hub for an Al-Qaeda network.”[21]

I could go on and on.  You get the picture. 

Assad helped al-Qaeda and former Ba’atheists kill Americans in Iraq.  Yet as with the Hariri assassination and the current use of chemical weapons, Assad pretended not to know or be involved in what happens in his own regime.

Ironically, it was the growth of al-Qaeda in Iraq and international Jihad, assisted by the Assad regime, which now is Assad’s biggest problem.

None of this history will, or need, change minds as to the wisdom or lack thereof of a military involvement regarding chemical weapons.

But hopefully it will at least dispel the notion that a Bashar Assad regime, emboldened to use chemical weapons, does not pose a threat beyond Syria’s borders.


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You know there is a saying, “Better the devil you know, than the devil you don’t know.”

Assad may be a brutal dictator, but he’s a known quantity. If we go in on the President’s whim to give justification to Assad and his regime to counterstrike anything remotely related to the US, then Israel will suffer as well.

All of these political machinations are beginning to make my head explode. If we are to unilaterally attack Syria, let it not be “Unbelievably small” but let’s wipe them out completely. Be done with it, fulfill Biblical prophecy while we are at it, and end a big headache for all in the region.

But that would be considered politically unfeasible, and a War crime by most of the world, so that won’t be done.

If what needs to be done won’t be done, then let’s not start a pissing contest with no winners, no strategy, no objective and no end in sight.

The US needs to stay out of Syria. Unless we enjoy fighting WWIII? History is something to learn from. Not to be used as a justification for making future mistakes. Assad is a brutal dictator, with the blood of many people on his hands. That should not be used to justify getting involved in an action which will result in many American deaths. We really need to stay out of this Obama-Assad ego fight.

Yes, just like Gaddafi/Khaddaffi/Qaddafi. It still doesn’t change the price of rice in China, Wm.

Are we to replace Shi’a terrorists (Iran, Assad’s friend and supporter is a great sponsor of terror and is building up a Muslim army right in our backyard (the Muslim triangle in South Islamic intrusion in Guyana, Venezuela, Central America, Mexico) with Sunni terrorists (Al Qaeda, Hamas, Al Nusra, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Pakistan)?

Do you really want Obama to continue building his Islamic caliphate by further destabilizing the ME? Obama is the wrong president with the wrong policy and the wrong intention. If Assad has American blood on his hands, so do all the people on the other side. This “blood on hands” is an appeal to emotion rather than logic.

Professor, I appreciate the history lesson, and your points are well-taken. I’m happy to stipulate that Assad is a bad guy, and that he is a client of Iran, a country that exports terrorists and violates the Geneva conventions routinely.

There is a course, however, that is actually worse than doing nothing. That course would be to make an ineffectual effort, and then quit. That is the course of action the current Secretary of State and the current President, both advocated during the Bush administration for Iraq.

Why would they fail to act according to their demonstrated character with respect to Syria?

The current of Secretary of State is on record, not to mention U-Tube, as saying that bombing Syria will not be an act of war. He has also said that the proposed action is unbelievably small. Meanwhile, the Pentagon last year reported to this administration that it would take 75,000 troops physically present in-theater to secure the chemical weapons.

The subject of discussion is to use the military might of the United States of America to destroy property and kill people, with no specific objective to be achieved.

This plan is stupid to the point of being immoral.

A lot of the criticism of the Iraqi war was how it was conducted. The leadup to this engagement is risible and uncompelling. Dropping a few bombs starts wars. The simple fact that this is what’s contemplated without any end result forecast deserves severe criticism from all quarters.

Assad’s a bad guy. I think we all get that. That doesn’t necessarily mean that the rebels are good guys, on the side of the angels. Is there even any evidence that if we help them into power, that they won’t be just as bad as he is?

And it doesn’t help that Obama lies, the UN lies, and just about everyone in the Middle East lies. And the UN hates America, just about everyone in the Middle East hates America, and I don’t know what Obama’s game is.

The only reason to go to war is to win. What is it we’re hoping to win here, what’s the objective? And where’s the evidence that it’ll be worth it?

Some of us have loved ones in the military, and they’re honorable men and women who will go where they’re asked to go and do what they’re told to do. They’re all volunteers, and they’re willing to die for their country if it comes to that. But just as a courtesy, in case some of them don’t come back, shouldn’t we at least be able to tell them what it is we’re willing to sacrifice them for?

The time to deal with Assad and/or his father has passed. There is no viable alternative.

Oh good grief.

Seriously? This is the level of thinking going into planning a Syria strike?— Seth (@dcseth) September 9, 2013

“A second senior official, who has seen the most recent planning, offered this metaphor to describe such a strike: If Assad is eating Cheerios, we’re going to take away his spoon and give him a fork. Will that degrade his ability to eat Cheerios? Yes. Will it deter him? Maybe. But he’ll still be able to eat Cheerios.”

More on the #CheeriosDoctrine at Twitchy.

There is no solution to this. No course of action for this situation will end well. At least as we understand the information available to us.

Even if we simply (magically) strike only the chemical weapons not yet used, what is the likelihood that there will be weaponized spillage of one bad variety or another?

I do not believe in not acting simply because of threats to our embassies, or threats to Israel, or any such risk of war. Those are expected. We can take measures to protect ourselves and our allies. My concern is whether or not any action we might take in Syria is worth doing, that is helps the situation rather than make it worse.

Is doing nothing the correct solution? I don’t know. But we should not act simply to look like we’re “doing something.” And we should certainly not act to save face for any U.S. President or politician.

Let the left rail all they want about “Bush’s War.” They have a golden opportunity to walk their talk, and they’re stumbling over their own feet.

then we declare war on syria and annihilate it or we stay out.
no more korea/vietnam/afghanistan/iraq/yemen/libya/somalia/etc killing fields for OUR soldiers.

until people on all sides of the political spectrum care more about our citizens/soldiers than the citizens of the country we are attacking we need to step out and shut up.
enough using the lives of soldiers as poker chips to gain some imagined political gain. this vet is tired of that crap.

So? The American State Department also has the blood of American Soldiers on its hands. Talk about pots and kettles.

From Jeff at “The Lid”

We are missing the point. This is only claimed by the Obama administration to be about the moral requirement of responding to the use of chemical weapons. It is actually about the chemical attack in August on the one year anniversary of Obama’s stupid red line declaration, which prompted media to ask why Obama had not honored it, a political problem.

Since he can’t ask America to support an attack on Syria in order to solve an embarrassing political clusterfark, he has to dress it up as some moral imperative. But make no mistake – Obama couldn’t care less about Syrian civilians regardless of how they die and seeks only to fix a personal political problem. That is no reason to support an attack.

    Henry Hawkins in reply to Henry Hawkins. | September 9, 2013 at 2:59 pm

    To add: My point is that if Obama weren’t being dogged about that red line silliness, he would not be talking about attacks or moral imperatives over chemical attacks. It is the red line dogging and only the red line dogging that is pushing all this bullshit.

OK. Let’s just go with the professor’s (well-laid out) case that we should intervene.

Which begs the next set of questions:
1. What are the objectives, parameters, means and duration of military engagement?

2. What are the expected collateral civilian deaths and infrastructure damages from our side?

3. What is the political succession plan? Are we ready to accept another popularly elected Islamic fascist regime in the area?

4. Is there a ‘Marshall Plan’ for Syria? What’s the cost?

5. Are we prepared for a new protracted post-war engagement like in Iran and Afghanistan?

6. Does Mr. Nobel Peace Prize still get to keep that distinction?

The big questions are easy to answer. But the devil is always in the details and unintended consequences.

More grasping at straws to somehow justify mounting an unprovoked attack on a sovereign country.

In the first place, while all those things concerning Syria are true, none are current enough to rise to the level necessary to justify going to war with Syria. Most are old news and neither the U.S. nor the international community felt that they justified attacking Syria, at the time. So, it now becomes difficult to use them as justification for war.

Second, when one uses the argument that Syria is simply a client state of Iran and therefor must be attacked, this means that we should really be attacking Iran. Now, because of Iran’s continued patent threats against Israel and the West, its use of proxy forces to attack those countries and their interests and its ceaseless quest to develop nuclear weapons and a delivery system for them, there is a much stronger case for going to war with that country. Yet, there is no serious discussion of that by the U.S.

Third, the U.S. has participated in many actions which are identical to the arguments supporting a war with Syria. We have funded, equipped and trained insurgents in a number of countries. We have participated in totally unwarranted invasions on a number of occasions during our history. We have engaged in direct, state-sanctioned assassinations of heads of state. So, by your criteria, it is entirely justifiable for any other nation, or nations, in the world to legitimately attack the United States.

Finally, the idea of “limited” war is simply a pipe dream. War has to be fought as a total commitment or all it does is kill innocent people and enrich the arms merchants. It solves nothing in the long run. In the last 40 years, the Democrats have viewed war as a sideshow. They engage in these little, illegal, overt attacks upon the territory of sovereign nations, who can not fight back, and call them military victories. And, while they may make that particular administration appear strong, they rarely have any positive impact on the supposed reason for launching them in the first place.

There is no solid justification for attacking Syria, at this time and possibly sparking a regional or even global conflict.