Reports: Israeli army training US asssassination squads

Julian Borger of the Guardian and Sy Hersh add reports to the growing file of US-Israel cooperation on the occupation of Iraq. Here we see that the US is setting up assassination squads for counterinsurgency activity in Iraq and that the Israeli army is training them.

Juan Cole, as usual, has a good post on the topic. However, the Professor is off the mark when he states that, prior to the Borger/Hersh articles, it was "ridiculous" to see hands-on Israeli involvement in the US occupation of Iraq. For several months now, reports have been coming out which provide information on Israeli "security" and other cooperation with the US in Iraq:

- Mossad agents were reported to have "visited" Iraq in August;
- A September article examines the US military's interest in Israeli occupation tactics;
- In November, the LA Times ran a lengthy (if somewhat sanitized) piece on the issue.

Even without the reports above, it is crystal clear at this point that the US has adopted Israeli-style measures and is employing them in Iraq. Hostage-taking, the sealing off of villages and towns, indiscriminate fire within population centers, the razing of agricultural lands and buildings connected in the slightest way with guerilla attacks - all too familiar. Now we have assassination squads. If you're going to adopt certain methods, it is entirely logical that you will attempt to employ "expert consultants" with previous experience in implementing them. People see what the Israelis are doing in Palestine; they see the Americans, Israel's closest ally for the past 40 years, doing the same things in Iraq; it is difficult to draw any other conclusion.

More interesting, in my opinion, is the claim that US special forces are operating in Syrian territory:
US special forces teams are already behind the lines inside Syria attempting to kill foreign jihadists before they cross the border...(Borger article)
I wonder what would happen if Syrian security happened to capture one of these teams (assuming the report is accurate). My guess is a quiet back-door deal, but it could also result in a not-too-pleasant international situation.

The Hersh article examines the dynamics of the new assassination squads. How exactly will they work?
The critical issue, American and Israeli officials agree, is intelligence. There is much debate about whether targeting a large number of individuals is a practical - or politically effective - way to bring about stability in Iraq, especially given the frequent failure of American forces to obtain consistent and reliable information there.

Americans in the field are trying to solve that problem by developing a new source of information: they plan to assemble teams drawn from the upper ranks of the old Iraqi intelligence services and train them to penetrate the insurgency. The idea is for the infiltrators to provide information about individual insurgents for the Americans to act on. A former C.I.A. station chief described the strategy in simple terms: "U.S. shooters and Iraqi intelligence." He added, "There are Iraqis in the intelligence business who have a better idea, and we're tapping into them. We have to resuscitate Iraqi intelligence, holding our nose, and have Delta and agency shooters break down doors and take them" - the insurgents - "out."
More confirmation that the US plans to resurrect the Saddam-era mukhabarat to assist it in its occupation of Iraq - the same mukhabarat responsible for turning over tens of thousands of people to be brutally tortured and murdered. Concern for human rights indeed.

In fact, we get a number of statements from "experts" and others affiliated with the military on the need for a "tough-minded realism" approach to the guerilla war the US now finds itself facing, often with doses of racism thrown into the mix:
- "But I think what you're seeing is a new realism. The American tendency is to try to win all the hearts and minds. In Iraq, there are just some hearts and minds you can't win. Within the bounds of human rights, if you do make an example of certain villages it gets the attention of the others...- Col. Ralph Peters (Borger);

- "...we're too squeamish to operate in this part of the world. ...We do need a more unconventional response, but it's going to be messy." - unnamed former Pentagon official (Hersh);

- "The only way we can win is to go unconventional. We're going to have to play their game. Guerrilla versus guerrilla. Terrorism versus terrorism. We've got to scare the Iraqis into submission." - an "American who has advised the civilian authority in Baghdad" (Hersh).
Using "terrorism" to bring freedom and democracy to Iraq... is it possible to get a clearer statement on what is wrong with the US occupation in Iraq?

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