Syria and the Iraq "insurgency"

The Guardian recently ran an article about Syrian citizens going to fight against US soldiers in Iraq (the WaPo also ran a version, written by Ghaith Abdul-Ahad).

Some of the stuff in this article sounds a little far-fetched; it makes me wonder if the one source quoted is really credible (the guy can fight five people at once?). However, the article does hit on an interesting possibility that I have not seen seen seriously examined elsewhere and that is, unfortunately, not examined further in this piece.

The call to jihad [at the beginning of the US invasion in 2003] was openly encouraged by the Syrian government, says Abu Ibrahim (a nom de guerre); it also arranged for buses to ferry fighters, speeded up the issuing of documentation and even gave prospective jihadis a discount on passport fees. Meanwhile, the Syrian media [entirely controlled by the Syrian government] were banging the drum for jihad... Eyewitnesses recall Syrian border police waving to the jihadi buses as they crossed into Iraq.

But the Syrian authorities didn't want cross-border traffic in fighters to stop
[in 2003]. The security services pressured them to keep sending people. "Why were they so keen for us to go and fight in Iraq?" asks Abu Ibrahim. "So we would die there?"

The possibility, of course, is that the Syrian government and intelligence services deliberately allowed budding "jihadis" to cross over into Iraq, not so much to fight Americans specifically as to simply get rid of them and remove a threat to the regime there.

If this is the case, then ironically, from the point of view of the anti-Syrian US government, the war in Iraq may be helping to prop up the hated Assad dictatorship in Syria. Taken together with the scenario in which Iranian intelligence contributed to the manipulation of US policy in the run-up to the war, America's actions and ignorance are a kind of irreplaceable fountain of good luck for its self-defined enemies in the region.

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