Monday, October 17, 2005


This story from Saturday's New York Times should get a bit more attention:

A series of clashes in the last year between American and Syrian troops, including a prolonged firefight this summer that killed several Syrians, has raised the prospect that cross-border military operations may become a dangerous new front in the Iraq war, according to current and former military and government officials....

One of Mr. Bush's most senior aides, who declined to be identified because of the sensitivity of the subject, said that so far American military forces in Iraq had moved right up to the border to cut off the entry of insurgents, but he insisted that they had refrained from going over it.

But other officials, who say they got their information in the field or by talking to Special Operations commanders, say that as American efforts to cut off the flow of fighters have intensified, the operations have spilled over the border - sometimes by accident, sometimes by design....

The troops can't secure one country, so now they're being spread even thinner. Oh yeah, that'll work.

And do I even need to tell you -- given that this is the Bush administration -- that many people who know what they're talking about think this is a huge mistake?

...Some current and former United States military and intelligence officials who said they believed that Americans were already secretly penetrating Syrian territory question what they see as the Bush administration's excessive focus on the threat posed by foreign Arab fighters going through Syria. They say the vast majority of insurgents battling American forces are Iraqis, not foreign jihadis.

According to a new study by the Center for Strategic and International Studies, intelligence analysis and the pattern of detentions in Iraq show that the number of foreign fighters represents "well below 10 percent, and may well be closer to 4 percent to 6 percent" of the total makeup of the insurgency.

One former United States official with access to recent intelligence on the insurgency added that American intelligence reports had concluded that 95 percent of the insurgents were Iraqi.

This former intelligence official said that in conversations with several midcareer American military officers who had recently served in Iraq, they had privately complained to him that senior commanders in Iraq seemed fixated on the issue of foreign fighters, despite the evidence that they represented a small portion of the insurgency.

"They think that the senior commanders are obsessed with the foreign fighters because that's an easier issue to deal with," the former intelligence official said. "It's easier to blame foreign fighters instead of developing new counterinsurgency strategies."....

Worse and worse...

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