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News From the Border

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Villagers in the Syrian town of Showaiyeh were woken on Thursday night by heavy fighting in Al-Qaim, one mile away. But Al-Qaim is across the border in war torn Iraq, and Showaiyeh is on the Syrian side of the border.

Residents hear the sound of warplanes, and bombing, which shake their houses to the foundation. They watched helicopters attack the town from their rooftops, and hear small arms return fire.

Smoke was rising in the air from al-Qaim” said one Syrian.

This is the area where Syria built a 12 foot high sand barrier in November last year, under American pressure.

The US occupying forces in Iraq have accused Syria of not preventing fighters cross the border into Iraq at hotspots like Al-Qaim. That’s how the justified the assult on Al-Qaim. But Al-Qaim’s Mayor scoffed at claims that Syrians had passed through his town. Syrian residents near the border have been watching as Syria has pulled down the shutters between the two countries.

The fact remains: out of the 10,000 people in Iraqi jails accused of fighting, only 56 are Syrian – there are more Jordanians.

From The Syrian News Wire.

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About Sasa

  • SFC SKI

    So where are the foreign fighters, especially the Syrian ones coming from?

  • http://saroujah.blogspot.com Sasa

    The phrase “foreign fighters” is bandied about but there isn’t a single shred of evidence to support it. Look at the border crossings, look at who’s in prison. The fact is that there were probably more Syrians in Iraq before the war!

    It seems to me that the ‘foreign’ fighters in Iraq wear US Army uniforms.

    You might like to read

  • SFC SKI

    I spent a year in Iraq, I’ll wait until the movie comes out.

  • SFC SKI

    The articles states “… internationalist brigade of Arabs, with the largest share in the online lists from Saudi Arabia and a significant minority from other countries on Iraq’s borders, such as Syria and Kuwait…” LAter in the article, number is estmated from 15% to 25%, in a combined group of Syrians, Iraqis, and Kuwatis.

    Now it may be true that there were more Syrians in Iraq before the war, but that is really unimportant. Syrians and others are choosing to cross the border into Iraq to fight, and the Al-Qaim area was a pace where they would meet before moving further into Iraq.

  • http://saroujah.blogspot.com Sasa

    Yes of course there are some Syrians fighting in Iraq, I’m sure there are British Muslims there too. But the article says that Iraqis PLUS Kuwaitis PLUS Syrians are – at most – 25%. Quite damning (and why is the finger pointed at Syria, while Kuwait is on the verge of an Islamist revolution!). It’s also true that trafiic across the Jordan-Iraq border is far higher than from Syria. Make of that what you will.

    The Al-Qaim argument doesn’t hold water. All of those killed were Iraqi. The Qaim mayor himself said there were no Syrians there, and on the Syrian side of the border people had been treated pretty roughly by the government trying to seal off the border.

    I am still waiting for the evidence. And waiting. And waiting.

  • http://saroujah.blogspot.com Sasa

    Yes of course there are some Syrians fighting in Iraq, I’m sure there are British Muslims there too. But the article says that Iraqis PLUS Kuwaitis PLUS Syrians are – at most – 25%. Quite damning (and why is the finger pointed at Syria, while Kuwait is on the verge of an Islamist revolution!). It’s also true that trafiic across the Jordan-Iraq border is far higher than from Syria. Make of that what you will.

    Why is Syria the issue when 61% of fighters are (according to the Washington Post) Saudi. That’s 10 times as many as from Syria. And why are the Jordanian and Kuwaiti borders ignored too. It’s because Syria is an easy diversion.

    The Al-Qaim argument doesn’t hold water. All of those killed were Iraqi. The Qaim mayor himself said there were no Syrians there, and on the Syrian side of the border people had been treated pretty roughly by the government trying to seal off the border.

    I am still waiting for the evidence. And waiting. And waiting.

  • http://victorplenty.blogspot.com Victor Plenty

    Whoever the fighters are, Syrian, Saudi, Iraqi, etc., most of the people they kill are unquestionably Iraqis.

    So even the presence of Iraqis among the fighters doesn’t prove they are fighting “for” Iraq, any more than Timothy McVeigh was acting “for” the United States when he massacred innocent civilians by bombing the federal building in Oklahoma City.

    Only their fellow nutjobs think of people who commit such acts as patriots. Everybody else recognizes they are criminals and traitors.

  • SFC SKI

    I understand your defensivness over Syria, but the main reason is that Al Qaim is a well known and highly trafficked crossing point used by people crossing into Iraq for the purpose of fighting.

    To argue that Jordan-Iraq is more highly trafficked is disingenuous, because it has more commercial traffic, not necssarily as a place where foreign fighters are crossing.

  • http://saroujah.blogspot.com Sasa

    But that’s just the point. It’s not ‘well known’ – there is no evidence whatsoever. You can’t pick a town near a border and then build up a story around it just because it suits you. There has only been one known case of Syrians entering Iraq to fight – and that ‘Al-Hurra’ exlusive was dismissed even by the Iraqi government!

    To Victor Plenty: all killing is unjustifiable. But you can’t condemn one side while ignoring the other. The sad fact is that 75% of killings in Iraq are commited by foreign fighters (the US Army). 100,000 have been killed in two years, that’s faster than even Saddam could manage.

  • SFC SKI

    Sasa, I know where you get the 100,000 figure, and that report has been called into question, if not outright discredited. I do hope this threadis not going to bog down going over past discussion of this figure, though.

    When you say the govenrment harshly treated people trying to close the border, whose government are you referring to?

    Maybe I missed it, but I see no quotes from the mayor of Al-Qaim.

  • http://cranialcavity.net/wordpress/index.php Marc

    Sasa: “The Qaim mayor himself said there were no Syrians there.

    And of course he wouldn’t in a million years be on the take, flush with cash, and crooked as an arthritic snake. Prove that’s not true and I might believe anything he has to say.

    “all killing is unjustifiable.” I’ll remember you wrote that in case of a future news story telling of a home invasion that ended with a robbery and rape of your family members.

    The fact you would even attempt to foist that bogus 100,000 Iraqi civilians killed figure only proves how gullable you are.

  • http://victorplenty.blogspot.com Victor Plenty

    By all norms of international law, the United States is now the country responsible for bringing law and order to Iraq. That is the duty of any occupying power. So I’m not going to condemn the United States for attempting to do its job, although I certainly wish it would do better at getting rid of those within its own ranks who weaken its efforts through prisoner abuse and other forms of corruption.

    If these so-called “freedom fighters” pouring into Iraq to attack the Americans and every other legitimate authority in that country really cared about Iraq’s freedom, they would back off and allow order to be restored. That would be a great way to test the honesty of the United States.

    Go ahead, try us, you “freedom fighters.” Let things become peaceful so the people of Iraq have a chance to rebuild. See if the American troops really will leave after order is restored and a democratically elected Iraqi government says “Okay, we’re in control of the situation, you Americans can go home now.”

    But of course, these so-called “freedom fighters” can’t afford to take that chance. If the Americans really do restore order in Iraq, and really do leave when they are no longer needed, all their hysterical claims about America’s alleged imperial ambitions will evaporate faster than a spill from a water-skin in the middle of the Nafud.

    And that’s why I see nothing but malice and evil in those criminal forces, whether foreign criminals or Iraqi traitors, who are willing to kill Iraqi civilians just for a chance to make the Americans look bad.

    The mistakes the Americans have made in Iraq, bad as some of them may be, are all minor in comparison to that palpable evil.

  • http://www.roblogpolitics.blogspot.com RJ

    Just because only a relatively small minority of foreign fighters in Iraq are Syrian does NOT mean that these non-Syrian foreign fighters aren’t still coming in THROUGH Syria.

    I mean, how else are the Sudanese and Libyan lunatics getting there?

    Sure, some are probably coming from Saudi Arabia or Jordan or Kuwait or Iran or even Turkey. But a lot are probably coming from Syria.

  • http://saroujah.blogspot.com Sasa

    Considering that the Syria-Iraq border is the most tightly policed (on the Iraqi side), there are almost no Syrians in Iraq, there are reports from the Syrian side of the border on a ruthless campaign to keep people away from the border, IRAQI government officials in Al-Qaim say that no-one has come through the border, I find it very difficult to understand how Libyans etc are choosing Syria to cross through, when the Jordanian and Kuwati and Saudi borders are actually open to traffic!

    (And maybe that explains why there are ten times as many Saudi fighters in Iraq as Syrian, why there are more Jordanian and Kuwait fighters too.)

    Read this if you still need convincing:

    http://saroujah.blogspot.com/2005/04/american-pbs-news-syria-stopping.html

    I’d like to know – given all the evidence – why people insist on thinking the Syrian border is a free-for-all.

  • Shark

    In the most ironic, surreal lecture in decades, “…on Monday, Condi Rice warned Syria to tighten control of the 600 mile border between Syria and Iraq…”

    Two words, Bush Administration Hypocrites:

    Ari.

    zona.

    ~NEXT!

  • Shark

    BTW:

    The US has 150,000 soldiers, a few thousand airplanes, a half-dozen space satellites, and an unknown number of unmanned observation drones in a region consisting of a stark, brown, empty desert — and they can’t keep guys dressed in bright white robes from sneaking across the border?!

    feh.

    I want my money back.

  • http://www.elitistpig.com Dave Nalle

    Since one guy in a white robe looks much like another I imagine the problem is telling which ones are supposed to be there and which ones aren’t.

    One thing I recall vividly from living in the middle east is how fluid borders are. There are groups which regularly cross borders with no restrictions or interference from government as a matter of course and that’s just their lifestyle. Trying to keep tabs on these migrant groups has to be extraordinarily difficult.

    Dave

  • Shark

    Nalle: “Since one guy in a white robe looks much like another I imagine the problem is telling which ones are supposed to be there and which ones aren’t.”

    Shoot ‘em all — like the Bush administration has been doing for the last few years.

    ~NEXT!

  • http://www.elitistpig.com Dave Nalle

    While that might solve the problem, Shark. That’s more characteristic of the Bill Clinton – bomb the Chinese Embassy – approach than the more conscientious approach of the current administration.

    Dave

  • sydney

    While both presidents may be guilty of it, we should all be ashamed that we pu tup with it.

    Quit taking sides, based on your political persuasion.

  • http://saroujah.blogspot.com Sasa

    Please be careful:

    “one guy in a white robe looks much like another”

    “that’s just their lifestyle”

    Homogenisation of a race of 350 million people might be considered racist. I for one find it quite offensive. If you struggle to understand what I mean, try inserting the word ‘black’ into those sentences:

    “One black guy looks much like another”

    “that’s just their black lifestyle”.

  • Shark

    Sasa: “…Homogenisation of a race of 350 million people might be considered racist. I..find it quite offensive. …try inserting the word ‘black’ into those sentences…”

    Sasa, how ’bout instead of “black”, we substitute “western Infidels” and see how it sounds?

    Hey.

    Works just fine.

  • http://victorplenty.blogspot.com Victor Plenty

    Look, I often disagree with Dave, but this time he’s not guilty of the crime you think you see here, Sasa.

    Mr. Nalle is arguing that the various people in white robes, who might be visible in U.S. military aerial photos and satellite images, are NOT all the same.

    He is saying some people in the region, not all of them, but some of them, live a lifestyle that involves crossing borders frequently for completely legitimate and harmless reasons. So, Mr. Nalle is saying, just because we see people cross borders without passing through checkpoints, that does NOT mean we have identified hostile targets who can be fired upon and bombed without further investigation.

    In brief, Dave is saying outward appearances cannot tell us whether or not someone is part of a hostile force; the exact opposite of the charge you level against him, Sasa.

  • Shark

    Victor Plenty (“of patience”), did you know yer my hero!?

  • http://www.elitistpig.com Dave Nalle

    Thank you, Victor. I think Sasa got her impression of what I said from Shark’s comment rather than what I actually said.

    Here’s a hint, Sasa – just ignore Shark – he’s not making any sense most of the time.

    And yes, my point was that there are a great many people in that part of the world who cross borders all the time without official documentation who are not up to anything particularly bad, and it’s not terribly difficult to blend in with them.

    I was hardly saying ‘all ragheads look the same’, which is how Snark chose to interpret it.

    And it’s not just aerial photos or satellites. Up close our troops aren’t really equipped to tell a smuggler from a bedouin from a terrorist or from a pilgrim for that matter. The single greatest weapon in the terrorist arsenal is the ability to look just like everyone else.

    Dave

  • Shark

    Dave: “…I was hardly saying ‘all ragheads look the same’, which is how Snark chose to interpret it.”

    I never ‘interpreted’ shit!

    But I must apologize: the “white robe” thing was a stereotype in bad taste.

    I watch the TV news — and now that ya mention it, I’ve seen a Syrian wearin’ an old Dallas Cowboys t-shirt I donated to Goodwill a few months ago.

    I’m really a good global villager — and I extend an apology and a hearty handshake to my friends in the Middle East — regardless of what they’re wearing or their *’lifestyle’.

    * I do draw the line at videotaped beheadings, though…

  • http://saroujah.blogspot.com Sasa

    Fair enough, i accept your points, sorry if I misunderstood. But guys – Arabs aren’t bedouin! True, there are some bedouin in the Arab world, but the people of Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Palestine are nearly all urban settled communities.

  • http://www.elitistpig.com Dave Nalle

    I don’t know how much it has changed in the last 20 years, but I remember Bedouin tribes and others moving pretty freely from Jordan to Iraq to Saudi Arabia. From what I’ve read recently Syria has the same basic view of border security. The main population may be in settled communities, but there are still enough people travelling from place to place, especially at certain times of the year, that keeping track of who is crossing which border has to be difficult.

    Dave

  • http://saroujah.blogspot.com Sasa

    The main bedouin tribes are in Saudi, the Gulf states and Jordan. To some extent Syria too, but mainly in the north of Syria, less so in the Eastern area (near the Iraq border).

  • http://victorplenty.blogspot.com Victor Plenty

    Even Israel has some Bedouins, or so I’m told. Not sure whether they are able to cross borders quite so freely as the others, though.

  • marc

    VP “That is the duty of any occupying power”

    Sorry guy the US no longer “occupies” Iraq, that ended with the turn over to the interim Iraqi government.

  • gonzo marx

    marc sez..

    *Sorry guy the US no longer “occupies” Iraq, that ended with the turn over to the interim Iraqi government.*

    that is the funniest thing i’ve read all day..

    kind of like saying the Reich no longer “occupied” France once the Vichy government was installed..

    now that is an overly harsh analogy, and not wholly accurate in scale or scope…what the US is doing is no where near what happened then by an order of magnitude…

    but i know you gentle Readers get my point…

    Excelsior!

  • http://saroujah.blogspot.com Sasa

    Israel’s bedouins (although it jars a little to call them Israeli – they are Palestinian, and have never been given Israeli citizenship) are known as the minority within the minority. They live in villages in the Negev desert, none of which are recognised by Israel. That means they don’t get citizenship, or any rights (and that includes the right to vote and travel).

    Now, the interesting thing is that because they’re not entitiled to ID cards, they can not travel outside of their villages.

    It also means criminal offences ‘can not’ be commited against these people – because they don’t exist.

    They’ve been forgotten by the Palestinian Authority (because they’re outside of the 22% of Occupied historic Palestine) and by Israel, and by Palestinians living in the 78% of historic Palestine (Israel – the ‘Israeli Arabs’).