Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Syria Not Helping Iraq

We have long suspected that suicide bombers have been entering Iraq from Syria. There must be some level of cooperation between Iraqis in Anbar and the suicide bombers who enter Iraq at the Syrian border. I have noticed that US officials rarely mention Jordan or Saudi Arabia when discussing suicide bombers in Iraq. In fact, this US official praises the government of Saudi Arabia for doing its 'utmost' to fight Al Qaeda. Hmmm.

Suicide bombers ‘entering Iraq from Syria’

By Daniel Dombey, Diplomatic Correspondent

Published: January 30 2007 22:08 | Last updated: January 30 2007 22:08

Dozens of al-Qaeda suicide bombers from countries such as Saudi Arabia and Sudan are crossing into Iraq from Syria every month, a senior US official said on Tuesday.

Speaking to the Financial Times in London, the official said that, while sectarian conflict now represented the biggest threat to the country, the violence was being stoked up from abroad.

“This is the most difficult challenge,” he said. “How do you bring down sectarian violence in the face of this al-Qaeda campaign to prompt sectarian violence?”

But he added that the US’s new strategy for Iraq also depended on much greater co-operation from the Iraqi government.

The US says outside actors – chiefly Syria and Iran – are still one of the biggest factors determining the level of violence in Iraq. It also portrays its recent decision to pursue Iranian operatives in Iraq as an effort to “push back” against Tehran’s increased influence in the region.

The official alleged that the vast majority of suicide bombers came across the border from Syria, and that they received training for their task within Syria as well as inside Iraq itself.

“We do not believe that there was an inevitability to the Shia-Sunni conflict on this scale,” he said, arguing that the violence had been greatly increased by al-Qaeda acts such as the bombing of the Samarra mosque last February.

He said that 75-80 per cent of the estimated 75 suicide bombings a month were carried out by foreigners, and that Saudi Arabia and Sudan were the most common countries of origin. But he emphasised that the Saudi government was doing its utmost to take on al-Qaeda.

“We have been wholly unsuccessful in affecting Syrian behaviour with regard to the passage of these elements,” the official said, adding that the countries of the region wanted to isolate Syria further.

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