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COUNTDOWN to Conflict in Syria (multi-story evolving thread)
Geostrategy Direct ^
Posted on 02/03/2005 7:52:56 PM PST by FreedomNeocon
Syria assumes Saddam's role, taxes government employees to fund Palestinian terror
Syria has begun garnishing the salaries of its government workers to subsidize the Palestinian war against Israel, according to diplomatic sources and published reports.
In 2002, the Iraqi government of Saddam Hussein funded Palestinian suicide bombings and other attacks against Israel. At the time, Saddam encouraged Iraqi employees to donate money to the Palestinian war.
"This is the first time that the Syrian government uses the same technique used by Saddam Hussein to encourage suicide bombers and their families," the Washington-based Reform Party of Syria said. "It is not known how and where the money will go but many believe that the regime of Assad is embarking on committing the same mistakes committed earlier by Saddam."
Western diplomatic sources said regional authorities in Syria planned the initiative to tax the salaries of public sector employees and divert the money to Palestinian insurgency groups based in Damascus. The sources said at least one region has begun such an effort.
In the northern province of Aleppo, authorities ordered the deduction of 50 Syrian pounds, or $1, from the monthly salary of each government employee. The practice began in December 2004 and involves several thousand employees.
The Levant News Service said the proceeds were pooled in a lottery offer. The first prize was a German luxury car. The rest of the money was to be sent to Palestinian insurgents in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
The sources could not estimate how much money was raised. But they said the practice reflected a deepening involvement by Syria in the Palestinian war against Israel.
U.S. officials have considered the prospect of imposing additional sanctions on Syria for its support to insurgency groups.
TOPICS: News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: militaryaction; syria; terrorist
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Stories will be added to thread pertaining to the MANY informational pulses that indicate the countdown has already begun.
To the cynics around here, spare me your "why don't you ask debka" tripe... the usual place I posted this kind of stuff (http://www.itshappening.com ) was hacked and shut down.
Looking for a new place to dissemnate info... and until then I will post here.
Financing, training for Al Qaida insurgency in Kuwait traced back to Syria
Feburary 3rd, 2005
ABU DHABI -- Kuwaiti officials said Al Qaida insurgents captured here in December and January have disclosed significant links to Syria.
The officials said the insurgents confessed to receiving training, instructions and financing from Al Qaida operatives based in Syria.
"We have raised the issue with Syria and it has promised to act," a Kuwaiti source said.
Authorities have detained about 170 suspected Al Qaida insurgents over the last six weeks in connection with a series of attacks in the sheikdom.
About 30 of the detainees have been identified as Al Qaida operatives linked to Abu Mussib Al Zarqawi, regarded as the most lethal insurgent in Iraq.
The detainees were linked to Al Qaida cells in Iraq, Saudi Arabia and Syria. Ties to Syria included both organizations headed by Al Zarqawi and other branches of Al Qaida.
Saudi Arabia has relayed information to assist in the capture and interrogation the Al Qaida suspects, officials said. They said Syria has not provided the same level of assistance, but did not elaborate.
So far, 13 suspected insurgents have been arraigned and six of them were indicted. Officials said the remainder were ordered to remain in jail while their interrogation continues.
Those seven include two Sunni clerics, Kuwaiti media reports said. One of the clerics, Ahmed Al Ali, has been accused of encouraging terrorism and providing instructions on manufacturing bombs on his website.
The second cleric, Jaber Al Jalamah, was also accused of instigating terrorism and propagating Al Qaida-related ideology.
Authorities have uncovered several cells linked to Al Qaida and Al Zarqawi, including the Mutlaa group.
Bush called out the Syrian Ba'athists AND the Mullahs of Iran last night. I suspect it won't be the last time, either.
This is an older article, probably posted before and I apologize, though like I said for archival purposes I'm going to post here as well this one time.
Very early reporting on the issue and *gasp* from debka... though I feel that is at least a reputable source as anything in the MSM... it will be interesting to if any of these 'points' come obviously true.
US and Iraq All Set for Strike against Syria. Israel Is Braced for Hizballah Second Front
Janurary 11th, 2005
Last Sunday, January 2, US deputy secretary of state Richard Armitage performed his last major mission before stepping down in favor of Robert B. Zoellick, whom incoming secretary Condoleezza Rice has picked as her deputy. (Zoellick, currently trade representative in charge US world trade, served as deputy to secretary of state James Baker in the Reagan and Bush Sr. administrations.
This mission took Armitage to Damascus with nine American demands.
DEBKA-Net-Weeklys Washington sources published those demands for the first time in its last weeks issue:
1. Start repealing Syrias 40-years old emergency laws.
2. Free all political prisoners from jail.
3. Abolish media censorship.
4. Initiate democratic reform.
5. Speed up economic development
6. Cut down relations with Iran.
7. Announce publicly that the disputed Shebaa Farms at the base of Mt. Hermon are former Syrian territory. This would cut the ground from under the Lebanese terrorist Hizballahs claim that the land is Lebanese and must be liberated from Israeli occupation.
DEBKAfiles counter-terror sources report that the Iran-sponsored Hizballahs attack on an Israeli convoy patrolling the disputed Shebaa Farms sector, killing an Israeli officer, on Palestinian election-day, Sunday, January 9, was addressed as much to President George W. Bush as to the new Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas as a foretaste of what it has in store.
8. Hand over to US or Iraqi authorities 55 top officials and military officers of the former Saddam regime, who are confirmed by intelligence to be established in Syria and running the guerrilla war in Iraq out of their homes and offices.
(An address, telephone number and cell phone number were listed beside each name).
But the punchline was in the last demand.
9. Syria had better make sure that none of the Kornet AT-14 anti-tank missiles which it recently purchased in large quantities from East Europe turn up in Iraq. US intelligence has recorded their serial numbers to identify their source. DEBKAfiles military sources add: Because he cannot afford to buy advanced fighter planes and tanks, Assad purchased massive quantities of the third generation Kornet AT-14 anti-tank weapons.
Just in case any are found in Iraq, General Casey, commander of US forces in Iraq has already received orders from the commander-in-chief in the White House to pursue military action inside Syria according to his best military judgment.
Number 9 therefore incorporates a tangible threat. The American general has the authority to launch military action against Syria as he sees fit and without delay if Damascus continues to meddle in Iraqs affairs.
The Syrian ruler protested to Armitage that he is doing everything he can to hold back the flow of guerrilla fighters and weapons into Iraq. As proof, he ordered Syrias chief of staff General Ali Habib to establish a forward command center on the Syrian-Iraq border to oversee efforts to control border traffic on the spot.
The fact is that General Habib is one of the few Syrian officers which the Americans have trusted. He commanded the Syrian units dispatched to Saudi Arabia in the 1991 Gulf War against Iraq and made friends with the US commanders and officials conducting the war, including vice president Dick Cheney and the then head of joint chiefs of staff, Colin Powell. However, even Habibs old American buddies do not rule out the possibility that he was posted to the border not to restrain the traffic but to take command of Syrian units posted there and prepare them for the contingency of an American military offensive.
Assad and General Habib are both aware, according to our sources, of the near carte blanche handed down to General Casey to pursue military action against Syria as and when indicated by US military requirements in Iraq.
In this regard, DEBKAfiles military sources note four important points:
1. It will not take place before President Bush is sworn in for his second term on January 20 or Iraqs general election ten days later.
2. The Americans will not start out with a large-scale, orderly military offensive, but rather short in-and-out forays; small US and Iraqi special forces units will cross the border and raid bases housing Iraqi guerrillas or buses carrying them to the border. If these brief raids are ineffective, the Americans will upscale the action.
3. The Allawi government will formally request the United States to consign joint Iraqi-US forces for action against Syrian targets, so placing the US operation under the Baghdad governments aegis. In other words, Iraq will be at war with Syria without issuing a formal declaration.
4. It is fully appreciated in Washington, Baghdad and Jerusalem that intense American military warfare against Syria could provoke a Hizballah backlash against Israel. Damascus may well activate the Lebanese Shiite group to open a second front on Israels northern border. The Syrian ruler is expected will tolerate a certain level of American low-intensity, low-profile action. But, because of his reluctance to strike back directly at American or Iraqi targets, he will field the Hizballah and not just for cross-border attacks but to galvanize the terrorist cells it controls and funds in the West Bank and Gaza Strip into a stepped-up offensive against Israeli targets. These Palestinian cells have proliferated over the years, particularly in the Fatah and its branches, encouraged by Yasser Arafats cooperative pact with the Hizballah which remains in force after his death.
Therefore, the key Middle East happening in the coming weeks will be US military strikes against Syria. The election of Mahmoud Abbas as Palestinian Authority chairman, his invitation to the White House, the formation of the Sharon-Peres government coalition - albeit on very shaky legs, and the talk of imminent Israel-Palestinian peace negotiations, will prove to be no more than sideshows of the main event.
Somebody should interfere with Iran's nuclear weapons guidance systems so when they try to bomb Israel it takes out Damascus. Imagine the headline, "Tehran Destroys Damascus"
posted on 02/03/2005 8:11:38 PM PST
One more 'oldie'... from Janurary 2nd 2005
Saddam Hussein Speaks: I Prepared Current Guerrilla War Ahead of Invasion. Syria Is Next
Janurary 2nd, 2005
On December 16, the deposed Iraqi ruler Saddam Hussein was allowed to see his lawyer, Khalil Duleimi for the first time. With no one else present and no time limit, Saddam spoke his mind freely. Later, the lawyer went straight from Saddams cell to Amman to confer with the rest of the legal team, which Ramsey Clark, Lyndon Johnsons attorney general, had meanwhile joined. Clark explained he felt the need to defend the former Iraqi presidents rights. He declare the special court set up by the interim Iraqi government to try Saddam was not legal and that the United States should be tried instead for its assault on Fallujah, abuse of Iraqi prisoners and responsibility for the death of thousands of Iraqis in the course of the war.
After briefing the legal team, Duleimi granted an interview to the Lebanese journalist Shahbana Khalil, who had been very close to the Saddam when he was in power. He conferred on her a number of decorations and gave her exclusive stories on happenings in Iraq and the Arab world.
DEBKAfiles Exclusive Middle East sources reveal here the main contents of the Duleimis briefing to his fellow lawyers and the account of his conversation with Saddam to his journalist friend.
The ex-ruler is in good health, the lawyer reported, and says he is in even better shape physically than he was in March 2003 ahead of the war. Now and again he gets sharp twinges of pain in his left shin.
Saddam is confined to a cell of five by three meters with no window. Sometimes he is let out to a 15 by 5 meter unroofed hall where he can see the sky. The food he says is good. The American warders do not talk to him but the Iraqi officers who accompany them address him as Mr. President.
The former Iraqi dictator is cut off from the outside world. Despite some reports, he has no access to newspapers, radio or television. He has received only two letters from his close family, the contents of which were mostly deleted or cut out by the censors. He spends most of his time writing but would not disclose his subjects, except to say that some of it is poetry. Duleimi quoted a line of Saddams verse: If you cant be the head, dont be the backside because there is nothing there but a tail.
He had two main gripes. One was that the Americans will not let him shave his beard despite his repeated requests. He even offered to let a US military barber shave him, but they refused. His theory is that the Americans want to make sure that whenever he appears in public, as he did on June 30, 2004 before an Iraqi investigating judge, he will look confused, unkempt and too low in spirits to bother to shave.
His second complaint was against the Red Cross workers. He wanted their visits stopped because he said they are neither polite nor respectful.
Duleimi spent four hours talking to Saddam Hussein alone in his cell. The conversation was interrupted twice when the ex-ruler performed Muslim ablution rites and prayed. He said he had read the small Koran with him many times from beginning to end.
He also asked the lawyer for news from the outside world. He did not know that Spain had pulled its troops out of Iraq after the March 2004 Madrid rail attack, but was pleased to hear it. He had not known of Yasser Arafats death last November but made no comment.
After hearing Duleimi out, Saddam asked to convey his regards to three people: the American lawyer Ramsey Clark for joining his defense, Malaysian ex-prime minister Mahathir Mohammed, and independent British party leader George Galloway (whom the London Telegraph had to pay $150,000 in damages for reporting he was bribed to support Saddam Hussein).
He also asked to send his respects to the Egyptian journalist Mustafa Bakri who has a program on Arabic al Jazeera television. DEBKAfile and DEBKA-Net-Weeklys intelligence sources reported in the past that, before the Saddam regime was overthrown, Bakri was in cahoots with Iraqi intelligence officials at Arab League headquarters in Cairo.
The next part of the conversation Saddam devoted to a long dissertation on the situation in Iraq, past and present. Recalling the Muslim adage advising believers to stick together and cling to Allah, he stressed that Sunnis and Shiites must not fight but join forces in order to muster strength to stand up to the American conqueror.
Baghdad, he said did not surrender nor was it conquered by the Americans but was their captive. He claimed they had attempted to kill him in the Azamaya district of Baghdad on April 9, 2003, but failed.
Two days later, he called together the military commanders serving in the capital and its environs. They informed him they had run out of troops for conducting the war. It was then, Saddam said, I ordered the transition to guerrilla warfare. I told the commanders: the Americans will stretch out full length across Iraq like a viper. That will be the moment to attack and lop off each section one by one. The deposed president bragged: All the insurgency and guerrilla operations in progress are the fruit of my decision and my pre-planning.
Saddam admitted that there had been treachery on the part of a very small group of Iraqi military men and politicians. However, those who needed to know did know that the real combat against the Americans would only begin after they entered Baghdad. That is why I ordered all the office-holders of my regime to carry on with their duties, despite the difficulties.
He went on to disclose that, during the six months leading up to the war, several offers came from Israeli and Western sources of a deal whereby sanctions against Iraq would be called off and diplomatic relations with Washington resumed if he extended recognition to Israel. But he claims to have refused, maintaining it was impossible and forbidden to relinquish holy land.
When Duleimi informed him that five million Iranians infiltrated Iraq in advance of the January 30 elections to register as voters, Saddam retorted: This is nothing new as far as the Persian traitors are concerned. We always knew they wanted to grab southern Iraq and that this was the objective of the Badr Brigades. Now the Americans are discovering this for themselves.
But, he added, in any case, the Americans and Allawi will not succeed in bringing the elections off. They will fail, he declared.
Finally, the former Iraqi president said: I fear for Syria. I warned Bashar Assad that the Americans had not only targeted Iraq, but Syria too.
DEBKAfiles military sources add:
Saddam Hussein touched inadvertently on the most burning issue between the Bush administration and Iraqs interim prime minister Iyad Alawi. Ever since the December 21 suicide attack on the US forward base in Mosul, when 22 Americans were killed, Allawi has been urging Washington to launch attacks from Iraq on points in Syria singling out military locations known to intelligence as bases used to assist and train terrorists preparatory to their infiltration of Iraq. The Iraqi prime minister believes that without military action against Syria, three key goals will remain out of reach:
1. A general election on January 30 orderly enough to be a success.
2. An effective deterrent to Tehrans meddling in Iraq.
3. Victory in the war against the guerrillas.
Sunday, January 2, US deputy secretary of state Richard Armitage arrives in Damascus with a final warning from Washington. The Syrian ruler will be informed that the administration is closer than ever before to acceding to Allawis demand
Somebody should interfere with Iran's nuclear weapons guidance systems so when they try to bomb Israel it takes out Damascus. Imagine the headline, "Tehran Destroys Damascus"
That would be sweet (not in favor of innocent loss of life, but something has to wake up the ones who keep getting away with this crap).
And I much prefer there than Israel.
posted on 02/03/2005 8:17:41 PM PST
A senior Syrian journalist reports Iraqs WMD located in three Syrian sites.
January 8, 2004, 8:57 PM (GMT+02:00)
Nizar Najoef, a Syrian journalist who recently defected from Syria to Western Europe and is known for bravely challenging the Syrian regime, said in a letter Monday, January 5, to Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf, that he knows the three sites where Iraqs WMD are kept. The storage places are:
1. Tunnels dug under the town of al-Baida near the city of Hama in northern Syria. These tunnels are an integral part of an underground factory, built by the North Koreans, for producing Syrian Scud missiles. Iraqi chemical weapons and long-range missiles are stored in these tunnels.
2. The village of Tal Snan, north of the town of Salamija, where there is a big Syrian airforce camp. Vital parts of Iraqs WMD are stored there.
3. The city of Sjinsjar on the Syrian border with the Lebanon, south of the city Homs.
Najoef writes that the transfer of Iraqi WMD to Syria was organized by the commanders of Saddam Husseins Special Republican Guard, including General Shalish, with the help of Assif Shoakat , Bashar Assads cousin. Shoakat is the CEO of Bhaha, an import/export company owned by the Assad family.
In February 2003, a month before Americas invasion in Iraq, DEBKAfile and DEBKA-Net-Weekly were the only media to report the movement of Iraqi WMD, the efforts to bring them from Iraq to Syria, and the personal involvement of Bashar Assad and his family in the operation.
Najoef, who has won prizes for journalistic integrity, says he wrote his letter because he has terminal cancer.
Back even further (for historical context)... off to 2003
Syrias Pivotal Role in Iraqi Resistance Is Glossed over in Washington
June 15th, 2003
The cat was out of the bag - almost - as a result of Operation Peninsula Strike, the massive US crackdown against a lethal brew of anti-American resistance forces which have been bedeviling US troops north of Baghdad. A substantial quotient of foreign combatants from Arab countries - Saudis, Yemenis, Egyptians, Jordanians, Syrians and Palestinians from Syria or Lebanon - was discovered to be mixed in with the Fedayeen Saddam, Baathists and former Republican Guards officers mounting lethal ambushes against US troops in and around Baghdad. At the same time, no one says where they are coming from.
No central command structure directing those ambushes has been detected inside Iraq. So the question is where do the resisters gather for action, train and jump off? Who pays them? And who is funneling them into Iraq in a steady stream since the early days of the war, that is four months ago?
The answer, according to DEBKAfiles intelligence and military sources, is quite simply the head of the only Baath regime extant after Saddam Husseins downfall: Syrian president Bashar Assad, along with chiefs of his military intelligence which runs Syrias terrorist connections and Firas Tlas, son of defense minister Mustafa Tlas. Last week DEBKAfile named Firas Tlas for the first time as the organizer of the clandestine removal and concealment of Iraqs unconventional weapons.
The makeup of the foreign Islamic legion Syria is pumping into Iraq to fight against the American presence strongly resembles the al Qaeda combat force deployed on northern Iraqs Afghan border, in Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Dubai and Chechnya, as well as Syria and Lebanon.
Syrian military intelligence is raising this combat force in three places:
1. South Lebanon where several Qaeda operatives have foregathered as guests of Hizballah and Palestinian terrorist groups.
2. The hundreds of medressas springing up in the poor districts of Damascus. Some Middle East intelligence sources estimate that at the speed they are sprouting, by the end of the year Damascus will become the Middle East Peshawar, the Pakistani city whose Islamic academies were Osama bin Ladens main manpower reservoir in 2000.
3. The Muslim tourists crowding into Damascus to take advantage of the only Arab city with no entry controls for Islamic traffic, whether it hails from the Middle East, the Persian Gulf, Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan or the Far East. Today, Damascus international airport bustles, a travel hub for Muslim travelers worldwide and the perfect crossroads for the use of al Qaeda, Taliban and radical Islamic groups from Morocco to the Philippines who prefer their movements to be unobserved. According to DEBKAfiles counter-terror sources, the Syrian government recently turned down a discreet request from Washington to control some of this traffic; the pretext was that the Damascus authorities have no way of telling from a travelers papers whether he is a bona fide tourist or a terrorist.
However, Syrian military intelligence has no difficulty in making this distinction for the recruitment of volunteers for its anti-American legion in Iraq. Additional troops are mustered from among Syrias Sunni Muslims who are glad of temporary employment especially when it comes with insurance for their families if they come to harm.
In mid-April, when DEBKA-Net-Weekly exposed the despatch of Syrian fighters to Iraq, US defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld warned Damascus against sending foreign fighters into Iraq. The Bush administration was then on the verge of attacking Syria but pulled back at the last moment and the subject dropped out of the headlines. It cropped up again this week when the influx of anti-American combatants from Syria into Iraq turned out never to have been interrupted, any more than the smuggling of weapons, cash and maps marked with US targets despite the Asad governments promises to US secretary of state Colin Powell.
The units going across, no more than five or six men at a time, are often equipped with large quantities of arms, mines, explosives and rocket propelled grenades for distribution among Iraqi groups fighting in the northern, western and central regions of Iraq.
They cross through two main routes. One is the borderland west of Mosul, an area populated by nomadic Sunni tribesmen who have been roaming for hundreds of years between Iraq and Syria, some wandering into Jordan and Saudi Arabia as well. The other route goes through the al Qaim region of western Iraq which is still not fully under US military control.
The Syrians have thrust their foot through the Iraqi door partly with an eye on a spot in the oil-rich Mosul region and the prevention of an American presence being established along the Iraqi-Syrian frontier; partly to curtail the spread of Kurdish influence in this strategic region. However, a less known motive, discovered by DEBKAfiles military sources, is that Bashar Assad, stripped by the Iraq war of his main source of foreign revenue, is exploiting the same smuggling routes serving him and Saddam Hussein for their contraband trade of weapons and oil, to replace his lost source of revenue with a new one.
There is evidence of money continuing to flow from Iraq to Syria. The new money-spinning venture for the Assad regime is run by the same Firas Tlas. In May, American forces intercepted two trucks laden with gold bullion worth hundreds of millions of dollars heading for the Syrian border one west of Mosul and the second at al Qaim. DEBKAfiles sources report that the treasure came from hideouts in which Saddam Hussein and his sons and agents salted away their cash and other valuables before the war broke out. There is every reason to believe that most of the gold trucks went through to their destination and the amount captured by US forces was a pittance in comparison.
The same sort of surreptitious traffic is being conducted by Syrian intelligence from Syria and Lebanon to the Palestinian areas of the West Bank. A steady trickle of fighters, funds, weapons and explosives was revealed in the past by DEBKAfile as streaming from the meeting point of the Syrian, Jordanian and Israeli borders through the Golan Heights and the deep dry gullies cutting through the West bank from Wadi Haramiya up to the environs of Ramallah, Yasser Arafats stronghold. There, the incoming men are taken in and sheltered by his Fatah and al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades militias and other groups under his command.
DEBKAfiles intelligence reveal that, shortly before the Aqaba summit of June 4, the Palestinian prime minister Mahmoud Abbas secretly sent a high-ranking aide to Damascus to ask Syrian officials to put a stop to this flow of fighters and weapons to Palestinian areas controlled by Arafat. He was rebuffed.
American and Israeli intelligence, like members of the Abu Mazen administration, are certain that Syria is the primary source of weapons and explosives nourishing the hard-line Palestinian terrorist organizations. This source is complemented by contraband deposited on the Gazan coast by sea and brought in through illicit tunnels from Egyptian Sinai.
All these smuggling routes are under Arafats exclusive thumb. This fact tends to render the efforts resumed by Israeli and Palestinian security officials Saturday night, June 4, to put a stop to Palestinian terrorist strikes, more or less pointless. It is in Arafats power to torpedo any agreements reached, particularly since he also retains control over the bulk of the Palestinian Authoritys security forces. The same fate awaits the mission the US monitoring force headed by State Department official John Wolf begins on Sunday, June 15. When they put their heads together on ways and means of halting terrorism, the Americans, Israelis and Palestinians will be aware that Arafat is calling the shots and that he is fully equipped for this role with the supplies delivered from Damascus.
While Syrias involvement in Iraq and the Palestinian-Israeli conflict can no longer be denied, it is hard to understand why the Bush administration refrains from fingering a regime that continues to covertly send combatants to join the Iraqi resistance threatening US servicemen and actively sabotages Washingtons plans for a new Middle East.
Foreign fighters has been uncovered by Peninsula Strike in the Sunni enclave along the Tigris River delimited by Fallujah, Tikrit and Balud north of Baghdad. Seventy-four people captured near the northern town of Kirkuk are suspected active al Qaeda members. Many of the 82 people killed in a combined US air and land assault on a terrorist training camp near Balud were non-Iraqi.
Army Lt.Gen. David McKiernan, US ground commander in Iraq, reported cagily that while no sign of a central command has turned up in Iraq, Theres certainly the probability that there are financial trails that lead to other parts in Iraq, and there might be communications that go to other parts.
On March 21, DEBKA-Net-Weekly revealed the existence of a massive guerrilla army created by Saddams eldest son Uday in almost a year of preparation for the American invasion, made up mainly of Baath militias and Fedayeen Saddam. The speed of the US advance took Udays army by surprise. Only now, are these units that kept their heads down in the first part of the war coming out to strike the US presence, acting on directives from outside the country Syria the obvious location.
Yet Washington still hopes against hope that relentless economic and diplomatic pressure on Damascus will have the effect to disarming the Syrian-Hizballah front in the event of a US-Iran showdown. The Bush administration is also banking on the same deterrents to hold the Syrians back from meddling in the Israel-Palestinian conflict. Thus far, those deterrents have had as much effect as water off a ducks back; Assad continues to stir both pots. The most likely explanation for US patience with the Syrian ruler is the perennial tug of war in the Bush team between the pro-diplomacy secretary of state on the one hand and vice president Richard Cheney and Rumsfeld, who are pressing for a tough line against both Syria and Iran, on the other.
Almost at the source.. this one from May, 2003
Powell Confronts, Assad Prevaricates
May 4th, 2003
Syria is reported by DEBKA-Net-Weeklys intelligence sources as having secretly disposed of Saddam Husseins weapons of mass destruction by moving them into eastern Lebanon for burial in the Beqaa Valley. Iraqs biological weapons may be there too. They were interred deep under the heroin poppy and cotton fields in two of the most fertile regions of Lebanon: the valley stretching between Jabal Akroum, the town of al Qbayyat and the Syrian border, and the land lying between the towns of Al Hirmil and al Labwah between the Orontes River and the Syrian frontier.
On February 14, about a month before the start of the war in Iraq, DEBKA-Net-Weekly Issue 97 ran an article captioned Is Iraqs WMD cache in Lebanon available to Al Qaeda?
Now, our intelligence sources can disclose exclusively that the relocation of Iraqs WMD systems took place between January 10 and March 10 and was completed just 10 days before the US-led offensive was launched against Iraq. The banned arsenal, hauled in giant tankers from Iraq to Syria and from there to the Bekaa Valley under Syrian special forces and military intelligence escort, was discharged into pits 6-8 meters across and 25-35 meters deep dug by Syrian army engineers. They were sealed and planted over with new seedlings. Nonetheless, their location is known and detectable with the right instruments. Our sources have learned that Syria was paid about $35 million to make Saddam Husseins forbidden weapons disappear.
Before US secretary of state Colin Powell arrived in Damascus on Saturday, May 3, the Syrians made the placatory gesture to Washington of speeding and upgrading the handover of Iraqi fugitives from the Saddam regime sheltering in Syria
DEBKA-Net-Weekly has learned from its most exclusive sources that on Monday, April 28, Dr. RihabTaha, a microbiologist known as Dr. Germ, was turned over to the Americans in Iraq. She had directed Iraqs biological weapons program. Also turned over was Huda Salih Mahdi Ammash, who headed Iraqs anthrax project. No announcement was made of their capture. However, the surrender 24 hours later of Tahas husband, General Amir Muhammed Rasheed, director of Iraqs missile development program and best known by his nickname The Missile Man, was announced.
The United States is therefore fully apprised of the whereabouts of Saddam Husseins arsenal of unconventional weapons and has taken custody of the scientists who developed them.
But DEBKA-Net-Weeklys sources say Washington was nevertheless far from placated and Powells meeting with the Syrian president Saturday was a confrontation. The secretary of state laid down the following demands:
1. A map with the coordinates of the pits holding Iraqs weapons of mass destruction.
2. Surrender of Saddams most senior insiders who fled to Aleppo and Latakiya. After DEBKAfile blew the whistle on April 3, the group staying at the Cote DAzur De Cham Resort in Latakia was whisked away leaving their families comfortably ensconced there.
3. Handover of the two senior Al Qaeda members now in Damascus. DEBKA-Net-Weeklys military and intelligence sources say their names and whereabouts were uncovered by US intelligence units in Iraq.
4. An explanation of Syrian motives in allowing two British terrorists, Assif Hanif, who blew himself up in Tel Aviv on April 30, and Omar Khan Sharif, who ran away, to transit Damascus en route to Israel. (One of the duo spent four months of preparation in the Syrian capital with the Hamas operations officer and associate of Hizballah Imad al-Alami, as reported exclusively by DEBKAfile.)
5. An immediate stop to the military-terrorist activities of the Lebanese Hizballah and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad and Hamas in Syria and Lebanon. Failure to do so, Powell explained, will result in a painful tightening of economic pressure on Syria, after the loss of $1b in oil revenues from Baghdad.
Powell suggested that Assad invite Abu Mazen, the new Palestinian prime minister, to Damascus. This step would further underline Yasser Arafats state of isolation in view of his never having been received in Damascus. It could lead to an invitation from the Bush administration to invite the leaders of Syria, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Iraqs new regime and the Palestinians to a regional conference that would set the stage for Syrian and Palestinian peace negotiations with Israel.
Powell told Assad bluntly to choose between confrontation and negotiations.
At the same time, DEBKA-Net-Weeklys Middle East experts stress that Powells stance was tough yet exploratory. The Bush administration is still in option-weighing mode, pondering how best to proceed in the post Iraq war era to achieve its two main objectives: One is to advance Americas long-range strategic goals in the Middle East. The second is to get Bush re-elected as President in November 2004.
A lil' "covert ops" story from Early 2003
Ultimatum for Assad as US Special Forces Land
April 16th, 2003
Although President George W. Bush and administration spokesmen have carefully skirted any explicit threat of military action against Syria, DEBKAfiles military sources report that Sunday night, April 12, small teams of American undercover troops were already inside Syria marking out the hideouts of Saddams close family, his top lieutenants, military leaders and the directors of his banned weapons programs. US special forces troops were additionally directed to locate the men who drive the operational arms of the Hizballah, Jihad Islami and Hamas terror groups.
Twenty-four hours later, Monday night, three events brought Syria even closer to becoming the object of direct American action, additionally placing France in Washingtons sights - albeit for a different kind of punishment. Syria faces imminent economic sanctions at best although, since experience shows they never work, military action is very much on the cards. France stands to pay a diplomatic and financial price for certain actions that have come to light.
DEBKAfiles Washington sources describe the White House as particularly incensed over the following pieces of intelligence:
A. Documents coming to light in Baghdad directly incriminate Syria as a full partner in the financing, development and concealment of Iraqs weapons of mass destruction programs. A source familiar with the new data reveals that Syria was not only a full partner but active in every stage of these programs to the point that they deserve to be called Iraqi-Syrian, not just Iraqi, undertakings.
Well before the UN weapons inspectors came on the scene last year, the Syrian president Bashar Assad took it upon himself to conceal the banned weapons, one by one, as they came off the production line. Syrias support for Iraq in the UN Security Council and the attacks leveled by foreign minister Farouk a-Sharah against Washington, for venturing to accuse Iraq of concealing weapons of mass destruction, were staged to misdirect attention from the biggest political, intelligence and military fraud perpetrated since the Cold War ended.
Washingtons indignation over these discoveries has been manifested in a torrent of warnings to, and charges against Damascus in the last three days. Defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld took the opportunity of the warm welcome he gave the visiting Kuwait ruler on Monday, April 14, to produce intelligence that Syria had conducted chemical weapons tests in the last year.
He could have said more. According to DEBKAfiles Washington sources, the defense secretary was also informed that in the same period Syria test-fired missiles fitted with chemical warheads from Aleppo in the north to Djebel Druze in the south near the Syrian-Iraqi-Jordan border junction. Damascus carried out the test on behalf of the Iraqi-Syrian partnership for developing unconventional weapons.
B. The details of the comprehensive military collaboration treaty Assad secretly concluded with the now deposed Iraqi ruler Saddam Hussein that were first exposed in DEBKAfile in September 2000 are only now emerging in full. Under its terms, Syria was bound to furnish an escape hatch for fleeing Iraqi military, political, scientific and intelligence top echelons working on the banned weapons programs, as well as providing concealed locations for production to continue. Damascus was therefore committed to taking over the shared WMD projects from the point they were interrupted by a war emergency in Baghdad.
C. This discovery relates to the aid rendered Syria by France. DEBKAfiles exclusive intelligence and military sources reveal that, from Monday night, April 14, groups of Iraqi military and scientific leaders have been transferred from Syria to France. This came about as a result of President Chirac consenting to help Assad live up to his commitments to Saddam Hussein and keep their forbidden weapons out of sight and their existence denied.
These discoveries led the Bush administration to slap down before Damascus a three-part ultimatum:
1. First, in view of Syrias long record as sponsor of terror, the Assad regime is required to dismantle at once the command centers of the Lebanese Hizballah and the Palestinian Jihad Islami and Hamas Damascus headquarters and turn their leaders over to the United States. A list of names is supplied.
2. To hand over without delay all the weapons of mass destruction on its territory, whether they are Iraqi or Syrian.
3. To surrender to the Americans at once every one of the hundreds of Iraqi regime members, including Saddam kinsmen, granted asylum in Syria.
Assads failure to deliver would result in the United States acting to force his compliance.
Washingtons ultimatum evoked a frantic Arab reaction. Saudi foreign minister Saudi Al-Faisal went to Damascus to warn the Syrian ruler of grave consequences should he persist in defying the Americans. He advised him to call an urgent Arab foreign ministers meeting for Friday, April 18, and ask the Arab world to back him up in meeting Washingtons demands. The Syrian ruler has not yet informed the Saudi minister of his intentions.
Though not unaware of the danger hanging over his head, Assad is showing the same kind of stubbornness as Saddam Hussein his ally exhibited when he was urged by a procession of diplomatic well-wishers to show flexibility or go into voluntary exile so as to avert an American invasion.
A brief anecdote indicates the deceptive nature of the Syrian-Iraqi alliance. Iraqs UN ambassador Mohammed Al-Douri, the first Saddam regime official to concede his countrys defeat (The game is over), aroused some sympathy when he burst into tears in New York and vowed to devote his life to a peaceful future for his people. He announced he would be going to Paris.
Well, DEBKAfiles intelligence sources have discovered that the weeping ambassador stayed in Paris only long enough to catch the next plane to Damascus, where he joined his not exactly peace-loving brother, who turns out to be the deposed vice president Izzat Ibrahim Al-Douri.
Al Qaeda Poised for Festival Strike
Osama bin Ladens organization is reported preparing to stage a comeback by a fresh terrorist assault in Turkey against American or Israel/Jewish targets over Passover this week or Easter, next. Upon receipt of this intelligence, Ankara placed its counter-terror units on high alert, installing special security measures at its civilian and military airfields and around bases accommodating US forces.
According to DEBKAfiles sources, Al Qaeda planners, established at a forward base in Iran, are plotting a dual strike against a hotel frequented by Israeli holiday-makers and an incoming Israeli airliner on the lines of the attack the network mounted last November 28 in Kenya on the Israeli-owned Mombasa Paradise hotel and Arkia airliner. Al Qaeda may also seek out a large local Jewish gathering for the Passover Seder. As in Mombasa, the fundamentalist terrorists are preparing to use shoulder-launched Strela SA-7 anti-air missiles, whether against an incoming Israeli airliner or American aircraft ferrying American military personnel into Turkey.
Its operatives are reportedly lying in wait on both sides of the Turkish-Iraqi border to ambush American convoys and attack isolated US installations in Iraqi Kurdistan. In the last week, they the terrorists were seen slipping across from Iran into Turkey and northern Iraq.
Busy Baghdad Highway to Damascus
April 15, 2003, 10:42 AM (GMT+02:00)
Round about noon on Sunday, April 13, US commanders realized that, while they were preoccupied with the civic needs of Baghdad, they were missing the biggest spectacle of the war the 2003 Exodus from Iraq. Members of Saddams regime in their thousands were pouring out of Baghdad and Saddams last strongholds of Tikrit, Samarra and al Ramadi and heading for the Syrian frontier and Damascus. DEBKAfiles intelligence and military sources report that Syrian military intelligence teams waited on the other side of the border, sorting the fugitives into groups and moving them on. Most high officials and officers were directed to Damascus and the Mediterranean towns of Latakia or Tartous.
US special forces sped to the Syrian border exits to try and stem the outflow, a mission well nigh impossible, given the winding, porous 500-km frontier populated by Arab nomadic tribes who make their living by smuggling people, arms, oil and contraband back and forth. A few of the escapees were nabbed but most crossed to safety. Our sources quote witnesses who saw a long line of black armor-plated limousines with Iraqi number plates driving into Damascuss Al Maze and other military airports in Syria. They could not tell if the limousines were collecting Iraqis coming in by plane or delivering top Saddam officials to special flights leaving Syria.
The safe and assisted passage of thousands of Saddams top men into Syria evoked yet another stern warning from President George W. Bush in Washington Sunday, April 13. The Syrians must stop harboring Baathists and other Iraqis to be brought to account, he said and leveled another grave charge against Damascus: We believe there are chemical weapons in Syria, he said.
The presidents denunciations topped the cautions issued by defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld and secretary of state Colin Powell earlier in the day. Rumsfeld: We found a lot of fighters from Syria, a lot got killed last night. If Saddam Hussein turns out to be in Syria, he said: Syria will have made the worst of a whole lot of bad mistakes. Powell advised Syria to stop supporting terrorists.
It will be recalled that DEBKAfile was first to reveal that Syria had granted asylum to senior Iraqi officials and provided them with the facilities to conduct the war from outside Iraq.
The catalogue of serious Syrian offences thrown out by Bush and his team in less than one day reads ominously like a final warning to President Bashar Assad.
Even this catalogue was not comprehensive. It is worth noting that the US president did not say Syria has chemical weapons, but We believe there are chemical weapons in Syria. He did not say they were Syrias weapons. According to a DEBKAfile senior in the US administration, Assad, in addition to rescuing Saddam and his minions, is working with a will to de-legitimize the American war in Iraq and make sure it can never be justified. He is trying to achieve this by placing Iraqs entire chemical and biological weapons arsenal in a safe repository, also placing the scientists and officials employed on Iraqs unconventional weapons programs out of reach in hidden locations. In this clandestine operation he was almost certainly assisted by Russian and French intelligence services, who share Assads ambition to deny the United States any proof that its war on Iraq was just.
No seasoned observer in the region would be in the least surprised to see American military action launched shortly against Iraqi and other targets in Syria or even Lebanon.
WMD'S were once (in mid 2003) rumored to be here:
Basically MANY of the Iraqi shanangans were SO INTERTWINED with the Gov't of Syria, that you would be able to call these projects Syria/Iraqi and not Iraqi/Syrian.
Sadaam set up a command and control center to run the insurgency from Syria BEFORE THE WAR EVEN STARTED. All of this is 'known' in the open source intel sphere, but for dimplamtic reasons are not YET echoed in the reality of the rhetoric.
We are STARTING to advance the rhetoric... I beleive by year's END there will be some MAJOR 'resoluiton' to the issue... MOST LIKELY the catalyst will be Syria's continuing direct and substantive involvement and support of the current 'insurgency' in Iraq.
Damn, Bookmarked. Very interesting, very interesting indeed. A lot of info there. Thanks.
posted on 02/03/2005 9:09:23 PM PST
by processing please hold
(Islam and Christianity do not mix ----9-11 taught us that)
Thanks... I really thought I would immediately be greeted with the usual cynics..
"Oh debka.. my standard source for info" and BS like that.
You are welcome to dismiss my source of info (which I find to be more accurate than NYT or any other MSM), but I see no reason why it should 'anger' some that others might want to read.
Anyway.. if only I can find the other two... a story from Feb 2003 saying the WMD's WERE BEING MOVED and would not be found in Iraq, and another deatailing the city and location that Sadaam was setting up in Syria to run teh 'insurgency' after the war. It was on DEBKA a few months before the war that he was setting it up back in '03. .. and now I hear in the past weeks from 'official' releases, that this is what the US Miltary now believes (supported by BUSH's tone in SOU Speech)
I have always thought that the WMD's are in the Bekka Valley in Lebanon.
There will be cynics who bash your source of info....let 'em. If they watch MSM, they can read articles from debka.
I hope Bush is ready to take on Syria. They and Iran are a thorn in our side and need to be removed before Iran gets the bomb.....
posted on 02/03/2005 9:27:43 PM PST
by processing please hold
(Islam and Christianity do not mix ----9-11 taught us that)
Have you read this?
2 Russian generals given awards in Iraq on war eve By Bill Gertz THE WASHINGTON TIMES Two Russian generals were photographed receiving awards from Saddam Hussein's government for helping Iraqi military forces less than 10 days before the U.S.-led invasion. The two retired officers were identified by the newspaper Gazeta.ru as Col. Gen. Vladimir Achalov and Col. Gen. Igor Maltsev, both former high-ranking officers involved in Soviet rapid-reaction and air defense forces. Both generals were photographed receiving awards from Iraqi Defense Minister Sultan Hashim Ahmed in early March 2003, only days before the war began on March 20, 2003. The photographs were taken in a building that was bombed by U.S. cruise missiles during the first air raids on Baghdad, the newspaper stated. The mission and the reason the generals received the awards were not disclosed in the April 2, 2003, report. However, Gen. Achalov told the newspaper that he "didn't fly to Baghdad to drink coffee." The comment bolsters the claims of Pentagon officials who say Russian military advisers and special forces units were helping Iraq's military and intelligence services before the Iraq war. The Pentagon has identified Russia as Iraq's top arms supplier, along with France and China. U.S. military officials have said Russian military suppliers sold Iraq special electronic jammers that were designed to thwart attacks by U.S. satellite-guided joint direct attack munitions, or JDAMs. The jammers were bombed by the JDAMs, after the global positioning systems satellites signals used to guide them were boosted. John A. Shaw, deputy undersecretary of defense for international technology security, said this week that two European intelligence services have obtained documentary evidence indicating Russian spetsnaz, or special forces, troops were involved in a covert program to shred documents on Russian arms sales to Iraq, and to move weapons out of the country to Syria, Lebanon and possibly Iran. The Russians were hired by the Iraqis to protect special Russian weapons and to organize the removal of arms through truck convoys. The Russian special forces troops were working for the GRU military intelligence service and wore civilian clothes, defense officials said. The Russian Embassy yesterday denied that the country's special forces took part in moving Saddam's weapons. "This is completely far-fetched," said Yuri Ushakov, the Russian ambassador, who dismissed Mr. Shaw's statements as false. "To try to scapegoat Russia for such shortfalls is utterly unfair." Mr. Ushakov said statements by other U.S. officials "devalidate" Mr. Shaw's remarks about the Russian arms-dispersal program in Iraq. The Gazeta.ru stated that it obtained the photographs of the generals from an unidentified source but confirmed their authenticity with Gen. Achalov. Gen. Achalov was a former Soviet deputy defense minister and airborne troops commander and chief of the rapid-reaction forces. Gen. Maltsev was chief of the Soviet air defense forces. Both backed the aborted coup against Russian President Mikhail Gorbachev in 1991 and were sacked afterward. A third photograph shows the two generals with the head of the Iraqi chief of the general staff, Gen. Izzat Ibrahim. Asked about the award, Gen. Achalov said the award ceremony took place "even less than 10 days before the war." The generals had made some 20 visits to Iraq in the past five or six years and appeared to be playing a role in preparing the Iraqi military for conflict, the newspaper stated. "Given such a schedule three to four trips a year it is almost beyond doubt that Achalov and Maltsev, as well as, possibly, other retired Soviet and highly placed Russian military personnel were giving advice to Iraq as it prepared its army for imminent war," the newspaper said.
posted on 02/03/2005 9:35:50 PM PST
by processing please hold
(Islam and Christianity do not mix ----9-11 taught us that)
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