Skip to comments.The Bashar Connection (The Syrian Thug Tried to Insite Shiite Insurrection in Iraq)
Posted on 01/13/2006 2:02:45 PM PST by MikeA
[Paul Bremer] writes that in the fall of 2003 he was told about a secret attempt by Syrian President Bashar Assad to incite the Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani, the pre-eminent Shiite cleric in Iraq, against Americans. Mr. Bremer was told by a messenger that the Ayatollah had received a secret communique from Mr. Assad urging him to "issue a fatwa calling for a jihad against the Coalition," similar to the one the Shia had called against British occupying forces in 1920.
"This was an act of extraordinary irresponsibility from Syria's president," Mr. Bremer writes. "We had good intelligence showing that many insurgents and terrorists were coming into Iraq through Syria. But the message from Assad essentially incited Shia rebellion. If [Assad] were to succeed, the Coalition would face an extremely bloody two-front uprising, costing thousands of lives, including Americans."
In the event, the Ayatollah turned the Syrians down, knowing as he did how the 1920 uprising proved to be disaster for Shiites that only perpetuated minority Sunni rule for the rest of the 20th century. But it's worth recalling that even in 2003 there were important voices in the U.S. foreign policy establishment urging President Bush to work with the Syrian dictator.
Thus former CIA and State Department analyst Flynt Leverett testified to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in October 2003 that "Bashar could be a suitable subject for diplomatic engagement" provided the U.S. makes its policy expectations for him clear.
Now we know just why the Administration was so averse to Mr. Leverett's prescriptions: Far from being cooperative, the Syrian regime was attempting to open a second-front rebellion that would have killed thousands of Americans and Iraqis.
Tell us again why the U.S. hasn't struck hard at a country causing mayhem on both its eastern and western fronts?
(Excerpt) Read more at online.wsj.com ...