Syria: A Troublemaker Surrounded

(Economist-UK) Whatever patience foreign capitals may once have had for groups such as Hamas, and for Syria's succoring them, appears to be wearing thin. The Israeli hit on a senior member of Hamas in Damascus provoked barely a blink from the outside world. It is hardly a secret that recruiters for the Iraqi insurgency have been active in poor, Sunni Muslim areas in Lebanon, as well as in Palestinian refugee camps. It is no secret, either, that these places are tightly controlled by Syrian intelligence: such recruiting could not be pursued without a wink from Damascus. Visitors to Fallujah, one of the most rebellious Iraqi towns, say that masked fighters with Syrian accents are everywhere. They are especially noticeable at checkpoints run by the most hardline groups - the ones that take hostages and set off bombs in crowded streets. Money for the insurgents also seems to cross the Iraqi-Syrian border without impediment. The Iraqis say that Syrian intelligence could easily intercept suspicious travelers if they wanted to. But they don't, say the Iraqis, because they would rather the Americans were too bogged down in Iraq to start thinking about regime change in Damascus.

2004-10-01 00:00:00

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