Why Does Syria Insist on Harboring Terrorists?

[New Republic] Lee Smith - U.S. forces struck Al-Qaeda leader Badran Turki Hishan al-Mazidih in Syria last month. Syria not only tolerates the presence of terrorists, but encourages them to use the country as a safe-haven, headquarters, and transit point. Why does Syria continue to harbor terrorists, knowing that it places the country squarely in the crosshairs of the Bush administration? Syria's logistical, financial, and political support for the Islamic resistance burnishes Assad's credentials at home, while also earning him respect across the region. The Syrian shows himself to be a citadel of anti-Zionist, anti-Western resistance, and is the most popular Arab leader after Hizbullah's Hassan Nasrallah. Support for terror is also a significant element in Syria's attempt to exert power over its neighbors. In addition to hosting groups that target Israel, like Hamas and Hizbullah, Syria has long maintained a broad portfolio of regional terror outfits, from the Kurdish PKK and Palestinian rivals to Yasser Arafat, to Salafi groups like Shaker al-'Absi's Fatah splinter organization, Fatah al-Islam, and, as the recent U.S. attack on Bou Kamal illustrated, Al-Qaeda in Iraq.

2008-11-14 01:00:00

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