Foreign Policy Blogs

Another "Bush Blunder" in the Middle East

It's been in the news for a few weeks now, so I’m sure you haven't been able to escape the talk.  For those of you who have been solely focused on the current US political situation, and I don't blame you, I have only one word: Syria. 

Last week, thousands of Syrians congregated in Damascus to protest the US Special Forces raid across the border from Iraq.  The raid, which intended to capture Abu Ghadiya, a top Syrian and Ba'thist militant, actually killed him and eight Syrian civilians, according to leaders in Damascus.  Abu Ghadiya was mentioned many times during Saudi interrogations of al-Qaeda suspects, as a Saudi source stated on CNN (see link above).  It was believed that Ghadiya was using Ba'th money to smuggle militants across the border into Iraq, many of whom contributed to violence associated with al-Qaeda in Iraq. 

The ramifications of this are far-reaching.  First, the immense outpour of protesting alone (although this could have been a ploy by the Syrian government, known for pressuring its citizens into various types of actions).  Nonetheless, seeing so many people up in arms is worrisome.  Second, not only did the Syrian government condemn the raid, but the Iraqi government did the same.  Third, the US closed its Syrian embassy amidst protests from the Syrian people and aggression from the Syrian government.  And finally, in the aftermath, Damascus pulled its border patrols off the Iraqi-Syrian desert border, forcing Iraqi guards to control the entire region. 

The last two results are the most worrisome.  Closing the US embassy is a huge statement, and one not taken upon lightly by the US government, I’m sure.  And further, now the Iraqi military will be responsible for solely combating the militants crossing the border from Syria.  Which, in turn, could lead to the US also being held accountable for who comes and goes.  Not to mention that violence levels could incline because of this, even after we’ve made so much progress. 

I understand the need for targeting known anti-US militants, but at the expense of our progress, our troops and our reputation?  It seems that this type of thinking has been the legacy of the Bush administration: decisions made without much thought to the repercussions. 



Jennifer Bushaw

Jennifer Bushaw holds an MA from the University of Chicago in Middle Eastern Studies with an emphasis on policy. She focused her research, including her Thesis, on modern Iraq and the Iraq war. She also has a Bachelor's in History from the University of Michigan. Jennifer is currently working as an Investigative Research Associate for a security advisory and management firm in Chicago, Illinois.

Areas of Focus:
Iraq-US Policy; Security; Coalition Operations;