Sunday, October 26, 2008

Flawed Pakistan strategy now in Syria?

Is a US strategy to defeat terrorists just creating more of them?

That's the verdict from Pakistan's Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani on the policy approved last month by President Bush that authorized the US military to launch air strikes against Taliban and al-Qaeda targets inside Pakistan. While the Pentagon is claiming that a number of militants have been killed in the lawless border region of Pakistan and Afghanistan, Prime Minister Gilani said that the policy is counterproductive and because it only enrages the local population and turns more of them to the side of the terrorists. Pakistan's government is also angry over the repeated raids, which they see as a violation of their national sovereignty.

Pakistan's government is instead pursuing a strategy of targeted raids against some suspected terrorists, but is also trying to persuade local tribal chiefs to turn away from al-Qaeda and side with the Pakistani government. Gilani says that what's needed in the tribal areas more than air strikes is money for development efforts to raise the standard of living in an area mired in poverty.

So the air strike strategy very well may be making more terrorists than it's eliminating. Now the word out tonight is that the same plan may now be underway in Syria.

Reports from Syria are that US Special Forces conducted a raid on a village on the Syria/Iraq border in an area notorious for smuggling. Troops flew in on helicopters and struck a building that the US said was part of a “foreign fighter network”. Of course the Syrians have a different story to tell - they say that the building was under construction and that those killed included a guard at the construction site and his wife. Syria is condemning the raid as a "serious aggression".

The BBC is speculating what might be behind the raid, especially since European countries and Israel have recently been trying to improve relations with Syria. The BBC thinks the raid may be a "parting shot" by the Bush administration, since it expects Barack Obama to win the election and several of his advisors are in favor of improving relations with Syria.
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