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US embassy: Assad allows attack, offer "protection" and aim at confusion

US embassy: Assad allows attack, offer "protection" and aim at confusion
By Walid Phares

According to well informed Syrian sources, today's Terrorist attack against the US embassy in Damascus is one of the "Machiavellian" Assad operations. Let's remind ourselves that the Syrian regime's senior strategists and intelligence officers were trained by the sophisticated "intox" schools of the former Soviet's KGB. One of the main tactics of this old school, refined by Hafez Assad during his rule of Syria is based on the following concept: If the equation is to your disadvantage, create a new problem, offer to solve it, obtain recognition; and by that you'd change the equation.

The strategic objective of the Assad regime today is to deter Washington from further pressures against Syria, in the form of the Hariri investigation, the US pressure through the Security Council to deploy forces along the borders with Lebanon and the American ongoing support to the anti-Syrian Government in Beirut. Tehran-Damascus-Hezbollah axis is in dire need to "contain" Washington's pressures and gain time, as much possible of time. Why would they need time? Because they have to rearm Hezbollah, crumble the Lebanese Government, and face off with UN pressures on the nuclear. Syria has the marching orders to disorient the United States, and hence it adopted a twin approach:

a. "Allow" a Jihadist-type terror attack to take place against a US interest in Damascus. And how can that be possible? The seasoned experts on Syria knows all too well that the Assad Mukhabarat are in control of, or have "access" to the overwhelming Terrorist organizations in Syria and Lebanon. They've had thirty years of deep involvement to accomplish this take over. In addition to Shiia Hezbollah, Syria has a control, a remote-control of, or an access to Sunni Salafists groups, including networks that connects with al Qaeda. In short, Syria's intelligence services can prepare the ground to "persuade" Jihadists to strike at some point. The Jihadists have an ideological and strategic enmity with the US; the Assad regime has the ability to have the "mob" unleash attacks, in the same way the Baath regime of Syria has "allowed" thousands of Jihadists to cross the border to Iraq to kill US and coalition troops. Assad the father also "allowed" Jihadis to attack U.S and French interests in Lebanon during the 1980s. More recently, Assad "allowed' violent demonstrations to attack embassies in Damascus. Knowing that Syria's State police controls the country with an iron hand, these precedents are too bright to ignore. In today's apparatus two men dominate the Terror web from their security intelligence positions: Mohammed Nassif, the director of State Security and Ali Yunis, the assistant of Asaf Shawkat, the regime's security commander. Nassif and Yunis are the team that controls and connects with the Jihadist underworld in the Levant.

b. Stage the "protection" : After the operation happens, the regime allows some of their men to be killed in action against the "Terrorists." Obviously, this move will be hard to absorb by Western and American public psychologically. Maybe Hollywood movies writers can. In short (as an analytical projection) the regime "allowed" the operation to happen, "knew" it would happen, and let the security guards on the ground sacrifice themselves in the line of diplomatic duty.

The Dividends:

1. Sending a message to the U.S as follow: al Qaeda can strike you in our midst (Syria and Lebanon) and we can't do much about, except the classical protection once the "cells" would be about to engage or have already engaged. In short we are extending the measures under international laws, not more.

2. "But, can stop them." Meaning that our "powerful" intelligence and security agencies can go after these Terrorists (who aren't Syria's friends to start with) and "offer them to you," as we used to do in the good old days: We'd send Hezbollah to kill your Marines in Lebanon and allow the Salafists to kill the Marines again in Iraq, but at the same time we can do business with you and "protect your" embassies from the Terrorists we are harboring anyway. Yes a good Levantine maze.

3. Your public, via international media, "saw" that we are defending your embassy and have "lost" security guards while defending it. So what are you going to tell your public? That we, the Syrian regime, "are" the terrorists? It will look bad when after we sacrificed our men for your diplomats, your diplomats would call us Terrorists.

4. Secretary Rice "had" to issue a statement to "thanking" Syria. In Assad's mind, it would be an embarrassment for the U.S to attack Syria for being a harbor to Terrorism when Damascus has just being thanked for fighting those Terrorists. This, basically, would gain some more "time" for Assad. Enough time needed to:

5. Rearm Hezbollah, prepare attacks against UN and other multinational forces to come closer to the Syrian borders, and of course to allow the other pressures to recede.

6. Extra dividend: Unleash the school that supports "dialogue and friendship" with the Syrian regime in Washington to advance its arguments in this regard.

A question has been fusing in the media about Zawahiri's calls for the Levant Jihadists, including the Jund al Sham to attack targets in Syria and Lebanon. Are these video messages coordinated with Syria and Iran. While no evidence is surfacing yet, but these are two Jihadi wars taking place against the US and its allies at the same time. In the midst of an Al Qaeda war and of a Khumeinist-Baathist campaign, both directed against democracies in the region, overlapping actions aren't impossible. Otherwise, how to explain that al Qaeda waited so long before it issued a direct Jihad-guideline on Lebanon and Syria after 14 years of war on the US and three years war in Iraq? Why would the no 2 of al Qaeda suddenly develop an interest in the Lebanese-Syrian battlefield, immediately after the cease fire was concluded between Hezbollah and Israel? Who needed whom to begin the next stage in troubles after the issuing of UNSCR 1701?

Let's call it the quiz of the month: you'd find your answer in Machiavelli's writings.

Dr Walid Phares is a Senior Fellow and the director of Future Terrorism Project at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, a visiting fellow with the European Foundation for Democracy and the author of Future Jihad: Terrorist Strategies against America