Morning Report: March 25, 2008

A buildup in the Levant, no-shows in Syria, and the fallout from Fallon in Iraq. Meanwhile, the view across the Atlantic remains murky.

Syria deploys three divisions on Lebanon border. Via Internet Haganah: 'Syria has deployed three military divisions along the borders with Lebanon amidst mounting tension in the region, press reports said Sunday. The leading daily an-Nahar attributed the report to well informed sources, noting that the deployment backs a similar massing of fighters by pro-Syrian Palestinian factions in the Bekaa valley, especially Ahmed Jibril's Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command (PFLP-GC) in the Qoussayah area.' Debka: 'DEBKAfile’s military sources report that the Syrian deployment is backed by the concentration of pro-Syrian Palestinian factions in the Beqaa valley of Lebanon, amid rising war tensions between Hizballah and Israel. Hassan Nasrallah declared Hizballah would wage “open war” with Israel at the end of the 40-day mourning period the group observed for Imad Mughniyeh who was killed in Damascus February 12. His deputy has maintained that Hizballah had “100 percent solid evidence" that Israel had killed Mughniyeh, which Israel has consistently denied.'

A dozen Arab leaders skip Damascus. Summit by proxy? Ha'Aretz: '"The strength of the Arabs is in their solidarity" is the slogan of the Arab League Summit in Damascus, but it seems the Arab world has not been this fragmented for a very long time. The leaders of at least 12 Arab countries will not attend the summit that opens, according to remarks by Arab sources to Haaretz on Monday. They also said no significant decisions will be made at the summit.' Saudi Arabia will be represented by an ambassador-level official, and Egypt by its foreign minister.

Iran, Iraq, and Fallon. Debka: 'US Iraq commander Gen. David Petraeus said he has evidence that Iran was behind Sunday’s bombing of the Iraqi government-US embassy seat in the fortified Green Zone. He accused Iran of training, equipping and funding the insurgents who fired the mortar and rocket barrage. He also charged Iran with adding “lethal accelerants” to the ordnance.' The Belmont Club: 'One of the rumored frictions between Petraeus and former CENTCOM CINC "Fox" Fallon centered around how strongly to respond to threats from Iranian sponsored groups. And Sadr's men would fall under that category. Maj Gen Paul Vallely was quoted as saying CENTCOM may not have been done all that it could to prevent Iran from endangering American troops.' See also SKF.

Karmah free. Michael Totten: '“It was much worse than Fallujah” said more than a dozen Marines who were themselves based in Fallujah.' That was then. This is now:
Today Karmah is no more violent than Fallujah – which is to say, hardly violent at all.

“A lot has changed since just before we arrived,” Lieutenant Macak said. “I arrived in July just when the checkpoints were starting up. We expanded what 2/5 started. We took that snowball and made it bigger. As soon as they put that checkpoint up near the lollipop [a notoriously dangerous traffic circle], the IEDs on IED Alley disappeared.

“That's all it took?” I said.

“Yes,” he said. “But within a couple of weeks of them putting the checkpoint up, they had a suicide car bomb attack. They assumed that no one would want to be out manning that checkpoint if it was just going to get blown up again. So the Marines went out there and fortified it. They maintained a squad-sized Marine element out there for about a month and a half. The Iraqi Police and Provincial Security Forces were out there manning it, as well. We slowly phased the Marines out of it, and now it's exclusively run by Iraqis. No one would ever go past that point. They had kill lines set up. If they saw any vehicle coming down that road, it would be engaged. They knew anything past that line was Al Qaeda. No vehicles were allowed to move from the east to the west toward that checkpoint.”

What happened?
Implementing basic security measures wouldn't work in a counterinsurgency if a significant number of local civilians supported the radicals. But the locals were terrified and savagely murdered and tortured by the radicals on a regular basis. Al Qaeda in Iraq is the self-declared enemy of every human being outside its own members and loyal supporters. Nothing could possibly discredit jihad more completely than the jihadists themselves.

MLK and GOP. The Spirit of Man links a story on the National Black Republican Association.

Briefly noted. Morning Report nominates New York's governor David Paterson for the award of this button.

Commentary. Exit Zero breaks the bad news to Janet Daley at the Telegraph: Americans actually are not living in constant torment from their terrifyingly anonymous, rootless existence. I'll have more to say about this in another post.