Barry Rubin: The U.S. State Department has produced some excellent analysis in its “Country Reports on Terrorism 2008” study just released. Now the only problem is to ensure the Obama administration reads and absorbs the contents.
What can this report teach U.S. policymakers?
Regarding Iran, their government has massive evidence of its continuing role as “the most significant state sponsor of terrorism.” Why is Iran doing this? According to the State Department, “To advance its key national security and foreign policy interests, which include regime survival, regional dominance, opposition to Arab-Israeli peace, and countering Western influence, particularly in the Middle East.” That’s right, and it’s not going to change, especially one Iran has nuclear weapons.
Not only does Tehran use the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (the institution most supportive of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad) “to clandestinely cultivate and support” Hamas, Islamic Jihad, Hizballah; plus radical Islamist groups in Afghanistan, the Balkans, and in Iraq against U.S. forces.
As for Syria, events highlighted its “ties to the world’s most notorious terrorists,” including the death of Hizballah Operations Chief Imad Mugniyah, killed while under Syrian government protection. “Among other atrocities, Mugniyah was wanted for the 1983 bombings of the Marine barracks and U.S. Embassy in Beirut, which killed over 350.” Moreover, as the report shows, Syria has been tightening its alliance with Iran and continued financing terrorism.
While U.S. efforts reduced their numbers, terrorists destabilizing Iraq continued coming in “predominantly through Syria,” and “receiving weapons and training from Iran.”
Here’s the bottom line: Not only do Syria and Iran believe that destabilizing the region, bullying or controlling their neighbors, and expelling U.S. influence is in their interest but they’re also directly involved in trying to kill Americans. Read it all.