Syria has halted military and intelligence cooperation with the United States, its ambassador to Washington said in an interview, in a sign of growing strains between the two nations over the insurgency in Iraq.If Syria had been serious about stopping the traffic of death cult members to Iraq, it would have had a vigorous screening operation of men who fit the profile as they arrived on planes in Damacus from Saudia Arabia and Yemen. What this moves does is remove the pretense of cooperation in the war on terror. It also allows the Bush administration to assume that Syria has opted to be on the side of the terrorist. Clearly they are not on the side of the US.
The ambassador, Imad Moustapha, said in the interview on Friday at the Syrian Embassy here that his country had, in the last 10 days, "severed all links" with the United States military and Central Intelligence Agency because of what he called unjust American allegations. The Bush administration has complained bitterly that Syria is not doing enough to halt the flow of men and money to the insurgency in Iraq.
Mr. Moustapha said he believed that the Bush administration had decided "to escalate the situation with Syria" despite steps the Syrians have taken against the insurgents in Iraq, and despite the withdrawal in recent weeks of Syrian troops from Lebanon, in response to international demands.
He said American complaints had been renewed since February, when a half-brother of Saddam Hussein, who was once the widely feared head of Iraq's two most powerful security agencies, was handed over to the Iraqi authorities after being captured in Syria along with several lieutenants. The renewal of complaints caused Syria to abandon the idea of providing further help, he said.
"We thought, why should we continue to cooperate?" he said.
Bush administration officials said Syria's stance has prompted intense debate at high levels in the administration about new steps that might be taken against the Syrian government. The officials said the options included possible military, diplomatic or economic action. But senior Pentagon and military officials cautioned Monday that if any military action was eventually ordered, it was likely to be limited to insurgent movements along the border.