There are two possible scenarios for the appalling bombing in Damascus: Was the bombing planned by outside parties, as suggested by the Syrian capital’s media analyses, or was it an unexpected incident?
I will start with the second scenario and I am confident that no one to date knows the whole truth except of course the perpetrator himself. This is a war between the strongest terrorist organization in the world and the most powerful security services in the Middle East. There is not a security body [in the Middle East] that is more influential than the Syrian security services, which have been known over the past three decades for their successful operations. Syria has devoted special attention to security and put it before all other considerations, thus becoming an expert in security matters. For this reason, and throughout the years of Iraq’s domestic war, the Iraqis and the Americans rejected Damascus’s claims that it knew nothing about the infiltration activities from Syrian territories all the way to the southern borders. They also had a problem accepting the excuses it used when confronted with accurate information that it could not close its long borders with Iraq and that with its tremendous power, the United States has failed to prevent infiltration from Mexico into US territory. Despite the reasonable Syrian response, someone once said: “O brother, not a single fly can enter or leave Syria without the Syrians knowing about it.”
No one believed the Syrian version of the story, because thousands of people, who came to Iraq from around the world, crossed the border with their weapons. Some officials were more candid in their statements and said: “We have nothing to do with all that is happening [in Iraq] and there are no Syrians in Iraq. Yet at the same time, we cannot prevent others from resisting the occupation.”
Several states embraced or turned a blind eye to armed groups and paid the price. These states believe that first, they are smarter and more skillful; and second, that they are protected.
When terrorism hit Syria, the Syrian reaction was similar to that of most Arab states that were affected by it. At the beginning they are in a state of shock, and after a few bombings, they insist that there is an outside conspiracy against them. The Algerians reiterated these words at the beginning of the 1980s, and in the end, they admitted that terrorism was a local creation that they had to confront. Today, the Syrians discovered that the bombing was a suicide operation and was not caused by a booby-trapped car that was remotely detonated by some terrorist.
Syria believed that the terrorist activities that are directed to the outside cannot harm it. And like all other Arab states, Syria also believed that it was smarter than others and more capable of dealing with terrorism with the help of its security bodies. However, today, it discovered that it is but another target. We admit that Syrian security is extremely strong and vicious. Nevertheless, terrorism is not like any other threat and is not like anything we ever experienced in the past. Religious extremist terrorism is multiplying like bacteria and the strongest security apparatuses in the world are unable to put an end to it. This is because after an individual is brainwashed in a mosque, through an electronic website, or through television, he becomes stronger than the most powerful security services in the world. Unfortunately, Syria has allowed cross-border terrorism to move freely in its land for a long time, based on the notion that it is the best and cheapest weapon that will force the Americans to backtrack on their position to the advantage of its political calculations. Finally, Damascus has gone back on its position and has started to cooperate after all the pressure that has been exerted on it following Al-Hariri’s assassination.
Damascus has served as the best source of information on the mujahidin and has helped hunt them down. As a result, violence in Iraq has dropped by 80 percent.
With time, the Syrians will discover that they are not the victims of an outside conspiracy, not even by those who disagree with them the most. This is because these parties believe that by preserving Syria’s security they will be preserving their own security and that any vacuum or chaos will affect them all, as was the case in Iraq. However, the political tension and security non-cooperation that exist on the ground are in no one’s best interest. For its own political, sectarian, and economic reasons, Syria needs — more than any other state — to cooperate against terrorism rather than to selectively cooperate with Iran and its allies.