t r u t h o u t | 10.28
US Raids Ignore International Law
Tuesday 28 October 2008
by: Matt Renner and Maya Schenwar, t r u t h o u t | Report
Washington - While US officials continue to avoid discussing the weekend strikes that killed eight people in eastern Syria, Middle East experts have condemned the attacks as a violation of international law that threatens to further destabilize US-Syria relations.
Sunday, special operations forces carried out a cross-border raid from
However, Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem said the attack killed eight unarmed civilians in a farming village. Ahmed Salkini, spokesman for the Syrian Embassy in Washington, DC, condemned the strike, calling it a "criminal terrorist attack" that "intentionally targeted innocent civilians."
According to Princeton international law scholar Richard Falk, neither the
Yet, Falk does not predict that any enforcement action will be taken, because international laws regulating the use of military force have been so undermined by the
"We are witnessing a unilateral expansion of the scope of the right of self-defense [by the Bush administration]," Falk told Truthout. "This is a suspension of the rule of law in the name of counter-insurgency or homeland security. It is an extension of executive authority and the imperial presidency."
Falk pointed to a recent escalation in unauthorized and illegal cross-border attacks, calling the raid in
Violations of territorial sovereignty by the
Resistance to US raids in
Sunday's raids mark a significant step backward in the US's relations with Syria, hindering counterterrorism efforts instead of helping them, according to Erik Leaver, policy outreach director for Foreign Policy In Focus.
"This does further damage to US-Syrian relations, which have been very shaky over the past few years," Leaver told Truthout. "This attack will strain relations further, making it more difficult to track terrorist movement, not easier."
"A few weeks ago we had a positive meeting with Secretary Rice and the Syrian foreign minister," Salkini told Truthout. "They talked about positive steps forward; they complimented our efforts in the region."
Salkini called this contradictory approach a "recurrent theme" of the Bush administration.
The strange timing of the attacks may be politically calculated, according to Joshua Landis, co-director of the Center for
"Politically, it is safer now because Syria is constrained from retaliation due to its desire to get off to a new and better start with a new US administration," Landis told Truthout. "
The Syrian media have roundly condemned the raids, with the top national newspaper, Tishrin, calling them "cold-blooded murder."
According to another main media outlet, the Syrian Arab News Agency, the Syrian government has sent a letter to the United Nations, requesting that the UN hold the
However, according to
"We are not interested in a war with the
The Syrian raids come at a critical time in the
"This attack on
The Iraqi constitution prohibits the use of its land as a military base for launching cross-border strikes, according to a statement by Iraqi government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh on Tuesday. The statement condemned the attack on
"You can be sure that
Meanwhile, Congress is out of session for the campaign season and has not yet stepped into the debate about the legality of the raids in
Even while in session, Congress has been hesitant to take on the issue of national-sovereignty violations in the so-called war on terror, because politicians fear voters may react negatively if they oppose military action against potential terrorist targets.
"Congress has been very passive in relation to its own authority with regard to warmaking, including Democrats, even with the mandate of the 2006 elections," Professor Falk said. "Congress hasn't been willing to insist that the government adhere to international law and the
Matt Renner is an editor and Washington reporter for Truthout.
Maya Schenwar is an editor and reporter for Truthout. GOP Senate Campaign May Feel Fallout of Stevens Verdict
Click to SUBSCRIBE -> http://www.truthout.org/content/subscribe