You reap what you sow. (via Austin Bay)

Islamists have turned their attention to the Syrian Ba’athist regime. There are scattered reports of fighting as Islamists attacked Syrian military units near the Iraq border. This could just be a side effect as the US COIN strategy and the Anbar Salvation Front’s efforts push the Islamists out of sanctuaries in Iraq. Now the Islamists are operating closer and closer to the Syrian border.

Syria is an attractive target, but the Islamists have lost a lot of public support with their failed war in Iraq. Deciding to attack a different country entirely is probably not good public relations.

Nonetheless, the Syrian regime is unstable. Pan-Arabism and Ba’athism are no longer attractive ideologies. There is a rising number of Islamists in Syria who despise the secular and brutal Ba’athists and its non-Muslim Alawite leader, al-Assad. They make easy propaganda targets at least.

A new Syrian Islamist group calling itself Monotheism and Jihad Group in Bilad al-Sham is calling for war to overthrow the Ba’athists and exterminate the Alawites. (more at Talisman Gates) Abu Jandal called for Jihad against the Syrian government, noting it is corrupt, authoritarian, and basically heretical. He tries to unite their jihad with Kurdish nationalists against the Syrians.

From Reuters

Syria is facing a violent campaign by Islamist militants and six border soldiers died in attacks launched from inside Iraq, a senior Syrian security official said on Thursday.

This is the first time Syria has publicly disclosed details of the fight against militants, which has intensified this year.

“We are conducting operations against terrorist cells and we have taken martyrs,” Mohammad Mansoura, head of the Political Security branch of Syria’s intelligence apparatus, told a closed door session of an international security conference on Iraq.

“Raids have yielded arsenals of weapons including suicide explosive belts. Our border forces have come under 100 attacks from inside Iraq. Six soldiers died and 17 were injured,” he said in a speech obtained by Reuters in a translated copy.

When the Muslim Brotherhood rebelled against the Syrian Regime and killed some 50 Ba’athist party members, the Syrian military massacred some 20,000 in the city of Hama in an all out military offensive. Over the past 20 years, the Syrian government retained strong control over their borders and suppressed Islamists from entering their country or passing to neighboring Ba’athist Iraq. A goat could not cross any of the borders without Syrian intelligence knowing about it.

Suddenly, with non-state militants attacking Israel and the US, the Syrians claimed they could not control their borders. They, loosened their control, allowing many Saudis to migrate to Syria so that they may disappear – that is, cross into Iraq and join AQI. Not to mention they funded radicals like the Muslim Brotherhood group Hamas. Provided, of course, these Islamist radicals attack Americans or Jews, the Syrians would turn a blind eye to their activities.

Islamists are regenerating in Syria. With the Islamist insurgency in Iraq in ruins, Zawahiri and other Al-Qaeda leaders are calling for an insurgency in Greater Syria – which is Syria and Lebanon. Fatah al-Islam attacked Lebanon from Palestinian refugee camps and the Lebanese military destroyed them as a threat.

This year, Islamists started to attack the Syrians. The Jihadi websites have been calling for holy war against the Syrian regime for the past year, and there is apparently a shift in focus from Iraq to Syria. This course of action spites the Islamists in Iraq, who depend on the secure supply base in Syria to maintain operations. If the Syrians close the border again, they insurgency will be starved. Perhaps many wrote off Iraq as a dead end, and now want to start a rebellion in a more pure Sunni Arab country like Syria.

The border fighting and website propaganda may not even be linked for all I know. This has the potential to spark a minor insurgency, although I do not believe that the Islamists can win anything on their own.

Hama Rules are back into effect. The Syrian military considers all Islamists – insurgents or civilian sympathizers – as its enemy and will use absolute force to eliminate them. They don’t worry about human rights and other pleasantries.