U.S. Commander: Lebanon Conflict May Have Fueled Attacks On U.S. Troops
One of the effects of the Iraq war has been to encourage and embolden terrorist actors in the Middle East. It has inspired growing solidarity between Hezbollah, Hamas, Syria, and Iran, among others. The New York Times reported in the early stages of the fighting in Lebanon that the solidarity between Iraqi and Hezbollah fighters could result in increasing attacks against American troops:
The conflict already has had some effect in Iraq. On Friday, the firebrand Shiite cleric Moktada al-Sadr said in Baghdad that Iraqis would not "sit by with folded hands" while Israel strikes at Lebanon, signaling a possible increase in attacks from his militia on Americans in Iraq.
Now, at least one U.S. commander is reporting that the Israeli-Hezbollah conflict did indeed cause a spike in attacks against U.S. troops:
Rocket attacks on a U.S. base in eastern Baghdad doubled during the month-long war between Israel and Hezbollah, a U.S. Army commander said this week, echoing concerns expressed by other American officials about Iranian support for Shiite militants in Iraq. Lt. Col. Mark A. Bertolini of the Fourth Infantry Division said the increase in Katyusha rocket attacks on Forward Operating Base Rustamiyah seemed related to the fighting in Lebanon.
As Slate's John Dickinson writes, the question Americans should be asking is "whether Bush's policies are inspiring the people who want to kill us."