Juan Cole of the University of Michigan laid out the big picture strategic thinking behind some of the border seizures on his blog, Informed Comment:
If the FSA can take the third crossing from Iraq, at Walid, they can control truck traffic into Syria from Iraq, starving the regime. The border is long and porous, but big trucks need metalled roads, which are few and go through the checkpoints. Some 70% of goods coming into Syria were coming from Iraq, because Europe cut off trade with the Baath regime of Bashar al-Assad. The rebels are increasingly in a position to block that trade or direct it to their strongholds.According to an Iraqi deputy minister of the interior, the units that seized the border were perhaps not the goodwill ambassadors that the Syrian opposition or Dr Cole might have hoped for:The top official said Iraqi border guards had witnessed the Free Syrian Army take control of a border outpost, detain a Syrian army lieutenant colonel, and then cut off his arms and legs.
"Then they executed 22 Syrian soldiers in front of the eyes of Iraqi soldiers."They reportedly also raised the al-Qaeda flag.
The forces participating in the operation at the Turkish border crossings were also an interesting bunch - and certainly not all local Syrian insurgents, as AFP reported:By Saturday evening, a group of some 150 foreign fighters describing themselves as Islamists had taken control of the post.
These fighters were not at the site on Friday, when rebel fighters captured the post.
Some of the fighters said they belonged to Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), while others claimed allegiance to the Shura Taliban. They were armed with Kalashnikov assault rifles, rocket launchers and improvised mines.
The fighters identified themselves as coming from a number of countries: Algeria, France, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia and the United Arab Emirates - and the Russian republic of Chechnya…
When a French diplomat stopped two journalists, a French and an Arab, in early July 2012, near a café adjacent to the French foreign ministry, the lights of the Friends of Syria conference had grown dim at the conference center following two exhausting days of debate that provided the impression to the meeting participants that the toppling of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is now a fait accompli.…[T]he diplomat revealed what he had in mind and advised the journalists to slow down with their packing because a major event was going to take place in July. The bets to topple Al-Assad in Paris and between the “Friends of Syria” had turned into a mere matter of time.