Friday, 7 May 2010

Love of the Land: Syria's record intact

Syria's record intact

James H. Anderson
Washington Times
06 May '10

Syria has an unmatched streak as a state sponsor of international terrorism, as documented by the State Department's annual Country Reports on Terrorism, expected to be released soon. The United States has designated Syria a sponsor of state terrorism for 30 straight years, ever since Congress first required that such offenders be listed, beginning in 1979.

No other state shares this serial distinction. To put this odious streak in perspective, President Carter was in the Oval Office and eight-track tapes were still in vogue when Syria debuted as a charter member of the terrorist list.

The State Department list is not chiseled in stone. Other states have fallen off the list after changing their behavior. For example, Libya had its sponsorship-of-terrorism designation rescinded in 2006. But Syria has never shown a willingness to relinquish terrorism as a core element of its statecraft, whether it is used to suppress political dissidents at home or further its regional ambitions.

In addition to supplying Hezbollah with sophisticated weapons in Lebanon, Syria continues to permit Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad and other terrorist groups to maintain offices in Damascus. The regime has a lengthy track record of allowing jihadists to transit Syrian territory en route to unleashing suicide attacks against American soldiers in Iraq. In recent years, Syria also increasingly has aligned itself with Iran, itself another longtime sponsor of state terrorism.

In response, the Obama administration has sought to drive a wedge between Syria and Iran. On paper, this policy approach appears tempting, especially because the theocratic regime in Tehran and the secular Ba'athist regime in Damascus appear to make strange bedfellows. But Tehran and Damascus share similar regional aims that underlie their ideological marriage of convenience, especially with respect to menacing Israel and interfering in Lebanon. With Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad beside him at a February news conference, President Bashar Assad openly mocked U.S. efforts to split the two allies.

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Love of the Land: Syria's record intact

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