Honorable Richard K. Army
SUBCOMMITTEE ON THE MIDDLE EAST AND SOUTH ASIA
COMMITTEE ON INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS
U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
SEPTEMBER 18, 2002
18 September 2002
Mr. Chairman and members of the Subcommittee,
18 September 2002
Thank you for
inviting me to speak today on behalf of H.R. 4483, the Syria Accountability Act of 2002. Syria has been on the State
Department's terrorist list since 1979.
There are seven countries currently on the terrorist list. The United States has sanctions
against and has broken normal relations with five of the seven nations on the list. Those five nations are: Iran, Iraq, North Korea, Libya,
and Cuba. The House passed
the Sudan Peace Act in response to its concerns with the sixth country, Sudan. Now, I come to speak about my
concerns with the seventh, and question whether we should have normal, sanction-free
relations with Syria.
As we continue to wage war on terrorism, Syria is a country that enjoys full diplomatic relations with the United States, trade relations with U.S. companies, and receives significant foreign aid from some of our closest allies, while simultaneously cuddling up to Saddam Hussein's regime, protecting some of the world's most active terrorist organizations within its borders, and repeatedly violating international law.
testimony today I will review the threats that Syria poses through its support of
terrorism, its occupation of Lebanon, its development of weapons of mass destruction, and
its illegal importation of Iraqi oil. These are threats to the United States and its
allies around the world. Our inaction in holding Syria accountable for its dangerous
activities could seriously diminish our efforts in the war on terrorism and our efforts in
brokering a viable peace in the Middle East.
Syria should be
held accountable for its record of harboring and supporting terrorist groups, stockpiling
illegal weapons in an effort to develop weapons of mass destruction, and transferring
weapons and oil back and forth through Iraq. In his June 24th
speech, President Bush made a very clear statement of U.S. policy: "nations are
either with us or against us in the war on terror." In that speech, he also laid down
the gauntlet for Syria: "Syria must choose the right side in the war on terror by
closing terrorist camps and expelling terrorist organizations."
-A year has now passed, and the deadline for this choice has come and gone. The Congress of the United States cannot allow Syria to continue activities that pose a threat to the United States and our allies without consequence.
of Syria's support for terror:
Syria publicly condemned the terrorist attacks of 9-11, for decades it has harbored,
sheltered, and sponsored terrorist organizations inside its borders --
and within the borders of areas it controls in Lebanon.
There are reports from reliable news
sources, such as the respected Israeli newspaper "Ha'aretz", to the effect
has allowed some 150-200 al-Qaeda terrorists to settle in a Palestinian refugee camp in
southern Lebanon within the last year.
need to take these reports seriously and continuously monitor both sides for evidence of a
relationship between the two.
have been advised that Syria, as a secular dictatorship likely holds no affection for the
fundamentalist views of al-Qaeda, still, it has made common cause with both Sunni
extremists in Hamas, and Shia extremists in Hezbollah. My concern is whether Syria
supports and sponsors any terrorist
organization at all. It is a
quibble to me to say that Syria supports "this" terrorist organization but not
if the question of al-Qaeda support is open in the minds of some, we know for sure
Damascus is a haven to more than one terrorist group. Hezbollah is headquartered in
Damascus and they effect a global threat by maintaining a terrorist network in Europe,
Africa, South America, North America, and Asia. They are the radical terrorist
group that, until 9/11, had claimed the most American lives in terrorist attacks.
was Hezbollah who masterminded the bombing of the U.S. embassy and U.S. Marine barracks in
Beirut in 1983 that killed more than 300 people, including 243 Americans.
also know that Hezbollah would not be able to launch attacks against Israel from southern
Lebanon without Syrian acquiescence and approval, which brings me to the point of Syria's
forcible control of Lebanon.
the early 1980s, Syria has maintained an illegal military occupation of southern Lebanon
with 25,000 troops operating under the guise of maintaining peace between factions. Syria
has created a front line for terrorist incursion into Israel on Lebanon's border.
U.S. National Commission on Terrorism reported last year that the Syrian government
"still provides terrorists with safe haven, allows them to operate over a dozen
terrorist training camps in the Syrian-controlled Bekaa Valley in Lebanon, and permits the
Iranian government to re-supply these camps."
is also widely believed that the Bekaa Valley in Syria-occupied Lebanon serves as the
epicenter for training the world's most dangerous terrorists. The Bekaa is a one-stop shop for
terrorist training. Terrorists from every corner of the international community come
together in training camps to learn how to conduct lethal operations. Terrorists learn how to transform
themselves into suicide bombers. They
also learn how to utilize various types of weapons, including long-range Katyusha rockets,
high-explosive anti-tank mines and modern plastic explosives. The effects of this comprehensive
training can be seen in such devastating acts as the 1996 Khobar Towers bombing. Other attacks that originated
from the Bekaa Valley include the kidnapping and murder of former CIA Beirut station chief
William Buckley in 1984.
Such groups as Al-Qaeda,
Al-Jihad (Egyptian Islamic Jihad) Hamas, Hezbollah, the Japanese Red Army, Abu Nidal's
organization, Force-17, New People's Army (Phillipines), the IRA, Chechen Rebels, Fatah,
the Red Brigade, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, and the Medellin Drug Cartel are just
some of the terrorist organizations who have received training in the Valley and continue
to operate there today.
oil importation and Iraq:
of concern is Syria's illegal import of Iraqi oil through the Kirkuk -Banias pipeline, in
direct violation of U.N. Resolution 661 and subsequent resolutions prohibiting commerce
with Iraq's oil and gas sector outside the "oil-for-food" program.
imports about 200,000 barrels of Iraqi crude oil a day, allowing Damascus to sell more of
its domestically produced petroleum for profit, totaling approximately $1.1 billion annual
profit for both countries.
Department spokesman Richard Boucher noted on February 14, 2002, "Syria is now a
member of the United Nations Security Council. As such, it bears a special
responsibility with regard to implementation of U.N. Security Council resolutions. Given the seriousness of this
[oil pipeline] issue, you can be sure that we will continue to press Syria to live up to
its responsibilities to respect Security Council resolutions and to ensure that its
actions contribute to international peace and security."
Unfortunately, Syria has not lived up
to these expectations, nor has President Assad fulfilled a personal
promise he made to Secretary of State Colin Powell in February 2001 that the pipeline
earnings would be placed under the U.N. sanctions regime, or alternatively shut down.
intelligence sources have also discovered that Iraq is using Syria for smuggling military
systems and other banned material to Saddam Hussein. Iraqi opposition sources believe
that Iraq has obtained medium-range Scud-class missiles through Syria as part of Iraq's
efforts to bolster its military against a U.S. attack. In addition, recent reports claim
that Syria is brokering the sale of a sophisticated Ukrainian military radar system to
developing weapons of mass destruction
For the past decade, the Syrians have
enhanced their ability to manufacture several hundred tons of chemical warfare agents per
year, including sarin, mustard gas and VX, at four separate production facilities. In addition to stockpiling
chemical weapons, Syria has received, via Iran, hundreds of extended-range North Korean
Scud-C missiles, and is building its own ballistic missiles from imported technology. These weapons are deployed in
deep, well-protected underground shelters.
Two years ago, Syria began testing a longer-range Scud-D missile, able to
hit any point in Israel from deep inside Syrian territory, often undetectable to Israeli
The presence of these strategic weapons
not only threatens Israeli cities, but could also target Israeli Defense Force military
bases and thereby hinder Israel's ability to mobilize its army reserves quickly in the
event of war. Longer-range weapons
systems allow the Syrians to hide their missiles deeper in their own territory
while still threatening our friends.
the legislation requires:
the dangers the current Syrian regime poses to a variety of U.S. interests in the Middle
East, the Syrian Accountability Act of 2002 was introduced in April of this year by Eliot
Engel, my colleague and member of this Subcommittee, and me. This bill currently has over
155 cosponsors. I urge the
Subcommittee to pass this important piece of legislation as quickly as possible.
In response to
our knowledge of Syria's continuing activities, four criteria must be met by Syria in
order for normal relations with the United States to return. The first criteria is an end
to its support for terrorism, evidenced by closing the offices of the Palestinian terror
groups, cleaning out the Lebanese Bekaa Valley, ending all contacts with and harboring of
terrorist groups, and complying fully with the United Nations Security Council Resolution
1373. Secondly, Syria must
withdraw its armed forces from Lebanon, complying with United Nations Security Council
Resolutions 425 and 520. A halt to the development and procurement of weapons of mass
destruction and ballistic missiles is the third requirement. There is concern within the
current Administration regarding the combination of Iraq's Scud missiles and weapons of
mass destruction. Of equal concern is the Syrian force of hundreds of Scud missiles topped
with unconventional warheads and the potential threat it poses. Lastly, Syria must halt
violations of United Nations arms and oil sanctions against Iraq.
the President can certify that Syria has ceased these dangerous activities, he must impose
several penalties, including a ban on military and dual-use exports to Syria, and a ban on
any financial assistance to U.S. businesses for their investment or other activities in
The President must also impose two
additional penalties from a menu of six options that include: the prohibition of the
export of U.S. products to Syria; the prohibition of U.S. businesses investing and
operating in Syria; the restriction of Syrian diplomats in Washington, D.C. and at the
United Nations in New York; the prohibition of any Syrian owned or controlled aircraft to
take off, land, or fly over the United States, the reduction of U.S. diplomatic contacts
with Syria, and the blockage of any property transactions under U.S. jurisdiction in which
the Syrian government may have an interest. Virtually all of these sanctions are
currently enforced against the other six countries on the U.S. terrorist list.
When Secretary of State Powell went to
Syria last April, he sought to give a hard wake-up call to the Syrian people and their
leaders that the United States was serious about its commitments to see through the war on
terror. Instead, Powell's
message fell on deaf ears, as masses of protesters carried pictures of Hezbollah leader
Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah and Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat while shouting in the streets,
"Death to America, Death to Israel" and "We want to say the truth: We
loathe America. Powell get out of here." The message he has since received from the
Syrian government has been far more diplomatic, but unchanged.
I urge you to
move swiftly in passing the Syria Accountability Act into law. Two months ago, the
President urged Syria to take the right side in the war on terrorism. Congress should pass this
legislation in an ongoing effort by the United States to convince Syria, a sitting member
of the U.N. Security Council, to foster security instead of fostering war.
This bill provides both penalties and incentives for Syria to change its behaviour and it responsibly includes a national security waiver for most of the sanctions, as well as exemptions for food and medicine.