Ever since Israel withdrew from Lebanon in accordance with UN resolution 425, Syria has been giving Hezbollah a green light to continually attack Israel’s northern border. Syria is one of the world’s leading sponsors of international terrorism. Syria continues the occupation of Lebanon and the development of weapons of mass destruction and is a country listed on the State Department list of terrorist states. Just as other states on the terrorist list have been punished with US sanctions, Syria should also not be allowed to continue its terrorism activity with impunity.
The Orthodox Union, the nation’s largest Orthodox Jewish synagogue organization, strongly supports legislation introduced in the House and in the Senate called the Syria Accountability Act, introduced by Senators Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Rick Santorum (R-PA) as S. 2215 and by Representatives Dick Armey (R-TX) and Eliot Engel (D-NY) as H.R. 4483. This legislation would impose sanctions on Syria until the President certifies that Syria has ceased its support for terrorist groups, has withdrawn its forces from Lebanon, halted its development of missiles and biological and chemical weapons, and is in compliance with the UN resolutions concerning Iraq.
Syria continues to be a major sponsor of international terrorist groups. Hamas, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), and at least eight more terrorist groups are headquartered in Damascus. These groups maintain offices, training camps, and other facilities on Syrian territory, operate in areas of Lebanon occupied by Syria and receive supplies from Iran through Syria. Hezbollah’s recent attacks on Israel, launched with the support of the Syrian government, risk leading to a wider regional war.
Syria serves as a major conduit for illegal Iraqi oil exports in contravention of UN Security Council resolutions. Syria, which now sits on the UN Security Council, is defying that very body through its illegal Iraqi oil exports, helping to finance Saddam Hussein while earning $1 billion a year in the process.
Syria continues its own program to develop biological and chemical weapons. Syria’s ability to strike most of Israel with its short and medium-range ballistic missiles makes Israeli population centers vulnerable to Syrian attack. Given Syria’s support for terrorism and its hatred towards Israel, Syria’s development of chemical and biological weapons are a major U.S. national security concern.
Syria is subject to fewer U.S. sanctions than any other country listed as a state sponsor of terrorism. The Orthodox Union strongly urges the imposition of U.S. sanctions on Syria whose support for terrorism and terrorist organizations undermines freedom and democracy. Congress should pass the Syria Accountability Act without delay.