Don’t Remove Syria from the Terrorism List Until Syria Stops being a Supporter of Terrorism

Actually, the headline says it all.

Actually, the headline says it all.

According to various reports, the Bush Administration is trying to tempt Syria into the anti-terror coalition by offering to remove it from the State Department list of countries supporting terrorism. Middle East Newsline [MENL] reports that the State Department has already relayed the offer to Damascus. According to MENL, “Officials said the message asserted that Syrian participation in an international coalition would be seen as evidence that Damascus has renounced support for terrorism.” And, oh yes, by the way, “The message also urged Syria to restrain Hizbullah and Palestinian groups from attacking Israel’s northern border.”

Restrain? Come on, guys.

We understand the Administration’s desire to have as broad a coalition as possible – although we have very strong concerns about being dragged down to the level of the least enthusiastic member. Addressing that point, National Security Advisor Condoleeza Rice sensibly said there would be “coalitions,” in which different countries would be asked to cooperate in different ways according to their capabilities.

But how can Syria could participate in this coalition according to its capability? Just joining it can’t be sufficient. Remember that Syria is on the list of terrorism supporting countries for a reason – it is a supporter of terrorism. Specifically:

a. Syria permits Iran to use the Damascus airport and overland routes for delivery of supplies (including missiles) to its Hizballah allies in Lebanon, thus subverting Lebanon and threatening Israel.

b. Syria openly hosts in Damascus as many as 19 Kurdish, Hizballah and Palestinian organizations that are on the State Department terrorist list.

Syria’s contribution to the anti-terror coalition should be to stop doing those things or face the wrath of the United States. President Bush said, “You are with us, or you are with the terrorists.” Not “evidence that Damascus has renounced support for terrorism,” but rather evidence that Syria has stopped supporting it.

Junior Assad shows little sign of casting his lot with the civilized world in any way. In fact, Syria’s Ambassador to Iran called the 11 September “attacks on America … an excuse and pretext for inducing a disaster on other nations.”

Bribery, then, and the promise of a clean slate for words instead of action by countries who are involved in terrorism and support of terrorists shows a clear weakness of will by the United States. A bidding war for empty phrases by leaders who lie as a matter of habit and conviction will only slow the serious work that lies in front of us.