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Case Studies in Sanctions and Terrorism: Syria

Case Studies in Sanctions and Terrorism

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Case 86-1
US v. Syria
(1986-: Terrorism)

| Chronology of Key Events | Goals of Sender Country | Response to Target Country |
Attitude of Other Countries | Economic Impact | Assessment | Author's Summary |
Bibliography |

Goals of Sender Country

White House Spokesman Larry Speakes
In November 1986, commenting on adoption of EC measures and announcing imposition of US sanctions: "We believe further steps must be taken to discourage such Syrian behavior and to express our outrage and that of the American people at Syrian sponsorship of this attack against the El Al airliner and its long pattern of support for terrorism." (Washington Post, 15 November 1986, A1)

Ambassador to Syria Edward P. Djerejian
Following release of two American hostages with Syrian assistance: "One shouldn't be euphoric about improved bilateral relations. It's important to continue to work to make progress along a broad front, including combating terrorism, the Arab-Israeli peace process and Lebanon." (Washington Post, 29 April 1990, A24)

National Security Advisor Anthony Lake
"We are thus maintaining sanctions against Syria and have no intention of removing Syria from the terrorism list until and unless it ends its support for these terrorist organizations…The best practical way to end Syria's support for terrorist organizations is through the peace process." (Washington Post, 4 January 1994, A10)

State Department Spokesman Nicholas Burns
"To treat Syria as we treat, say, Iran, we think there has to be a distinction. It would be not accurate or fair" to put them in the same group. "Syria, at least as of today, has not rejected the peace process as Iran has done." (Associated Press, 17 July 1997; Journal of Commerce, 11 July 1997, 3A; Associated Press, 17 July 1997)

Secretary of State Colin Powell
"With respect to Syria, of course, we will examine possible measures of a diplomatic, economic or other nature as we move forward… In light of this new environment they should review their behavior, not only with respect to who gets haven in Syria and weapons of mass destruction but especially the support of terrorist activity." ( Financial Times , 15 April 2003, 4)

Response of Target Country

President Hafez al-Assad
"President Assad has told Washington that he opposes acts of terror like airplane hijackings....; [However,t]he Syrian leader draws a distinction between organizations fighting what he considers legitimate political struggles and instigators of terror." Assad repeatedly denies Syrian government involvement in terrorist incidents, promises to prosecute anyone clearly linked to such activities. (New York Times, 16 July 1989)

Foreign Minister Farouk Charaa
Following release of second US hostage: "I hope this second gesture of goodwill will be met with a similar gesture of goodwill during the process of releasing the rest of the hostages." (Washington Post, 1 May 1990, A1)

Abdullah Dardari, deputy prime minister for economic affairs
On the impact of US economic sanctions introduced in 2003: "I don’t see any serious impact on Syrian/US relations. Since 1986, we have had US sanctions on Syria and it did not affect our business much. They didn’t affect US oil companies coming to Syria. In fact, we have American companies now expressing an interest in investing in Syria, in tourism, real estate and financing." (Middle East Economic Digest, 16 December 2005)

Rateb Shallah, head of the Syrian Chambers of Commerce
On accelerating economic reform: “The leadership realises that the economic performance is crucial at this delicate political stage… We have seen new laws and readiness to cut the bureaucracy [to] attract capital from the outside in recent months. A new stock exchange will only raise inflows.” (Reuters, 16 February 2006)

Attitude of Other Countries

European Community
"Ten of Britain's 11 European Community partners agreed Monday to ban arms sales to Syria and impose other sanctions because of Syria's alleged involvement in an attempt here (London) to blow up an Israeli jumbo jet… Greece, traditionally follows pro-Arab policy, refused to put its signature to a joint statement of EC foreign ministers because of reluctance to condemn Syria publicly. (Chicago Tribune, 11 November 1986, 1)

United Kingdom

UK Foreign Secretary Sir Geoffrey Howe
"We shall continue to employ all the political means available to us in order to persuade the Syrian authorities to translate into concrete action their stated condemnation of international terrorism,"Howe told a news conference. He said Syria should "end all forms of support for terrorists and "deny them all facilities." (Chicago Tribune, 11 November 1986, 1)

UK Foreign Minister Douglas Hogg
"The UK is willing to see the arms embargo being raised. We accept that the Syrian government is not sponsoring any terrorist activity against any Western government." (Independent, 11 July 1991, 13)

In late October 1986, President François Mitterrand rules out any arms sales to Syria under current circumstances. He reiterates his position that "no compromise can be made with terrorism and especially with countries which indulge in terrorism," but says that concrete evidence of Syria's involvement is necessary before France will consider other sanctions. (Financial Times, 29 October 1986, 1)

Greece endorses those parts of 10 November 1986 statement generally condemning terrorism but refuses to go along with sections specifically naming Syria. Greek Foreign Minister Karolos Papoulias argues that "Britain's proposals 'would change the whole political basis of the EC's Middle East policies' and that it was too big a step 'to consider Syria as another Libya.'" (Wall Street Journal, 28 October 1986, 39; Washington Post, 11 November 1986, A1)

Soviet Union
Following West German sanctions against Syria in late November, Soviet news agency Tass says, "the West German sanctions were 'being implemented within the anti-Syrian campaign unleashed by London and inspired by the United States.'" (Washington Post, 28 November 1986, A1)

Turkish foreign ministry spokesman
"We are aware of the Syrian support of terrorism and clearly, this should be cut in line with Syria's international obligations." Turkey is particularly sensitive to Damascus' support of the outlawed Kurdish Workers Party. (Turkish Daily News, 16 January 1996)

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