Skip to comments.Administration Moving To Block Anti-Syria Bill
Posted on 04/30/2002 4:05:47 PM PDT by RCW2001
Administration moving to block anti-Syria bill
The Bush administration is moving to block a bill that recommends sanctioning Syria for its continued support of terrorism and other bad behavior. It is the administrations latest attempt in a series of efforts to block legislation being pushed by pro-Israel lobbyists.
Last Thursday, congressmen Eliot Engel (D-New York) and Dick Armey (R-Texas) introduced the bill. A similar version was introduced in the Senate.
Subsequently, Assistant Secretary of State for Legislative Affairs Paul Kelly wrote to Sen. Joseph Biden (D-Delaware) expressing the administrations opposition to the bill. Biden, chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, had sought the departments opinion.
The president and the secretary are in the middle of an extremely sensitive effort to bring down the violence, avoid the outbreak of regional war, and help the parties back on a path to comprehensive peace. If our efforts on both comprehensive peace and the war against terrorism are to succeed, the president and the secretary will need flexibility to determine what combination of incentives and disincentives will maximize cooperation and advance our goals, Kelly wrote in a letter to Biden obtained by The Jerusalem Post.
For this reason, we do not believe this is the right time for legislative initiatives that could complicate our efforts. The imposition of new sanctions on Syria would place at risk our ability to address a range of important issues directly with the Syrian government and render more difficult our efforts to change Syrian behavior and avoid a dangerous escalation.
In the letter, Kelly pointed out that Syrian intelligence cooperation in the war against al-Qaida has helped save American lives, and that Secretary of State Colin Powell made clear during his recent visit to Damascus that Syrias support and safe haven for terrorist groups must end.
The bill calls for a toughening of sanctions against Damascus if it does not end its support for terrorism, terminate its occupation of Lebanon, stop its development of weapons of mass destruction, and cease its illegal importation of Iraqi oil.
In the past week, administration officials have more broadly asked legislators to refrain from passing any legislation regarding the Middle East. In essence, the White House does not want to see any moves by Congress that can be construed as pro-Israel as it attempts to persuade Arab critics that it is still an honest broker.
Last week, in a private meeting with House leadership, Powell asked House Majority Whip Tom DeLay to withdraw a resolution he introduced expressing solidarity with Israel. Similarly, the administration is attempting to block legislation calling for sanctions on the Palestinian Authority if the White House is unable to determine that it is acting in compliance with signed accords.
The vote on the solidarity resolution, originally scheduled for yesterday, was postponed a few weeks because of White House pressure, one congressional staffer said.
There is no more important time for the voice of Congress to be heard on matters of foreign policy than when critical decisions are being made. The bedrock support this Congress has for Israel is unwavering and will build momentum in the days and weeks ahead, Rebecca Needler, a spokeswoman for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, said.
Pro-Israel lobbyists said the delay in the solidarity resolution vote would enable more co-sponsors to add their names to the bill.
The Bush administration may have convinced some members of Congress to delay legislation on the Middle East temporarily, but ultimately their voice will not be muted, one pro-Israel lobbyist said.
If the Bush administration does not want to hold Syria accountable for its roll in harboring terrorists, Congress must. There is no more important time for the voice of Congress to be herd on matters of foreign policy than when critical decisions are being made.
The Bush administration is going on the record in favor of terrorists. Think of that whenever you see the WTC pictures.
I believe there is dominoe strategy in place and that the administration is going after the sources. Once those sources are neutralized, the rest of the antagonists will fall in line. We can ill afford to make enemies out of every country but Israel in the M.E. The relevant motto is: Be patient.
You're a simpleton.
Diplomats, right ...
just like Neville Chamberlain.
You are a weak imitation of the Navy that won a victory over the Japanese who attacked Pearl Harbor.
Perhaps you heard of Afganistan? It was in all the papers and even on TV.
Oh, and what do you think we're doing building up bases in Quatar? And the increased presence of US advisors with the Kurds in Iraq? Can I call you witness-one-note?
In fact, I'm sure that's what this bill is all about, to serve notice on this cruddy little country. This floater won't pass because of behind-the-scenes strategy and consent of both political parties.
Possibly. And then again, I may actually understand a little about strategy.
I'm sure the Saudi prince and the other Islamic regimes will trade a few Afghan camps for other favors due ...
It's time for the Bush Adminstration to stand and deliver. They are shrinking in comparison with the Roosevelt Administration.
Which victory was that? And which branch did you serve in, again?
What exactly would you like for them to deliver? Exactly.
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