November 21, 2002
ON TO DAMASCUS!:A Damascus wake-up call (Jerusalem Post, Nov. 19, 2002)
In an unusually blunt statement issued by the Foreign Ministry, Bashar Assad's regime flatly rejected a US demand that it shut down the Damascus office of Islamic Jihad. The declaration came in response to a letter sent over the weekend by Secretary of State Colin Powell after the massacre of 12 Israelis in Hebron on Friday. [...]
That Syria has long been a regional troublemaker is nothing new. The US State Department has for years berated Damascus for its systematic trampling of human rights, and Syria still bears the label "state sponsor of terrorism." It continues to wage a proxy war against Israel through its support of Hizbullah in southern Lebanon, and its regime remains a tightly-controlled dictatorship, one whose rule is based more on fear than fidelity.
What is new, however, is Washington's growing impatience with Syria's antics. For too long, Damascus has been able to get away with occupying Lebanon, fomenting anti-Israel violence, and promoting the international drug trade through its cultivation of illicit narcotics in the Bekaa Valley. In his June 24 speech on the Middle East, President George W. Bush put Syria on notice, saying, "Syria must choose the right side in the war on terror by closing terrorist camps and expelling terrorist organizations." It was the first time in a long time that an American president had publicly singled out Syria for its methodical misconduct, and for that alone Bush is to be applauded. But if such stark words are to have any lasting effect on Syrian behavior, they will have to be backed up by greater pressure on the Assad regime.
They should have been placed on the Axis of Evil to begin with and our troops shouldn't come home until Assad is deposed too. Posted by Orrin Judd at November 21, 2002 9:06 AM