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     MARCH 1999      


Clinton Woos Syria

Herbert Zweibon

Among the more lamentable spectacles at the funeral of Jordanian King Hussein was President Clinton's meeting with Syrian dictator Hafez Assad. Despite Assad's continuing sponsorship of international terror, the president once again wooed Assad, instead of treating him like the murderous thug he is.

Clinton's distasteful courtship of Assad came on the heels of a statement by Assistant Secretary of State Martin Indyk about the need to make "progress" on what is called "the Syrian track"--the State Department's codeword for pressuring Israel to make territorial concessions to Syria.

These latest indications that the Clinton administration is once again wooing Syria fly in the face of America's most obvious strategic and moral interests in the Middle East and around the world.

To begin with, Syria is still on the official United States list of terror-sponsoring regimes. The whole point of such a list is to pinpoint which countries should be treated as pariahs. Instead of isolating Syria, the Clinton administration negotiates with it, coddles it, quietly offers it trade concessions and other economic aid, and assures Damascus that the U.S. will pressure Israel to surrender the Golan Heights.

An American romance with Syria will also undermine our close ally, Turkey. The Turks have had enormous problems of their own with Syria sponsoring and harboring Kurdish anti-Turkish terrorists. The last thing Ankara wants is to see Washington allying itself with Damascus. Turkey's strategic importance to American interests in the Mediterranean basin dare not be underestimated. In recent years, Turkey and Israel have become close allies. This is a major boon to U.S. interests in the region. We now have two friendly, pro-Western regimes, cooperating in defense of Western strategic interests and working together against radical terrorist groups that threaten the area's stability.

Syria's occupation of Lebanon alone should be sufficient reason for the Clinton administration to keep its distance from Damascus. The cherished American principles of democracy, freedom, and national self-determination are brutally trampled each and every day by the Syrian army that occupies Lebanon. The United States should be doing everything in its power to pressure the Syrians to get out of Lebanon.

The U.S. should also be strenuously objecting to Russia's ongoing sales of sophisticated military equipment to the Syrians. These weapons will inevitably be used against either, or both, of Syria's pro-Western neighbors, Israel and Turkey. Yet the administration has taken no action against Russia's arming of Syria.

The most startling aspect of the attempted American rapproachment with Syria is the fact that Indyk and company want to push the "Syrian track" even when the "Palestinian track" has proved to be an abject failure.

The State Department theory of Israeli withdrawals resulting in peace went up in smoke in the Hamas bombings of Israeli buses and marketplaces, and Arafat's continued sheltering of the bombers. Now the same State Department Arabists want to apply their failed theory to the Golan Heights. They want Israel to surrender that strategically-crucial territory for worthless Syrian promises of non-belligerency. It won't bring peace. But it will give Syria an enormous advantage as it prepares for its

(Continued on p.5)


Rescue Israeli Strategic Studies! ...3

Arafat's Kleptocracy ...4

Greater Palestine? ` ...6

An Israeli Arab Party Speaks Out ...8

Words and Consequences ...10

March 1999               - 1 -               Outpost


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