U.S. Prepares Sanctions Against Syria

November 23, 2003

In mid-November the U.S. Senate voted 89 to 4 to pass the "Syrian Accountability and Lebanese Sovereignty Act" which calls for economic and diplomatic sanctions against Syria. The bill has already been approved by the House of Representatives, by a vote of 398 to 4, and Bush has announced his intention to sign the bill into law.

The bill demands that Syria 1) end "the development and deployment of medium and long range surface to surface ballistic missiles and cease the development and production of biological and chemical weapons"; 2) "halt support for terrorism" (which includes support for various Palestinian organizations); 3) "halt the illegal imports and transshipments of Iraqi oil and illegal sales and supplies of weapons and military-related equipment to Iraq." and 4) withdraw its 20,000 troops from Lebanon.

Until the U.S. President certifies that the above demands have been met, the new law bans the export of weapons to Syria as well as so-called "dual-use items," those which the U.S. alleges have both civilian and military applications. The law also allows the U.S. President to impose a number of other sanctions, including banning all U.S. exports except food and medicine, freezing Syrian assets in the U.S., banning all U.S. investments, restricting the movement of Syrian diplomats in the U.S., forbidding Syrian-owned planes from entering U.S. airspace.

The "Syrian Accountability Act" follows the same Big Lie logic which the U.S. used to prepare its war against Iraq. The new law is part of the U.S. government's escalating pressure against Syria and against the Palestinian liberation movement. The U.S. aims firstly at silencing any opposition to its occupation of Iraq and its aggression in Palestine and at recolonizing the entire Middle East. The Syrian Accountability Act is a dangerous step on the road to yet another U.S. war.

In voting for the law, Senator Lugar emphasized: "Syria shares a 400-mile border with Iraq. With more than 135,000 U.S. troops deployed in Iraq, Syria needs to reconsider where its future security interests lie." Similarly, Democratic Senate leader Tom Daschle said the time "to sit back and hope for Syria to change course has passed...it simply has failed one too many times to live up to these obligations."