The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) has praised President George W. Bush for signing a new Executive Order expanding sanctions upon Syria and its Baathist regime, headed by President Bashar al-Assad, on account of its continuing support for terrorism and its destabilizing role upon Lebanon. According to the announcement by the Presidential spokesman, This order expands sanctions to block the property of senior Syrian Government officials and their associates who are determined to be responsible for, to have engaged in, or to have benefited from public corruption. The order also revises a provision in Executive Order 13338 to block the property of persons determined to be responsible for actions or decisions of the Syrian regime that undermine efforts to stabilize Iraq, or allow Syrian territory to be used for this purpose. In addition to these policies targeted by this Executive Order, the Syrian regime continues to pursue other activities that deny the Syrian people the political freedoms and economic prosperity they deserve, and that undercut the peace and stability of the region. Syria continues to undermine Lebanons sovereignty and democracy, imprison democracy activists, curtail human rights, and sponsor and harbor terrorists. The United States will continue to stand with the people of Syria and the region as they seek to exercise their rights peacefully and to build a brighter future (Statement by the Press Secretary, February 13, 2008).
ZOA National President Morton A. Klein said, We applaud President Bushs decision to tighten sanctions on Bashar al-Assads Syria, a regime which shows no sign of ending support for a wide assortment of Palestinian, Kurdish and Islamist terrorist groups who are headquartered in Damascus, including Hizballah, al-Saiqa, Asbat al-Ansar, Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command, Abu Nidal, the Kurdish PKK, Palestinian Islamic Jihad and Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine. Assad has also shown no sign of permitting a free and democratic Lebanon to emerge. Since the 2006 Lebanon war which Syria facilitated by arming Hizballah, Syria has not carried out its obligation to cease arming and supporting Hizballah. To the contrary, as ZOA has noted, Hizballah has been and is continuing to be replenished by Iran and Syria with arms and supplies. Hizballah has moved rockets into Palestinian camps not under Lebanese jurisdiction and has rebuilt bunkers only miles from the border with Israel. Meanwhile, Syrian agents continue to assassinate pro-independence Lebanese figures.
In such circumstances, there is no warrant for seeking to offer carrots to the Damascus regime or otherwise negotiating with it. Negotiations and rewards are appropriate for a regime that demonstrates a willingness to pursue peace, drop its support for terrorist groups and to cooperate in making a peaceful region; they are not appropriate when the regime is doing the complete opposite. President Bush has evidently realized this and responded appropriately by tightening sanctions.