Terror war report: Let Iraq be a lesson to Syria, Iran

Monday, April 21, 2003

A new think tank report calls on the Bush administration to make Syria its next target in the war against terrorism.

The Washington Institute for Near East Policy released a report that has been endorsed by a range of high level former senior U.S. officials. The report outlined a proposed blueprint for the continuation of the U.S.-led war against terrorism.

The report called on the administration to focus on Iran and Syria and ensure that the two nations understand the lesson of the demise of Saddam Hussein.

"The leaders of both Syria and Iran, for example, should not miss the message that countries that pursue Saddam's reckless, irresponsible, and defiant behavior could end up sharing his fate," the report said.

"Conversely, countries that verifiably end their rogue behavior will reap rewards."

Entitled "Winning the Peace in the Middle East: A Bipartisan Blueprint for Postwar U.S. Policy," the report said the main test for Syria will be whether that country severs its links with terrorist groups and weapons of mass destruction. The report cited Syria's harboring of Hizbullah, backed by Iran.

"For Iran, the main test will be to recognize that its continued pursuit of WMD, especially nuclear weapons, detracts from its security rather than enhances it," the report said. "Throughout, the United States must persist, in concert with its allies, in the vital work of combating terrorist networks that operate in and from the Middle East, disrupting terrorist financing and logistical support, and denying terrorists the political succor of those who would distinguish between acceptable and unacceptable forms of terrorism."

On Sunday, President George Bush sought to ease tensions with Syria. Bush said the regime of President Bashar Assad has responded to U.S. requests to stop the flight of Saddam aides to Syria.

"There's some positive signs," Bush said. "They're getting the message that they should not harbor Baath Party officials, high ranking Iraqi officials. When we think there is somebody there or know somebody is there, we of course will pass on the name and fully expect the Syrian government to hand the person over."

The report, authored by former State Department official Dennis Ross and senior researcher Robert Satloff, was endorsed by a range of former senior officials from Democratic and Republican administrations. They included former secretaries of state Alexander Haig and Lawrence Eagleburger, former defense secretary William Perry, former House speaker Newt Gingrich, former Democratic senator Robert Kerrey, former Republican senator Fred Thompson and former CIA director James Woolsey.

The Bush administration was also urged to use the U.S. victory in Iraq to support democratic forces in Iran and the Arab world. The report said the promotion of democracy is the best way to help the Middle East and bolster the stability of U.S. allies.

"This will be the moment to assist their fight for greater freedom, not draw away from them," the report said. "Tactics will differ throughout the region, but this principle, to be credible, should apply to friendly and adversarial regimes alike."

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