United States. Congress. House. Committee on Inter.

Syria, peace partner or rogue regime? : hearing before the Committee on International Relations, House of Representatives, One Hundred Fourth Congress, second session, July 25, 1996 online

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\\) ^ SYRIA: PEACE PARTNER OR ROGUE REGIME?



Y 4. IN 8/16; SY 8/2



Syrii: Peace Partner of Rogue Regin...

HEARING

BEFORE THE

COMMITTEE ON

INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS

HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

ONE HUNDRED FOURTH CONGRESS

SECOND SESSION



JULY 25, 1996



Printed for the use of the Committee on International Relations






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U.S. GOVERNMENT PRINTING OFFICE
35-537 CC WASHINGTON : 1996

For sale by the U.S. Government Printing Office
Superintendent of Documents, Congressional Sales Office, Washington, DC 20402
ISBN 0-16-053820-3



SYRIA: PEACE PARTNER OR ROGUE REGIME?



4.IN 8/16: SY 8/2



yria: Peace Partner of Rogue Begin...

HEARING

BEFORE THE

COMMITTEE ON

INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS

HOUSE OP REPRESENTATIVES

ONE HUNDRED FOURTH CONGRESS

SECOND SESSION



JULY 25, 1996



Printed for the use of the Committee on International Relations





^3 fSsp



U.S. GOVERNMENTT PRINTING OFFICE
35-537 CC WASHINGTON : 1996

For sale by the U.S. Government Printing Office
Superintendent of Documents, Congressional Sales Office, Washington, DC 20402
ISBN 0-16-053820-3



COMMITTEE ON INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS



BENJAMIN A. GILMAN, New York, Chairman



WILLIAM F. GOODLING, Pennsylvania

JAMES A. LEACH, Iowa

TOBY ROTH, Wisconsin

HENRY J. HYDE, Illinois

DOUG BEREUTER, Nebraska

CHRISTOPHER H. SMITH, New Jersey

DAN BURTON, Indiana

JAN MEYERS, Kansas

ELTON GALLEGLY, California

ILEANA ROS-LEHTINEN, Florida

CASS BALLENGER, North Carolina

DANA ROHRABACHER, California

DONALD A. MANZULLO, Illinois

EDWARD R. ROYCE, California

PETER T. KING, New York

JAY KIM, California

SAM BROWNBACK, Kansas

DAVID FUNDERBURK, North Carolina

STEVEN J. CHABOT, Ohio

MARSHALL "MARK" SANFORD, South

Carolina
MATT SALMON, Arizona
AMO HOUGHTON, New York
TOM CAMPBELL, California
JON FOX, Pennsylania

Richard J. Gabon, Chief of Staff

Michael H. Van Dusen, Democratic Chief of Staff

Deborah E. BODIANDER, Professional Staff Member

Caroline G. Cooper, Staff Associate



LEE H. HAMILTON, Indiana

SAM GEJDENSON, Connecticut

TOM LANTOS, California

ROBERT G. TORRICELLI, New Jersey

HOWARD L. BERMAN, California

GARY L. ACKERMAN, New York

HARRY JOHNSTON, Florida

ENI F.H. FALEOMAVAEGA, American

Samoa
MATTHEW G. MARTINEZ, California
DONALD M. PAYNE, New Jersey
ROBERT E. ANDREWS, New Jersey
ROBERT MENENDEZ, New Jersey
SHERROD BROWN, Ohio
CYNTHIA A. MCKINNEY, Georgia
ALCEE L. HASTINGS, Florida
ALBERT RUSSELL WYNN, Maryland
JAMES P. MORAN, Virginia
VICTOR O. FRAZER, Virgin Islands (Ind.)
CHARLIE ROSE, North Carolina
PAT DANNER, Missouri
EARL HILLIARD, Alabama



(II)



CONTENTS



WITNESSES



Page

Hon. Philip Wilcox, Coordinator for Counterterrorism, Department of State .... 5
Dr. Patrick Clawson, Senior Fellow, Institute for National Strategic Studies,

National Defense University 23

Mr. Steven Emerson, Investigative Journalist 25

APPENDIX

Opening statement of Chairman Benjamin A. Oilman 31

Statement of Hon. Philip Wilcox 33

Statement and additional question responses of Dr. Patrick Clawson 36

Statement and additional question responses of Mr. Steven Emerson 44

Statement of Dr. Daniel Pipes, Editor, Middle East Quarterly 53

Letter to Representative Lee Hamilton from Dr. Hala Maksoud, President

of American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee 55

Article by Michael Ledeen, "Time for Some House Cleaning at State," Wall
Street Journal, July 18, 1996: A12 submitted by Representative Dan Bur-
ton 58

Article by Rand Fishbein, "New Weapon in the War on Terrorism," The
Washington Times, July 9, 1996: A15 submitted by Representative Dan

Burton 59

Additional response by Hon. Philip Wilcox to questions from Representative

Eliot Engel 60

(III)



SYRIA: PEACE PARTNER OR ROGUE REGIME?



THURSDAY, JULY 25, 1996

House of Representatives,
Committee on International Relations,

Washington, DC.

The committee met, pursuant to notice, at 10 a.m., in room 2172,
Raybum House Office Building, Hon. Benjamin A. Oilman (chair-
man of the committee) presiding.

Chairman Oilman. Oood morning. Today's hearing is one in
which Congress does have a critical interest. For almost 5 years,
the Administration has attempted to broker a peace agreement be-
tween Israel and Syria, believing that an Israeli-Syrian agreement
would complete the circle of peace in the Middle East.

Our nation, therefore, has tended to downplay other aspects of
Syrian policy, particularly Syria's dominance of Lebanon, its sup-
port for terrorist groups who are opposed to the peace process, the
role of Syrian officers in drug trafficking through Lebanon, and
Syria's reported efforts to acquire weapons of mass destruction.

The State Department's terrorism report retained Syria on the
terrorism list for yet another year, noting that Syria allows Iran to
resupply Hizbullan and that it provides safe haven and support for
ten Palestinian rejectionist groups, including Hamas, Palestinian
Islamic Jihad and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Pal-
estine-Oeneral Command.

Syria allows several groups to train in Lebanon's Bekaa Valley,
including the Kurdistan Workers' Party, the PKK, and reportedly
uses the PKK as a pressure point against Turkey on water issues
and in an effort to persuade Turkey to abrogate its early 1996 stra-
tegic cooperation treaty with Israel. The Japanese Red Army also
is given safe haven in Syria. Most recently, Jordan has accused
Syria of backing a terrorist network in Jordan intended to pressure
Jordan on policy toward Israel.

Syria was also again designated as non-cooperative with our na-
tion's efforts to end narcotics trafficking. Syria remains a serious
transit nation for narcotics produced in Syrian-controlled areas of
Lebanon and is also a suspected site for tne refining of some nar-
cotics. Syria again failed to bring charges against any government
or military officials allegedly involved in their drug trade. Addition-
ally, 1995 saw the emergence of a new transit route for cocaine
from Latin America to Lebanon via Damascus International Air-
port.

I have spent many years in Congress fighting narcotics traffick-
ing and terrorism, and I regret to say that the Administration's ef-
forts to convince Syria to cease and desist from these activities

(1)



have been paltry, subsumed by the greater desire to achieve a com-
prehensive peace in the Middle East. The seeds of peace cannot be
sown in an atmosphere of active support for narco-traffickers and
terrorists, yet Syria's actions and policies go beyond these two vital
issues to other issues which cannot be ignored any longer.

In the past, Syria has generally been viewed as a relatively
minor proliferation threat. Recent reports, however, suggest that
this threat might be increasing. Syria has been a purchaser of
SCUD type surface-to-surface missiles from North Korea, and, in
1992 the New York Times reported that Chinese engineers were
helping Syria build missiles.

Most recently, there has been an increased threat that Syria is
developing a major chemical weapons program. On June 5, 1996,
the German magazine "Stem" quoted U.S. intelligence sources as
saying Syria was secretly building a large underground chemical
weapons factory near Aleppo. According to the report, the CIA pro-
vided Grerman intelligence satellite photos of the plant, and the re-
port added that German firms might have provided technology to
that plant. Syrian officials did not directly deny the report, indicat-
ing that it is Syria's right to develop any weapons systems that it
wishes.

As for Lebanon, I cannot emphasize enough our empathy that we
feel for the Lebanese people who remain hostage to their own fu-
ture. While the Ta'if Accords required Syria to redeploy its troops
from the Beirut area by 1992, that redeployment is now 4 years
overdue, and Syria maintains about 35,000 of its troops in Leb-
anon.

Israel has stated repeatedly that it has no territorial claims to
Lebanon. The same cannot be said of Syria, which believes that
Lebanon is a part of Greater Syria. In October 1995, Syrian Presi-
dent Assad unilaterally decided that Lebanon's President Hrawi
should serve another 3-year term as President, even though Hrawi
was constitutionally prohibited from serving more than the 6 years
he has served to date.

Syria wields substantial influence over Lebanon's foreign policy.
Syria has prevented Lebanon from taking any unilateral actions
that would help diffuse the conflict between Israel and Hizbullah
in southern Lebanon and has prohibited Lebanon from opening a
separate peace negotiating track with Israel.

Because of the continued real threat to our own citizens traveling
to Lebanon, the travel ban remains in place, as it should, but U.S.
policy which requires Lebanese citizens seeking new U.S. visas to
travel to Damascus for processing undermines Lebanese sov-
ereignty while underscoring Syrian hegemony. I therefore urge the
State Department to review this ironic situation.

As to the negotiations with Israel, talks between Israel and Syria
were suspended following the four suicide bombings in Israel in
February and March. Syria's failure to attend the March 13 Terror-
ism Summit in Egypt and its refusal to crack down on groups
based in Syria, including Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad and
Hizbullah, and its ongoing close relationship with Iran have led to
renewed suspicions in this country and elsewhere that Syria truly
does not desire peace, but rather a peace process.



The lack of any folio wup cooperation this committee's staff dele-
gation received in 1994 on the issue of missing Israeli soldiers,
after being told that all cooperation necessary would be provided,
is yet another indication of Syria's lack of commitment to even the
most basic of humanitarian concerns.

Therefore, in the wake of Mr. Netanyahu's victory in May of this
year in the Israeli elections, the United States now stands at a
crossroad regarding its policy toward Syria. To ignore the issues
that we have outlined in favor of a full court press to "close the cir-
cle of peace" is shortsighted and ill advised. Our nation must ad-
vance all of its important interests in the region as they pertain to
Syria. Accordingly, today's hearing is appropriately entitled, "Syria:
Peace Partner or Rogue Regime"?

We, therefore, are conducting today's hearing in an attempt to
raise the level of discussion on these important issues and regret
that Assistant Secretary Pelletreau canceled his appearance.

The committee looks forward, however, to taking testimony from
the State Department's counterterrorism coordinator. Ambassador
Philip Wilcox, who we thank for being present today, after which
we will hear from two distinguished private witnesses, Patrick
Clawson of the National Defense University and Steven Emerson,
an investigative journalist.

I now turn to our ranking minority member, Mr. Hamilton, for
any comments that he may desire to make.

Mr. Hamilton. Mr. Chairman, I think this is a good hearing, and
I commend you for setting the hearing up.

It is my understanding that both you and I wanted a broader
hearing on Syria in whicn we would look not just at the question
of terrorism, but the broader policy for the region. It is also my un-
derstanding that the Administration felt because Ambassador Ross
was in the region — I think he may have been in Damascus in re-
cent days — that Secretary Christopher felt that we should not be
going into the broader aspects of the relationship.

You and I, I think, have to accept that and respect it, but I must
say I am a little uneasy about looking at a very important but nar-
row aspect of the relationship, terrorism, without being able to look
at the broader aspects of the relationship as well.

Ambassador Wilcox, whose title is Coordinator for Counterter-
rorism, as I understand it, will testify just with respect to the ter-
rorism question and not the broader aspects of the relationship.

Within those constraints, the Chairman and I worked to try to
have a broader hearing; it is, nonetheless, a worthy hearing. I
think we will find it productive.

I thank you, Mr. Chairman, for arranging it, and, of course, we
are pleased to have Ambassador Wilcox with us.

Chairman GiLMAN. Thank you, Mr. Hamilton.

Any other members seeking recognition? Mr. Fox.

Mr. Fox. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and thank you for your
leadership in convening this hearing of the International Relations
Committee, along with our minority ranking member, Mr. Hamil-
ton, to put the spotlight on the role of Syria in the Middle East.

I share your concerns and those of many of our colleagues about
the questionable intentions of President Assad in relation to the
peace process. If President Assad was unwilling to come to a peace-



ful agreement with Shimon Peres, one wonders if he is really seri-
ous about a negotiated peace at all. I am especially concerned
about Damascus sponsorship of terrorism, the occupation of Leb-
anon and narcotics and counterfeiting in the Bekaa Valley.

Particularly in light of recent events, the world's attention is fo-
cused on the cowardly acts of terrorists. What we must not forget
is that many of these horrific deeds would not be possible without
the sponsorship and support of states like Syria.

At the same time as President Assad and his diplomatic agents
sit down at the negotiating table, other agents of Assad are actively
promoting a far less peaceful course of action. For example, during
Secretary Christopher's recent trip to Damascus, reliable sources
indicate that an Iranian jet landed just a few miles away from the
Secretary and unloaded Katyusha rockets and other military sup-
plies, which the Syrians would later deliver to Hizbullah terrorists
in southern Lebanon.

Moreover, Syria has put pressure on its fellow Arab states to
avoid peaceful relations to Israel. At the recent Cairo conference,
Syria urged other Arab nations to freeze or roll back positive rela-
tions with Israel. In addition, Syrian officials have been less than
subtle in their threats against political leaders of states which have
peaceful ties with Israel, including Jordan, Oman and Qatar.

Syria is a safe haven and training ground for terrorist groups of
all types, including anti-Israel terrorists like Hamas, Islamic Jihad,
the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, as well as the
Japanese Red Army and the anti-Jordanian and anti-Turkish ter-
rorists.

Syria also carries out terrorism against Israel and other crimes
facilitated by its occupation of Lebanon. The 40,000 Syrian troops
in Lebanon preserve a massive narcotics smuggling and counter-
feiting operation, while doing nothing to stop the Hizbullah terror-
ists in southern Lebanon. On the contrary, Syria actively encour-
ages the Hizbullah attacks on Israel. In addition to these desta-
bilizing activities. President Assad continues to develop and ac-
quire weapons of mass destruction, including chemical weapons
and ballistic missiles.

The United States must take a "no nonsense" approach to these
activities, Mr. Chairman. President Assad cannot be allowed to
have it both ways. If he chooses to pursue the road to peace, he
must stop engaging in war. Syria will not be welcomed into the
community of nations until it plays by the rules of civilized society,
rules which do not tolerate terrorism, aggression and lawlessness.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman, for your leadership in holding this
hearing. I am looking for productive dialog in which we can hon-
estly discuss the activities of Syria in order to assess our Adminis-
tration's approach to relations with Damascus and possible ap-
proaches to a peace agreement between Israel and Syria.

Thank you.

Chairman Oilman. Thank you, Mr. Fox.

Any other members seeking recognition?

If not, we will entertain the testimony of Ambassador Wilcox.
You may submit your full statement or summarize it, whichever
you see fit.



I regret that we are being called to the floor for votes. We will
continue until we are getting closer to the limit on our time for get-
ting to the floor. This will be one full 15-minute vote, followed by
two 5-minute votes. We will try to reconvene as quickly as possible.

Ambassador Wilcox, you may proceed.

STATEMENT OF THE HONORABLE PHH^IP WmCOX, COORDINA-
TOR FOR COUNTERTERRORISM, DEPARTMENT OF STATE

Ambassador WiLCOX. Thank you, Mr. Chairman and members of
the committee, for inviting me.

The Administration shares your committee's profound concern
about terrorism in general and those concerns about Syrian sup-
port for terrorism which you addressed in your letter of July 22 to
the Department. This is an important element in our dialog with
Syria.

Indeed, we have made it clear, emphatically clear, to the Syrian
Government on numerous occasions and at the highest levels of
their government that their support for international terrorist
groups is a serious impediment to regional stability and to our bi-
lateral relationship.

Today, I would like to discuss the basis for Syria's inclusion on
the list of countries designated by the Secretary of State as state
sponsors of terrorism. I will also outline the measures the United
States has taken in response to Syria's policy, including economic
sanctions and diplomatic measures. Finally, I will describe our
views on Syria's support for groups which are involved in terrorism
today.

Syria is one of the original countries to be placed on the list of
state sponsors that was adopted in 1979 pursuant to the Export
Administration Act in accordance with the criteria in this commit-
tee's report language. Syria continues to provide safe haven and lo-
gistic support to a variety of terrorist groups, both Arab' and non-
Arab, such as the Kurdish PKK. Several of these groups maintain
a presence in Damascus and terrorist training facilities and forces
in Syria as well.

Terrorist groups also have bases in parts of Lebanon either con-
trolled by or strongly influenced by Syria. Personnel of several
other international terrorist organizations are allowed to transit
Syria. Syria does not define the activities of these groups as terror-
ism. We emphatically disagree.

The Palestinian group Hamas openly operates a political office in
Damascus where it maintains close contacts with Iranian officials
and other rejectionist groups. The leader of the Palestinian Islamic
Jihad — which, like Hamas, has claimed responsibility for suicide
bombings in Israel which have taken many lives — is resident in
Damascus.

Syria has also allowed the Iranian backed Hizbullah to operate
freely from areas of Lebanon under Syrian control or influence by
Syria, and it has permitted Iran to resupply the Hizbullah periodi-
cally with arms through Syrian territory. We have described these
facts in somewhat greater detail in our annual report to the Con-
gress, Patterns of Global Terrorism.

Mr. Chairman, I can assure you, sir, that the President and the
Secretary of State view with the utmost seriousness these aspects



of Syrian policy. Our policy is designed to influence Syria to the ex-
tent that it is possible for the United States to do so, and we be-
lieve that is the correct approach. We believe it has indeed had an
impact on Syria.

We have no evidence that Syria has been directly involved in ter-
rorist acts since 1986, in contrast to some other states designated
as sponsors of terrorism such as Iran, Iraq and Libya. Syria has
used its influence from time to time to restrain Hizbullah rocket
attacks across the Israeli border. As a result of Secretary Chris-
topher's diplomacy in April, for example, Syria persuaded the
Hizbullah to cease its Katyusha attacks.

The Syrian Government has also demonstrated that it can use its
influence to deter Palestinian rejectionist groups resident in Syria
to avoid acts of international terrorism outside of Israel and the
West Bank and Gaza.

Nevertheless, Syria will remain on our list of state sponsors of
terrorism until it brings to an end all support for terrorist organi-
zations, the kind that I have described. We have repeatedly made
this clear in our diplomatic contacts with Syria, including many at
the highest level.

In addition to our diplomatic efforts, we have worked to change
Syrian policy by other means. We have adopted a series of very
stringent economic sanctions that flow from Syria's inclusion on the
terrorism list. Many of them are triggered by the Anti-Terrorism
and Arms Export Control Act of 1989, which consolidated many
previously enacted sanctions. Some of them have been administra-
tively opposed by the executive branch.

The basic features of these sanctions are prohibition of U.S. eco-
nomic assistance and military sales to Syria, controls on dual use
equipment which could have potential for terrorism or military use,
and prohibitions of U.S. support for multilateral economic assist-
ance from the international financial institutions.

Chairman Gilman. Ambassador Wilcox, I regret to interrupt you,
but I think our members are going to have to go to the floor for
a vote. We will resume right after.

The committee stands in recess.

[Recess.]

Chairman GllJVlAN. The committee will come to order.

Mr. Ambassador, forgive us for the interruption caused by the
votes, but please continue.

Ambassador WiLCOX. Not at all, Mr. Chairman. Thank you.

Before I finish my statement, which I have almost completed, I
would like to point out an error that I made earlier. I said that the
last direct involvement of Syria in acts of terrorism was in 1968.
I meant to say 1986, Mr. Chairman.

Chairman GllJViAN. We will correct the record to show the correc-
tion.

Ambassador Wilcox. When we left off, I was describing the out-
line of the types of sanctions that we have imposed against Syria
for its support of terrorism. I want to point out that these sanctions
will continue to apply until Syria ends its support for terrorist
groups and we are able to remove it from our list of state sponsors.

Our policy in opposing Syria's support for terrorism has been
firm and constant, and we have reiterated our views publicly.



President Clinton, Secretary Christopher and other senior U.S. offi-
cials have said repeatedly to Syria that this is a very serious prob-
lem which affects Syrian-U.S. relations. We have made it clear that
terrorist groups which are allowed to operate within Syria and
parts of Lebanon under Syrian influence are a threat to Syria's
neighbors, to the peace process and to the stability of the Middle
East.

In recent years, Mr. Chairman, the great majority of nations of
the world have joined in an international consensus that terrorism,
whatever its motive, is an unacceptable tool of politics. The opposi-
tion to terrorism by most governments of the Middle East who rec-
ognize that it is a threat to their own societies, as well as to the
region, has added strength and impetus to the Middle East peace
process.

Syria is a strategically located state with the potential for posi-
tive participation in the Middle East. It has been an important par-
ticipant in the peace process. We have urged Syria to join its neigh-
bors and the rest of the international community in opposing ter-
rorism in all its forms and to change its policies accordingly.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I would be pleased to take your ques-
tions.

[The prepared statement of Ambassador Wilcox appears in the
appendix.]

Chairman Oilman. Thank you. Ambassador Wilcox. We do have
a few questions.

Would you comment on the widespread perception that the Ad-
ministration tacitly accepts Syrian domination of Lebanon, and
why has the Administration not been more forceful in pressing for
Syria's implementation of the Ta'if Accords?

Ambassador WiLCOX. Mr. Chairman, we are committed to the
sovereignty and territorial integrity of Lebanon, and we have
worked hard over the years to see that that is fulfilled. In that con-
nection, we have urged that the Ta'if Accords be implemented.

Chairman Oilman. Mr. Ambassador, is there any evidence or
even suspicion that Syria in any way facilitated the shipment or
supply of any of the explosives or devices involved in the two recent
terrorist bombings that were aimed at American service personnel
in Saudi Arabia?

Ambassador Wilcox. No, Mr. Chairman. We have no evidence
that Syria was involved in facilitating those terrorist acts or that
the Oovernment of Syria was involved in that in any way.

Chairman Oilman. Has the Administration considered a Leb-


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Online LibraryUnited States. Congress. House. Committee on InterSyria, peace partner or rogue regime? : hearing before the Committee on International Relations, House of Representatives, One Hundred Fourth Congress, second session, July 25, 1996 → online text (page 1 of 8)