U.S.: Syria's Unwillingness to Stop Supporting Terrorists a Key Obstacle to Peace

[Washington Institute for Near East Policy] Donald Kerr - On May 29, Deputy Director of National Intelligence Donald Kerr discussed emerging threats, challenges, and opportunities in the Middle East at the Washington Institute: The regime in Damascus continues to undermine Lebanon's sovereignty and security through its proxies; to harbor and support terrorists and terrorist organizations opposed to progress on peace talks; and to allow terrorists and criminals to cross its borders into Iraq and Lebanon. The Syrian regime, Hizbullah, and pro-Syrian opposition elements in Lebanon have attempted to stymie international efforts to disarm militia groups which threaten Lebanese security and sovereignty. In addition, Damascus continues to support Palestinian rejectionist groups, including Hamas and the Palestine Islamic Jihad. These organizations continue to base their external leadership in Syria, and, despite repeated demands from the international community, Syria refuses to expel them or their leaders from their safe haven in Damascus. Last week, the Israeli and Syrian governments announced that they have begun indirect peace talks through Turkey. However, Syria has not dropped its longstanding precondition for direct talks, namely that Israel essentially agree in advance to a complete withdrawal from the Golan Heights. While the resumption of dialogue could help reduce tensions between the two countries, Syria's unwillingness to stop supporting terrorists and distance itself from Iran is a key obstacle to a peace agreement.

2008-06-02 01:00:00

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