U.S., Syria spar and Rice calls for sanctions


Richard Moore

Just-in-time demonization, for the planned attack on Syria and Iran.


Original source URL:

U.S., Syria spar and Rice calls for sanctions
By Howard Goller
Tue Sep 26, 9:59 PM ET

The United States and Syria locked horns on Tuesday, with Washington urging 
others to join it in imposing sanctions on Damascus and Syria telling America to
stop trying to impose its will on Arabs.

Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moualem told the United Nations General 
Assembly that the world pays the price when the U.S. government thinks it knows 
what Arabs want better than the Arabs themselves.

Washington has long listed Syria as a "state sponsor of terrorism" and relations
have worsened with the United States accusing Syria of helping to fuel the 
insurgency in Iraq. Damascus denies both charges.

In May 2004, Washington banned U.S. exports to Syria other than food and 
medicine, severed banking relations with the Commercial Bank of Syria and barred
Syrian flights to and from the United States.

"What we'd really like to do is we'd like to get some others to join us in other
kinds of sanctions," U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice told The Wall 
Street Journal according to a State Department transcript released on Tuesday.

Washington also recalled its ambassador to Damascus after the February 2005 
assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik al-Hariri. Damascus denies
any involvement.

"I think as Syria continues to show its stripes and isolate itself from its Arab
friends, that may be somewhat easier to do," Rice said. "We're going to have to 
look at tougher measures if Syria continues to be on the path that it's on."

She gave no details on what sanctions the United States might want to impose. 
State Department spokesman Sean McCormack told reporters: "We have a variety of 
measures that are available to us." He did not elaborate.

Rice met world leaders for more than week on the sidelines of the General 


In his U.N. speech, Rice's Syrian counterpart said it was essential that the 
United States and other countries draw up a schedule for withdrawing from Iraq. 
He insisted it would help curb the violence there.

"Tragically enough, we all end up paying the price when the decision makers in 
Washington believe that they know better, and are in a better position to 
understand and grasp the needs and circumstances of the Arabs," Moualem said.

"They diagnose the ambitions and aspirations of the Arab individual in a manner 
that is tailored to their own vision."

Moualem assailed the United States for its support of Israel and other policies 
in the Middle East, saying the flow of U.S. weapons to Israel was sowing 
destruction. He also criticized those who finance and support what he called the
injustices of the Israeli occupation of Arab territories.

"The Palestinians are subjected to a crippling blockade because the advocates of
democracy were dissatisfied with the results of the elections in the Palestinian
territories," Moualem said.

Washington and the European Union have imposed financial sanctions on the 
Hamas-led Palestinian government since it came to power in March because the 
Islamic movement refuses to recognize Israel, halt violence or honor peace deals
with Israel.

Citing the U.N. Security Council resolution governing the August 14 cease-fire 
that ended 34 days of war between Israel and Hizbollah guerrillas in Lebanon, 
Moualem said Syria had adopted the "necessary measures" to control its borders 
with Lebanon.

But he did not specifically mention arms which over the years have gone to the 
Hizbollah militia across the Syrian border. The Security Council resolution 
placed an embargo on arms reaching anyone in Lebanon but the national army.

(Additional reporting by Arshad Mohammed in Washington)

Copyright © 2006 Reuters Limited.
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