Victorious in Iraq, the Bush administration is now glancing westward to neighboring Syria. On Tuesday, April 14, US Secretary of State Colin Powell stated Syria might face diplomatic and economic sanctions for supporting terror groups and sheltering Iraqi leaders. He refused to rule out military action.
Concerned that “Syria's porous borders may have facilitated the escape from Iraq of members of Saddam Hussein's regime,“ the White House called Syria a "rogue nation" and a "terrorist state." Syrian officials heatedly rebuffed the American allegations.
Asked whether Syria ran the risk of a military response from the United States if it did harbor members of the Iraqi regime, White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer reiterated President George W. Bush's warning that "Syria needs to cooperate."
“Syria needs to think about its future,” advised Philip Reeker, deputy spokesman for the US Department of State. At the April 14 daily department press briefing, Reeker noted that the
United States has long considered Syria a sponsor of terrorism and suspected it of possessing weapons of mass destruction.
Fleischer said the White House has two major concerns: that Iraq's arsenal of weapons of mass destruction may have been moved across the border to Syria and that Syria may be harboring Baath party leaders who fled Iraq during the US-led attack.
President Bush said Monday "we believe there are chemical weapons in Syria." He acknowledged that "each situation will require a different response," and said he was still focused on Iraq, but when it comes to Syria, "we expect cooperation, and I'm hopeful we'll receive cooperation."
In response to questions about whether the United States is now focused on Syria as the next stage in the war on terror, Fleischer responded with his own questions. "Do you think the White House and President Bush should look the other way at the fact that Syria is taking in Iraqi leaders? Do you think we should just ignore it?"
In response, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan stated his concern that the recent White House statements directed at Syria should not contribute to a wider destabilization in a region already affected heavily by the war in Iraq. — (menareport.com)
© 2003 Mena Report (www.menareport.com )