Bush Imposes Sanctions on Syria

May 16, 2004

On May 11, George Bush imposed a series of economic sanctions against Syria and made new threats against the country.

Bush issued an executive order that bans all U.S. exports to the country, except food and medicine and bars all air flights between Syria and the U.S. Bush also ordered American banks to cut any ties with the Commercial Bank of Syria and instructed the Treasury Department to freeze the assets of selected Syrian citizens.

In issuing the order Bush said that Syria's actions "constitute an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security, foreign policy, and economy of the United States and (I) hereby declare a national emergency to deal with that threat."

Bush accused Syria of "supporting terrorism, continuing its occupation of Lebanon, pursuing weapons of mass destruction and missile programs, and undermining United States and international efforts with respect to the stabilization and reconstruction of Iraq." Bush also threatened to take more measures against Syria if it did not "take serious and concrete steps" to change its policies and in particular cut off its political support to Palestinian resistance groups and "cooperate fully with the international community in promoting the stabilization and reconstruction of Iraq."

In other words, relying on the same imperialist rhetoric used to launch the war in Iraq and to declare that every country must either join in the U.S. war program or be "treated as terrorist," Bush is trying to impose U.S. dictate on another sovereign country. Bush's own statement show that the real basis of U.S. pressure against Syria is its refusal to support U.S. colonialism and war in Iraq as well as Syria ongoing support for the Palestinian liberation struggle.

Bush's executive order puts into practice the mandate of the Syria Accountability and Lebanese Sovereignty Restoration Act passed by Congress last fall in a nearly unanimous vote.

Since the U.S. occupation of Iraq began, various spokesmen for the administration as well as many Congressional leaders have warned Syria that it "will be next," demanding "regime change in the country.

Make no mistake about it. Despite the strong resistance of the Iraqi people to U.S. occupation and the growing isolation of the U.S. government in American and world public opinion, U.S. imperialism is escalating its pressure in the Middle East and threatening to set the whole region on fire.