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With White House Approval, House Panel OKs Sanctions Against Syria

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The House International Relations Committee voted 33 to 2 yesterday to impose sanctions against Syria. The Arab League warned today sanctions will “increase the tension in the region and make the chances for peace more remote.” We talk to Syrian expert Patrick Seale.

On Capitol Hill, The House International Relations Committee voted 33 to 2 yesterday to impose sanctions against Syria. If the sanctions are signed into law, all U.S. exports to Syria would be barred except for food and medicine. Travel by Syrian diplomats in the U.S. would be severely curtailed to Washington and within 25 miles of the United Nations. U.S. businesses would be barred from holding investments in Syria. Syrian owned or controlled aircraft could no longer take off, land or fly over the United States. Syrian assets in the United States would also be frozen. The sanctions are expected to be approved by Congress and the White House.

The vote came days after the White House expressed support for Israel’s recent bombing of Syria. The attack on Sunday marked the first time Israel attacked Syria in 30 years.

White House spokesman Scott McClellan said yesterday, “We have repeatedly said that Syria is on the wrong side in the war on terrorism and that Syria needs to stop harboring terrorists.”

Republican Ron Paul of Texas was one of only two legislators who voted against the sanctions. He said, “It just looks like we’re looking for more trouble.” Republican Jeff Flake of Arizona also voted against the measure.

The Arab League today criticized the bill, saying it would “increase the tension in the region and make the chances for peace more remote. It also makes more difficult a dialogue between Syria, as a main power broker in the region, and the United States.”

  • Tape: John Bolton, Under Secretary for Arms Control and International Security testifying before the House International Relations Committee, Subcommittee on the Middle East and Central Asia on September 16th, 2003.
  • Patrick Seale, British journalist who has covered the Middle East for over 30 years specializing in Syria. He is the author of Asad: The Struggle for the Middle East.

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