Governments throughout the Middle East must stand for peace by fighting terrorism. President George W. Bush says terrorism is the greatest obstacle to the emergence of a Palestinian state living side-by-side in peace with Israel:
“All leaders who seek this goal have an obligation to back up their words in real actions against terror. And leaders who are interested in a peaceful solution in the Middle East must support the efforts of Prime Minister [Mahmoud] Abbas to build a democratic Palestine and ease the hardships faced by the Palestinian people.”
Two countries in particular continue to threaten Middle East peace by their support for terrorism. They are Syria and Iran, says President Bush:
“Today Syria and Iran continue to harbor and assist terrorists. This behavior is completely unacceptable and states that support terror will be held accountable.”
Syria has a long history of supporting Palestinian terrorists operating from Syria and Syrian-controlled parts of Lebanon. Damascus, the Syrian capital, plays host to terrorist groups including Hamas, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, and Palestine Islamic Jihad. Syria has ignored U.S. demands that it shut down these operations.
Iran also harbors, trains, and supports many of the same terrorist groups as Syria. In addition, Iran provides substantial financial and military aid to Hezbollah, which has engaged in terrorism against Israelis, Lebanese, Americans, French, and Argentines, among others. Because of Syria and Iran’s support for such terrorist groups, the U.S. has long designated both countries as state sponsors of terrorism.
Syria and Iran must stop their support for terrorists. As President Bush said, it is time for Syria and Iran to “fight off terror, to cut off money to organizations such as Hamas [and] to isolate those who hate so much that they’re willing to stop peace from going forward.”