Kirk, Engel wants Syrian order renewed


Two members of Congress are urging President Obama to renew an executive order placing sanctions on Syria. In a letter to the president, Reps. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) and Eliot Engel (D-N.Y) note that the order — which limits Syria from exporting certain goods and freezes the assets of a number of Syrian nationals close to the Bashar Assad regime — will expire on May 10. The order was initially issued in 2004 and renewed last year by President George W. Bush. The full letter is after the jump: [[READMORE]]

President Barack Obama

The White House

1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW

Washington, DC 20500

Dear Mr. President:

We are writing to express our concern about the upcoming expiration of Executive Order 13338, originally issued in 2004 and renewed last year by President George W. Bush.  As you know, E.O. 13338 was established and renewed in response to Syrian support for terrorism, harboring of terrorist leadership, the pursuit of weapons of mass destruction, and support for insurgent groups in Iraq. 

The E.O. places sanctions on Syria, including limiting the export of certain goods.  The E.O. also freezes the assets of a number of Syrian nationals close to the Assad regime who are responsible for Syrian interference in Lebanon and for other destructive behaviors.  Without your renewal, the order will expire on May 10, 2009.

Unfortunately, it remains Syrian policy to continue a destabilizing agenda in the region.  As General Petraeus told the Senate Armed Services Committee on April 1, 2009, “The al-Assad regime in Syria continues to play the dangerous game of allowing or accepting extremist networks and terrorist facilitators to operate from and through Syrian territory…[including] hosting Hamas leadership, supporting the shipment of armaments to Hizballah, [and] cooperating with AQI operatives.”

Syria remains under investigation by the International Atomic Energy Agency for its nuclear activities and has repeatedly refused to cooperate with the agency.  Syrian influence is also still felt in many areas of Lebanon.  Weakening sanctions now, just before the Lebanese parliamentary election in June, would embolden Syria’s attitude toward Lebanon and potentially cause certain factions to question the new Administration’s resolve regarding Lebanon’s independence.

We urge you to act quickly to renew Executive Order 13338.Sincerely,Eliot L. Engel                         Mark Steven Kirk

Member of Congress               Member of Congress

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