Syria remains among seven states on US terrorism list

THE US State Department has named seven countries, including four Arab countries and Iran, as 'state sponsors of terrorism'. The annual report to Congress entitled Patterns of Global Terrorism listed Syria, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Sudan, Cuba and North Korea.

Syria had hoped its support for the US-led coalition in the Gulf war, and participation in the Israeli peace process would ease US strictures against it. Although the decision to place Syria on the list was political, however, the means to remove it are legal. The executive cannot remove a country at will. The President must provide testimony that the country in question has not supported terrorism in the previous six months. The country must prove its innocence and make a commitment about its intentions. This must lie before Congress for 45 days.

The report said there was no evidence Syrian officials had been directly involved in planning or executing terrorist attacks since 1986 - when Syria was behind a plot to blow up an Israeli airliner flying out of London.

'But Syria continues to provide support and safe haven for several groups that engage in international terrorism,' said the report.

It alleged that the notorious international 'terrorist' known as Carlos appeared to enjoy Syrian sanctuary, as did several Palestinian rejectionist groups and the Kurdistan Workers' Party, the PKK.

Being designated a state sponsor of terrorism makes countries invalid for most kinds of US aid and commits Washington to oppose granting them loans from multilateral financial institutions like the IMF.