CIA Halts Syrian Arms Shipment to Iraq
According to a November 13 report in the Bulgarian daily newspaper 24 Casa, agents of the US Central Intelligence Agency intercepted a shipment of Bulgarian-made engine parts in Syria en route to Iraq. The shipment, which included transmission equipment and other parts for armored vehicles built by the state weapons factory Terem, was falsely declared to be civilian goods so as to avoid controls on military exports. Two Terem officials were fired earlier this month for "violations in foreign trade." There have been numerous other cases of Syrian arms smuggling to Iraq during the last few years.
Syria Makes UN Vote Unanimous
On November 8, Syria surprised many by voting in favor of a UN Security Council resolution which gives Iraq a "final opportunity" to surrender its weapons of mass destruction, states that false statements, omissions or non-cooperation would constitute a "material breach" of the Gulf War cease-fire, and warns Iraq of "serious consequences" to follow in this event. The US government views the resolution as providing a sufficient mandate for American military intervention in Iraq in the event that Baghdad does not fully cooperate with weapons inspectors. The approval of Syria, the only Arab state represented on the security council, may facilitate American efforts to persuade its reluctant allies in the Arab world to support the disarmament of Iraq.
Syria's deputy UN ambassador, Faysal Mekdad, said his government voted to approve the resolution after receiving assurances from Britain, France, Russia and the United States "that this resolution would not be used as a pretext to strike Iraq." It appears, however, that there was a quid pro quo. Less than a week later, US congressional leaders abandoned plans to submit the Syria Accountability Act to a vote in the House of Representatives this year on the grounds that it would disrupt the Bush administration's Iraq policy.