- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 20, 2010


Twelve Republican senators are calling on Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton to impose “prompt punitive” sanctions against Syria for threatening Israel by supplying long-range Scud missiles to Hezbollah terrorists.

They also asked Mrs. Clinton to respond to their demands they sent her in a letter last week before the Senate considers the nomination of Robert Ford to serve as the first U.S. ambassador to Syria in five years.

Their request for a response before the nomination hearing led some Washington analysts to conclude that the senators, who include four members of the Foreign Relations Committee, were threatening to block Mr. Ford’s appointment. However a spokesman for Sen. Mike Johanns of Nebraska, who drafted the letter, said it contained no such threat.

“We are writing to express our deep concern about the ongoing Syrian support for terrorism,” the senators said, citing reports that Syria is sending Scud missiles, with a range of 435 miles, to Hezbollah terrorists in Lebanon.

They noted that the new missiles put every Israeli city in range of attack and increase the potential for another Israeli invasion. Israel attacked Hezbollah targets in 2006, when the terrorists launched missiles with a maximum range of 60 miles against northern Israeli towns.

“Should another conflict break out and the Scud transfer reports be accurate, the great majority of Israelis will be at risk, and Israel will be forced into deep strikes or incursions into Lebanon to stop the launchings,” the senators said.

The State Department has justified restoring full diplomatic relations with Syria and insisted that “greater engagement is not a concession.” In a March letter to the senators, the State Department said returning an ambassador to Damascus will be a “means to more effectively persuade the most senior levels of the Syria regime” to cease support for terrorism.

“However,” the senators said, “if engagement precludes prompt punitive action in response to egregious behavior, such as the transfer of long-range missiles to a terrorist group, then it is not only a concession but also a reward for such behavior.”

The United States withdrew its ambassador in 2005 to protest Syrian involvement in the car-bomb assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.

In addition to Mr. Johanns, the letter was signed by John Barrasso of Wyoming, Christopher S. Bond of Missouri, Scott Brown of Massachusetts, Saxby Chambliss of Georgia, Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, James M. Inhofe of Oklahoma, Jon Kyl of Arizona, Jim Risch of Idaho, Pat Roberts of Kansas, George V. Voinovich of Ohio and Roger Wicker of Mississippi.


A former U.S. ambassador to Ireland, who committed suicide last year, cheated on his income tax by trying to shelter nearly $330 million in capital gains while he served in Dublin, a federal court ruled this week.

A U.S. District Court in Massachusetts on Monday said Richard J. Egan, ambassador to Ireland from 2001 to 2003, his wife, Maureen, and son, Michael, attempted to hide $327.4 million on their tax returns in 2001 and 2002. Mr. Egan fatally shot himself in August.

Mr. Egan, a political appointee of former President George W. Bush, was the billionaire founder of the world’s largest data-storage company, EMC.


The U.S. ambassador to Madagascar is urging the country’s four feuding political leaders to re-engage in talks to end the crisis on the island nation off the southeast coast of Africa.

“We have always supported international mediation, and we continue to do so,” Ambassador Niels Marquardt told reporters in the capital, Antananarivo.

Andry Rajoelina, leader of a military-backed government, and three former presidents — Didier Ratsiraka, Mark Ravalomanana and Albert Zafy — broke off talks last month after disputes over plans for new elections. The military overthrew Mr. Ravalomanana in 2008, after he crushed demonstrations against his government.

Call Embassy Row at 202/636-3297 or e-mail jmorrison@washingtontimes.com.

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