to 2003: "Major combat in Iraq is over, U.S. warns rogue
compiled by Cem Ertür
16 April 2014
Living in an age of dis-information, not many people do remember the
deadly serious Anglo-American threats of war against Syria on
day of the “shock and awe” genocide in Iraq.
The Guardian, 14 April 2003
Tribune, 15 April 2003
Le Figaro, 15 April 2003
After Iraq, is it Syria’s turn?
the GIs [i.e. U.S. troops] take control of most of the
Iraqi territory, Washington
La Stampa, 15 April 2003
"Syria is a terrorist state"
The White House threatens sanctions, Damascus replies: We do not have
chemical weapons. The city of Saddam has fallen too.
Libération, 15 April 2003
by their military success in Iraq, the Americans put pressure on Syria,
is accused of having helped Baghdad, and evoke sanctions.
El Pais, 15 April 2003
States threatens Syria with reprisals for collaborating
will put pressure on Damascus after asking Bush Washington
insists that Syria is a “terrorist
that manufactures weapons of mass
Le Monde, 15 April 2003
surrenders, Syria threatened
The U.S. army takes the fiefdom of Saddam
Washington calls into question Syria’s arsenal and requires
A special thanks to Les Blough
and Giovanni Carlo Bettinelli for translating the excerpts
from El Pais
and La Stampa respectively.
The White House this morning [April 14, 2003] escalated sharp
diplomatic warnings to Syria,
which the [Bush] administration accused of harboring former Iraqi
developing chemical weapons.
Without making a specific threat to
White House press secretary Ari Fleischer, at his morning briefing,
repeatedly that "Syria
needs to cooperate." He read from a CIA report to Congress last year
Syria had stockpiles of the nerve agent sarin, that it was "trying to
develop more toxic and persistent nerve elements," and that it was
"highly probable" that Syria was pursuing biological weapons.
Fleischer described the document as "authoritative" and said the
charge is "well corroborated."
Fleischer declined to dispel the impression that administration was
stronger diplomatic or even military measures. "I can only say to you
it should not be unexpected that the United States
for a considerable
period of time has said through diplomatic channels that nations that
nations need to clean up their act," he said. "They should not harbor
terrorists. They should not produce weapons of mass destruction."
"With respect to Syria, of course we will examine possible measures of
diplomatic, economic or other nature as we move forward," [U.S.
of State Colin] Powell told reporters after talks with Kuwait Minister
for Foreign Affairs Sheikh Mohammad al-Salem al-Sabah.
"In light of this new environment they [Syria]
should review their actions and their behavior, not only with respect
gets haven in Syria
and weapons of mass destruction but especially the support of terrorist
activity," Powell added.
15, Secretary Powell [said] "Iraq
unique case": "There is no war plan to go and attack someone else,
either for the purpose of overthrowing their leadership or imposing
values. ... There is no 'list'..."
UK Foreign Secretary Jack Straw (April
told reporters in Kuwait:
"As far as 'Syria
is next on the list', we made clear that it is not... There is no
list... There are important questions which the Syrians need to
Straw continued: "There is much evidence of considerable cooperation
between the Syrian government and the Saddam regime in recent months...
very important for Syria
to appreciate that there is a new reality now the Saddam regime is
that its policies reflect that new reality... Syria
[must] fully cooperate over these questions that have been raised about
fact that some fugitives from Iraq
may well have fled into Syria,
and other matters including whether they have in fact been developing
of illegal or illegitimate chemical or biological arms..."
[U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld
said] “Well, first I would say that we have seen the chemical
weapons tests in Syria
over the past 12, 15 months. And second, that we have intelligence that
Syrians and others to come across the border into Iraq,
people armed and people
carrying leaflets indicating that they'll be rewarded if they kill
and members of the coalition.”
The White House has
privately ruled out suggestions that the
US should go to war against Syria following its military success in
has blocked preliminary planning for such a campaign in the Pentagon,
Guardian learned yesterday.
the past few
weeks, the US defence secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, ordered contingency
a war on Syria to be reviewed following the fall of Baghdad. Meanwhile,
undersecretary for policy, Doug Feith, and William Luti, the head of
Pentagon's office of special plans, were asked to put together a
on the case for war against Syria, outlining its role in supplying
Saddam Hussein, its links with Middle East terrorist groups and its
advanced chemical weapons programme. […]
apprehension over the prospect of a new conflict, [British Prime
Blair also offered categorical assurances to anxious MPs yesterday that
and the US had "no plans whatsoever" to invade Iraq's neighbour.
Dismissing fears of an Anglo-American invasion as another "conspiracy
theory", the prime minister said that Mr Bush had never mentioned an
attack on Syria during their regular talks. "I have the advantage of
talking to the American president on a regular basis and I can assure
are no plans to invade Syria," he said. […]
Mr Blair made
clear to Syria yesterday that it must not accept high-level political
or weapons of mass destruction from Iraq.
"It is important Syria
does not harbour people from Saddam's regime or allow any transfer of
of mass destruction] material from Iraq to Syria. I have spoken to
Assad and he has assured me that is not happening and I have said it is
important that assurance is valid," Mr Blair told MPs. […]
defence secretary, Geoff Hoon […] warned that Britain
had had concerns for some time about Syria's
desire to develop weapons
of mass destruction. Mr Hoon referred to a government paper, presented
parliament in February last year, which raised questions about Syria's
programme. The document said that Syria
was one of five countries
attempting to "obtain inventories of longer-range ballistic
missiles". The other countries included North Korea,
and Libya. 
and the Middle East [14 Apr 2003]
of the session at the British Parliament on April 14, 2003]
UK Parliament website, 14
Party leader Iain
Minister [Blair] accept that there is a danger that the coalition
will give out mixed messages, particularly with regard to Syria?
We understand that the Prime
Minister has spoken to President Assad, and that he has sent a Minister
speak to the regime directly. Meanwhile, the American Government have
got to be a change in Syria ... The Syrians need to know they'll be
held to account." Is the Prime Minister's view the same as the
Administration's in Washington?
Minister Tony Blair:
relation to Syria,
the issue concerns any attempt by Syria
to harbour people who are
leading members of the Iraqi regime. When the US or anyone else talks
holding them to account, they mean in respect of that matter. I spoke
President Bashar Assad over the weekend, and he assured me that they
interdict anyone crossing the border from Iraq into Syria. I believe
are doing that. The Foreign Office Minister will be present in Damascus
further talks on the issue. Some of the wilder
surmises in the media at the moment are simply not correct: there are
whatever to invade Syria. […]
Democrats leader Charles
Prime Minister also spoke about Syria.
A few days ago he said, and
I use his words, that Syria
should make a decisive break with its previous policies. To which
he referring? Were those policies in place when the President of Syria
Majesty the Queen officially not long ago? On the radio this morning,
Foreign Secretary [Jack Straw] said that he was unsure whether Syria
had been developing chemical or biological weapons. He said that
needed to be answered. What exactly will those questions be in the
this weekend's discussions with the President of Syria?
Minister Tony Blair:
about Syria and the break with previous policies, support for
terrorism—terrorism that deeply, adversely affects the Middle
process—should stop, and it should stop irrespective of what
has happened in
relation to Iraq. We have continually made that clear to Syria.
On chemical weapons, people
are simply pointing out that Syria
is not a signatory to the chemical weapons convention. If Syria
does have chemical weapons in
its possession, it should be a signatory.
The Prime Minister said
that there were "no plans",
as he put it, to invade Syria or to take action against Syria, but does
know that there are people in Washington with an agenda—James
particular—who go on and on about the need for regime change
in other countries
of the Middle East? Do we have the unambiguous assurance that the
Government will not in any circumstances support military action
Minister Tony Blair: I
said that there are no
plans whatever to invade Syria.
All sorts of things may come out of the newspapers about various
theories to do with parts of the American Administration, but I have
advantage of talking regularly to the American President and I can
assure my hon. Friend that there are no plans to invade Syria. What
saying, however, is that it is important that Syria does not harbour
from Saddam's regime or allow any transfer of [weapons of mass
from Iraq to Syria. I have spoken to President Assad and he has assured
that is not happening. I have told him that it is important that he
that that assurance is valid.
Campbell (Labour Party):
If it is found or
strongly suspected that members of
Saddam's regime are taking shelter in Syria, or that Syria is hiding
mass destruction, what action would my right hon. Friend take to
to give them up?
Minister Tony Blair: We
that Syria should hand any people from the [Iraqi] regime who may take
in Syria to the coalition forces. I have to say in fairness that the
of Syria has said that he does not believe that there are any such
Syria. In relation to chemical weapons, I have nothing to add to what I
earlier, but there are conventions governing these things to which
who have such weapons should be signatories.
National Party): The
Prime Minister says that
there are no plans
whatever to invade Syria, but [U.S. Deputy Secretary of Defense] Mr.
is quoted as saying that Syria is a problem that needs to be dealt
with. At the
third time of asking, can the Prime Minister give the only commitment
can give under these circumstances: United Kingdom forces will not
in an attack against Syria?
Minister Tony Blair: There
plans to invade Syria, so it stands to reason that we do not intend to
Syria. When one looks at the statements that are supposed to come out
various parts of the [U.S.] Administration and one analyses their
finds that the context is the concern, which is why I spoke to the
Syria: it is that Syria may be acting in a way, first, to support Iraqi
and, most latterly, to give refuge to members of the Iraqi regime. That
problem with which we are trying to deal. It is being dealt with by my
conversations with the President [of Syria], and by the Americans and
it clear what is acceptable or unacceptable. I suspect that this is
conspiracy theory that in time will fade away, but I have no doubt that
be replaced swiftly by a fresh one.
Lloyd (Labour Party):
Minister deserves the support of the whole
House [of Parliament] in the tone that he has set on the need to build
co-operation and on a new spirit with the other permanent members of
the [United Nations]
Security Council—France, Russia and China. If we are to get
back to the tasks
of the war on terrorism and the building of the Middle East peace
co-operation will be important much further afield. […]
In that context,
does my right hon. Friend recognise that the loud and strident voices
Washington on the question of Syria lead precisely to the suspicions
been raised in the House [of Parliament] today? Will he pass on to
the words of [European Union's High Representative for Common Foreign
Security Policy] Javier Solana that perhaps now is the time for a
quieter period from Washington?
Minister Tony Blair: To
often people give the answers when they are asked the questions and
that is one
of the things that happens when there are constant debates and
think that the concerns that people have expressed about Syria are very
and policy has not changed at all in relation to that.
There has been a particular concern because of reports that senior
regime figures were taking refuge in Syria. However, the worries about
support for terrorist activity in connection with the Israel-Palestine
are well known and have been there for a long time. I can only repeat
said earlier. When my hon. Friend reads the context in which the
made, he will find them a lot less alarming. […]
Three times the
Prime Minister has been asked about
Syria, in response to which he has said that there are no plans to
against Syria. The trouble is that that phrase has been used by the
Minister and many others in other contexts just before they have done
the opposite—for example, the Prime Minister said, "I have no
raise taxes at all." Can the Prime Minister find more forceful language
allay the concerns of the conspiracy theorists?
Minister Tony Blair: Let
us not get
into manifesto commitments on tax, which were very clear. I think that
made the position clear enough. If people continue to raise that issue,
only be because they are not listening to the very clear answer that is
given. I have given that answer throughout our proceedings today and
again now: we have absolutely no plans whatsoever to invade Syria. I
it any clearer than that. It is clear enough, I think, for most people.
important is to recognise that no one on the other side of the water,
so far as
I am concerned, has said that there are such plans. We are in a
which I am asked about the latest conspiracy theory. Once it has been
rest, I have no doubt that will be replaced by the next one, as I said.
Burden (Labour Party):
May I say to
my right hon. Friend that I have listened to what he said and have no
doubt his sincerity in relation to Syria? However, many of us are
troubled by some statements on Syria that have been made by sources
Pentagon, and sometimes by people in the Pentagon itself and the White
If we are to win Syria's co-operation for a Middle East peace and its
confidence in becoming a full member of that part of the world, would
not it be
better for the United States to be a bit more unambiguous and to
Syria that we have some concern about the fact that parts of its
been occupied illegally since 1967?
Minister Tony Blair: The
best way to
resolve that is through a reinvigorated Middle East peace process that
with the Syrian track as well. I have engaged in a dialogue with Syria
President over the past few months precisely to try, through
deal with the issues of concern in respect of Syria. I hope and believe
can deal with them in that way. After the debate
about whether Syria is harbouring [Iraqi] regime figures—to
be fair, the
president [of Syria] has made it clear that it is not—and
when we get the Middle
East peace process back under way, it will be important for Syria and
countries in the region to stop any support for terrorist groups whose
to disrupt the very peace process that everyone wants. […]
I have listened
carefully to the Prime Minister's
chosen and considered words in response to questions about Syria. I
him to assure the House [of Parliament] that not only will there be no
invasion, but there will be no air strikes and no military incursions
Syria without United Nations resolutions under chapter VII.
Minister Tony Blair: I
really do not
think that I can make the situation any clearer. If the hon. Gentleman
words he will see that they provide all the clarity that anyone could
possibly wish for.
House Escalates Diplomatic Pressure on
Action Comes as U.S. Suspects Syria of
Developing Chemical Weapons
by Dana Milbank, Washington
Post, 14 April 2003
Diplomatic Fire on Iran and Syria over WMD, Terrorism
Diplomacy, No. 71, June/July 2003
Rumsfeld Media Availability with Kuwaiti Foreign Minister Sabah
Defense website, 14 April 2003
Syria war plan
Julian Borger, Michael
White, Ewen MacAskill and Nicholas
Watt, The Guardian, 15 April 2003
to 1991: "Kuwait freed, Iraqis crushed"
by Cem Ertür, Indybay, 28 February 2014