Sending Office: Committee on Foreign Affairs
Letter to Address Threats in Syria– Bipartisan and Bicameral
Current Co-signers (48): Eliot L. Engel, Michael McCaul, James Risch, Robert Menendez, Nita Lowey, Alcee L. Hastings, Josh Gottheimer, Thomas R. Suozzi, Lance Gooden, Mo Brooks, Bob Gibbs, Peter King, Chris Pappas, Ted Deutch, Jim
Cooper, John Katko, Tim Ryan, Bill Johnson, Ed Case, Grace Meng, Dina Titus, Jan Schakowsky, Ted Lieu, Albio Sires, Gus M. Bilirakis, Max Rose, Jimmy Panetta, Ralph Norman, Mike Kelly, Bill Posey, Andy Harris, Randy Weber, Jeff Van Drew, Julia Brownley, Kevin
Brady, Ron Kind, Raja Krishnamoorthi, Lois Frankel, Bill Flores, James Comer, David P. Joyce, Greg Gianforte, H. Morgan Griffith, Jennifer González-Colón, Rodney Davis, Frank Pallone, Jr., Sean Patrick Maloney, Chrissy Houlahan
Please join us in supporting an important bipartisan, bicameral letter to President Trump highlighting the security threats to the United States and our allies emanating from Syria.
As the conflict in Syria has reached epic proportions, terrorist groups, including ISIS, Al-Qaeda, and their affiliates have proliferated and remain a clear threat to the U.S. and our allies in the region. Syria has also served as a fertile ground for Iran
and its Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) to expand their reach and threaten Israel and regional stability. Furthermore, Hezbollah poses a greater threat to Israel than ever before. At the same time, Russia’s anti-aircraft systems are complicating Israel’s
ability to defend itself while Moscow works to secure Russia’s permanent presence in Syria.
In order to limit the presence of extremists, counter the activities of our adversaries, and strengthen Israel’s security we are calling on President Trump to implement a comprehensive strategy to address these threats which we detail in the below letter.
If you would like to co-sign this letter or have any questions, please contact Raven Bellamy (Raven.Bellamy@mail.house.gov) with the House Foreign Affairs Committee’s Democratic Staff.
ELIOT L. ENGEL MICHAEL McCAUL
Member of Congress Member of Congress
Dear Mr. President:
At a time of grave insecurity in the Middle East, we are deeply concerned about the role that terrorist and extremist groups and U.S. adversaries continue to play, particularly in Syria. As some of our closest allies in the region are being threatened,
American leadership and support are as crucial as ever. To this end, we recommend several specific steps to advance our regional security priorities, including assisting our ally, Israel, in defending itself in the face of growing threats, including on its
Pockets of ungoverned space have allowed terrorist groups, such as ISIS, Al-Qaeda, and their affiliates, to keep parts of Syria in their stranglehold. These groups’ ability to recruit, propagandize, and grow is alarming. Though their main purpose
now may be to fight inside Syria, they retain the ability and will to plan and implement attacks against Western targets, our allies and partners, and the U.S. homeland. The United States has an interest in preventing these terrorist organizations from solidifying
their foothold in the Middle East, which they would undoubtedly use to further destabilize the region, thereby undermining American interests.
The region has also been destabilized by Iranian regime’s threatening behavior. In Syria, Iran is working to establish a permanent military presence that can threaten our allies. In the past year alone, an Iranian-armed drone infiltrated Israeli airspace
and the IRGC fired dozens of missiles toward Israel from Syria. Additionally, Iran continues its program to pursue a direct overland route from Iran to Lebanon. That connection would better facilitate Iran’s supplying of Hezbollah terrorists and other Iranian-backed
militias with deadly weapons. While our nation has encouraged more stable and inclusive political systems in the Middle East, the regime in Tehran has spread its influence and destabilized its neighbors for its own gain.
Like Iran, Russia is also working to secure a permanent presence in Syria, beyond its naval facility at Tartus. Russia has changed the arc of Syria’s civil war at the expense of Syria’s people by employing Russian troops, aircraft, and diplomatic protection
to ensure the survival of the Assad regime. Furthermore, in providing Damascus with advanced weapons like the S-300 anti-aircraft system, Moscow is complicating Israel’s ability to defend itself from hostile action emanating from Syria. Russia’s destabilizing
role only complements that of Iran – since Russia shows no willingness to expel Iranian forces from Syria.
Hezbollah now poses a more potent threat to Israel as well. From Lebanon, Hezbollah has aimed more than 100,000 rockets and missiles at Israel that are increasingly more precise and of longer-range, giving the terrorist group the capability to strike
anywhere in Israel. Just a few weeks ago, the Wall Street Journal reported that a Hezbollah operative who is accused of killing five American soldiers in Iraq may now be setting up a terror network on the border between Israel and Syria. Israel
also recently discovered and destroyed six Hezbollah tunnels that made their way into Israel from Lebanon, all while Hezbollah has increased its rhetoric about its intentions of kidnapping Israeli soldiers and civilians.
In order to limit the presence of terrorists and extremists, counter the activities of our adversaries, and strengthen Israel’s security we urge you to advance our regional interests by implementing a strategy including the following elements:
- Underscore Israel’s right to self-defense. It is longstanding U.S. policy to support Israel’s ability to defend itself by itself and support its qualitative military edge. With the region in flux, it remains critical that we reiterate
to both friend and foe in the region that we continue to support Israel’s right to defend itself. We must also look for ways to augment our support in the context of the current 10-year Memorandum of Understanding between the United States and Israel and
to ensure that Israel has access to the resources and materiel it needs to defend itself against the threats it faces on its northern border. The U.S. should continue to oppose international efforts to isolate and weaken Israel.
- Increase pressure on Iran and Russia with respect to activities in Syria. Working with our allies and partners, we urge you to maintain and increase pressure on Iran and Russia to constrain their destabilizing activities. America must
continue economic and diplomatic efforts to counter Iran’s support for Hezbollah and other terrorist groups as well as Russia’s support for the brutal Assad regime. We encourage full implementation of sanctions authorized in the
Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA), a broadly supported bipartisan bill that you signed into law. Clear and sustained American action and close coordination with our allies and partners can send an important message of
resolve to malign actors in the region.
- Increase pressure on Hezbollah. By forcefully and fully implementing the
Hizballah International Financing Prevention Act of 2015, the Hizballah International Financing Prevention Amendments Act of 2018,
and other sanctions aimed at Hezbollah and those who fund it, America can reduce their ability to threaten and challenge Israel. Additionally, we must continue to press UNIFIL to carry out its U.N. Security Council mandate, including investigating and
reporting the presence of arms and tunnels on Israel’s border.
The conflict in Syria is complicated, and the potential solutions are not perfect, but our only choice is to advance policies that can stop the growing threats to U.S. interests, Israel, and regional security and stability.
This strategy requires American leadership. We thank you for your consideration of our views.
e-Dear Colleague version 2.0