President Barack Obama renewed sanctions against Syria Monday for another year, continuing a policy first imposed by President George W. Bush in 2004.
Syria's "continuing support for terrorist organizations and pursuit of weapons of mass destruction and missile programs, continue to pose an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security, foreign policy and economy of the United States," the President said in a message to Congress.
This assessment was reinforced Tuesday when the Israeli Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee on Hezbollah, Syria and Iran was briefed by the head of the Research Department in the Intelligence Directorate, Brig. Gen. Yossi Baidatz.
Baidatz explained that Syria regularly transfers weapons to Hezbollah, and "therefore, it should not be called smuggling of arms to Lebanon – it is organized and official transfer."
Hezbollah, the proxy terrorist group of Iran, has consistently received weapons, arms, political, and financial support from the Iranian regime since its inception, and Israeli officials reported last month that Syria had delivered accurate long-distance Scud missiles to the terrorist group.
That prompted Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to express her concern last week about Syria's transfer of missiles and other weapons to Hezbollah in Lebanon: "'Transferring weapons to these terrorists, especially longer-range missiles, would pose a serious threat to the security of Israel. It would have a destabilizing effect on the region.'"
Both Syria and Lebanon have denied the allegations of the transfer of scud missiles, whereas Hezbollah's leader Hassan Nassrallah stated, ""We do not confirm or deny if we have received weapons or not, so we do not comment and we will not comment.'"
Despite the U.S. sanctions against Syria, and the administration's admonishment of its support for Hezbollah, Baidatz argues that Syria is playing its cards well: "Syria continues to march to both tunes, without being forced to choose between them by the international community. On the one hand, it is improving its ties with the West, with Arab states and with Turkey, and is also regaining influence within Lebanon, and on the other hand, it is intensifying strategic and operational cooperation with Iran, Hezbollah and the Palestinian terror."