DEBKAfile Exclusive: Washington loosens restrictions on hi-tech electronic equipment for Syria despite its military applications
December 15, 2007, 10:51 AM (GMT+02:00)
In line with the thaw in Washington-Damascus relations, the state department has permitted Cisco Systems to ship routers, switches and hi-tech equipment to Syria. Israeli military officials told DEBKAfile’s sources that the shipment of items with military uses was approved, although the Bashar regime is far from mending its ways and continues to meddle in Lebanon.
Western and Israeli intelligence sources stress that Syrian fingerprints were all over the car bomb on Dec. 11, which murdered the Lebanese army’s operations chief Gen. Francois El-Hajj and four others. The general, who was not Syria’s pocket, was designated successor to supreme commander Gen. Michel Suleiman who is slated for the presidency.
Eight hours later, Syrian vice president Farouk a-Shara said unrepentantly: Syrian connections to Lebanon “are as strong as ever” and warned off “anyone in and outside Lebanon who threatens those ties.”
In the last two months, Damascus has fully restored its subversive presence in Beirut. Ever since Assad halted al Qaeda and insurgent infiltrations of fighters, arms, explosives and cash into Iraq, US officials turn a deaf ear to complaints of his mischief-making in Lebanon and continued sponsorship of radical Palestinian terrorists.
The State Department has gone even further in instructing its UN mission not to veto a world body’s technological grant to Syria, for use in sophisticated surveillance equipment coming from the American Cisco Systems company. On orders from secretary of state Condoleezza Rice, the US department of commerce issued Cisco with a special export license for the equipment to be sent to Syria, in violation of Washington's owneconomic sanctions on Syria.
The routers, switches and other hi-tech items are usable for missile radar and other weaponry as well as for early warning apparatus and intelligence surveillance.
Israeli officials commented to DEBKAfile that if Washington cannot uphold its own sanctions, it cannot expect to be taken seriously when urging stiff penalties for Iran.