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Congress of the Hnited States Washington, BE 20515 ‘May 20, 2019 President Donald J. Trump ‘The White House 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue N.W. ‘Washington, D.C. 20500 Dear Me. President ‘Ata time of grave insecurity inthe Middle East, we are deeply concemed about te role that terorist and extremist groups and USS. adversaries continue to play, particularly in Syria, As some of our closest allies inthe region are being threatened, American leadership and supportare as crucial as over. To this end, we recommend several specific steps to advance our regiona security priorities, including assisting our ally, Israel, in defending itself i the fice of rowing treats, including on its northern border. Pockets of ungovered space have allowed terrorist groups, suchas ISI, Al-Qaeda, and their alates, to keep pats of Syria in their stranglehold. These groups’ ability to recut, 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 Wester targets, allies cd partners, and the US. homeland. The United States has an interest in preventing these terrorist organizations from solidifying their foothold in the Middle Fast, which they would ‘undoubredly use to farther destabilize the region, thereby undermining American interest, ‘The region has also been destabilized by th Iranian regime's thretening behavicr, In Syria han is working to establish a permanent military presence that can threaten our alls. In the pastyear alone an Irnian-armed drone infiltrated Israeli irspace andthe IRGC firec dozens (of misses toward Isral from Syria, Additionally, Iran continues its program to pursue a direct, overland route from Irn to Lebanon. That connection would better facilitate Iran's supplying of Hezbollah terorsts and other Iranian-backed militias with deadly weapons. While ou mation has encouraged more stable and inclusive political systems inthe Middle Eat, the regime in “Tehran 1s spread its inflvence and destabilized ite neighbors for ite own gaa, Like Iran, Russia is also working to secure a permanent presence in Syria beyone its naval facility at Tarts. Russia has changed the arc of Syria's civil war atthe expense of Syria's People by employing Russian troops, areraf, and diplomatic protection to ensue the survival of the Assid regime, Furthermore, in providing Damascus with advanced weapons like the S-300 anti-aircraft system, Moscow is complicating Isrel's ability to defend itself from hostile action ‘The President Page Two emanating from Syria. Russia's destabilizing roe only complements that of Irn ~ since Russia shows no willingness to expel Ianian forces from Syria. Hezbollah now poses more potent theat 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 fonger-range, giving the terrorist group the capability to strike anywhere in Israel, Justa few weeks ago, the Wall Sireet Journal reported that a Hezbollah operative who is accused of killing five American soldiers in Iraq may now be seting up a terror network onthe border between Israe] and Syria. Israel also recently discovered and destoyed six Hezbollah tunnels tat made their way into Isrel from Lebanon, all while Hezbollah has increased its thetoric about its imentions of kidnapping Israeli soldiers and civilians. Ter tn limit the presence of teroiss and extzemiste, counter the activities of our adversaries, and strengthen Israels security we urge you o advance our regional interests by implementing a strategy including the following elements: + Underscore Israel's right to self-defense. Itis longstanding US. policy to support Israe’s ability to defend ise by itself and suppor 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 ight to defend itself, We must also look for ways to augment our support in the contet of the current 10-year Memorandum of ‘Understanding between the United States and Israel and to ensue that Israel has access to the resources and materiel it needs to defend itself against the threats it faces on its northem border. The U.S. should continue to oppose international efforts to isolate and ‘weaken Israel. ‘+ Increase pressure on Iran and Russia with respect to activites in Syria. Working ‘with our allies and partners, we urge you to maintain and increase pressure on Ian and Russia to constrain their destabilizing activites. America must continue economic and Aiplomatic efforts to counter Iran’s support for Hezbollah and other terrorist groups as well as Russia's support forthe brutal Assad regime. We encourage full implementation of sanctions authorized in the Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA), a broadly suppored bipartisan bill that you signed into la. Clear and Sustained American action and close coordination with our allies and partners can send an important message of resolve to malign actors inthe region ‘+ Increase pressure on Hezbollah, By forcefully and fully implementing the Hizhallah {International Financing Prevention Act of 2015, the Hizhallah International Financing Prevention Amendments Act of 2018, and other sanctions aimed at Hezbollah and those ‘who fund it, America can redace ther ability to threaten and challenge Israel. Additionally, we mast continue to press UNIFIL to carryout its U.N, Security ‘Council mandate, including investigating and reporting the presence of arms and tunnels ‘on Israel's border. ‘The President age Three ‘The conflict in Syria is complicated, and the potential solutions are not perfect, but our ‘only choice isto advance polices that can stop the growing threats to US. interest, Irae, and regional security and stability. Ths strategy requires American leadership. We thank yes for your consideration of oat views. Sincerely, ELIOT. ENGEL 7 & = ck Chairman Chairman House Committee on Foreign Affairs Senate Committee on Foreign Relations ‘MICHAEL T. MeCAUL ROBERT MENENDE| Ranking Member Ranking Member House Committee on Foreign Affairs Senate Commitee on Foreign Relations 5 TED DEUTCH Chairman Ranking MEBiber Subcommittee on the Middle East Sabcommittee on the Middle East, North Africa, and Iaterntional North Africa, and International Terror ‘Terorism