In his Sept. 16 op-ed column, Jim Hoagland argued that the United States should "squeeze" Syria. But that would only further damage the American image on the Arab street, increase instability in the Middle East and deny the United States a willing partner in promoting peace and stability in a volatile region.

Syria has played and will continue to play a vital role in the region. It was Syria that brought about peace in Lebanon, and it is Syria that continues to support its sovereignty.

Moreover, Syria's role in the region remains critical to establishing peace and stability in the Middle East, goals the United States aspires to achieve.

JAWDAT ALI

Deputy Chief of Mission

Embassy of Syria

Washington

*

Jim Hoagland calls for action against Syria because of Damascus's failure to control its border with Iraq. But President Bashar Assad, being aware of Syria's placement on the neocons' hit list, is unlikely to encourage border crossings by terrorists. And Syria never has exerted control over its border with Iraq.

In the 1980s, Saddam Hussein easily provided aid to insurgents aligned against late president Hafez Assad. Attacks on military installations and civilian targets marked the tension between the two regimes. If Syria was unable to protect its own people from such attacks, it makes sense that the Iraqi-Syrian border would remain porous.

JOSEPH ELIAS

Wilkes-Barre, Pa.