Lebanese claims that the government in Damascus is blocking its borders to Lebanese trucks and banning fishermen from using its territorial waters is justified according to the laws of international relations. In their recent efforts to bring about sovereignty, the Lebanese rid themselves of related to Syria . On the other hand, Damascus believes sovereignty varies according to mutual interests and the government has indicated neighbors should pay a price for geographical contiguity.
Syria is therefore correct in controlling its terrestrial and aerial borders, and prohibiting fishermen from using its waters and anchoring in its ports. These legitimate and legal means of influence ensure Damascus has an important role to play within a framework of mutual interests. This marks an important break with the past where Syrian intelligence was accused of directly interfering in Lebanese politics and influencing local events.
This is why Lebanon has no right to complain of Syrian rough treatment in reply to what the authorities in Damascus deem flagrant hostility, after the election of anti-Syrian politicians, accusations that Lebanon ’s neighbor was intervening in local issues, and the attacks on Syrian laborers. These are civilized and legal means of showing divergence between the two countries.
It may even benefit both parties to go through a period of a freeze in relations so the governments in Beirut and Damascus can analyze the leverage they possess and understand the importance of their neighbor. Bad neighborly relations can therefore be helpful in the sense that each party could reform itself without pressure from the other. The question remains as to who will pay the price in the upcoming weeks and months?
The Lebanese will need to swallow their pride and their fruits whilst patiently awaiting a resolution to the current crisis. Until relations are normalized, I advise Arab tourist and Lebanese visitors to avoid traveling to Lebanon by car, given that Damascus might shut its borders on their way back and they might have to sell the car for scrap by the end of the summer. Lebanon is bordered by Syria , Israel , and the Mediterranean Sea . Any suggestion to export Lebanese agricultural products to the Arab World via Israel is ludicrous and would create problems that dwarf those generated by Damascus ’ presence in Lebanon . One option is to transport fruits and vegetables by air, a solution that has been used extensively across the Persian Gulf .
As for Syria , the latest crisis with Beirut is an important lesson for its citizens to realize the value of their country and understand it shouldn”t waste its energies dominating a small country and serving the interests of a few politicians and warlords. Syria has, for too long, mistakenly, fixed its gaze beyond the border instead of looking inward and grasping its own incredible potential. Treating Daamscus ’ addiction to Lebanon will help the citizens of Syria first and foremost and strengthen the country”s sphere of influence, without the need for military or security intervention in neighboring countries.