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Lebanon From Heart to Reason - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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The Tsunami that has resulted form the assassination of Rafiq Al-Hariri is still striking the shores of Lebanon so violently, and even extending to Syria and the whole region. It is accompanied with potential explosion that could be everywhere, which that Arab nation should stand together to stop that from happening and cooperate to find the solution that matches logic and reason and lines with the common interests of Arabs. This tsunami wave has led so far to the aggregation of thousands of Lebanese marching together despite their different sects and belongings, and agreeing on certain things that could be summarized as giving the Lebanese the upper hand and the final word, as well as emphasizing the independence of the Lebanese decision making, away from the near or far influence by friends, brothers or else.

This wave also led to the collapse of the government of Karami, which actually had to bear what it is not fully responsible for. Karami’s government had to bend before the storm of accusations that came through this anger and grief to accuse this government of negligence, weakness, and irresponsibility.

They even accused that government of taking part in committing this crime or participating in plotting it. There is a degree of exaggeration in some of these accusations as well as unfairness.

Still, those who posed these accusations found enough pretexts and justifications to do so, because of the severe shock of losing Hariri and the impact of his assassination on everybody.

Another element that helped justifying these accusations was the very slow reaction of the government towards moving to fulfill the duty of catching the perpetrators and punishing them immediately. Of punishing the negligent authorities as well as acting promptly to uncover the perpetrators and punish them, not only as a due gratitude towards the great martyr Hariri and all that he represented to the Lebanese, but also to save the Lebanese people from the climate of mutiny, crisis and despair and confrontation. Through my through follow up of the development of the situation, while my heart fears for Lebanon and as I am searching for any threads that would lead to a proper understanding and a convincing explanation of what has happened in order to avoid falling into mistake or confusion, I wish to make the following remarks and point some observations:

1- The assassination of Hariri has had two immediate impacts; the first is the emergence of a deeply rooted, yet already existing, congestion, which has been imminent to some extent, regarding the relationship between the Lebanese people and Syria and its loyalists in Lebanon. Thus, the public reaction throughout Lebanon was to immediately accuse Syria of being responsible for the crime and accuse the Lebanese government of being lenient and weak in showing its keenness to uncover the truth.

2- This accusation has been expressed with unusual violent words when tackling the relationship with Syria. This was a result of some impeded hidden desires and grievances, rather than a pure logical thinking.

If we apply a bit of rational and logical thinking, we would find that Syria, which is under enormous pressures from the West regarding Lebanon, Palestine, Iraq and other western accusations raised by the US and other American accusations of supporting what the US calls “terrorism”, has no interest (under these circumstances) in committing such a crime, while it has been trying lately to show a degree of good intention accompanied with its readiness to meet half way with those who are attacking the Syrian stances.

So, Syria has no interest in committing a crime that would attract immediate accusations of a Syrian involvement, in the way that would double the pressures imposed on the Syrians, till even reaching the point of changing the regime would be one of the basic goals of those pressuring pressing.

The deputy prime Minster and foreign Minster of Syria Farouk Al-Sharaa has pointed that in his latest statements and made this issue quite clear.

3- Some people will oppose that argument saying that there are two basic possibilities; the first is that some of the elements, the subordinates of Syria have acted without taking orders to assassinate Hariri. Those making that claim and proposing this sequence of events are linking what happened (the assassination of Hariri) to other disagreement resulting form taking the Lebanese file from the hands of the intelligence and assigning the foreign ministry to handle it. They might also point to the changes introduces at the top of the Syrian military intelligence after the incident, claiming that these changes are linked to some Syrian intelligence involvement, yet, it seems that these changes were only linked related to the retirement of some officials who reached the retiring age.

The second possibility – as claimed by those who believe that they know the style of Damascus in handling danger – is the application of the Syrian way in pushing things into escalation, then into crisis, after which, all parities would take steps back to recalculate their positions, and thus, Syria would avoid the moment of danger or postpone it.

I – myself – find this possibility so remote from reason and cannot be easily accepted. It talks about a very dangerous adventure with unpredictable outcomes.

I do not think that anyone would consider this time appropriate for applying such maneuvers while there are overwhelming pressures by the US and its allies growing stronger and advancing forward showing the least intention to slow down.

Also, I find the strong reaction of the Lebanese people that appeared lately and led to the collapse of the government of Omar Karami quite a spontaneous one. I do not think that the crime was committed to provoke that reaction. Yet, the assassination allowed the hidden sentiments to surface, and thus gathering all the Lebanese from the different sects and factions against a weak authority / government.

It seems that Hariri, who was meant to be controlled and down sized after the battle of the extension of the presidency of Lahoud (which Hariri did not explicitly engage into – though he did not hide his opposing position against that extension), has grown in influence and impact after his assassination.

Hariri became the symbol around which all the Lebanese oppositions are gathering. Hariri has been the strong blade in the hand of that opposition against the regime. He also became the Lebanese pannier raised by all people and the flag that expresses them. Hariri also became the strong cry for a Lebanese independence and a Syrian withdrawal.

This is strange because Hariri actually was not an enemy to Syria. Hariri even walked quite a distance with the Syrians and believed in a “distinguished relations between the two countries that are deriving their strength from the roots of kinship, history and the mutual brotherly interests” as addressed in the National Reconciliation Document. This means that the Syrian – Lebanese relations – according to Hariri and the document – do not entail weakening the Lebanese independence.

According to this document, the Syrian – Lebanese relations also mean “cooperation and coordination in the way that serves the interests of the two brotherly countries in the framework of sovereignty and independence of each of them”. The document also stipulates “Lebanon should not allow its territory to become the residence of any force, state or organization that would harm the Lebanese or the Syrian security”.

The document also said that Syria is keen to preserve Lebanon’s security, independence and unity and the reconciliation among the Lebanese people, and that Syria will not allow any action that would threaten the security, independence, and sovereignty of Lebanon.

4 – What is greatly needed at the time being are 3 principal issues:

– The first is to preserve the unity of Lebanon and its people, because this is the precondition for Lebanon’s safety and survival from the conspiracies plotted here and there, whether expressed by the assassination of Hariri or abusing his martyrdom to deepen the gaps among the Lebanese and between the Lebanese and the Syrians in the way that would harm all parties.

– The second is to preserve the Lebanese relationship with Syria and keep it on sound and appropriate bases.

In this regard, we should not care much for some exaggerated slogans raised by some people against Syria, as I believe that such slogans only came to express the shock and the sorrow for losing Hariri rather than reflecting negative sentiments against Syria.

Also, in this regard I should point that the majority of the polity people in Lebanon have insisted in their statements that the relationship between Syria and Lebanon is basic and elementary, and that it should be mended and corrected, not cut and aborted. They pointed that these relations should be improved and purified in order to allow both Syria and Lebanon to get rid of their deformities.

They also were keen to point that the mistakes that took place in the past should not be abused as some are trying to do so for the sake of burying these relations and ending them.

The National Reconciliation Document (wathiqat al-wifaq al-watani) expressed clearly this idea

This was also reflected in Al-Tai’f Accord, which was the basic point of reference for both the Syrian and the Lebanese statements.

– The third issue is to preserve Syria itself, which is currently subjected to numerous pressures that were even intensified to the point of threats after the tragic death of Hariri

I believe that the Syrian people are aware of these facts and they are operating accordingly. Still, I feel confused – to some extent – for the Syrian way of handling the situation.

5- According to the previously mentioned points, we should welcome the statements made by president Bashar Al-Asad in his interview with “Time” magazine, where he pointed that the Syrian troops withdrawal will take place within months. This statement should be noted, written down and documented in an official document that would specify the exact date for the implementation.

Such official document should also involve the following:

– Establishing a Lebanese government that is approved by all parties to supervise the coming Lebanese legislative elections.

– An Arab declaration guaranteeing safety and security of Lebanon and rejecting any sort of interference in its internal affairs.

– An international declaration with the same content and orientation.

– A Lebanese Syrian dialogue sponsored by the Arab League if the two parties are willing to determine or renew the bases upon which these relations stands (within the framework of the National Reconciliation Document).

* * * * * * * * *

Again, these are only some thoughts of me as an Arab citizen who feels quite astonished for the artificial divisions that are emerging among the Arabs and competing to put aside numerous elements of natural unification present in this nation.

Those who are keen for the future of the Arab nation and wishing the best for it as a whole and for every component / state in it should meet together in some sort of “brain storming” sessions to discuss how to get out the current crisis that was imposed on the Arab nation by the criminals who killed Hariri and tried to kill all that Hariri represented as regards balance, reason and commitment to the local Lebanese and Arab national interests, as he has always been working to strengthen friendships instead of deepening animosities.

We should be aware that those whom do not wish for anything good for the Arabs are trying to spread these animosities for their own interests.

Translated by: HAZEM SALEM

Ahmed Maher

Ahmed Maher is a former foreign minister of Egypt.

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