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The Syrian Solution to the Lebanese Crisis | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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In Lebanon, there is a foundation called ‘Umm al Nour’; its main aim is to rehabilitate drug addicts. In today’s Lebanon, most politicians are addicted to destroying the country as long as their names remain in the “limelight”. What we need to do is admit all of these politicians to the Umm al Nour rehabilitation centre to treat them for this addiction. Their need for stronger doses of medication will increase simply because “Lebanon” is a somewhat rare drug that will soon run out. Therefore, they should either be treated or totally eliminated.

The Lebanese people, or at least some of them, are fed up of the exchanges of accusations and theories as well as the fact that their level of intelligence is insulted. Some say that they hope that Lebanon does not join the US-Saudi-Egyptian axis that some argue includes Israel. Others say that they do not want Lebanon to join the Iranian-Syrian axis. As a result of the numerous non-Lebanese affiliations, Lebanon has withered; President Hosni Mubarak was incorrect when he warned against the potential loss of Lebanon simply because Lebanon has already been lost and torn apart by political rivals. In fact, the strings of politicians are being pulled by foreign parties to the extent that it is difficult to patch up the major rift and it is from this rift that the Lebanese run away; whilst the competent Lebanese nation is running away from the future and stability.

When Iraq invaded Kuwait, the late Iraqi former president Saddam Hussein looked for a Kuwaiti with whom he could deal. Despite the fact that it is impossible that all Kuwaitis would be satisfied with their ruling regime, none of them were willing to greet the occupier. In Lebanon, few citizens refused to deal with Syria during its occupation of the country. Those few Lebanese citizens were persecuted by fellow Lebanese who supported the Syrian regime. Syria withdrew [from Lebanon] yet it kept within reach to ensure that Lebanon would not be able to rise without its help. When the Secretary General of the Arab League [Amr Moussa] visited Lebanon, he was asked about the role of Syria and answered saying, “I believe that it has a positive role.” It is funny that the Secretary General would describe such role as positive. Let us summarize the issue: The solution to the Lebanese problem is present in Damascus and Damascus demands two conditions to solve the problem.

The first condition is to abolish the International Tribunal to prosecute the assassins of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.

The second condition is to hold onto Hezbollah as a weapon and increase its accumulation [of arms].

If these conditions are met then Syria would be willing to allow even the Lebanese Forces leader Samir Gaegae or Dory Chamoun, head of the National Liberal Party to be nominated for the presidential post and will allow the supporting party to form the government. However, if this objective is not reached then Damascus will cause more problems for its Lebanese advocates to solve. Nowadays, there is talk about conducting new parliamentary elections or electing the president by popular vote.

Lebanese politicians know exactly what Damascus wants and seek to find a way around it however Damascus is much smarter. Arabs know what Damascus wants. Qatar knows this quite well and its foreign minister Sheikh Hamad Bin Jassim heard these statements and wanted to report what he had heard to the military commander Michel Suleiman who will remain only a candidate for the presidential post.

Lebanese politicians know somewhat well, and so should the Arab League Secretary General that those who visit Damascus return with the impression that the Lebanese presidential election will not happen anytime soon and that Damascus is setting plans in place to face what it will be subjected to regarding the International Tribunal for a period of two months at least. It had also informed its Lebanese allies that it would not allow the International Tribunal to encroach upon its regime.

It is for this reason that General Michel Suleiman should adopt a decisive and open decision before his name withers away along with the last legitimate institution in Lebanon. Syria is no longer enthusiastic about his nomination; and if General Suleiman had his own informers amongst Lebanese politicians, they must have informed him of this and told him that the opposition is no longer comfortable with his selection.

From Beirut to Damascus there is news that the military commander had secretly visited Riyadh and covertly met with Samir Gaegae twice as well as the Druze leader Walid Jumblatt three times in secret and that he frequently meets with the Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora and head of the Future bloc MP Saad Hariri behind closed doors. Perhaps none of this is true, however rumours will intensify and continue to spread to the extent that news is fabricated and his nomination will be used as a tool to exert pressure whilst in fact the truth is something else. The truth is that Syria wishes to abolish the International Tribunal and hold onto Hezbollah.

Therefore, in order to protect the military institution, the military commander should demand that his name be withdrawn from the political marketplace; these are dreams that do not deserve a man to have to lose his dignity. Let the politicians decide what comes first in the Lebanese constitution: the egg or the chicken. If they agree on the military commander then they can only go back to him after getting the green light from Damascus. The Lebanese politicians, oppositionists and supporters, hailed the “Arab initiative” as though it entailed an immediate “remedy” with the arrival of Amr Moussa despite the fact that his assistant Hesham Youssef clearly stated that Moussa will submit a report on the results of his mission at the meeting of Arab foreign ministers due to be held on January 27. As for Moussa, he appeared as somebody calling for the Lebanese to help him draft a positive report thus his status would be consolidated and this was clear as he said, “Solving the Lebanese crisis will have a positive impact upon the Arab status.”

The real irony lies in the limited role played by the Lebanese parliament speaker Nabih Berri who keeps setting dates for a session to be convened to elect a Lebanese president and then cancelling them. He said, “22 Arab and Muslim foreign ministers in the presence of the acting Lebanese Christian Foreign Minister Tariq Metri stated that they openly and unanimously wanted a strong Christian president in Lebanon (…). Arab unanimity in support of the president is a good sign and I support this decision. Perhaps the decision has surpassed the Taif Accords; however I support it as a way to end the Lebanese crisis,” (Radwan Aqeel – Annahar Newspaper -13 January 2008).

Has the parliament speaker forgotten that Lebanon was established as a homeland for Christians, namely Maronites. Arab foreign ministers should be aware of this fact; there was no need for sectarian incitement. No matter how Iran tried to prevent the eruption of the Shia-Sunni conflict, Syrian control of the Lebanese public is no longer guaranteed simply because public congestion has reached its peak. Another question: where is the president? The post has been vacant since November 24, 2007. The Syrians had informed the French of their “good will” as they prevented former President Emile Lahoud from forming an alternative government.

It is as though the problem in Lebanon focuses entirely on ministerial composition. Nabih Berri told his guests that he had seriously adopted the 10-10-10 idea in support of the “Maronite” president. On January 13, 2008, Annahar newspaper quoted Berri’s assertion of his statement to Moussa: “I swear to you Mr. Amr, I was going to start the parliament session in this case and over 95 MPs would have voted with me.”

When “honor” is involved in the Lebanese issue, there are no surprises; however Berri swore with all his honour that he could convene parliament whenever he wishes.

And because the decision does not lie in Lebanon, Amr Moussa is asked to spare himself the time and effort and should travel directly to Damascus and tell Syria that it cannot achieve everything [it wants]. Lebanon and its people are trying to free themselves from it and Damascus must adapt to that fact and reconsider the suggestions made by the Jordanian King Abdullah II when he met with the Syrian President Bashar Assad. King Abdullah II suggested that Syria cut ties with Iran despite that Iran had paid off Syria’s debts to Russia. The suggestions included benefits for Syria such as the retrieval of the Golan Heights, receiving international aid and slowing down the procedures of the International Tribunal. In return, Syria must sign a peace treaty with Israel (Syrian-Israeli meetings are running smoothly) and end its interference in Lebanon and its ties with Iran as well to stop supporting “Hamas” and “Hezbollah”. Amr Moussa should know that Syria is betting on the existing “conflict” between Washington and Tel Aviv. Whilst Washington is more in favour of establishing a dialogue with Tehran and isolating Damascus, Tel Aviv prefers negotiation with Damascus and continuing the state of animosity and pressuring Tehran. All that is left lies in one question: What exactly do Arabs want other than the Arab initiative?

Just as God protects the holy Kaaba, we pray that God protects Lebanon from its politicians and all foreign parties that are contending for the egotism of these politicians.