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An Exciting Scene - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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An image beyond description or comment, this was the state of those who observed and analyzed the scene of the meeting between Syrian Prime Minister Bashar al-Assad and Lebanese Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri. Everybody was paying attention to the facial expressions and body language of both men, and the meanings behind them. This was an official meeting during an official visit, but ultimately it was a meeting between two men; two men who inherited political leadership from their fathers, along with heavy [political] burdens and consequences.

A scene that was previously “impossible” has become a reality. This scene represents a new page [in the relationship between the countries] and new changes inside both Syria and Lebanon. The Syrian rhetoric has become rational, and it is dealing realistically with the political changes Lebanon, gradually moving away from Iranian “extremism” and moving closer to more balanced Turkish “moderation” as well as showing concern to improving Arab relations and rebuilding the bridges of trust with Arab countries.

There is no longer the voice of opposition, or majority, or minority [in Lebanon], but there is a serious attempt to convey a [united] Lebanese voice to Syria, and there is a Syrian realization that it must deal with Lebanon as an independent country (along with the recognition that some parties in Lebanon have politically matured).

It cannot be denied that the fingerprints of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz could be clearly detected in the scene that took place in Damascus. This [meeting] is a clear addition to the policy of reconciliation and [promoting] inter-Arab interests undertaken by the Saudi monarch, and this policy is now bearing fruit in a significant and ongoing manner.

This scene was more than a PR opportunity, but should and perhaps will represent a real and serious shift in the relationship between the two countries, and this relationship [previously] witnessed coolness that turned to hostility and this is something that must never be repeated. This coolness in communication destroyed the trust between the people of Lebanon and Syria.

Things returning to normal, and the possibility of relations [between Lebanon and Syria] improving requires not taking a step backwards and completely disregarding past methods. This will require the Lebanese to assume their responsibilities and put an end to foreign interference in their internal politics which is something that transformed Lebanese politics into a scene where everybody is looking out for themselves. The political scene in Lebanon requires immediate awareness and maturity if it is to reach the required level of responsibility.

As for Syria, it must realize that the Lebanese file has traditionally caused it many problems and embarrassment, and despite the many gains and pockets of influence that it has achieved, the cost of this has been extremely high. A new phase is expected in the relationship between the two countries, a phase that is expected to witness the interaction of two independent states; a brotherly and equal relationship, with the knowledge that there is a group that desires a continuation of the [previous] manner of relationship, a relationship between an elder and younger sister, or even a master and slave; one who gives orders and one who receives them.

If Lebanon has traditionally been the “lung” that Syria breathes through economically, socially, and even with regards to entertainment then Syria has traditionally protected Lebanon from itself. Today the two countries are required to build upon this unique heritage and improve this relationship so that it is a model example of a complementary relationship. The coming days will separate the hopes and dreams and what is possible from the reality and the hurts of the past.

We must monitor and pay attention to what happens next in order to ensure that the scene that was observed in Damascus is not an “exception” and in order to achieve the compete success that we seek with regards to [the outcome of] this “exciting” scene.

Hussein Shobokshi

Hussein Shobokshi

Hussein Shobokshi is a businessman and prominent columnist. Mr. Shobokshi hosts the weekly current affairs program Al-Takreer on Al-Arabiya, and in 1995 he was chosen as one of the "Global Leaders for Tomorrow" by the World Economic Forum. He received his BA in Political Science and Management from the University of Tulsa.

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