Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Lebanese permission needed for use of airspace in missile attack, say experts - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
Select Page

Members of the Syrian Social Nationalist Party hold portraits of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad during a demonstration supporting his regime and against a possible military strike in Syria on September 8, 2013 in Beirut. AFP (PHOTO / ANWAR AMRO ANWAR AMRO)

Members of the Syrian Social Nationalist Party hold portraits of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad during a demonstration supporting his regime and against a possible military strike in Syria on September 8, 2013 in Beirut. AFP (PHOTO / ANWAR AMRO ANWAR AMRO)

Beirut, Asharq Al-Awsat—An attack on Syria using cruise missiles would require permission from countries whose airspace may be used, such as Lebanon, an expert in international law said yesterday.

Antoine Sfeir, a Lebanese expert in international law, on Monday told Asharq Al-Awsat that “there is a difference between controlled airspace and uncontrolled airspace, and that to enter the controlled airspace requires permission from the country whose airspace is going to be violated by aircraft or missiles, while this permission is not needed for uncontrolled airspace, because it is deemed as international airspace.” He explained that this was similar to the situation with “territorial waters and international waters.”

Strategic expert Nizar Abel-Qader, told Asharq Al-Awsat that “these missiles were not ballistic and cruise over terrain and do not need to cruise in outer space,” adding that this meant that Lebanese government permission was needed.

However, it remains unclear at this stage if the US will require the use of Lebanese airspace for a strike on Syria.

Meanwhile, Lebanese Marwan Charbel held a meeting on Monday with US ambassador to Lebanon, David Hale, in which he discussed the US Department of State’s decision to reduce its staff in Beirut. The Twitter account of the US embassy in Beirut said “reports about giving American citizens a warning to leave Lebanon are untrue.”

In a related incident, Italian ambassador to Lebanon, Giuseppe Morabito, following a visit to Mikati said “we have not advised our citizens to leave Lebanon so far because the situation is calm.” He described the situation in the region was difficult but that “what is important is that Lebanon remains safe and stable.”

For his part, Russian ambassador to Lebanon Alexander Zasypkin reiterated that his country “in these dangerous circumstances was making every effort to save Syria from a military strike and return the situation to the path of a political solution,” adding that “it is important to keep Lebanon impartial on events in Syria, so that Lebanon remains safe and stable, and this is among Russia’s foreign policy priorities at the current stage.”

Following talks with Mikati on Monday, Zasypkin said “we want a political settlement ahead of a military solution, but it seems that the Americans and their allies have other intentions. We are trying to persuade them to change their decision to launch a military strike and we are warning everyone about the repercussions of a strike, including the deterioration of chances of a political settlement.”

In the meantime, Syrian ambassador Ali Abdel-Karim Ali, during a meeting in solidarity with Syria said “Arab reactionaries, Western colonialists an international Zionism are partners in the aggression on Syria,” adding that “Syria today is stronger and more determined than two and a half years ago, and that the Syrian army proved to the world that it was steadfast and strong, and that its focus remained on Palestine.”

He added that “Syria is confident that it will be victorious despite the losses,” adding that “the aggression does not only aim to topple Syria, but to destroy the region and maintain the security of Israel. This has become the case since the fear of Israel was broken after the 2006 war.”

Ali said “the threats have turned into fear in Israel, confusion in France, Britain and America, while they turned into determination in Syria,” adding that “the Syrian people were at the peak of their ability and steadfastness, tenacity and readiness for confrontation, and that Syria, its people and its army, were confident that they will be victorious.”