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Tripoli: Like a Decaying Tooth! - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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As usual, there are those who attempt to justify the Syrian presence in Lebanon just as there are those who try to criticize from afar whenever the matter is related to Syria, knowing that Syria’s isolation and troubles are apparent. All that we are seeing are attempts to break that isolation.

Some sought to interpret the Syrian president’s comments regarding Tripoli as a sign of anxiety or eagerness to keep matters calm, in that the Syrian president wants to keep his Lebanese counterpart sweet. Others see that real terrorism exists in Tripoli and that what is happening in north Lebanon is a result of mistakes committed by the March 14 Alliance.

On July 2, 2008, I wrote an article entitled ‘Hezbollah’s Revenge,’ in which I stated that the Iranian-affiliated Hezbollah wants to involve Syria in Tripoli by igniting a confrontation between the Alawites and the Sunnis and I still believe that this is the case. During that period, Syrian officials, including the Syrian president, commented on the conflicts between the Sunnis and the Alawites of Jebel Mohsen saying that these clashes would not have any impact on Syria. [Syrian Foreign Minister] Mr. Walid al Muallem repeated this point particularly after the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood issued a statement condemning the actions of the Alawites in Tripoli.

What has changed today and why are the Syrians speaking openly about the danger of Tripoli? An informed source on the events in Tripoli told me, “The Syrians are trying to turn the tables and to kill more than two birds with one stone. They stand by the Alawites and they are returning to Lebanon in accordance with international understanding, especially that Damascus endorsed Turkish intervention in Iraq and Russian intervention in Georgia.”

My source added that this way, Syria has struck a blow towards the Sunnis in Tripoli and is facing Hezbollah eye to eye, with which it will deal pragmatically, and it has returned to Lebanon as a guardian of security and stability.

This is also my belief. The Syrians are not in a position to give advice, which is what they are doing according to some of their supporters in Lebanon, and the error was not committed by the March 14 Alliance as some frequently claim. There are those who want the Beirut coup to be completed and to have an effect on the voting of the people of the north in any way in preparation for the upcoming elections.

This analysis is based on the interpretation of Hezbollah’s conduct in the wake of the Beirut coup; ever since the Doha Summit, the statements of those who fund the party have always focused on the idea that what has been accomplished on the ground so far must be upheld. We all know that what has been achieved on the ground is the Beirut coup and the domination of Iranian-affiliated Hezbollah in Lebanon with the power of arms of course.

We must also remember, of course, that the facts reveal that Syria is negotiating with Israel and these will transform into direct talks, one of the most important articles of which will be Hezbollah’s weapons and Syria’s ties to the party. I assume that the observer will not forget that Imad Mughniyeh was assassinated in Damascus!

Tripoli feels humiliation for what happened during the May 7 coup and I will never forget when I met one of its leaders after the invasion, a composed man, who was uncharacteristically furious.

Therefore Tripoli is like a painful and sensitive tooth that has suddenly been subjected to hot and cold water. The hot and cold water are Syria and Hezbollah and both seek to increase its pain and would not mind if it had to be removed. As for the rational individuals, they seek a cure for the painful tooth for the sake of good health since one cannot eat without it.

Tariq Alhomayed

Tariq Alhomayed

Tariq Alhomayed is the former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat. Mr. Alhomyed has been a guest analyst and commentator on numerous news and current affair programs, and during his distinguished career has held numerous positions at Asharq Al-Awsat, amongst other newspapers. Notably, he was the first journalist to interview Osama Bin Ladin's mother. Mr. Alhomayed holds a bachelor's degree in media studies from King Abdul Aziz University in Jeddah. He is based in London.

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