Worried Lebanese

thought crumbs on lebanese and middle eastern politics

How can Lebanon contain Syria?

Posted by worriedlebanese on 30/06/2007

syria-w1.gifSometimes geography can be quite unforgiving and quite a hassle. Since Syria’s independence, its successive governments have shown that they could “contain” Lebanon by closing their borders. A couple of years later (by the late 1950s) the Syrian governments discovered that they could play an active role in Lebanon by arming some of its groups: first Rachid Karame and Kamal Jumblatt’s thugs; then some groups within the PLO, starting in the late 1960s; then Mussa Sadr’s militia in the 1970s, and finally Sunni and Shiite islamists in the mid 1980s… and most of the time without having to spend a dime.
What have the successive Lebanese governments done to prevent those actions up to now? Nothing other than protesting, most of the time discretly and now very loudly, accusing the Syrian President (which is more than likely) of being behind the past political assassinations, bombings and attacks.
“We fight with our words”, said a Lebanese politician a couple of months ago… “our voice is our only weapon”, said another. Sadly enough, for once, these politicians are speaking their minds. The very corrupt and murderous political class we have is now conviced that words are weapons, and that they can actually do everything with words.
It is true that words in politics can have important consequences, but they certainly do not replace deeds and political actions.
Will the deployment of UN troups prevent Syria from intervening in Lebanon? Certainly not. Not more than the UNIFIL has prevented the launching of rockets from Lebanon to Israel. So what can? Maybe the quintuple D.
Diplomacy: The Lebanese government has joined an international axis so as to “counter” Syria. This has left little room for diplomacy. What has the Lebanese government done to try to seperate the Iranians from the Syrians? What has it done to try to convince the Turks to stick with the Lebanese, or the Jordanians, or the Iraqis?
Democracy (concensual democracy): Lebanese democracy is based on intercommunal understanding, and equality between all groups, it’s by showing that element that it can discredit other regimes that do not follow these principles. How come there is no Alawite in government?
Deliberation (public deliberation): Lebanon should strengthen public liberties and free speech, and encourage the Lebanese media to adress the Syrian population and public. Up to now, the Lebanes politicians have been attacking the Syrian government in general terms and the Syrian population has been reading this as xénophobia towards them (with some help from the Syrian government). What steps has the government taken to prevent or even to reverse that?
Discretion: If the Lebanese sees the Syrian government as a threat, does it necessarily have to voice it. Wouldn’t it be better to try to use counter-intelligence or to develop a strategy to try to pressure the Syrian government without offending the Syrian people.

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