ISSN 2330-717X

Distancing Lebanese Style – OpEd


By Abdul Rajman Al-Rashid

The Lebanese authorities are very excited after they stopped a ship they claim was loaded with arms and on its way to the rebels in neighboring Syria. The authorities said Lebanon was determined to try all those responsible. The minister of defense pledged not to allow any tampering with the ongoing investigations in the case. The president said he would fight the violators.

It was said that the ship arrived in Lebanon with arms from Libya. However, not a single piece of weapon went out of the ship or was used in the Lebanese territories but the ship has become an issue.

Lebanon claims to be adopting a policy that entered into the lexicon as “distancing.” This means adopting a neutral stand vis-à-vis the Syrian revolution. However, this official neutrality was only used to evade denouncing the crimes being committed by the Syrian regime and stay away from being questioned by the Arabs and the Syrian people regarding the country’s attitude toward the revolution.

The Lebanese authorities, in fact, were not neutral when it came to the service of the Syrian regime. Lebanon did not keep itself distanced when it came to the Libyan ship. It did not act like Turkey, which caught the Atlantic Cruise loaded with Iranian weapons on its way to the Syrian region. The Turks released the ship and closed down the case file. Contrary to this, Lebanon made the ship an issue and is following up the details of the case much more than the Assad regime itself, which is not pursuing the arms smugglers as the Lebanese officials.

To unravel the contradictions in the Lebanese attitude, we make a simple comparison. Lebanon was not neutral when it arrested a number of Syrian soldiers who crossed its territories and returned them back to face death in gross violation of the international law.

Lebanon remained neutral when it kept mum when the Syrian and Iranian embassies kidnapped dissidents from the streets of Beirut. We have not heard about any efforts made by the Lebanese security and military forces or the presidency to investigate the kidnapping of Ahvaz Arabs and the Syrians in Beirut.

If Lebanon had the option to distance itself from what was going on in Syria we would be happy, but we are sure it cannot. The fighters, whether individuals or governments, would not stop using the Lebanese territories and waters. Geographically, Syria is surrounding Lebanon from three directions.

Lebanon is claiming to be neutral, but in fact it is completely partial. It has been openly siding with the Syrian regime. Keeping silent about the crimes being committed by the Syrian regime has no other meaning than that Lebanon is completely supporting it. More than that, Lebanon has enabled the Syrian regime to use its potential to chase the Syrian freedom fighters.

This enthusiasm by the Lebanese officials to please Damascus will not help the staggering Syrian regime. It will also upset the other governments in the Gulf and the West and infuriate the Arab masses who are eager to see the downfall of Assad’s regime. These countries, which Lebanon will unnecessarily annoy, are more important to it politically and commercially than Syria.

Lebanon will be a major station for the political events in Syria regardless of any developments or how these events might end.

If Lebanon is really neutral on incidents in Syria, it should prove it. If it wants to remain aloof and distanced, it should prevent both Syrian sides from using its territories or at least keep a blind eye about their practices.

Despite all this, the Lebanese people should actually support change in Damascus and back the toppling of the regime, which wrecked Lebanon and tore it apart by wars and interventions over more than 40 years. The Syrian regime did not shy away from looting the money of the Lebanese people and their banks. In its very essence, the Syrian revolution may be an expression of an old Lebanese demand of salvation from this military regime.

It is certain that the downfall of the Assad regime will not liberate the Syrians alone but Lebanon as well.

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Arab News

Arab News is Saudi Arabia's first English-language newspaper. It was founded in 1975 by Hisham and Mohammed Ali Hafiz. Today, it is one of 29 publications produced by Saudi Research & Publishing Company (SRPC), a subsidiary of Saudi Research & Marketing Group (SRMG).

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