ArDO: Yes we want Lebanon to be the Switzerland of the East and Beirut the Paris of the East

 

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No More Excuses


 Charbel Khouri


UALM - Australia

Just last week a rather perplexing commentary was written by a former senior Middle East analyst with the CIA. The commentary was written by Martha Kessler, who has also authored a book on Syria, the editorial was titled "Danger in pushing Syria out of Lebanon". After reading the article it was with some relief to observe that she was a former senior Middle East analyst. 

While reading, one could be excused for mistaking her article for a piece of propaganda written by a pro-Syrian, Lebanese politician. It is frightening to note that people such as Martha Kessler held such high posts in the US Government. This might explain why Lebanon has been occupied for so long and it could probably explain why theevents of September 11occured.

For many years the Syrian occupation of Lebanon was falsely justified in a myriad of ways. The raison d'Ítre as to why Syria is needed in Lebanon were almost endless and while they did not make sense then, they certainly don't make sense now. Which is why it is perplexing to see a so-called expert on the Middle East, writing such utter and out dated non-sense.

In the article, Martha Kessler writes that -Syria and Lebanon have an intertwined history, geography and socio-religious fabric;
 destabilizing one could, in theory, destabilize the other. This statement is not entirely correct, While it might be true that they have a close relationship, so do many other countries who neighbour each other around the world, this does not mean that they are one country and it certainly does not mean that one country has the right to occupy the other.

Furthermore, Ms Kessler alludes to the premise that destabilising one country could destabilise the other, this argument is also incorrect. By helping to restore Lebanon's freedom, sovereignty and independence the international community is in fact stabilizing Lebanon. The stability we have now in both countries is a false one built on terror and fear, not security and peace.

Ms Kessler goes on to write that -President Hafez Assad, who had been in office only four years when Lebanon exploded, reluctantly sent troops across the border to try to recalibrate the fragile political balance between Christians and Muslims. It took Syria about 14 years to re-establish a modicum of peace in Lebanon. This explanation is false once again. Syrian dictator Hafez al Assad did not send his troops reluctantly into Lebanon in fact he declared on the steps of the University of Damascus on July 20, 1976 that "All throughout history Syria and Lebanon have been one country and this is a matter that everyone has to come to terms with..and for that reason we have given weapons and ammunition, and we have decided to enter Lebanon under the banner of the Palestine Liberation Army, and that army started deploying in Lebanon without anyone's knowledge, no political party was asked for their opinion nor was anyone else. We did not ask anyone's permission to enter Lebanon."

Therefore it is clear to see that Hafez al Assad did not send troops to stem the fighting but he sent troops to continue the fighting. Syria, as General Michel Aoun quite rightly points out, played the role of the pyromaniac fire-fighter in Lebanon -It started the fire and was called to put it out. Moreover it did not take Syria 14 years to re-establish a modicum of peace in Lebanon as Ms Kessler states, but it took Syria 28 years to fully control Lebanon under the false banner of peace. Ms Kessler's assertion that -Lebanon's tragedy finally ended in 1989 with the Taif Accord, brokered by Syria- Is comical to say the least. It can be safely said that Lebanon's tragedy became far worse as a result of the Taif accord that was imposed on Lebanon by Syria.

The premise that -the Syrians are present in Lebanon mainly to fortify themselves in the struggle with Israel (including their effort to retrieve the Golan Heights from Israeli control) - is false. The Syrians are only present in Lebanon in order to occupy it in the hope of annexing it and for no other reason. How can they retrieve the Golan Heights by occupying Lebanon? And what does having troops on 90% of Lebanese soil while controlling its political and economic affairs to say the least have to do with the return of the Golan Heights

Ms Kessler went on to say that -Lebanese leaders are more likely to accept a Syrian patron than a return of the French era or the advent of Pax Americana. Of course the Lebanese elite will accept Syria rather than the US or France. Without Syria these people would be non entities and therefore would have no wealth or power. The Lebanese politicians might want Syria but the Lebanese people surely don't, no matter what religion they are.

Again Ms Kessler fails to see the point; she states that -in the wake of nearly two decades of strife, the stability they have established even with Syrian overseers is preferable to a vague promise of future democracy. The `stability' that Syria brought is not stability in the true sense of the word, but stability through fear, intimidation and terror. The last thing the Lebanese prefer is Syrian stability.

It is fortunate for Lebanon that people such as Martha Kessler no longer have a say in its affairs. The excuses offered by Ms Kessler are outdated words aimed at appeasing rogue nations such as Syria in order to maintain the status quo. It was this policy of appeasement that brought terror and destruction not only to Lebanon but to the heart of the United States as well. Luckily for the Lebanese the Bush Administration is not making excuses and will not tolerate terrorists or the evil states that protect them. And now the US is playing a major role in helping restore Lebanon to its rightful place among the free nations of the world.

November 10/2004 

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