5 things you need to know about Lebanon and Syria - CNN
As the political situation in Lebanon grows increasingly volatile, the The fourth " Syria's Relations with Iraq" was published in April , and. United States Institute of Peace • hair-restore.info • Tel. The establishment of Lebanese-Syrian diplomatic ties presents the United States with. While Lebanon never severed diplomatic or trade ties with Syria, the has said Lebanon will only coordinate refugee returns with the United.
Implicit division Assad's current campaign in Aleppo will permit him to declare a kind of victory and reclaim his status as an unmovable reality.
Meanwhile, the reality in Syria is of an implicit division, "useful Syria", Kurdish Syria and the disaggregated remainder. The relationship between these parts is likely to be a disorganised and shifting array of conflict, talks, deals and infrequent humanitarian assistance. Iran stands like a shadow behind both, Hezbollah-controlled Lebanon and the Assad-controlled part of Syria.
Foreign relations of Lebanon
It is likely to be clever and play this zone with deftness, maintaining the minorities' sense of security, and even Beirut's multicultural and financial glitz and glitter. Lebanon and the land of Karagoz There is no reason to become oppressive as long as what matters, security control and the material benefits that come with it, is maintained.
However, with all that will also come cultural change. As Lebanese Shias have already taken on greater cultural dimensions of Iran via Hezbollah, so Lebanon will morph. It will slowly become less Levantine, more desert than sea. Some will see in this a return to a natural hinterland, but the political obstacles remain considerable. The large majority of Syrian refugees in Lebanon are Sunnis, ironically displacing the sectarian problems arising out of the war of Syria into Lebanon.
Ticking time bomb When combined with the existing Sunni-Shia rift in Lebanon, this can spell trouble over time for the effective Iranian control. Much has changed in Lebanese and Palestinian politics since the s, but in no respect have these changes made the management of the diaspora easier or less threatening to regional stability — quite the opposite is, in fact, the case.
For this reason alone Syria will want to maintain its policing of Lebanon. The collapse of the peace effort which I will discuss in a moment makes this objective doubly important to Damascus as it tries to equip itself for a new round of regional and inter-Arab tensions, which inevitably accompany stalemate with Israel.
Syria also needs influence among Palestinians in Syria and Lebanon as a counterweight to what is to Damascus a suspect and erratic Palestinian leadership. Arafat ended the previous intifada with the Oslo accord, an agreement Asad senior condemned and predicted would never hold. Both are dedicated to reshaping the entire region to fit their vision of true Islam — its social, political and religious dimensions. The collapse of the peace process has confronted the region with a host of dangers; most immediately, the violence in the West Bank, Gaza, inside Israel itself, and along the Israeli-Lebanese divide.
This, of course, has been true since the beginning of the Arab-Israeli conflict; what have changed as a result of the collapse of the Madrid process are perceptions, expectations and fears. The effort to achieve this, spanning nearly two decades, was an extraordinary learning process for the Syrians in terms of Israeli and American political systems. With regard to Israel, the Syrians seem to have taken away from the Madrid experience the perception that Israeli leaders are weak and unable to control a deeply divided and dangerously factious population.
Syrians seem now to believe that while Israel is the unquestioned military power of the region, it is a weak society socially and politically and, therefore, even more dangerous. In their view, the Israeli military is not clearly under the control of the government, and the Knesset is largely out of any control. The peace process did not end with a better understanding between the two sides; Syria watched five Israeli prime ministers struggle with their governments and the Knesset, seek Syrian accommodation of their unique politics, and in the end go down in election defeat or assassination.
The average Syrian still believes no matter the details of negotiations that Israel is at bottom an aggressive, expansionist country with an insatiable appetite for security — impulses held in check only by its patron, the United States. Given this, of great alarm to the Syrians is their altered understanding of the United States. Those who were involved in negotiations on the Syrian side believe they now have a clearer grasp of American political parties, the role of Congress, and the limitations of the U.
Most worrisome is the Syrian view of what happened in the final chapter of its negotiations with the United States at the summit meeting in Geneva.
Most evidence suggests Asad felt the U. America misleading the Syrians is a theme woven through their appreciation of the U. Whether this amplified distrust and reassessment will result in an alteration of Syrian security policy is uncertain.
That policy has had at its core a U. That required reasonably good working relationships with Washington. What does all this have to do with Lebanon?
Failed hopes for a peace agreement and these altered perceptions make Lebanon more important to Syria than it has ever been — as a buffer, an ally and a proxy combatant.
Hezbollah steers Lebanon closer to Syria, straining efforts to stay neutral | Reuters
Syria cannot militarily challenge Israel or even come close to constituting a threat similar to the war. But, with southern Lebanon as a proxy battleground Syria can menace Israel, and with Lebanon as an ally and buffer Damascus can feel reasonably safe from any Israeli efforts to subvert or attack Syria using Lebanese assets or territory. Most important, Damascus wants to be able to thwart any attempt by the United States and Israel to lure Lebanon into a peace arrangement disadvantageous to Syria, such as the Israeli deal with Bashir Jumayil in the s or the Oslo accords in The Taif accord did not stop the war in Lebanon.
- Lebanon–Syria relations
- 5 things you need to know about Lebanon and Syria
- Hezbollah steers Lebanon closer to Syria, straining efforts to stay neutral
Syria for the first time used its air force to bomb the presidential palace at Baabda, and Aoun had to seek refuge in the French embassy, before being forced to go to Paris, where he remains to this day. Instead of Taif, what we have now in Lebanon is a Pax Syriana. Nothing happens in Lebanon, from building roads, to the most minute issues, to the major issues, without the blessing of Damascus.
As a result of a total lack of responsibility on the part of Lebanese leaders, several postwar issues were not dealt with and are still not being dealt with.
There is the issue of militia absorption. We still have one militia, Hizballah, roaming around. Then there is the issue of war crimes and amnesty. We went from amnesia to amnesty, and the issue of what is in the past was not dealt with. There is the question of the disappeared. In Lebanon today there are, according to recent data, more than 17, Lebanese who have disappeared.
No one knows what their fate was. The most recent decision by the Hariri government was that the families of the disappeared should put their claims to compensation before the government, but there is no willingness yet to put out a list of all the disappeared, in order to have closure, to use a psychological term. Another issue is the question of reconstruction. What comes first, stones or human beings? That was a big debate in the period of the first Hariri government. It is still up in the air.
Finally, there is the question of the relationship with Syria. This was recently raised by the visit of the Maronite patriarch to the United States and the frustration he faced by not being able to meet anyone in Washington, especially of the higher levels of the administration.
By contrast, Prime Minister Hariri two weeks ago had access all over the place. Many people said he was welcomed by Powell, Bush and others because he is a billionaire rather than because he is the prime minister of Lebanon. Recently there were important documents issued in Lebanon — the Qornet Shahwan statement and the statement issued by the Democratic Forum. Both documents are calling for the implementation of the Taif accords, the withdrawal of Syrian troops from Lebanon.
Very few Sunni or Shiite Muslim leaders openly supported it. They all signed the Democratic Forum statement, but no one came out openly supporting it. Coming back to the question of policing the past, there is a selectivity in terms of putting people on trial.
Take the case of Aoun, who is in France, or take the case of the former Maronite warlord Samir Geagea, who is still in jail.
Take the case recently of the former South Lebanon Army SLA militias, who are now facing all kinds of harassment with their families in south Lebanon. Then there is the case, on the other hand, of Elias Hobeika, allegedly responsible for the infamous massacres of Sabra and Shatila, who was a member of the Lebanese government.
And then Tony Franjieh, who also had his own militia and was responsible for all kinds of war crimes. All crimes should be investigated. Add to that the issue of the morass of the Lebanese economy, which according to recent government figures has a And then there is the question of the hijacking of the political system in Lebanon. There was a system whereby the president was a Maronite Christian, the prime minister was a Sunni Muslim, and the speaker of the parliament was a Shiite, basically a kind of troika system for dividing the wealth and power.
Last but not least, the intelligence services, both the Lebanese army behind President Emile Lahoud and the Syrian mukhabarat, are pervasive throughout the country. In a multicultural society emerging from nearly two decades of war and situated in a politically volatile region, the task of policing the past is extremely difficult.
Many Lebanese individuals and groups have been calling for a truth and reconciliation commission. A month ago, there was a conference on memory and the future in Lebanon, but unfortunately, it turned out to be an intellectual exercise. As in other wars, in the Balkans or Rwanda, the memories of violence and victimization are never fully erased.
And the Lebanese tradition of compromise — no winner and no loser — does not help in terms of getting to a process of policing the past and assigning blame for the tragic and unjust consequences of the war.
Establishing war crimes tribunals or a Lebanese truth and justice commission would be a difficult, if not impossible, task. Just look at the trial, for instance, of the Maronite warlord Samir Geagea and the current trial of the former SLA members. They were all guilty of several crimes, but they were singled out by the Lebanese state for trial and punishment largely, in the case of Geagea, because he did not play by the rules of the current political status quo.
Warlords from other communities who were responsible for equally reprehensible atrocities are today free; some even hold crucial positions in the Lebanese government. Another significant obstacle to policing the past in Lebanon is the influence of external forces: Internal healing must be rooted in the will of the Lebanese people themselves rather than manipulated or imposed by outside actors.
Since it is clearly to the advantage of outside powers occupying Lebanon to delay genuine conflict resolution and obstruct national reconciliation through policies based on divide and rule, the removal of all foreign, in this case Syrian, troops should hasten reconciliation. Last but not least is the U. The best illustration of it is the vote last week here on the Hill for cutting any economic assistance to Lebanon at this stage: I looked up on the UNRWA website yesterday, and it says, as of June 30,there areregistered refugees out a total of 3, throughout the Middle East.
The actual number of registered refugees in Lebanon from reports I see and from experts I talk to is actually smaller. So the numbers have diminished. The smallest number I have heard, which is probably too small, is ,; the highest isSome of them have become citizens of the country over the years, especially a lot of Christian Palestinians, and some are just able to work on the economy as guests in the country.
First, they cannot work in the economy. They cannot work outside the refugee camps except in two categories of work, common labor in construction and agriculture. They are not allowed to do anything else, to be a doctor, lawyer, administrator, whatever. Naturally, a number work illegally. That makes it a very different situation than in Jordan, the West Bank and Gaza.
Second, for the most part, they are not allowed to own property. Third, they cannot attend public schools. This becomes very important, because UNRWA offers public schooling for refugee children through primary school. They make an exception in Lebanon for the junior high-school level. So there are some students at that level and I think just a few at the high-school level, but it does not reflect the numbers of young people who want to go to junior high school or high school and are not being allowed to do so.
Finally, they do not have passports; they are stateless. This is in contrast to the situation of the Palestinians in Jordan, the vast majority of whom have passports and can travel as Jordanian citizens.
In Syria they do not have passports but travel papers, and that is an impediment. This is not a good situation. I used to say that the situation of Palestinian refugees in Lebanon was absolutely the worst in the Middle East. What is the Lebanese political attitude towards the Palestinians?
One reads in the press time and time again that the politicians want them out; they see them as potentially disruptive. However, we do not hear much more than rhetoric. Somewhat ironically, among Arab politicians, the Lebanese are the strongest defenders of the concept of the right of return — but for negative reasons.
Fifteen or 25 years ago, you heard talk in Lebanon that the Sunnis entertained the concept of nationalizing a lot of the Palestinian refugees because they too are Sunni Muslims, in order to augment their numbers.
In many ways, the Palestinians of Lebanon made Yasser Arafat. A lot of his support came from there; he was able to organize and get money and get recruits there. Economic and justice sector assistance to Lebanon supports programs that promote workforce employability and productivity, good governance, social cohesion, and economic growth.
Assistance also supports the access to clean water and improved education services to Lebanese communities, especially those deeply impacted by the influx of Syrian refugees. Through our provision of fixed and rotary-wing aircraft, munitions, vehicles, and associated training, the Lebanese Armed Forces has greatly increased its capability as a fighting force against violent extremists.
Lebanon hosts the highest per capita number of refugees in the world, with over one million registered refugees from Syria, betweenandlongstanding Palestinians registered with the UN, and over 20, Iraqi and other refugees.
Since the start of the Syria crisis, the U. Bilateral Economic Relations Lebanon has a free-market economy and a strong laissez-faire commercial tradition.Syria - War - Lebanon - Thames Television
The Lebanese economy is service-oriented; main growth sectors include banking and tourism.