Syria Growing Role in Lebanon
By Mazen H.ABBOUD
Following the assassination of slant Prime Minister Rafic ALHARIRI, which triggered the 14th of March demonstration, the Syrians withdrew from the Lebanon humiliated. They felt betrayed by most of the Lebanese; the international community recognized the wrights of the Lebanese to self determination; thus a new period of Lebanon modern history, which was full of hopes & fears began.
However, Self determination was not enough to make a sustainable change in a country located at the heart of the Israeli- Palestinian problem; it was not enough in the Lebanon, a land of cocktail of minorities, which enjoyed too much freedom & with no accountability practices. Self determination was not enough for the land of cedars to grow & prosper; it was not enough for the new born to survive the threats of the Levant, which is the kingdom of fears & turbulent history.
The Syrians claimed that they withdrew from the Lebanon voluntarily because they did not want to pay the price reset by the changed market curve; a price they said was determined to be “disarm Hizbullah”.
Now as the Syrians are getting back to Lebanon through the international tribunal gate (making good use of the tribunal effects & implications on the fragile Lebanese dynamic equilibrium), the Lebanese are worried about the new era, which is still in the shaping process.
It is worth mentioning that the Syrians got stronger following the withdrawal of Waleed JUMBULAT from the 14th of March coalition; a step, which made the pro Syrian opposition become a majority at the parliament house.
However, Syria growing power in Lebanon should not be understood solely from Waleed JUMBULAT’s detour lens. The step was nothing but a translation of Syria developing regional & international might. As a matter of fact, the Syrians succeeded in surviving the most critical period of their history, following the assassination of ALHARIRI, due to their capabilities of absorbing shocks, their knowledge of how to make use of the weak points within the systems of the Western democracies & of the fears of friendly and hostiles regimes in the Middle East of the chaos that might result from the fall of the ALASAD’s dynasty; moreover, the Syrians made good use of their strategic position at the heart of the conflict for the Middle East.
President ALASAD knew how to normalize & develop the relations with Turkey at the optimum time, how to act in Iraq, & how to restructure his relations with Saudi Arabia, which were almost broken.
I believe that restructuring Syria relations with the kingdom of Saudi Arabia was ALASAD’s toughest job; the Syrian president knew how to make the Saudi Monarch forget the insults, by offering the king valuable information on the work of dormant Saudi cells, which were preparing to assassinate him; Islamic terrorism is indeed a mutual concerns to both states, which witnessed a rise in terrorists’ activities at almost the same time.
It is clear that the Syrians were good barters too; they offered the Americans some stability in Iraq, in exchange for economic interests & a more active role in the Lebanon & the region.
In addition, the Syrians proved to understand perfectly the Middle Eastern political Market; they knew how to leverage their relations with the Iranians, Saudis, Russians, & the west in response to the changes of supply & demand in order to optimize their national interests & viability.
On the other hand, the 14th of March could not control the Lebanese game; this is due to Lebanon hybrid democratic system, its diversity, its fragile social structure, which made it more vulnerable & receptive to foreign & regional interferences; moreover, the absence of visibility, coordination & proficiency in the 14th of March made the situation worse; as a result the Lebanon became an excellent barometer of the continuously changing relations between Syria & the other players; so almost every political move in the Lebanon should be understood in the light of the dynamicity of the region.
Finally, it seems that my country has got no leaders who got combined the visibility & the capabilities, in order to minimize the risks on its people; moreover, I do not know if stability & relative prosperity would be perfect substitutes to freedom, sovereignty, & independence; meanwhile the Lebanese is asked to eat the dishes prepared by the international & regional cuisines!!!