Sunday, January 27, 2008

Syrian-Iranian Intervention in Lebanon


In a January 16, 2008 editorial in the London daily Al-Sharq Al-Awsat, the paper's editor-in-chief, Tariq Alhomayed, called on Arab League member states, and especially on Saudi Arabia and Egypt, to stop the Syrian-Iranian intervention in Lebanon, as well as in Palestine, Iraq and the Gulf. Alhomayed also argued that the Arab League should change the venue of its planned March 2008 Damascus summit, and should take a firm position vis-à-vis Syria, even to the point of enacting economic measures against it.
The following are excerpts from the article, as it appeared in the English edition of Al-Sharq Al-Awsat. [1]

"There Is an Obligation for Concrete and Effective Arab Intervention, Rather Than American or European Intervention [in Lebanon]"

"Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak has warned that the Lebanese presidential crisis and its repercussions will continue, especially in light of the failure of the American and European initiatives. The president also stated that the Arab initiative is the only option that remains, and stressed that "if it is not implemented, everyone will wash their hands of Lebanon. [Then] the country would be lost and no one can know what its future will be."

"Does the failure of the initiatives point towards abandoning Lebanon, or does it justify an intervention to end Lebanon's chronic crisis? My conviction is that there is an obligation for concrete and effective Arab intervention, rather than American or European intervention.

"Intervention does not mean retaliating by explosions and by dragging the country into wars; there are other, more effective, forms of intervention, and it is within the Arab League's capacity to play this role through the influential Arab states, with Saudi Arabia and Egypt at the forefront."

"It is Absurd to Govern an Arab State from Another Arab Capital"

"The party responsible for the crisis in Lebanon must pay the price. It is absurd to govern an Arab state from another Arab capital; there is no such thing as a good or bad occupation. A few weeks ago, Syrian Vice President [Farouq al Shar'] announced that his country's presence in Lebanon is stronger than it had ever been [before] and that the 'friends of Damascus' in Beirut are stronger than [ever] before - can there be a more blatant confession that Syria is behind the Lebanese crisis?

"Moreover, a few days ago, the 'divinely victorious' [2] Hassan Nasrallah, who is supposedly Lebanese, defended Iran and the role that it plays in the region. They all audaciously declare their victory without having to pay the price for it - [a price] which is rending Lebanon in two.

"Therefore, the Arab League and its member states must have an effective and influential role. Just as the member states of the Arab League [previously] toured the world to put an end to the Israeli aggression against Lebanon, after Hassan Nasrallah dragged the entire country into a war without prior warning (and the Gulf States, Europe and America pledged to reconstruct the damage and after the death of 1,100 Lebanese citizens) - there must [now] be powerful intervention to protect a member-state of the Arab League [namely Lebanon].

"We thought that the Arab League's position following the liberation of Kuwait would form a basis for countering Arab-to-Arab aggression; however, what we are witnessing in Lebanon today is the exact opposite."

"We Must Not Wait for American or European Intervention"

"What Lebanon needs today is not an Arab military intervention against Syria or Iran; rather, it needs to employ all legitimate means to end all Syrian-Iranian intervention.

"There must be an announcement declaring that the Arab summit will be moved away from Damascus. This must be followed by a strict political position vis-à-vis Syria that should be escalated even on an economic level - should it refuse to desist from interfering in the affairs of independent Arab states. Additionally, [Syria's] close ties with [Iranian President Mahmoud] Ahmadinejad must be reviewed, so that it will have to pay a price for them.

"The Arabs must take a clear stance; we must not wait for American or European intervention. In such a case, Nasrallah and his aides will attack the West, and accuse everyone of treason, except themselves.

"Lebanon's plight stems from those who govern it from abroad and those who seek to impose a Syrian-Iranian guardianship upon it, which would be disastrous for Lebanon and for Arab national security.

"But this intervention is not confined to Lebanon alone. It extends to the Palestinians, the Iraqis and the Gulf States as well.

"There must be effective Arab intervention [to end it]."

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