ITS TIME LEBANON SHOULD CLAIM WHAT IT OWNS

For several days till yesterday, huge crowds waving the colors red, green and white gathered in the main streets of Beirut and crying freedom like the children of a lost country that they are. Soon enough, the loud reverberating voices of those who covet freedom so impassionedly resulted to what could be the beginning of the restoration of Lebanon, a country that is in constant turmoil even as we speak. The protest action was instigated by the assassination of former Lebanese President Rafik Hariri in the middle of last month and many blamed the pro-Syrian government for the cause of the killing. The crowd grew bigger by the day until the streets were covered in red, green and white—the colors of the Lebanese flags being waved by thousands of protesters. With great passion echoing in the streets of Beirut, it is now being compared to the recent “Orange Revolution” in Ukraine.

On Monday, the government of erstwhile Prime Minister Omar Karami quit and effectively made way to the coming of a new hope for a lasting peace in a land long battered by a cruel fifteen-year civil war as well as intermittent conflicts with and among its immediate neighbors from down south and to its eastern border—Israel and Syria.

Karami said that he was stepping down “in order to give way for peace”. He had been blamed for the continued presence of Syrian forces in the capital city of Beirut and opposition leaders there believed him to be influenced heavily by Syria.

With repeated chants of “Out Syria!” and pressures from both U.S. President George W. Bush and French President Jaques Chiraq, the government of Karami finally bowed to the intense call shortly after a heated and prolonged debate in the parliament.

Lebanon had been for long time a pawn in the battles waged against each other by its neighbors. Aside from the Syrian military presence within the capital city of Beirut, Israeli forces have also held a portion of its southern territory, which the latter had occupied in the middle of the 90’s after Palestinian armed militants used the area as a staging point for bombardment into the Galilee region of Israel.

Under the Ta’if Accord of 1989, Syria was to pull out all its troops in Beirut at the soonest time possible, but it justifies its continued presence there on the ground of a weak internal security attendant in Lebanon, which it says the hastily formed Lebanese army could not handle effectively. Any trouble in Lebanon may gravely harm Syrian interest, the justification further stated.

In my view, this is a lame excuse from Syria while it hides its real purpose in trying to control Lebanon. Syria continues to be irrationally antagonistic to the State of Israel as if it still lives in the past and could not accept Israel being there even when years and years have already gone by. By controlling Lebanon, Syria might have the notion of continually harassing Israel down south while at the same time continuing to unduly support and harbor extremist-leaning Palestinian militants who take refuge in the southern part of Lebanon. The establishment of a full Palestinian state may be harder to materialize if suicide bombers continue to jeopardize every peace treaty there is, time and time again. I am not accusing Syria of involvement in these ungodly activities, but events in the past strongly suggested that they are more inclined to harbor and arouse these kinds of ungodly acts by keeping a blind eye to these notorious militants operating just under their noses.

At the same time, Israel should try its best to get out of the southern territories. It’s time that Lebanon should get what it owns.
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