No Peace In Lebanon Unless its border with Syria is patrolled by UN Deterrent Forces
By: Elias Bejjani

September 23/08

It is quite clear to any observer of Lebanese and Middle Eastern affairs that Lebanon’s core problem, as well as its derivatives and complexities, is mainly
due to its oppressive neighbor Syria, specifically in the mentality of its rulers who are detached from reality and who lack both insight and discretion,
contrary to reason and logic. They are unable to comprehend the changes in the balance of power which followed the dismantling and fall of the Soviet Union.
The Syrian regime insists on behaving as if it were a regional power, a role that has been revoked by the international community after the overthrow of Saddam
Hussein’s regime and the suppression of the Baath throughout the region.

Driven by this illusion, the rulers of Damascus obstinately refuse, till this hour, to deal with Lebanon on the basis of an independent sovereign state. They idiotically reject the delineation of common borders, as well as the establishment of formal diplomatic relations between the two countries. They continue to smuggle arms and men to their Lebanese and Palestinian militias which they planted and nurtured to inhibit the rise of a Lebanese state that could exert its authority through its own national forces. The Syrian regime is also spreading incitement and sedition and is working hard to turn the Lebanese against each other and spread divisions amongst them.

Therefore, the cornerstone in any effort to reconstitute the Lebanese State lies first and foremost in the control of the Syrian-Lebanese borders via well armed international forces in sufficient numbers and with a clear mandate to use all ways and means of deterrence.

It is equally important at this juncture not to place the command of these international forces under the Lebanese government because, despite recent reforms,
the State administration and practices are still an extension of Syrian influence along with its militias, intelligence network, and political organizations. The
Lebanese security administration at Beirut International Airport is the best example of the “Syrianization” of Lebanese institutions. The Lebanese government has been up until today unable to change the security apparatus at the country's only civilian functional commercial airport that is greatly infiltrated by Hezbollah and other Lebanese parties loyal to Damascus.

The fierce opposition by Hezbollah and other old-new pro-Syrian Lebanese parties and officials, including the  Lebanese Syrian-appointed president, General Emile Lahoud, to the deployment of international forces along the Syrian-Lebanese borders has been both obvious and expected. They will  with no doubt use arms to sabotage such deployment unless they sense a seriousness in the international resolutions and a willingness by the Free Nations who enacted them to use force.

Would Hezbollah and its allies stand idle while their supply lines are dissected and their mini-states, cantons and private security zones dismantled? The answer is a definite "NO".

President Assad's aid request made to European nations to help police Syria’s borders with Lebanon and stop trafficking, his verbal assurance to UN Secretary General Annan in which he committed to deploying additional Syrian troops to police the border,  his communication with the Italian Prime Minister in which he agreed to the deployment of international troops on the Lebanese side of the border, then his denial of ever making such promise the next day, and his statement that such action will be considered a hostile act against Syria,  all tell the real story of the Syrian rulers' deception and viciousness towards Lebanon.

Syrian plans are echoed by threats from Assad’s allies in Lebanon including Hezbollah cabinet members and members of Parliament, militias, Jihadists, President Lahoud and partisans against the deployment of the international forces on the borders with wicked “Sister Syria”.

All these Syrian false promises, denials, and contradictions, echoed harmoniously by its accompanying Lebanese mercenary orchestra, show with clarity that the integrity of the last Baath regime and its Lebanese tentacles is totally lacking and that it only aims to procrastinate, camouflage and outmaneuver UN Resolution 1701 to void it, then devour it.

Assuming the Syrian intentions about requesting European aid to control its frontiers with Lebanon are honest, which is doubtful, and in case the Security
Council backed by the European Union agrees to such aid, then urgent guarantees are required to impose the required military, logistic and legal controls.

Two years ago, during a recorded telephone interview addressing the insolence of Syria’s covetousness and plans against Lebanon, a prominent Lebanese exiled
leader told me: “Regardless of all efforts to save Lebanon, our Syrian neighbor can sink us in its swamps, and we shall never rest as long as the Syrian regime is in control of our destiny”. This leader added: “A successful solution consists of building a barrier between us to deter and control the Syrian regime.” In other words, that leader was calling for effective control of the Syrian-Lebanese border. Strangely and disappointingly, though, this same leader has effected a 180 degree turn on those positions and reneged on all his theses and declared convictions since his return from exile, apparently sinking in to his greedy ambitions for political
power, since he currently vehemently opposes the deployment of international forces on Lebanon's border with Syria.

The priority in this matter should focus on the international efforts and UN resolutions that were issued to control the borders with Syria militarily through international forces under Security Council authority, even if it requires the issuance of a new resolution under Chapter Seven of the United Nations Charter. As to Syria’s idea of expanding its forces and the European Union proposal to deploy “civilians” on the border is tantamount to asking the wolf to guard the sheep.

*Elias Bejjani
Chairman for the Canadian Lebanese Coordinating Council (LCCC)
Human Rights activist, journalist & political commentator.
Spokesman for the Canadian Lebanese Human Rights Federation (CLHRF)

 LCCC Web Site
CLHRF Website
*The lccc is a Federal umbrella for the following nonprofit municipal, provincial and federal Canadian registered groups:
Canadian Lebanese Human Rights Federation,  (CLHRF),  Canadian Lebanese Free Patriotic Movement (FPM-Canada), Phoenician Club of Mississauga (PCOM),/Canadian Phoenician Community Services Club (CPCSC),Canadian Lebanese Christian Heritage Club (CLCHC),World Lebanese Cultural Union (WLCU)-Canadian Chapter.