In a press conference last week with his visiting Belgian counterpart, Karel De Gucht, Syria’s foreign minister Walid Moallem was asked about the possibility of stationing international troops on the Lebanese border with Syria. The Syrian foreign minister repeated a threat he made several months ago, in which he said "Syria would close its border with Lebanon" in such a case. "Why would you want to establish an international control on the border between Syria and Lebanon" he asked during the news conference. "That is a sign that the West wants a state of war between the two."
It seems the Syrian dictatorship has lost the last remnant of mental faculties and is unable to articulate logical or cohesive responses. How could international troops deployed with a defensive mandate of border monitoring, cause a war? In fact, they would be implementing International law dictated in UN Security Council resolution 1701 which ordains an arms embargo on Hezbollah and the respect of Lebanon’s sovereignty. In the meanwhile incidents of confiscations of Syrian-smuggled weapons by the Lebanese army are multiplying. Israel has also complained and produced evidence of ongoing arms smuggling from Syria to Hezbollah forces in violation of SCR 1701.
The Syrian Baath regime is in effect threatening Lebanon with an open war if Lebanon seeks the protection of the International community. Such insolent and criminal threats are well in character with Syrian history. Syria is in fact, already engaged in an indirect war against Lebanon through Hezbollah. It aims to destroy the Lebanese state institutions, economy, cleanse it people, and ultimately defeat and reverse the Cedars Revolution. Today, the world community sees in perfect clarity this ugly Syrian behavior. The world has also reached a final conclusion that there cannot be a diplomatic solution with the current Syrian regime of assassins.
Assad’s border closure will be a blessing in disguise for Lebanon. It will stop arms smuggling and terrorist infiltrations into the country, and safeguard Lebanese capital from flowing illegally into Syria. Excellent! We will finally achieve better security and become more prosperous in the process. We Lebanese should immediately become more motivated to do the obvious and honorable, and that is to make a wholehearted peace with Israel. We need to end, once for all, and permanently, for the sake of all children, this futile bleeding conflict we were pushed into on behalf of the anti-civilization forces. We have lost 60 years of our lives, our brightest have emigrated, our country is ravished, left at the crossroad of partition, fighting for its life.
Peace with Israel should bring rich rewards to Lebanon. It will permanently stabilize our society and firmly commit us into the international peace camp with firm security and bountiful prosperity. We will discover a democratic neighbor and a rich culture forbidden to us for 60 years by tyrannies. Why should we call Israel an enemy when our generations have not even met? We need to break free from the programming and indoctrinations of the ancient Arab iron curtain. We need to move ahead of the crowd, motivated only by our national interest and our genuine desire for peace.
Peace with Israel along with achieving high standards of democracy and human rights would mean Lebanon’s entry into the European Union even prior to Turkey. It would bring us under NATO’s military protection and would permanently usher stability and prosperity to our homeland. Just observe how Eastern Europe is flourishing today thanks to the stability provided by the EU and NATO.
Peace with Israel means opening new trade and shipping routes southward, with and through Israel, then to Jordan and Egypt, nations with open border and honored peace treaties with Israel, and on unto other Gulf and African markets. Let the Syrian dictatorship keep its borders closed for ever, we would not care the least at that point.
Peace with Israel means economic cooperation, massive foreign investments, joint ventures, cultural exchanges, and faster economic development for Lebanon. Our Phoenician civilization carries thousands of years of expertise in trade and the entrepreneurial spirit. Our past glory was due to our openness to all cultures, and our genius in creating win-win relationships with all people.
Peace with Israel would enhance our understanding, appreciation, tolerance, even cordiality between our people. We could become best friends, even allies in this global peace camp.
All these beautiful possibilities are threatened by the current, bloody Syrian dictatorship. There will be no peace for Lebanon, and by consequence none for Israel, unless the Assad dictatorship is defeated, or brought to justice, for its crimes against humanity. The only hope for Free Lebanon is in a democratic and humane Syrian society which acknowledges its ugly past, asks forgiveness, reforms itself, and behaves as a decent neighbor.