Click amount to donate direct to CounterPunch
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $500
  • $other
  • use PayPal
DOUBLE YOUR DONATION!
We don’t run corporate ads. We don’t shake our readers down for money every month or every quarter like some other sites out there. We provide our site for free to all, but the bandwidth we pay to do so doesn’t come cheap. A generous donor is matching all donations of $100 or more! So please donate now to double your punch!
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The Politics of Lebanon

The Independent
Never before has it happened in Lebanon. Since the Syrian army entered the country in 1976–just a year after the start of the 15-year civil war, at the request of Lebanese Christian Maronites–there has been no public debate about the presence of thousands of Syrian troops here, nor the suffocating political grip which Damascus has maintained over the Beirut government.

But last year’s United Nations Security Council Resolution 1559, demanding the withdrawal of foreign troops, and an aggressive US policy towards Syria, has suddenly released a tide of resentment and debate. Even Walid Jumblatt, the Druze leader and a hitherto reliable ally of Syria, now says that Lebanon is the last satellite country on earth.

The Lebanese are stunned. They know that the regional tour of the US neo-conservative deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage, with his demands for a Syrian withdrawal and the disarmament of the anti-Israeli Hizbollah militia, is part of Israel’s agenda in Lavant. A weakened Syria, along with a pliant Lebanon without any anti-Israeli forces on its border, is almost as pleasant for Washington and its Israeli friends as an emasculated, American-dominated Iraq.

Syria’s supposed support for the Iraqi insurgency–another of Mr Armitage’s griefs–has a special irony. It was Lebanese rebel General Michel Aoun’s alliance with Saddam Hussein in 1990 that originally inspired the US to support Syria’s destruction of Aoun’s statelet.

But Syria’s control of Lebanon has become as tired and as blatant as the Soviet Union’s domination of the Warsaw Pact. The successful attempt by pro-Syrian President Emile Lahoud to add three years to his presidency was too much. Lebanese newspapers, which had confined their criticism of Syria to news agency dispatches written in Europe or America, suddenly editorialised their suspicions of Damascus in a way that must have shocked Syria as much as their readers. “Damascus must review its policies on Lebanon–immediately,” demanded the Daily Star. On 13 December the so-called Democratic Forum including Christian and left-wing groups and Mr Jumblatt’s Druze party denounced the interference “of the Syrian and Lebanese intelligence services which have transformed Lebanon into a police state”.

Almost immediately, offices of the Syrian Mukhabrat intelligence services were closed in Beirut and Syrian forces in the mountains above the city were redeployed.

Syria’s presence has never been as pernicious as Israel’s occupation of southern Lebanon, which ended in 2000, but the Christian Maronite community–which failed to oppose Israel’s 1978 and 1982 invasions–has always claimed to lead Lebanon’s opposition to Syrian tutelage. Syria’s constant demand that Israel abide by UN resolutions, most notably 242 which demands an Israeli withdrawal from the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip, makes the current crisis all the more dangerous. Can Syria insist on Israel abiding by UN resolutions while ignoring 1559? There are those here who believe that the young President Bashar Assad has failed to grasp how serious is the Lebanese demand, and the UN resolution, for Syrian withdrawal.

Christian Maronites suspect that real Syrian power in Lebanon is exercised by the head of Syrian military intelligence, General Rustom Ghazali rather than the Syrian President. Syrian intelligence agents move easily among the one million Syrian “guest workers in Lebanon” but the Lebanese have long memories.

Walid Jumblatt’s father, Kamal, resisted Syria’s overtures at the start of the civil war and was assassinated. Mr Jumblatt’s close aide and friend, Marwan Hamade, was the target of a car bomb last November. He survived, but his bodyguard was killed.

Lebanese politics may appear Byzantine, even boring, but it can be deadly to the participants.

ROBERT FISK is a reporter for The Independent and author of Pity the Nation. He is also a contributor to CounterPunch’s hot new book, The Politics of Anti-Semitism.

 

More articles by:

Robert Fisk writes for the Independent, where this column originally appeared. 

Weekend Edition
October 19, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Jason Hirthler
The Pieties of the Liberal Class
Jeffrey St. Clair
A Day in My Life at CounterPunch
Paul Street
“Male Energy,” Authoritarian Whiteness and Creeping Fascism in the Age of Trump
Nick Pemberton
Reflections on Chomsky’s Voting Strategy: Why The Democratic Party Can’t Be Saved
John Davis
The Last History of the United States
Yigal Bronner
The Road to Khan al-Akhmar
Robert Hunziker
The Negan Syndrome
Andrew Levine
Democrats Ahead: Progressives Beware
Rannie Amiri
There is No “Proxy War” in Yemen
David Rosen
America’s Lost Souls: the 21st Century Lumpen-Proletariat?
Joseph Natoli
The Age of Misrepresentations
Ron Jacobs
History Is Not Kind
John Laforge
White House Radiation: Weakened Regulations Would Save Industry Billions
Ramzy Baroud
The UN ‘Sheriff’: Nikki Haley Elevated Israel, Damaged US Standing
Robert Fantina
Trump, Human Rights and the Middle East
Anthony Pahnke – Jim Goodman
NAFTA 2.0 Will Help Corporations More Than Farmers
Jill Richardson
Identity Crisis: Elizabeth Warren’s Claims Cherokee Heritage
Sam Husseini
The Most Strategic Midterm Race: Elder Challenges Hoyer
Maria Foscarinis – John Tharp
The Criminalization of Homelessness
Robert Fisk
The Story of the Armenian Legion: a Dark Tale of Anger and Revenge
Jacques R. Pauwels
Dinner With Marx in the House of the Swan
Dave Lindorff
US ‘Outrage’ over Slaying of US Residents Depends on the Nation Responsible
Ricardo Vaz
How Many Yemenis is a DC Pundit Worth?
Elliot Sperber
Build More Gardens, Phase out Cars
Chris Gilbert
In the Wake of Nepal’s Incomplete Revolution: Dispatch by a Far-Flung Bolivarian 
Muhammad Othman
Let Us Bray
Gerry Brown
Are Chinese Municipal $6 Trillion (40 Trillion Yuan) Hidden Debts Posing Titanic Risks?
Rev. William Alberts
Judge Kavanaugh’s Defenders Doth Protest Too Much
Ralph Nader
Unmasking Phony Values Campaigns by the Corporatists
Victor Grossman
A Big Rally and a Bavarian Vote
James Bovard
Groped at the Airport: Congress Must End TSA’s Sexual Assaults on Women
Jeff Roby
Florida After Hurricane Michael: the Sad State of the Unheeded Planner
Wim Laven
Intentional or Incompetence—Voter Suppression Where We Live
Bradley Kaye
The Policy of Policing
Wim Laven
The Catholic Church Fails Sexual Abuse Victims
Kevin Cashman
One Year After Hurricane Maria: Employment in Puerto Rico is Down by 26,000
Dr. Hakim Young
Nonviolent Afghans Bring a Breath of Fresh Air
Karl Grossman
Irving Like vs. Big Nuke
Dan Corjescu
The New Politics of Climate Change
John Carter
The Plight of the Pyrenees: the Abandoned Guard Dogs of the West
Ted Rall
Brett Kavanaugh and the Politics of Emotion-Shaming
Graham Peebles
Sharing is Key to a New Economic and Democratic Order
Ed Rampell
The Advocates
Louis Proyect
The Education Business
David Yearsley
Shock-and-Awe Inside Oracle Arena
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail