The Daily Star Editorial
It all started some two months ago in the wake of the completion of the Army and Hezbollah campaigns in northeast Lebanon, which pushed extremist militants out of the barrens of Arsal and nearby villages, when suddenly Hezbollah started to insinuate the necessity of starting contacts with Damascus in order to discuss “the return of Syrian refugees to safe zones in Syria.”
Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah urged the government in one his speeches to start those negotiations with the regime of a dictator whose troops repressed the Lebanese for three long decades.
Following that, the chorus started on a daily basis, with statements, interviews and speeches urging the same thing, with the added bonus of the tacit approval of the president and the FPM, represented by Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil, over and above several ministers in a Cabinet whose policy statement declares in a very clear words that Lebanon will stay neutral as far as the fighting in Syria is concerned.
Insisting on such a direction is clearly a very divisive issue and could be a time bomb for both the government and the cohesiveness of the relations among the country’s top leaders. It would also open a Pandora’s box whose only beneficiaries would be the Syrian regime the quest of its proxies in Lebanon to bring back the old days of Syrian tutelage in this country in order for them to start reaping the spoils.
This week the flagrant insistence reached a crescendo and, taking into consideration the turbulence in the country, it could be the catalyst for sinking all the progress that has been made toward unifying the country, at least in its policy of warding off foreign threats and designs.
The Lebanese remember quite well the persecution they suffered at the hands of a regime that has killed half a million of its own people, and they will resist with all their power within the Constitution to foil these attempts in order to ward off the venom that would surely follow.
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on September 29, 2017, on page 7.