Thursday, March 03, 2005

More grief for Syria

Russia and Germany have become the latest countries to call for Syria to withdraw its forces from Lebanon reports the Daily Telegraph. Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov acknowledged the dangers involved, saying that
"Syria should withdraw from Lebanon, but we all have to make sure that this withdrawal does not violate the very fragile balance which we still have in Lebanon, which is a very difficult country ethnically."
Gerhard Schroder, the German Chancellor added his voice to the calls for withdrawal:
"Lebanon should be given an opportunity for sovereignty and development and this can only be achieved by compliance with Security Council resolutions."
Meanwhile President Bush reiterated America's position yesterday: the world, Bush said,
"is speaking with one voice when it comes to making sure that democracy has a chance to flourish in Lebanon."
Amidst the growing pressure from around the world, Assad is trying to make the withdrawal contingent on the resumption of peace talks with Israel. When all we have to do is sit back and watch you skulking back to Damascus with your tail between your legs, why on earth would we present you with a gift that you can present as a victory? We'll talk peace when we want to - not so that you can save your ugly face.

If nothing else, the Syrians act as a stabilising force within Lebanon; their going will leave a vacuum which must be filled - will the Lebanese Government take responsibility or will we see a return of a "Fatah land" similar to that which led to Israel's invasion?

Given the positions of the UN, US, France and other nations, it seems that the Lebanese will be able to rely on support from the International community which will hopefully allow for stability and a degree of normalisation. If the Lebanese exercise their sovereignty to its logical extent, this would include the disarming of Hezbollah and other militias and the deployment of Lebanese forces, rather than terrorists, on the border with Israel; a situation which is far more
conducive to neighbourliness than the current one.

With proper support, another piece can be added to the ongoing process of constructing a Middle East where neighbours do business with one another, living with quiet and secure borders. It seems that we have reached the stage where this is no longer a pipe dream but a reality within our reach.


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