Lebanese and the Conflict in Syria
There should be a moratorium imposed on all Lebanese statements regarding Syria. Of course, some statements are more vulgar and more crude than others. Walid Jumblatt – as always – deserves the award for the most opportunistic shifts and transformations in a matter of months.
Here is Jumblatt, the friend, ally, and client of the Syrian regime over the decades now posing as the friend of the Syrian people (just as he posed as a friend of the Palestinian people before his close support for Israeli aggression on Lebanon in 2006 was exposed for all to see – before and after Wikileaks). Jumblatt went in one year from supporting Bashar Assad in his repression to posing as the champion of the Syrian people, and Jumblatt did that to attain Saudi forgiveness (on the day of receiving the Saudi ambassador in Lebanon, Jumblatt came up with the formula that injustice in Syria is “worse” than injustice in Palestine).
Lebanese are not qualified to comment on Syrian matters, and this applies to most people and most politicians. How could anyone take the Lebanese Forces seriously? And how can anyone take the various media outlets affiliated with them seriously (like MTV, LBC, or An-Nahar) when they pretend that they are strong supporters of Syrian protests and when they feign concern for the Syrian population?
Those same media have for years fanned the flames of racism and hatred against all Syrian people. Racism against the Syrian people – all Syrian people – have been a staple of Lebanese comedy. And how can Lebanese nationalist chauvinism be manifested except through condescension and contempt for others – notably Palestinians, Syrians, and all the foreign workers in Lebanon?
But the March 14 Movement (led by stooges of the Syrian regime for decades – with the exception of the Lebanese Forces and the Phalanges) went to extremes in demonizing the Syrian people and all things Syrian. They are responsible for the acts of murder and abuse against the Syrian workers in Lebanon which began in earnest following the assassination of Rafik Hariri. The movement openly and publicly mocked all things Syrian (the Hariri family’s daily mouthpiece, Al-Mustaqbal, specialized in the hate), and the poor Syrian street vendors were portrayed as agents of the Syrian mukhabarat, which triggered a campaign of stabbings and shootings against them.
Scores of Syrian workers have been killed in the last few years and about 700 Syrian workers have gone missing.
An American reporter in Beirut walked the streets to document the many cases of abuse against Syrian workers. The bruises on their faces told their stories but most of them were reluctant to talk to her. Neither the Syrian government nor the Lebanese government bothered to push for investigation. And the pro-Syrian March 8 coalition in Lebanon did not raise its voice in defense of the Syrian workers.
The plight of Syrian workers in Lebanon does not figure on any agenda in Lebanon or in Syria. And similarly, neither the Syrian government nor the Syrian National Council bother to bring up the issue of Syrian workers in Lebanon and their continued abuse. In fact, the Syrian National Council is now officially aligned with the coalition that sponsored and triggered attacks on Syrians in Lebanon.
It would be useful for the Lebanese people and their representatives – with the exceptions of those who championed the rights of Syrians in Lebanon – to butt out of the debate on Syria and treat themselves as intruders on the Syrian people. They have lost the right to participate on the discussion of Syrian affairs and they have no moral right to weigh in at all.