x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

Commentary on Syrian unrest's effect on Lebanon

Arabic language newspapers comment the moral war against Qaddafi, Syrian claims that Palestinians are behind unrest, and the red herring of "intruders" in Arab revolutions.

Syrian unrest is bound to affect Lebanon

In his article for the Lebanese Assafir daily, the columnist Satea Noureddin commented on the ongoing events in Syria from a Lebanese perspective.

"Since history confirms that reform in Syria is extremely difficult and could possibly backfire, it would be wise for the Lebanese to remain completely silent and deal with the Syrian events as if they were happening in Venezuela. Otherwise, history would not spare any of the Lebanese, those who follow Damascus and those who have gone astray from it.

Security is a serious matter. The hotheads on the Lebanese scene could lead the country into disaster, whether they think change in Syria would be beneficial or detrimental to their interests. A worse likelihood would be that some Lebanese officials would get involved in the battle with the Syrian regime or its opponents. The price of such involvement would be too costly for Lebanon's stability that is inherently related to Syria's. Syria's conflict is internal; no assistance or otherwise from Lebanon could change its course or deviate it from its natural trajectory.

"Security unrest is looming on the Lebanese horizon. It will be a natural consequence of the exceptional Syrian events. But unrest can be easily contained as long as neutrality is observed in relation to the situation in Damascus. Whatever the outcome in Syria, a new history will be in the writing for Lebanon."


Syria: Palestinians are no scapegoats

"We don't know on what grounds Dr Buthaina Shaban, the political and media advisor to the Syrian president Bashar Assad, accused the Palestinians of instigating the violent protests that took place two days ago in the seaport city of Latakia, leaving 12 people dead and dozens injured," wrote Abdelbari Atwan, the editor-in-chief of the pan-Arab Al Quds al Arabi newspaper.

"What we are certain of, however, is that this strategy of pinning the blame on a 'non-local' scapegoat is not only hopeless, it is also counter-productive."

Though Palestinians are "guests" in Syria, it is practically impossible to tell the guest from the host in the country. They share the same language, customs and facial features with their Syrian brothers and have never felt like strangers.

"The Palestinians have no real grievance against their host. And the repressive measures of the Syrian state security apparatus are, at times, likely to be harsher on Syrians than Palestinians, precisely because the latter have no stake in toppling the regime."

For his part, Mazen Hammad, a columnist with the Qatari newspaper Al Watan, noted: "The Palestinians would not even consider being involved in those events in Syria, because there is nothing in it for them. It is surprising that Buthaina Shaban, a smart, talented adviser, should fall for the antics of the intelligence and security forces."


A moral war to drive out Qaddafi

In addition to the military measures that the alliance states have imposed in Libya, France and Britain have also been practicing a form of moral pressure on the Col Qaddafi and his followers, declared the Emirati newspaper Akhbar al Arab.

On one hand, they are talking about securing an exit for Col Qaddafi and his family to a safe exile destination, while on the other hand, they addressed an ultimatum to his supporters to abandon him before it's too late.

The first method agrees with the African initiatives seeking a political and peaceful solution for the Libyan crisis by ensuring Qaddafi's departure in a way that stops bloodshed. This would allow for a new system of rule and a new constitution that fulfils aspirations for a democratic state.

Col Qaddafi would be wise to take up this offer while the alliance states are keen on keeping him and his children alive in order to stop the violence.

The military operations are soon to arrive in Tripoli where the colonel and his supporters are positioned, although these supporters are realising that theirs is a losing battle and that their safest bet would be to join the ranks of the opposition that is steadily closing in on the capital.

With some measure of realism and objectivity, Col Qaddafi could save Libya from certain destruction, especially since he knows that he cannot resist international resolutions.


Everyone is an intruder in the Arab revolution

Since the surge of mass protests and revolutions in the Arab world, the Arab people have been warned by their governments against "intruders" who intend to "destabilise peace and stability" and "wreak havoc", wrote Jameel al Diyabi in the opinion pages of the London-based newspaper Al Hayat.

"I wonder if, in the mind of these governments, 'intruders' are human beings or rather mercurial creatures coming from outer space or the e-cosmos?"

When the protests gained momentum in Tunisia, the toppled president Zine el Abidine Ben Ali referred to a bunch of "intruders" commissioned by foreign parties who were jealous of Tunisia's prosperity.

Similarly, the ousted Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak said in one of his last speeches that thousands of "intruders", trained abroad, were pulling the strings of the unrest in Egypt.

And now that the Syrian streets are heating up and the authorities have started to use the same "intruder" rhetoric, young Syrian protesters quickly launched a Facebook group called "I am Intruder".

Indeed, state security fear-mongering has lost its effect on the Arab people - they actually joke about it now.



* Digest compiled by The Translation Desk