Fisk: Assad’s war is moving perilously close to Lebanon


Robert Fisk wrote in his feature article in the the Independent newspaper that “President Bashar al-Assad’s war with his own Syrian people is moving perilously close to Lebanon. Indeed, over the past few days, Lebanese opposition leaders have been voicing their suspicions that the Baathist regime in Damascus – in an attempt to distract attention away from the Syrian popular uprising – is deliberately stirring sectarian tensions in a country which has only just commemorated the 36th anniversary of its own terrifying 15-year civil war, which cost 150,000 lives.”

Commenting on Hezbollah’s reaction to Syria’s accusations Fisk wrote:

“Rather more disturbing was that the Shia Hezbollah in Lebanon – the only serious militia in the country and Israel’s principal enemy here – accepted Syria’s claim that the opposition Lebanese Future Movement MP Jamal Jarrah was involved in what the Assad regime calls the “armed insurgency” in the Syrian cities of Deraa, Latakia, Banias and Aleppo. Syrian television has shown interviews with two extremely frightened men it said had been caught with weapons and one of whom had, it said, confessed to bringing money and guns into Syria on the instructions of Jarrah. The MP and his party have indignantly denied the claim, but a Hezbollah official now says that Jarrah should be brought before Lebanese justice.”

Commenting on the reaction by Syrian envoy to Lebanon Fisk said:

“So, too, has the Syrian ambassador to Lebanon, Ali Abdul Karim Ali, who visited the Lebanese foreign ministry – obviously on orders from Damascus – to demand that Jarrah be brought to justice. The Future Movement, whose leader, Saad Hariri, remains the caretaker Lebanese Prime Minister in the continued absence of a government in the country, indignantly protested that Ali’s move was Syrian interference in the internal affairs of Lebanon. Hezbollah has been busily praising – like its Iranian sponsors – the Egyptian revolution while condemning the demonstrations inside Syria.”

Commenting on Jumblatt’s reaction Fisk wrote

“So far, most Lebanese have been very careful to distance themselves from the Syrian imbroglio. The Druze leader, Walid Jumblatt, wrote in his weekly editorial in Al-Anba last week that because of his “attachment to Syria and its people and its stability”, he believed that the authorities in Damascus should “undertake an internal restructuring of their security forces” as other Arab states have already done. He has a point, of course. For it is now all too clear that the enormous hatred of the brutal mukhabarat secret police in Syria lies at the heart of the protests. On Friday, the security police opened live fire at protesters in 14 separate towns and cities across Syria – clearly a decision taken at the highest level of the regime.”

Fisk added: “It is an odd phenomenon of all the Middle East revolutions that security police gun down protesters – and then gun down mourners at the funerals, and then shoot dead mourners at the funerals of those mourners shot dead the previous day.”

Fisk concluded: The language of the regimes – of foreign plots – is falling apart; people don’t buy it any more.”