Lebanon refuses U.S. request to protect Syrians fleeing regime

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Lebanon’s foreign minister has rebuffed a call by the U.S. ambassador for the Beirut government to protect all Syrians who have fled across the border into Lebanese territory, as four more high-ranking officers have defected from the Syrian armed forces.

The diplomatic spat illustrates Lebanon’s difficulties in dealing with the crisis in its neighbor Syria, which once controlled it and still has powerful allies in its government.

U.S. envoy Maura Connelly visited Interior Minister Marwan Charbel on Tuesday and, while noting Lebanon’s right and responsibility to secure its borders, urged the authorities to protect “all disarmed Syrians, including members of the (rebel) Free Syrian Army,” according to the embassy’s website.

She also “reaffirmed the United States’ concern for the disappearance and kidnappings of Syrian nationals in Lebanon.”

Foreign Minister Adnan Mansour, who is close to the pro-Syrian Amal faction, responded sharply. “Lebanon cannot heed such a request … Lebanon does not act upon a request, but out of self-interest for the country’s security,” he said, according to Reuters.

Prime Minister Najib Mikati reinforced that rebuke, saying on his website on Wednesday that the cabinet reminds “diplomatic bodies working in Lebanon of the paramount importance of respecting the Vienna Agreement, Lebanese state institutions and laws.”

The 1961 Vienna Convention is a treaty that defines a framework for diplomatic relations, obliging diplomats to respect the laws and regulations of host states.

A U.S. embassy spokeswoman said Connelly had not been responding to specific incidents, but that her comments were consistent with the U.S. position on humanitarian law.

Lebanon has been divided over how to respond to the year-long uprising against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Many politicians have worked to contain the tensions, but former Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri raised the temperature this week when he accused Assad of leading a murderous campaign against his people.

More than 7,000 Syrian refugees have fled into northern Lebanon, according to the U.N. refugee agency.

Syrian forces intervened in Lebanon’s civil war in 1976 and remained until 2005 when an outcry over the assassination of Lebanese statesman Rafik al-Hariri forced them to withdraw.

At the time some Lebanese politicians accused Syria of being behind the killing of Hariri, father of Saad al-Hariri. A U.N.-backed special tribunal has indicted four members of the Syrian-and Iranian-backed Hezbollah group. Syria and Hezbollah deny any part in the assassination.

More defections

Meanwhile, four more high-ranking officers have defected from the Syrian armed forces and joined the year-old uprising against Assad’s rule, two rebel groups said on Thursday.

The men fled over the past three days to a camp for Syrian army deserters in southern Turkey, according to Lieutenant Khaled al-Hamoud, a spokesman for the Free Syrian Army (FSA). He told Reuters by telephone from Turkey the desertions bring to seven the number of brigadier generals who have defected.

The seven are the highest-ranking officers to abandon Assad, and the rank is the fifth highest in the Syrian armed forces. Mustafa Sheikh was the first brigadier general to announce his defection.

“We have six brigadier generals who are now in Turkey and another, who has stayed to lead some battalions inside Syria,” Hamoud said. “We plan to form an advisory council to absorb these and any other high-ranking defections and this group will plan operations for the FSA.”

A Paris-based spokesman for Sheikh’s Supreme Syrian Military Council, Fahad al-Masri, said the four recent defectors were still under the observation of Turkish authorities and their names could not yet be released.

The rebels are also concerned for the safety of the men’s families, who have not left Syria, the two spokesmen said. They said Syrian forces had arrested the family of Brigadier General Faez Amro, who fled to Turkey last month. There have been several reports of defecting officers’ relatives being killed.

The new defections also highlight tensions over the rebel command. Hamoud said the defecting officers would be advisers to the FSA, headed by its founder, Colonel Riad al-Asaad. But the other spokesman, Fahad al-Masri, said they would join Sheikh’s Military Council.

In-fighting could weaken the defectors, now a lightly armed force of 20,000 opposing the government’s almost 300,000 strong military equipped with tanks and heavy artillery.

The senior rebel officer remaining in Syria is Brigadier General Adnan Farzat, who announced his defection in a YouTube video on Tuesday, saying he objected to the intensified shelling in his home town.

He will operate in the battered Homs province, parts of which have been severely damaged during the Syrian forces’ crackdown on centers of rebellion against four decades of Assad family rule.

Al Arabiya

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Comments

24 responses to “Lebanon refuses U.S. request to protect Syrians fleeing regime”

  1. Hannibal Avatar
    Hannibal

    It is our duty to protect them… That is why we call them refugees… When are we gonna start acting as humans and not as the lesser dogs of others?

    1. kamille1 Avatar
      kamille1

      when the money spikett is turned off

  2. It is our duty to protect them… That is why we call them refugees… When are we gonna start acting as humans and not as the lesser dogs of others?

    1. kamille1 Avatar
      kamille1

      when the money spikett is turned off

  3. antar2011 Avatar
    antar2011

    i am disgusted.

    i am lebanese and this govt does not represent me.

    i hope the syrian pple understand that this joke of a govt does not represent its pple.

    1. Prophettttt Avatar
      Prophettttt

      antar, Have we ever had a government that truly represented the majority of Lebanese people?
      Historically, All Lebanese governments have represented the Lebanese people as much as -if not less -the Syrian governments or any other Arab government had represented its people.
      Yes we’ve enjoyed more freedom ,and Yes we had more freedom of expressions and more open society than Syrians and other Arabs, but at the end, we are not better off with political representations. We have been ruled by a feudal and a sectarian system which has been controlled by few royal families and a bunch of criminal warlords.
      Lebanon has been a failed state since its creation; A state, which never defended its own people or territories. For God’s sake, it never created a common national identity Why would you expect this government to protect Syrian people when it never protected its own?
      Emotions aside, the same people many Lebanese are sympathetic to now, have been treated by Lebanese as second class citizen for years. During the last seven years, Syrian people who work in Lebanon have suffered from the worst type of Racism and stereotyping at the hands of Lebanese.
      Many Syrians were assaulted, murdered, and lynched for no other reason than being Syrians. Whenever I raised these issues back then, I was accused of being a traitor, Syrian lover, and a supporter of the Syrian regime.
      I agree with you that Syrian refugees need to be treated in a humane way, and need to be provided with immediate help and shelter, but I don’t agree, as some advocate, of sheltering militants and extremists running away from the Syrian regime .But Again, look at the way Palestinian refugees are being treated. We don’t have a good track record when it comes to humanitarian treatments of our own people, let alone the refugees. The call for welcoming and helping the Syrian refugees, right now, is as political as the call to help Palestinian refugees by some Lebanese in the forties and sixties.
      We should not repeat mistakes of the past, when Lebanese agreed and allowed the PLO to operate from our territories. All Lebanese, supporters and opponents of PLO, paid heavy price for allowing non-Lebanese military groups to operate from our territories. A price we continue to pay.
      I know many Lebanese echoed your sentiments when some Lebanese, rightly so, opposed PLO’s use of our territories as launching pad against Israel, and accused other Lebanese of the worst accusations.
      I hope Lebanese are wise enough NOT to repeat these mistakes.

      1. antar2011 Avatar
        antar2011

        with all the problems the lebanese had between themselves, it is not enough reason to shut our doors to unarmed fleeing refugees….it is just not humane to do so let alone it is internationaly illegal to..
        a tent here and there with soem management of international aid coming in to the refugees should be an easy thing for lebanese govt.

        on the other hand, lets say our lebanese govt is messed up and cares less for humanity, then there is another reason to accept the refugees….if it wasn’t for the Assad regime, lebanon would have been different country altogether…this same regime these syrian refugees are fleeing from and asking it to step down in their own country…then why should we not help them eh?

        the lebanese racist barbaric treatment of syrian workers is like that of the domestic helpers from bangladesh or srilanka etc….there is racism everywhere in any country and against any person that is different… i do not accept such treatment for anyone and from anyone… these lebanese who treated the syrian workers in a criminal way should have been punished because they did not take it to the courts if they had any claim agaist those workers…i do not accept this treatment at all but i understand where it came from… you can’t take this incident that happened after 30 yrs of injustice by a few lebanese to some syrian workers as a representative of all lebanese…but even if it was the case, the hate towards these workers was because of that regime….that same regime from whom the families of these same workers are probably amongst those fleeing refugees who you don’t want them to come in to lebanon for a safe haven.

        accepting innocent refugees is one thing but accepting armed syrian free army is another. i agree we should not accept any armed organisation…we have eough loonies in our homeland who think they can rule the world we don’t need another body…but.i also think the free syrian army itself does not want a base in lebanon itself because of this stinking govt and its lebanese Assadi arse kissing shabi7a. therefore, your fear of having another PLO [syrian version] controling things in lebanon is not realistic. nor should it be an excuse not to accept refugees in lebanon because that’s the govt’s job to monitor any gunmen or arms coming in from outer border…it is as simply as having some lebanese army members on the border…

        the price we are conituning to pay today in lebanon isbecause of havnig this Assad regime alive in its homeland and medling with our own affairs…it made sure that lebanese lives became miserable ever sice its inception…the least we can do is accept innocent pple in who wanting the same thing we wanted for more then 30 years.

        put your mind to rest prophet, the sunnis in general have learned from the past…others just have to believe them rather then fear them…

        1. 5thDrawer Avatar
          5thDrawer

          Correct Antar … welcome the people who seek a peaceful viable future … free of the ‘mind-control’ they have suffered under.  Adnan Mansour is certainly a minister ‘foreign’ to that kind of thought.
          Yet Prophet is right about the pervasive thinking that goes on – and most of that from ‘the top’.
          The good people of Lebanon took in (for various reasons) refugees. The problem was in thinking they would eventually go back to wherever once whatever ‘conflict’ was resolved. And so Lebanon kept them out of the loop, and instead of attracting them to to be similarly good people and spreading them around the country with work and citizenship offered for future generations, by which means they might also become good Lebanese, they stayed ghettoized in poor camps and even intermarriage can’t win them that citizenship they need to feel a part of the country. No wonder they began to listen to the idiots of religion like Nastyrallah – who don’t care about anything more than hating Jews.
          Tent camps are a short-term relief only. Welcome them properly, and offer a place to stay out of the persecution they run from. But offer them permanence and a future as bright as possible as Lebanese. (Speaking of bright … maybe they can help find electricity …)
          We’d be better off, of course, sending Mansour and all the gun-holders away … maybe Libya would take them? (Although, I’m thinking Somalia 😉

        2. 5thDrawer Avatar
          5thDrawer

          Correct Antar … welcome the people who seek a peaceful viable future … free of the ‘mind-control’ they have suffered under.  Adnan Mansour is certainly a minister ‘foreign’ to that kind of thought.
          Yet Prophet is right about the pervasive thinking that goes on – and most of that from ‘the top’.
          The good people of Lebanon took in (for various reasons) refugees. The problem was in thinking they would eventually go back to wherever once whatever ‘conflict’ was resolved. And so Lebanon kept them out of the loop, and instead of attracting them to to be similarly good people and spreading them around the country with work and citizenship offered for future generations, by which means they might also become good Lebanese, they stayed ghettoized in poor camps and even intermarriage can’t win them that citizenship they need to feel a part of the country. No wonder they began to listen to the idiots of religion like Nastyrallah – who don’t care about anything more than hating Jews.
          Tent camps are a short-term relief only. Welcome them properly, and offer a place to stay out of the persecution they run from. But offer them permanence and a future as bright as possible as Lebanese. (Speaking of bright … maybe they can help find electricity …)
          We’d be better off, of course, sending Mansour and all the gun-holders away … maybe Libya would take them? (Although, I’m thinking Somalia 😉

        3. antar2011 Avatar
          antar2011

          5th
          their refugee status should be only temporary too. that’s y i suggested tents.
          they should not have to accept arab-israeli conflict like in syria.
          this butcher is going down soon and so their stay in lebanon is short.
          anywayz…
          who would want to stay in lebanon where basic needs [in some areas] are not met to its citizens themselves let alone to the refugees there.

          the jungles of amazon is more likely a suitable place for Mansour….Many will be happily welcoming…..especialy the ones like him….the amazon animals.

        4. Prophettttt Avatar
          Prophettttt

          antar,
          Thank you for your long reply. I see that we don’t have much disagreements. 
          We’re both for accepting and helping civilian Syrian refugees.
          We’re both against accepting and sheltering armed Syrians ,and against allowing them to have bases in Lebanon.
          We both condemn violence and racism against Syrians or another nationality and race.
          We both admit that many Lebanese treated other based on their race or  religion and originality,and that is wrong.
          We both oppose dictatorships and oppression in Syria. We may disagree on whether an armed opposition will free the Syrian people and provide them with freedom and democracy.
          My only issue with your comment is your stating in your last sentence  that”Sunnis in general have learned from the past”. I believe that you should have said  all Lebanese instead of Sunnis.
          I have  little time right now, I will update this reply later when I get the chance  to read your comment again.

      2. antar2011 Avatar
        antar2011

        prophet

        there is a sense of sunniphobia atm in lebanon which is why i posted my last statement i my post.
        i don’t like talking in such a way either but i cannot help and feel that everybody fears sunnis in lebanon so that they may go back like they used to during the civil war..while ignoring the fact that after 1990s they did everything to be united with their fellow lebanese…
        ayways all is cool…we agree on most things..so lets just concentrate on those one eh?

        cheers mate!

        1. Prophettttt Avatar
          Prophettttt

          lol Antar, It is unfortunate, but very true that sectarian vocabulary is the norm in Lebanon.
          One day the Maronites are feared, then it is the Shiia,and now it is the Sunnis.So please don’t feel like they are left out. fair is fair…. I’m SUSPECTING that Jumblat wants his turn for the Druze too.lol
           tc

          1. antar2011 Avatar
            antar2011

            they already had theirs…

            hopeless kind of fairness 😉

          2. antar2011 Avatar
            antar2011

            they already had theirs…

            hopeless kind of fairness 😉

  4. antar2011 Avatar
    antar2011

    i am disgusted.

    i am lebanese and this govt does not represent me.

    i hope the syrian pple understand that this joke of a govt does not represent its pple.

    1. Prophettttt Avatar
      Prophettttt

      antar, Have you ever had a government that truly represented the majority of Lebanese people? 

      1. antar2011 Avatar
        antar2011

        with all the problems the lebanese had between themselves, it is not enough reason to shut our doors to unarmed fleeing refugees….it is just not humane to do so let alone it is internationaly illegal to..
        a tent here and there with soem management of international aid coming in to the refugees should be an easy thing for lebanese govt.

        on the other hand, lets say our lebanese govt is messed up and cares less for humanity, then there is another reason to accept the refugees….if it wasn’t for the Assad regime, lebanon would have been different country altogether…this same regime these syrian refugees are fleeing from and asking it to step down in their own country…then why should we not help them eh?

        the lebanese racist barbaric treatment of syrian workers is like that of the domestic helpers from bangladesh or srilanka etc….there is racism everywhere in any country and against any person that is different… i do not accept such treatment for anyone and from anyone…if these few lebanese who treated the syrian workers in a criminal way should have been punished because they did not take it to the courts…i do not accept this treatment at all but i understand where it came from… you can’t take this incident that happened after 30 yrs of injustice by a few lebanese to some syrian workers as a representative of all lebanese…but even if it was the case, the hate towards these workers [who bty many were shabi7a] was because of that regime that probably the families of these workers are amogst those fleeing refugees that you don’t accept to come in to lebanon for a safe haven.

        accepting innoscent regugees is one thing but accepting armed syrian free army is another. i agree we should not accept any armed organisation…we have eough loonies in our homeland who thinks can rule the world we don’t need another body….i also think the syrian army itself does not want a base in lebanon itself because of this stinking govt and its lebanese Assadi arse kissing shabi7a. therefore, your fear of having another PLO [syrian version] controling things in lebanon is not realistic. nor should it be an excuse not to accept refugees in lebanon because that’s the govt’s job to monitor any gunmen or arms coming in from outer border…

        the price we are conituning to pay today in lebanon is havig this Assad regime alive in its homeland…it made sure that lebanese lives became miserable ever sice its inception…the least we can do is accept innocent pple in who wanting the same thing we wanted for more then 30 years.

        put your mind to rest prophet, the sunnis in general have learned from the past…others just have to believe them rather then fear them.

        1. 5thDrawer Avatar
          5thDrawer

          Correct Antar … welcome the people who seek a peaceful viable future … free of the ‘mind-control’ they have suffered under.  Adnan Mansour is certainly a minister ‘foreign’ to that kind of thought.
          Yet Prophet is right about the pervasive thinking that goes on – and most of that from ‘the top’.
          The good people of Lebanon took in (for various reasons) refugees. The problem was in thinking they would eventually go back to wherever once whatever ‘conflict’ was resolved. And so Lebanon kept them out of the loop, and instead of attracting them to to be similarly good people and spreading them around the country with work and citizenship offered for future generations, by which means they might also become good Lebanese, they stayed ghettoized in poor camps and even intermarriage can’t win them that citizenship they need to feel a part of the country. No wonder they began to listen to the idiots of religion like Nastyrallah – who don’t care about anything more than hating Jews.
          Tent camps are a short-term relief only. Welcome them properly, and offer a place to stay out of the persecution they run from. But offer them permanence and a future as bright as possible as Lebanese. (Speaking of bright … maybe they can help find electricity …)
          We’d be better off, of course, sending Mansour and all the gun-holders away … maybe Libya would take them? (Although, I’m thinking Somalia 😉

        2. antar2011 Avatar
          antar2011

          5th
          their refugee status should be only temporary too. that’s y i suggested tents.
          they should not have to accept arab-israeli conflict like in syria.
          this butcher is going down soon and so their stay in lebanon is short.
          anywayz…
          who would want to stay in lebanon where basic needs [in some areas] are not met to its citizens themselves let alone to the refugees there.

          the jungles of amazon is more likely a suitable place for Mansour….Many will be happily welcoming…..especialy the ones like him….the amazon animals.

        3. Prophettttt Avatar
          Prophettttt

          antar,
          Thank you for your long reply. I see that we don’t have much disagreements. 
          We’re both for accepting and helping civilian Syrian refugees.
          We’re both against accepting and sheltering armed Syrians ,and against allowing them to have bases in Lebanon.
          We both condemn violence and racism against Syrians or another nationality and race.
          We both admit that many Lebanese treated other based on their race or  religion and originality,and that is wrong.
          We both oppose dictatorships and oppression in Syria. We may disagree on whether an armed opposition will free the Syrian people and provide them with freedom and democracy.
          My only issue with your comment is your stating in your last sentence  that”Sunnis in general have learned from the past”. I believe that you should have said  all Lebanese instead of Sunnis.
          I have  little time right now, I will update this reply later when I get the chance  to read your comment again.

      2. antar2011 Avatar
        antar2011

        prophet

        there is a sense of sunniphobia atm in lebanon which is why i posted my last statement i my post.
        i don’t like talking in such a way either but i cannot help and feel that everybody fears sunnis in lebanon so that they may go back like they used to during the civil war..while ignoring the fact that after 1990s they did everything to be united with their fellow lebanese…
        ayways all is cool…we agree on most things..so lets just concentrate on those one eh?

        cheers mate!

        1. Prophettttt Avatar
          Prophettttt

          lol Antar, It is unfortunate, but very true that sectarian vocabulary is the norm in Lebanon.
          One day the Maronites are feared, then it is the Shiia,and now it is the Sunnis.So please don’t feel like they are left out. fair is fair…. I’m SUSPECTING that Jumblat wants his turn for the Druze too.lol
           tc

          1. antar2011 Avatar
            antar2011

            they already had theirs…

            hopeless kind of fairness 😉

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