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Is diplomacy an option?
Fractured Lebanese-Syrian ties have crippled both nations in the past. But will the results of the June 7 parliamentary election instigate diplomatic relations between two?
July 9, 2009 9:11 by Nathalie Bontems
On June 7, the Western and Saudi-backed labeled “March 14″ (for the date mass protests on the street called for Syria’s withdrawal) defeated the Hezbollah-led opposition, “March 8″ (for the earlier and smaller protest supporting Syria) in one of Lebanon’s most crucial elections.
However, with Syria’s backers defeated, what will become of Lebanon’s relationship with its historical “big sister”?
The enmity between the two countries’ governments has been strong since the assassination of billionaire and former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri in February 2005, openly blamed by March 14 on Syria, then Lebanon’s power broker for 15 years. Although Syrian troops have withdrawn from its small neighbor following the murder, Syria remains very influential in Lebanon, not only through its staunch allies, among whom Hezbollah stands strong, but also by way of a series of agreements, which were mostly signed during Syria’s reign over Lebanon.
One example of this is the Fraternity, Cooperation and Coordination Treaty (FCCT) signed in 1991 that codifies cooperation between Lebanon and Syria in all fields from media policy to defense strategy. Another is the Syrian-Lebanese Higher Council, established in 1991 under the FCCT, whose purpose is to “set up the general policy of coordination and cooperation between the two states.”
Their validity and legitimacy could be questioned once embassies are formally up and running between Syria and Lebanon. Or, on the contrary, they could prevail, stripping the embassies of all meaning. Although Nasri Khoury, secretary general of the Syrian Lebanese Higher Council, declared that “the FCCT and the agreements it produced are established truths,” Syrian President Bashar Al Assad declared that “Syria is ready to annul the Higher Council if the Lebanese demand it.” But that seems highly unlikely if the Syrian-backed opposition is to become the new majority.
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