Impressions, views, and steam-blowing by a lonesome cowboy.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Syria Border Shut: Do Something

Naharnet reports that Syria has shut its borders to Lebanese goods. The move is apparently meant to hurt, pressure and take revenge on the "brotherly" Lebanese. The official reason, according o Naharnet is to prevent the smuggling of arms from Lebanon to Iraq where it helps the "insurgents".

Syria has played these games before, long before its 30-year occupation, to pressure Lebanon into all sorts of things. And Lebanon has for the most part, and still, responded in victim fashion by doing nothing and begging for things to return to normal.

I am not sure what the proper steps are, but surely they must be MANY ways to fight back. Here are some suggestions:

Propaganda: Manipulate some non-governmental group to BARK LOUDLY on al-Jazeera and in the press that Syria is "more concerned with helping the 'Zionist-Imperialist Americans' than supporting 'brotherly' Lebanon and its struggling farmers". That is stupid language, but language they relate to.

Economic/farmers associations should put pressure on Lahoud, Berri, HA and all of Syria's allies to intervene solve this or cut their ties to Syria.

Shut the traffic to their trucks or goods, coming from the opposite direction.

Deport Syrian workers, in small numbers first, larger numbers later.

Fiddling with bank account (suggested by Beirut Spring) is delicate and in my opinion too harmful to Lebanon. Do no touch this one.

Start tearing one by one the 634 fraternity/economic/educational/defense/crapola agreements we were forced to sign with Syria over the years (this needs to be done anyway).

THE BIG ONE: Start making noises that if this does not stop NOW, we will start studying options to open that other border: ISRAEL. That would scare the crap out of them. We may or may not like it, but if our economic survival is at stake, all options should be on the table. Granted it's not easy with HA, but many farmers live down south, and want to sell their produce and survive.

I don’t' claim to have thought out all these things; but certainly doing nothing is not, and never has been, a good option. Furthermore retaliation in kind, deportations, and certainly the "Israel" threat, I am sure would get results.

Oh, and one more thing: STOP REPEATING LIKE AN IDIOT: "We want sisterly relations with Siamese twin sisterly Syria" three times a day. Set YOUR own conditions.

PS. As always, "Syria" means the regime.

(July 11, 2005): The Naharnet story cited above story has exaggerated the extent of the shutdown at the Syro-Lebanese border. They made it seem like a total blockade on Lebanese goods, or at least on all agricultural products. I am still not sure of the exact extent. The July 11 Daily Star does not mention the story. L'Orient-LeJour mentions delays at 2 major crossings. The writing and editorials at Naharnet have been bad, but I thought I could rely on the content of their news. I'll be double checking from now on.

As far as the gist of my argument above, it stands. Even if the measures at the borders are more gradual than previously thought, the Lebanese need to act. Lack of action will only embolden the Syrians to pressure Lebanon further, something they have done forever, betting on a lack of response on our part.


  • At 7/10/05, 1:38 PM, Blogger ThinkingMan said…

    If there was a functioning civil society that is respected, this wouldn't have gotten so un-noticed, although I understand the farmers are complaining, but it's falling on deaf ears.

    But the worst thing is that they chose to do it exactly during a period of "limbo", when there is no real government in place. Typical low-blow, a trademark of Syria's regime.

    Where is the departing Agriculture minister?

  • At 7/10/05, 4:07 PM, Anonymous Leb4Ever said…

    This will fire back on Syria although we are the ones complaining right now and it could be good for Lebanon in the wrong run. All the cheap Syrian goods that Lebanese used to buy should be boycotted for good. We should be focusing on disentangling all the brotherly ties, raising the quality of our exports and targeting other nations. I don't believe it is the end of the world. Syrian regime made it impossible for Lebanon to be independent with all their agreements that we should break away from and prove that we can stand on our feet and be independent and prosper without them!

  • At 7/10/05, 10:08 PM, Blogger TheInnerCircle said…

    True.. I Agree.

    The border will be a problem Syria will hold against Lebanon anytime she feels the need to threaten. A solution should be for the long run. Israel in the future may provide such a service, of course not benevolently.
    Maybe all the Peace 'Talks' Israel has issued... it would be nice to see Bashars' (And his intelligence services) face if we aknowledge such talks.

  • At 7/10/05, 10:36 PM, Blogger Lebanese Meze said…

    Josey, I’m going to have to agree with you on the points you raise. This is a desperate move by a desperate regime, and now in our most difficult time we can find out who our true friends are.

  • At 7/11/05, 8:41 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    WRT the Israeli border, even if that were remotely politically feasible, do you really think Israel wants thousands of trucks a day coming across their border from "the terrorist capital of the world"?

    - Tom Scudder

  • At 7/11/05, 3:54 PM, Blogger JoseyWales said…

    Tom Scudder,

    To answer you rhetorical question: Of course not.

    When and if peace occurs, there won't be bombs any more. We are a long way off, but Lebanon can certainly use the issue for leverage against Syrian pressure.

    Look at how the Syrians freak out at the words "May 17", the date of the short-lived-never-ratified peace agreement Leb. made with Israel in the early 1980's.

  • At 7/11/05, 4:28 PM, Blogger Pseudo-intellectual lunatic said…

    nice blog
    i hate terrorism but love america

  • At 7/12/05, 1:56 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…


    Got you. By the way, the lines are real - I've seen them in person. Some people are saying that it's a lower-level bureaucratic catfight between Syrian border control agencies (the mukhabarat and the border police, or something). Today's daily star has a long eyewitness article, reporting that at the northern border checkpoint the line of trucks is 30 km long, which I have a hard time even conceptualizing.

    - Tom.


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