January 17, 2006 Special Dispatch No. 1071

Syrian Intellectual Michel Kilo: Syrian Foreign Minister Farouq Al-Shara' is Subordinating Lebanese Sovereignty to Syrian Interests

January 17, 2006
Lebanon, Syria | Special Dispatch No. 1071

In an article published in the London Arabic-language daily Al-Quds Al-Arabi, Syrian intellectual Michel Kilo, who resides in Damascus, attacked the Syrian regime, comparing it to the Soviet regime, and hinted that it was responsible for the assassination of Lebanese public figures.

The following are excerpts: [1]

"In a Cairo [press conference], Syrian Foreign Minister Farouq Al-Shara' announced a new principle of modern Arab diplomacy, which might be called the 'Al-Shara' principle.' [This principle] limits Lebanese sovereignty, links this sovereignty to the Syrian regime, and states that a free and independent Lebanon is necessarily a center and a base for plots against Syria... [2]

"The Al-Shara' principle is reminiscent of the principle once [established] by [Soviet leader Leonid] Brezhnev, which stated that the various socialist states had [only] limited sovereignty vis-à-vis the Soviet Union. [These states] could not act as they pleased, but had to give priority to the interests and security of the Soviet bloc in any measure they took and in any means they employed. This principle established the Soviets' right to take over the internal affairs of the socialist states, and legitimized Soviet military intervention against them...

"The Al-Shara' principle is reminiscent of the Brezhnev principle. [since the Syrian regime] - like [the Soviet regime] - thinks that Lebanon should formulate its policy according to Syrian interests. Moreover, the Syrian regime requires [Lebanon] to coordinate all matters, great or small, with Syria, since the minute Beirut becomes independent [of Damascus], the situation in Lebanon becomes an international affair. And in such a case, [Syria believes that it] has the right to intervene [in Lebanese matters] in order... to prevent Lebanon from becoming a center for conspiracies against it..."

Lebanon Must Keep in its Place... If it Forgets, There are a Thousand Ways to Remind it

"What is the meaning of the Al-Shara' principle, and where might its implementation lead the two countries?

"First of all, Syria wishes to treat Lebanon as a marginal [party] while the Syrian regime [is perceived] as central. [This means] that the center will take the decisions and the periphery will obey, or else [pay the price].

"Secondly, the Syrian regime is determined to adopt the Soviet model,... [and] has taken military and political control of Lebanon. It tried to usurp the PLO's [authority] in taking decisions regarding Palestine, and wanted to control the PLO according to [its own] political guidelines and interests.

"In addition, it has forced Jordan to respect [Syrian] hegemony and control over the Arab East, and has compelled Saudi Arabia to accept a division of labor in which Saudi Arabia's role is to provide the funds and Syria's role is to call the shots, intimidate the neighboring countries, and keep them quiet. This comes in addition to a tragic series of oppressive actions against very large sectors of Syrian society.

"Lebanon, peripheral and marginal, is required to keep in its place even after the Syrian army has withdrawn from its territory, and if it forgets, there are a thousand ways to remind it - either through dialogue or through operations in the field.

"Another implication [of the Al-Shara' principle] is that nobody may reprimand Syria for performing (what is sees as) its national duty towards Lebanon... Syria has an obligation to liberate Lebanon from subordination to foreigners, which is very dangerous [for Syria, since] it is aimed against [Syria], and against its role as the last bastion standing fast against America and Israel."

Syria Leaves Lebanon With Only Two Options: To Accept the Return of the Syrian Forces, or to Risk Constant Escalation of the Situation

"According to Syrian propaganda, Lebanon is the arena of a struggle... to save Syria's brothers [i.e. the Lebanese] and to protect the Syrian regime. If [Lebanese] are hurt in the course of [Syria's struggle for their sake], this is [only] because their country has become a base for foreign [forces] that must be eliminated. [Moreover], as everyone knows, liberty comes at a price, and the price is sometimes paid by innocent people. But even if [these innocent people] are killed by their [Syrian] brothers, they are... victims [of the foreign interference in Lebanon],... [since] Syria has the right to defend itself in any way and by any means against the Lebanese leaders, who cannot be anything other than foreign agents.

"Another implication [of the Al-Shara' principle] is that it leaves the Lebanese with only two options: either to [accept] Syria's return to their land, or to be subjected to a variety of ever-escalating [measures], in which [Syria] is entitled to use any [available] means to achieve its goal of protecting itself against Lebanon. This will be achieved either by the return of the Syrian forces into Lebanon, or by bringing Lebanon to the point where it agrees to [Syrian] limitations on its sovereignty, and accepts [Syria's] right to determine [Lebanon's] policy and interests, and even to control [Lebanon].

"This is the Al-Shara' principle. Therefore, do not expect any breakthrough or improvement in Syrian-Lebanese relations unless the Arab [states] - Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Algeria, Morocco, Yemen, etc. - invest tremendous efforts in modifying this principle and [Al-Shara's] mentality towards Lebanon. Moreover, the Al-Shara' principle will not be the last escalation, and the painful events recently experienced by the Lebanese [people] will not be the last [either]."

[1] Al-Quds Al-Arabi (London), December 24, 2005.

[2] On December 6, 2005, Al-Shara' met with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in Egypt, after which he told reporters: "The problem [with Syrian-Lebanese relations] is that there are parties inside and outside Lebanon which are trying to internationalize the Lebanese issue. To achieve this, they are making use of the investigation [of Al-Hariri's assassination], so that [its] goal will no longer be to expose the truth, but to generate a negative change in Lebanon and in the region by bringing pressure on Syria and Lebanon every day and by every [possible] means, legitimate or illegitimate." Al-Thawra (Syria), December 7, 2005.

In a press conference following Assad's December 20 meeting with Mubarak in Cairo, Al-Shara' said: "Most of the attacks on Syria come from [parties outside the country], and there are, of course, [elements] in Lebanon that lend themselves to be used for this purpose..." Al-Thawra (Syria), December 21, 2005.

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