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memri
March 2, 2005 No.
871

Syrian Intellectuals Call Upon President Al-Assad

The Lebanese daily Al-Nahar recently published two communiqués signed by Syrian intellectuals. One, published on February 23, 2005, was directed to Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad, and called upon him to begin the withdrawal of Syrian forces from Lebanon. It was signed by over 140 intellectuals, whose names appeared in Al-Nahar. [1]

The other communiqué, published on February 24, 2005, was signed by 33 Syrian intellectuals and was directed to Lebanese intellectuals. It supported the Lebanese demand for Syrian withdrawal and called for protection of Syrian laborers in Lebanon. [2]

The following are extracts from the two communiqués:

Syrian Intellectuals to Bashar Al-Assad: 'It Is High Time that Syria Adopts a New Policy'

"There is a new, formidable, and dangerous [matter] that has reached our country and is attempting to shape its destiny and the future of its generations. The international pressures are intensifying and assuming diverse shapes and forms, and the Syrian people does not know what awaits it. It is futile to insist upon outdated political means of dealing with crises, and it is high time that Syria adopts a new policy that will take [the new reality] into account, particularly after the crime of Rafiq Al-Hariri's assassination, and will hasten to establish healthy, generous relations with Lebanon.

"The implementation of the Taif Agreement and the beginning of the withdrawal of the Syrian military forces from Lebanon will enable us to take advantage of the present opportunity and to guard against disastrous developments. If this initiative is implemented today in response to the desire of the Syrian and Lebanese peoples to forge a new bond between them, the excuses of external [elements] will be overcome and a new path will be paved to rebuild mutual trust and support between the two peoples and the two countries in their struggle against joint challenges."

Syrian Intellectuals to the Lebanese: 'We Support Your Demand to Withdraw the Syrian Army from Lebanon'

The following are excerpts from the othercommuniqué, signed by 33 Syrian intellectuals and directed to Lebanese intellectuals:

"We support your demand to withdraw the Syrian army from Lebanon, to rectify Syrian-Lebanese relations, and to base [these relations] on equality, on independence, on freedom of choice for both peoples and on the interests of both countries.

"We, as Syrian intellectuals who have always found in Lebanon a window [of opportunity] to express our views – [views that] we have not been able to express in the homeland [i.e., Syria] – speak to you frankly, [saying] that we feel hurt and pained at seeing and hearing those who humiliate Syria, its people and citizens, who have committed no crime, and [at seeing and hearing] those who attack poor Syrian laborers, who have come to earn a meager living in your nearby and distinguished country…

"As justice requires [the fulfillment of] your demand to remove [Syrian] hegemony from Lebanon, it also requires that the poor laborers who participated in the construction of Lebanon be treated in a dignified manner…

"If the withdrawal of the Syrian forces from Lebanon constitutes the beginning of a reform in relations between the two countries, threats against and humiliation of weak Syrian citizens damage and poison the future of these relations…"

Endnotes:

[1] Al-Nahar (Lebanon), February 23, 2005. MEMRI has a list of the 140 signatories, as published in Al-Nahar.

Among the signatories was Anwar Al-Bunni, an attorney representing political prisoners, and Hakam Al-Baba, who is well-known for his article criticizing the Syrian security apparatuses, which was published in the Syrian daily Tishrin. See MEMRI Syrian Journalists Debate Treatment of Civilians by Security Apparatuses, December 16, 2004, 'Syrian Journalists Debate Treatment of Civilians by Security Apparatuses.'

[2] Al-Nahar (Lebanon), February 24, 2005. MEMRI has a list of the 33 signatories, as published in Al-Nahar.