memri

September 1, 2004
Clip No.
243

Lebanese Journalist Joseph Abu Khalil on Syria's Presence in Lebanon

The following are excerpts from an interview with Lebanese journalist Joseph Abu Khalil:

Abu Khalil: We stand with Syria forever. With Syria! But we don't support the Syrian regime, none of us supports the Syrian regime. Let's be frank, the Syrian regime wants to rule us like it rules Syria, and it continues this policy, but the problem is not between Syria and us. I am 100 million percent sure, and I can prove it, that if there were a democratic regime in Syria, there is no way that there would have been a conflict between the two countries, there would be no escalation in the Arab-Israeli conflict, and Syria wouldn't try to rule the country in this manner. Syria believes that any ounce of freedom threatens its security, and that the Syrian intelligence must be deployed in Lebanon. If Syria ruled itself as a democracy it would not fear for its security so much, it would not fear the Lebanese and Lebanon.

What Syria permitted to occur in Lebanon, it did not allow in its own territory. Syria, itself, could have carried out resistance (operations) on its border with Israel. I ask myself many times, if Lebanon and Syria were united, would Syria allow what is happening now in the southern borders of Lebanon, or would it deploy its army as it does in the Golan Heights?

But it's good for Syria that Lebanon stays in this situation – half independent, half sovereign, a state that is acknowledged by and a member of the UN, but can be used for operations that it could have carried out from its borders. Why is the resistance against Israel from here? Why is there no Hizbullah on the Israeli border in the Golan?