Wednesday 1 February 2012

Syria itching for Lebanon to join the fray

The FSA coat of arms (from

It looks as though the Syrian regime of President Bashar al-Assad wants to embroil its proxy Beirut government in the fight against the rebel Free Syrian Army (FSA).
Syrian and Arab media today quote Ali Abdul Karim Ali, Syria’s first ambassador to Lebanon, as saying: “The highest percentage of arms and armed people is filtering through a sisterly state -- Lebanon… The smuggling of arms, the infiltration of armed men (into Syria) and the welcoming (in Lebanese safe havens) of (FSA) mercenaries are incompatible with dissociating oneself (a reference to Lebanon's policy to dissociate itself from the 10-month uprising in Syria).”
His remarks come hot on the heels of reports that Damascus has requested the deployment of the Lebanese Army to the border with Syria.
The request, reportedly made “through military channels,” is for Lebanese Army regulars to be posted specifically in and around the border town of Arsal in the Bekaa Valley and in northern Lebanon’s Akkar and Wadi Khaled districts. All three areas are hotbeds of Syrian uprising supporters.
The answer of the Lebanese military was that such moves required a “political decision” by the government. The split in Lebanon on the crisis in Syria presumably hampers such a decision.
The governing March 8 alliance supports Assad to the hilt, while the March 14 alliance backs the Syrian opposition unreservedly.
To coincide with Ambassador Abdul Karim Ali’s remarks, a pro-Assad Beirut daily today leads off with two news features. One, signed by Osama al-Kadri, is about gunrunning to Syria from the Bekaa. The other, penned by Radwan Murtada, dubs Wadi Khaled as “an advanced military post for the Free Syrian Army.”