EDITORIAL: Lebanon in state of volatility

beadottin, beadottin@nationnews.com

Added 24 October 2012

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There is never a dull moment in the Middle East these days. The issues besieging this region would have taken up much of the United States presidential debate on Monday. Despite the rhetoric, there are no easy solutions. Recent events in Lebanon have added misery to an otherwise hopeless situation. The bomb blast on Friday that killed its intelligence chief Wissam Al Hassan has made matters worse. It replicated a similar car bombing that exterminated Lebanon’s former prime minister Rafik Hariri in 2005, for which Syria was blamed then and it is accused for the current bombing now. Unfortunately, it hasn’t responded in a clear and unequivocal manner, which leads to suspicion. The 2005 bombing plunged Lebanon into a state of civil war and led to a complete diplomatic rupture with Damascus. This time around, many analysts feel that shouldn’t be the case. The region is already in a state of volatility and the civil strife in Syria has made the situation worse. While anti-Syrian politicians in Lebanon blame Syria, in the present state of affairs we can only hope that they desist from going over the brink at this time. It could inflame passions even further and, following the Arab Spring, would permanently destabilize the region. Lebanon’s Prime Minister Najib Mikati (a Syrian ally) is rightly treading a cautious path and has refused to indulge in a blame game. He has tendered his resignation to the president, who has asked him to hold on for a little while longer. This move should provide a cooling-off period and give time to form a new government. This kind of leadership should ensure that he works with the opposition elements in trying to identify the perpetrators. Syria, on the other hand, has some work to do. It should be forthcoming in convincing its bruised neighbour that it had nothing to do with the blast and was willing to cooperate in any investigation to unmask the culprits. Nothing less would inspire confidence. Some feel that Friday’s bombing seems to be a “well conspired” move to provoke both Lebanon and Syria – and push them into warfare. It is hard for us to believe that Damascus could have risked plotting such an act when it is in a state of war at home. It is not for us to say, but the allegations that Syria is exporting terror seem outrageous and don’t hold much water. Lebanon, which is rightly termed as the nerve of the Middle East, is in a fix as the civil strife in neighbouring Syria is directly impacting its internal security. The United Nations and the regional organizations, especially the Arab League, can’t afford to sit on the fringes at this juncture. Lebanon and Syria should talk it out and chart a roadmap to uphold peace at all costs. This is a delicate moment for Lebanon and every effort must be made to avoid warfare with Syria at all costs.

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