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But, it is actually worse than a simple political ploy as Caroline Glick points out:
Since he formed his government, Hariri has travelled three times to Damascus to kiss Assad’s ring. And in so doing, he gave up his call for justice for his father’s killers.
This became clear when last month Hariri embraced Nasrallah’s allegation that Israel murdered his father. Then last week, following his latest trip to Damascus, Hariri announced that his past claims that the Syrian regime assassinated his father were unfounded.
It gets worse:
On Monday, Yediot Aharonot reported that Iranian and Syrian intelligence agencies are applying massive pressure on Hariri to openly join the Iranian axis. Today that axis includes the Syrian regime, Hizbullah and Hamas. If and when Hariri openly joins, Lebanon will become its first non-voluntary member.
Chances are good that Hariri will succumb to their pressure. Yediot reported that the Iranians and Syrians made him an offer he can’t refuse: “If you don’t join us, you will share your father’s fate.”
A move toward Iran-Syria by Lebanon would not be entirely unexpected. Back in February, Hariri made it clear that unlike the Lebanese government’s tepid support of Hezbollah during the 2006 war with Israel, any future conflict with the Jewish state would see his government giving full backing to the terrorist group. Clearly, Hariri has been feeling the pressure from Hezbollah since he took office. Despite an electoral victory last year that showed the Lebanese people opposed to a Hezbollah takeover of government, there really isn’t much Hariri could have done while the terrorists are the only effective armed presence in the country.
A legitimate question can be raised whether the attempted US rapprochement with Syria has anything to do with the deteriorating position of the democrats in Lebanon. President Bush was steadfast in his support of the Lebanese government under former Prime Minister Fuad Siniora and, using King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia as a proxy, both the US and France buttressed the forces working for democracy in Lebanon as best they could given the circumstances. But it was extremely difficult given the tightrope the western powers had to walk in order to avoid the appearance that Siniora was a Franco-US puppet – a charge repeated early and often by Hezbollah and their allies. In the end, neither Presidents Bush or Obama could realistically be expected to forestall what appears to be the loss of Lebanon to the Iranians.
Lebanon needs Syrian goodwill to continue to explore democracy while Syria needs Lebanon as a cash cow to milk. The financial and economic ties that bind the two nations are extensive, put in place by Syria during their long occupation. A lot of those joint Syrian-Lebanese businesses benefit members of President Assad’s Syrian Baath Party, cementing their loyalty to Assad and the regime. It was unrealistic to expect Lebanon to maintain an arms-length relationship with Syria despite the dangers. A small, defenseless country, riven by factionalism and religious differences, felt it had little choice but to make the best peace it could with its powerful neighbor. Without a security guarantee from the US or France, what chance would Lebanon have of maintaining any independence at all?
So Hariri and Assad embraced, Iran appears to have the tiny country in its clutches, and Israel’s strategic situation just got worse. Lebanon has gone completely over to the dark side and any war with Hezbollah will now probably involve the Lebanese army as well. While the capabilities of the Lebanese armed forces will not strike fear into anyone, their use in war would represent a quantitative increase in Lebanon’s capability to make things difficult for Israel if any attack on Iranian nuke sites would precipitate a conflict with Hezbollah.
In the end, the answer to the question of “Who Lost Lebanon” has an easy answer; the Lebanese themselves. They were never able to overcome their differences to meet the twin challenges of Hezbollah’s guns and Syrian aggressiveness. For that, they will pay a heavy price when the next round begins between the terrorists and Israel.
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