A Lebanese Abroad

Opinions from an opinionated Lebanese abroad about Lebanon's politics, business and the future of a United Lebanon.

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Friday, March 11, 2005

Sanctions Against Syria Will Hurt Lebanon

The Washington Post reports today that the “A top U.N. envoy will tell President Bashar Assad that Syria will face political and economic isolation if he does not completely and quickly withdraw from Lebanon, U.N. and U.S. officials said yesterday.”

As much as the process of sanctions appears to be an instrument of pressure, the reality is that it backfires in several ways and is not an effective mean to get Syria to change its position. Two main reasons:

1) Economic and financial sanctions end-up really hurting the population of the country being targeted, not its government. As a matter of fact, the sanctioned government ends-up pointing the finger back at the countries that are initiating the sanctions by telling their population “if there is shortage of food, it’s because of their sanctions”. So, it emboldens the targeted government.

2) Syria is in the process of joining itself at the hip with Lebanon, economically in addition to politically. Any heat on Syria will be automatically shared by Lebanon, one way or the other. For example, Syria could mandate that Lebanon shares whatever Syria is deprived from, in the name of “brotherhood and common interests”. And since Syria wants to have a “unified customs wall” and "economic integration" with Lebanon, there will be further confusion as to what is Lebanon and what is Syria when it comes to import/export transactions.

I hope that the international community turns to more creativity regarding applying pressure on Syria. Syria’s officials are probably laughing their heads off at the prospect of sanctions. In the meantime, who is looking after Lebanon’s interests? Why aren’t Lebanese politicians uttering any words about this? Why doesn’t Lebanon’s interest come first, and Syria second, instead of Syria first and Lebanon last? If Lebanese current politicians were on the side of Lebanon, they should have the guts to say to Syria: “You shall not drag us down with you”.


Blogger Brian H said...

There is one sure way to separate the hips: with a knife. Don't imagine Syria is protected or immune. It has stepped over several lines it shouldn't have.

10:05 PM  
Blogger Louise said...

I disagree that sanctions only hurt the people. It depends entirely on the strength of the tyranical regime that lords over them. Sanctions, at this point, could very well be the tipping point. Read today's entry at Iraq the Model. It's inspiring, because it speaks of a spontaneous action originating from the people. Such action has the power to inspire ordinary Syrians. The more inspired ordinary Syrians are, the more likely the Syrian regime will fall.

11:54 AM  
Blogger ThinkingMan said...

Good point Louise on getting the Syrians inspired. I think they will need it + lots of courage to show it.

4:55 PM  
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