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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Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Memo To Lebanon and Syria: Get Busy and Stop Dreaming

Dear Syria,

You left Lebanon a few days earlier than April 30th, so that Kofi Anan can include your great accomplishment in the report that he delayed for that purpose. I am not sure if you were really trying to impress the world, but if you expect accolades now, please don’t. This is like the thief who gets caught as he was leaving the house he just robbed, and he expects a reward or brownie point from the police because he didn’t rob the entire contents.

That shameful exit of yours was from your own making. You did overstay your mission by many years, didn’t you? That is the unfortunate truth.

Now that you are all back in Syria, please stay home and don’t call us for a while. We’ll call you. If the phone doesn’t ring, it’s us. Honestly, you have so much work to do at home that you shouldn’t even worry about us for a while.

Since your president decides everything for you, he has to sort out if he is capable of reforming Syria, so that it emerges as the modern nation that it should become. Syria has two gigantic issues to deal with. First,- in the last 25 years, it doubled its population while improving its GDP per capita only by 25%, i.e. a mere 1% per year. Second, it must do something about its anemic economy and shift its dependence on oil. Here is the dilemma: 71% of Syria’s exports come from oil, but that production has only five years left. These are ticking time bombs. Deal with them.

Dear Lebanon,

As the Syrian grip is eroding, there has been too much talk emphasis in Lebanese political circles already on strengthening the relationship between the countries, as if it was an absolute basis for the future of each country [See: Lebanese MPs stress distinguished relations with Syria, and Khouri to boost Syria-Lebanon relations.] This is wrong and premature. There are other priorities that Lebanon should deal with, internally. Although Syria and Lebanon’s future will undoubtedly intersect, that interdependence should not be the guiding post for determining what each country needs to do, now. Otherwise, we’re back to the same old recipe, and Syria will tie us down and stifle our creativity and liberty.

First, Lebanon has to sort out whether it can emerge as a truly reconciled nation, while figuring out how to deal with Hezbollah, the wild card. Lebanon must re-dress its political and social institutions and allow them to reclaim a glamour that was lost amidst the civil war and the Syrian provincialism that has tarnished them.

In conclusion, each country should forge its own destiny and work on their own internal issues, first. They both have lots of work to do before dreaming-up of new and sophisticated bi-lateral relationships with all kinds of ties and common denominators.

In conclusion, let each country get really busy internally, before they get busy discussing imaginary alliances. Once Lebanon and Syria are back on their feet, they can start dating and dreaming again.


Blogger Charles Malik said...

I wonder what relations will be like. I wonder how much we will be able to find out.
The Assad regime could stay actively involved in the country or they could forget about it. I really have no idea what they will do.
Regardless, I wonder when we will have to use our passports to cross into Syria or if we will still just have to show our ID cards.

3:35 PM  
Anonymous Maya said...

I like your blog. And I agree with you on this particular issue. It's time for everyone to mind their own business right now. We each have plenty to do at home. I'll be posting a link from my blog to yours. Feel free to visit! About the passport or ID thing, I don't think it matters. If you have to get a passport to get into Syria then get one. After all, it is a different country. I don't see why you wouldn't need a passport (unless there is a formal agreement between the 2 countries).

6:04 AM  
Anonymous Maya said...

I tried to email you this, but it got kicked back to me, so I'll leave it as a comment insread, sorry.
Hi thinking man!
I was glad to hear your comments and glad to hear some enthusiasm. So, what kind of ideas do you have? I have a lot of ideas in mind. I have one busy week ahead of me (finals) but after that, I want to dedicate a lot of time to this project. Let's keep in touch and email back and forth. I think the 1st thing would be to come up with a communiqué which we can spread by email, blogs, forums with a centralized email address or blogspot for people give feedback and volunteer to start chapters of the association in their various locations. So, I'll start working on that as soon as I am done with exams. Looking forward to working with you ;) Cheers!
Maya Mroué Boustani

8:27 PM  
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