The Special Relationship with Lebanon
Nicholas Blanford, writing in the Christian Science Monitor describes Syria's aims in Lebanon.
"Syria is going to disengage. I think they have no option.... Syria is looking for an honorable way out," says Joshua Landis, professor of Middle Eastern studies at the University of Oklahoma and author of the syriacomment.com weblog, who is currently living in Damascus.When I asked a high ranking Ba'thist the other day if Syria would regularize relations with Lebanon to the extent of opening an embassy there, he said:
"The ideal course is for Lahoud to resign, a compromise candidate to be elected and a new government to be formed. The new president and the new government would then ask the Syrians to leave before elections are held," says Chibli Mallat, a professor of international law at St. Joseph University.
A transparent electoral process, free of traditional Syrian-backed gerrymandering, could give the opposition the majority in parliament, which would make President Lahoud's position untenable.
However, analysts doubt that Lahoud will go quietly.....
While the prospects looks bleak for some of Syria's most loyal allies in Lebanon, analysts in Damascus say that the Syrian government is "optimistic" it can forge a new relationship with a future government in Beirut.
"The crucial time will be from now until the elections," says Ibrahim Hamidi, a Syrian political analyst and correspondent for the Arabic Al Hayat daily. "If the Syrians play the game cleverly, they can have good relations with any government in Beirut." ...
Analysts in Damascus say that senior members of the ruling Baath Party have accepted the necessity of withdrawing from Lebanon and regularizing relations between the two countries. But only up to a point.
Landis, the Damascus-based professor, says that in order of importance, the Syrians view retaining influence in Lebanon as second only to the survival of the regime. With the tentacles of Syrian influence removed from Lebanon, Damascus will sit back and watch from afar as the Lebanese adjust to the new realities, he says.
"They [the Lebanese] may be in the flush of freedom, but once the battleground for the future of Lebanon begins to take shape we are going to see all of those old confessional divisions line up, and Syria wants to be in a position where it's not the focus of attention, [but is a player] in the background," says Landis. "Syria's relationship with Lebanon is special and that's what Syria is trying to maintain throughout this whole thing."
No. That is a very sensitive point. The relationship between Lebanon and Syria is special. It is like Monaco and France. France does not have an embassy in Monaco.Of course, no country has an embassy in Monaco.