Collapsing Lebanon and the “Returning” Assad: The Impossible Boycott and the Lost Negotiation

With superiority, the head of the Syrian regime, Bashar al-Assad, returns to the Arab summit. Undoubtedly, it is matched by a renewed old Lebanese inferiority, the causes of which are increasing at this stage. Among the most prominent of these is the state of collapse that Lebanon is experiencing at various levels, and the inability to produce a settlement capable of producing a political solution to the crisis. In addition to the escalating differences between the Lebanese factions regarding political, financial or economic orientations.

Banding and normalization
Al-Assad returned free from any conditions, and from the principle of “step for step”, while time guarantees the exclusion of the remaining conditions, whether objective or formal. This would place many burdens on the Lebanese, especially since most of them are anticipating and fearing the effects of this return and its repercussions on the internal reality, whether in the presidential election or otherwise. It is a new file that encircles Lebanon alongside the financial and economic collapse, the political encirclement, and the international judicial encirclement of the Governor of the Banque du Liban.

This encirclement will branch out into multiple files related to the relationship with Damascus. First, as a result of the local division over the approach to this relationship, between those who are eager to restore it and those who refuse. But the outcome is that the Arab barriers have fallen from that. And since Lebanon adheres to the decisions of the Arab League, it will go, motivated by facts, to substantive normalization with Damascus, and to discuss many outstanding issues. On the impact of Assad’s return, the Lebanese remain in a state of awaiting what the developments abroad will bear, especially amid the focus on the decisions that will be issued by the Arab summit, which will affect the file of the presidency of the republic, and will indicate the necessity of completing the presidential elections as soon as possible. What they are also waiting for is the development of the course of Arab relations with Damascus and how it will be reflected in Lebanon.

guardianship logic
All of this comes amid conflicting internal assessments between external interest in Lebanon and indifference, on the basis that no one wants to preoccupy themselves with the Lebanese file, while Lebanon does not seem to mobilize regional and international parties to search for solutions, or to fight battles in any direction. The external forces place the responsibility on the Lebanese, and call on them to agree among themselves on the achievement of the presidential election and other things, while these forces know that the Lebanese are not ripe for agreement. This leaves the country with one of two possibilities. The first is for the vacuum to remain, and the second is for the outside to rush to impose a solution or settlement on the Lebanese, that is, to return to dealing with Lebanon according to the logic of trusteeship that is necessary.

The most dangerous thing in the midst of this is Syria’s ability to impose itself as a major file, whether before or after the Arab summit, while negotiating channels with Damascus were opened on multiple files, including border control and combating smuggling, including the repositioning of foreign forces and militias on its territory. This is what will focus Arab and external attention on the Syrian side, while Lebanon will be neutral, amid many efforts from within and outside it that will push it towards normalizing relations with Damascus without any Arab obstacles or obstacles, for example, as was the case in the past. This will require Lebanon to draw up a plan and a clear governmental policy in terms of dealing with the Syrian regime, whether in the file of controlling borders and combating mutual smuggling, in addition to stopping drug smuggling, up to discussing the file of returning refugees and how to provide that. In addition, politics must affect other aspects as well, most notably on the farthest path related to the demarcation of the land and sea borders between the two countries, amid doubts about the possibility that there would be a Lebanese ability by the current authority to set such a policy.

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