The UK has suggested that UN peacekeepers could be sent in to replace the Syrian troops in Lebanon. Bashar Al-Assad is expected to announce a date for their pullout tomorrow.
Syrian troops were sent in to end the civil war and keep the peace, with the gratitude of the international community which had given up on Lebanon seven years earlier. But now Lebanon is peaceful, the Syrians should get out, say the international community. But if that’s the case, why send international forces in?
The last time international forces were in Lebanon they were massacred: the barracks of the US Marines was bombed in one of the first suicide bombings. Six months later the Americans ‘redeployed’. Sending the internationals back in is a sure fire way to stir up hatred. But then Lebanese peace and freedom isn’t really the motive is it?
Meanwhile, realising that a withdrawal is almost certain, Bush took the opportunity to turn the screw a little tighter. Now we want all your mukhabaraat (intelligence) out too. The problem is no matter what Syria says, Washington can continue accusing Syria of not completing the mukhabaraat pullout: i mean, they are ‘secret’!
It’s suggested that Bashar has been telling Arab leaders that he wants to keep 3000 troops in Lebanon, as well as early warning stations to warn of Israeli attacks. When Israel attacked Damascus in 2003, Israeli jets flew over Lebanon to enter Syrian airspace. Israel bombs Lebanon a couple of times a year. Israel’s supersonic jets also fly low over Beirut to create a sonic boom which sounds like a bomb shattering windows and setting off car alarms.