Syria and Lebanon are to open embassies in each other’s capitals for the first time ever.
Syria said it would open an embassy in Beirut when a friendly government is formed. That happened yesterday, and so Syria has come good on its promise.
But why does al this matter? When Lebanon was carved out of western Syria, and the two countries gained independence, Syria refused to recognise Lebanon as an independent entity. As Hafez Al-Assad said, one country, two governments. Syria retained its territorial claim on Lebanon until Bashar came into power.
Now, Syria has officially recognised Lebanon’s independence – a major gift to France (which is Lebanon’s biggest patron), and to the Lebanese right-wing, which looks west, rather than east.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy is paying for this with a return visit to Damascus, sometime in the next eight weeks.