What is more, only Saad’s return and an end to the cabinet crisis will mean progress and prosperity for Lebanon, two things that Rafiq held higher than even his own welfare and safety. Those are the goals that Saad should be willing to sacrifice a hundred percent justice for. In the end, they are achievable and they are the ultimate recompense for his father’s death. The welfare of Lebanon is justice. That was Rafiq Bey’s goal and wish.In other words, Saad’s unrealistic stubbornness and reliance on the US is hampering progress in Lebanon. He should instead submit to the demands of the terrorists and exchange his country’s sovereignty for his own personal safety. And as long as he behaves, Bashar Assad will not take him out.
Landis argued that this "compromise", supposedly facilitated by the Saudis, is the only realistic option available to Saad, who is being the "odd man out" in a region that is leaning towards saving the Syrian regime from collapse and economic sanctions.
The problems with Joshua’s post are many, one being a misrepresentation of the Saudi offer, which he says goes as follows:
The UN investigation will go forward and continue to isolate, embarrass, and discomfort Syria, but President Asad will not be asked to testify and presumably he and his family members will avoid conviction, and Syria will avoid UN sanctions. This is what most Middle East states seem to be pushing for and what is most likely to be the outcome of the investigation. Let us suppose that Syrian security chieftains, such as Ghazale and Juma Juma, will be convicted. Hizbullah will also be allowed to keep its arms into the immediate future, and Hariri will have to write off the remaining articles of Resolution 1559. He will also have to soften his demand for an international court even though Western leaders believe, Mehlis has stated, and most Lebanese aver that Asad ordered his father’s death.Of course the above does not accurately reflect what is being offered to Lebanon, which was rejected by most Lebanese parties expect Hizbullah.
The proposal called for halting the Syrian attacks on Lebanon in exchange for demarcation of the border except the Shebaa farms, exchanging embassies, forming a joint Lebanese-Syrian security committee and coordinating foreign policies. The Saudis (at least the camp in Saudi Arabia favoring this so called compromise) and the Egyptians are adding to what is essentially a Syrian proposal the condition that Assad be spared the humiliation of being interrogated by the UNIIIC.
Joshua argues that by accepting what he termed as “50 per cent justice”, Syria will spare Saad’s life and Lebanon will prosper. Never mind that the country Saad would return to will be back in Syria’s orbit, and the Syrian regime will return to calling the shots and setting Lebanese policies.
Joshua also does not explain how the UNIIIC can simply skip the part about Assad’s involvement in the Hariri assassination.
I suppose what is offensive about Joshua’s post is the way he victimizes the Syrian regime and holds Lebanon responsible for Syria’s woes. For instance, it’s “Saad war with Assad.” And Saad started it: “he boxed Syria out of world affairs” so in return Syrian “boxed him out of Lebanon.” And Rafik Hariri was killed "because he supported resolution 1559, which called for the complete withdrawal of Syrian troops and the disarming of Hizbullah and an end to resistance against Israel.” So Lebanon started it, and should satisfy itself with has been achieved so far, mainly that” Syrian troops are out of Lebanon and the country is no longer occupied, which is a lot.”
So accoding to Landis' analysys, the least Lebanon can do now, which is apparently being held hostage by Saad Hariri, is to “repair its relations with Syria,” which it had screwed up in the first place. After all, Josh writes, “Syria paid a large price for Hariri’s death; it was not in vain.”
And Rafik Hariri would have approved, Joshua argues. “Hariri was never opposed to Syrian influence, as such; rather, he was opposed to Syria hindering Lebanon’s development and prosperity.” Assuming this is true, what has changed since Hariri’s assassination to convince Saad that Syria will now be working towards Lebanon’s development and prosperity? And why is it anathema to the Syrian regime for Lebanon to want to pursue those goals independently?
It is incredible how nearly identical Landis’ thinking is to the Syrian official propaganda. The Syrian press and Bashar have been telling us for almost a year now that Saad is the one sleeping with the devil, betraying his own father, and pursing anti-Syrian policies that will harm his own country’s interests. And like the Syrian press, Landis finds Michel Aoun the least objectionable, because he “distinguishes between independence and accommodating Syrian interests.”
So Joshua Landis wants Saad Hariri (note, it’s not Lebanon, it’s Saad) to forgive Bashar his crimes or risk being assassinated like his father. For no Western state now wants the regime to fall. I don’t recall Saad ever demanding regime change in Syria. In fact, this is really about Lebanese national interests, not the well being of the Syrian regime, which deserves all that is allegedly suffering. The Lebanese, Joshua thinks, risk being manipulated by the US in their conflict with Syria.
By not compromising, we Lebanese, Joshua claims, are being “unrealistic.”
My dear Josh, compromise is a two-way street. The Syrian regime has made none, while the Lebanese continue being assassinated. You said Syria paid a high price already, I say the Syrian regime (and I make this distinction) has not paid anything. Lebanon has paid in blood, Bashar had a few nightmares.
You said that the perfectionist policy of no-compromise will provoke even greater extremism in the region, and you cite elections in Iraq, Egypt and Palestine as examples. How about you apply this to the Syrian regime? Why can’t the Syrian regime compromise with the Syrian opposition? Why can’t they reduce the powers of those extremists by actually withdrawing support for radical organizations, and end the persecution and imprisonment of secular (and non secular) opposition leaders? If Syria has free elections tomorrow and the Muslim Brothers win, whose fault would that be? Whose fault was it in Egypt? If they had stronger secular and moderate parties then the outcome would have been different. Like the Egyptian regime, the Syrian regime views the natural enemies of those extremists as a threat.
And you know what? If Lebanon settles for that “50 per cent justice” you prescribe, Syria, meaning the Syrian people, will get zero justice. The only winner here is Bashar Assad, and the losers are the Lebanese and Syrian people. Is it realism to sanction the continued theft of people’s most basic rights? I think not.