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The Syrian Occupation of Lebanon

Mordechai Nisan
Policy Paper No. 96, in the book
Peace with Syria: No Margin for Error, 2000


The struggle of Lebanon to preserve its national identity and political independence has, in particular, faced the hegemonic ambition of Syria. Since the 1970s, Damascus has succeeded to implement an incremental yet systematic policy of occupation over Lebanon that has transformed the political, social, and economic character of the country. The Syrian occupation, calling it by its proper appellation, was consummated in 1989 with the Taif Accord and in 1990 with the removal of General (and Prime Minister) Michel Aoun from the Ba'abda presidential palace and with the full conquest of Beirut the capital.

Syrian occupation employed a wide range of policy means to transform Lebanon into a "client state" and a Syrian political satellite. By means of military control and political penetration, media repression and alien colonization, Lebanon has lost its independence. Under foreign rule within the matrix of a foreign-manipulated police state, the Lebanese suffer from Arabization and Syrianization that deny the people, especially the Maronite Christians, their freedom and dignity. Many have been forced into exile across the countries and continents of the Lebanese diaspora.

Syria's occupation regime in Lebanon suggests comparison with the Anschluss of 1936, the Munich capitulation of 1938, and the setting up of the Vichy regime of 1940. Stalinism as a terror state model is also evocative of Lebanon's pitiful subjugation about which, however, the international community shows hardly any concern.

The collapse of a free Lebanon is part of the expanding sweep of Islamic power and the decay of Christian civilization in the Middle East. Perhaps, under circumstances of upheaval in Syria, Israeli military policy, and revivalism among the Lebanese, foreign occupation of Lebanon may come to an end.

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