Lebanon, March 14, Syria

Hariri’s Visit to Damascus

There’s been a lot of chatter about when, if, and how Saad Hariri will make his first visit to Damascus. Some even believe it could happen as soon as this weekend. I’m not as interested in the “when” as in the symbolic potential of this event.

Therefore, I thought we’d have a poll and a discussion on the topic. Given that we’ve got all kinds of readers here at QN.com — communists, dyed-in-the-wool Cedar Revolutionaries, wannabe Hezbollah commandos — I figure that people probably have some strong  opinions.

Go forth and vote…

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22 thoughts on “Hariri’s Visit to Damascus

  1. It is crucial for Hariri in his trip to pass by Aleppo and get some Festok. The whole trip is fruitless otherwise.

    Posted by Mehdi | December 16, 2009, 12:44 pm
  2. 🙂 Looooooooooooooooooooooool

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | December 16, 2009, 12:55 pm
  3. Fostok definitely helps everything — especially the foosssssing as my youngest says.

    Posted by Joshua Landis | December 16, 2009, 1:02 pm
  4. QN what is it with you and Syria?

    Posted by love you alex | December 16, 2009, 8:20 pm
  5. What is the goal of the C revolt?

    Posted by love you alex | December 16, 2009, 8:21 pm
  6. love you alex,

    what do you mean?

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | December 16, 2009, 8:34 pm
  7. As a democrat to a fault I fail to understand the logic for any country to visit Syria and pay homage to Assad.
    I have stated before that I am not a pragmatist but even a pragmatist will have a hard time in rationalizing the relationship that is being purposely cultivated between Lebanon and Syria.

    I have no qualms about exoneration but I do not think that we should encourage dictatorships and human rights abusers . We could have cordial relationships with the Assad regime but we should not spare an opportunity to remind them of the violations that they are constantly committing.I would make a distinction between the Syrian people and the Assad regime by valuing the former and being critical of the later.

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | December 16, 2009, 8:48 pm
  8. Is the raison d’etre of cedar revolution to antagonize Syria?
    Aren’t Lebanon and Syria’s interest better served if they had the best relation possible with open border and free trade like in the EU?

    Posted by love you alex | December 16, 2009, 10:53 pm
  9. So if Harriri and Syria reconciled then the revolution is dead?

    Posted by love you alex | December 16, 2009, 10:55 pm
  10. I agree with what Ghassan said. Such thugs like the Assads cannot be made to feel that they are paid homage. We cannot follow the skewed logic of twisted minds like Landis and other Syrian stooges. I believe Hariri has just accomplished that by pre-empting such interpretations that give significance to symbolism in a possible visit to Syria. If he visits now it will be his third stop and not the usual first visit expected from a Lebanese PM. In effect, Hariri is telling Syria that it is of less importance to Lebanon and quite rightly so. Does anyone really think Syria is important except when it comes to discussing cross border terrorism?

    What exoneration are these thugs expecting? No one in his right mind would even ask this question. If this were to happen, Hariri would have succumbed to pressure during government formation and he probably wouldn’t have given to Aoun what Aoun got in this cabinet. MP Tueni continues to accuse Syria of her father’s assasination. May be Jumblat si the onl oney willing to exonerate on his dad’s behalf. But that’s about it. As every one knows by now he is becoming so irrelevant and he knows now that he made a fatal judgement by oscillating the way he did.

    Posted by mike | December 16, 2009, 11:02 pm
  11. Now I’m confused. Who exactly is the one who wants the visit to happen?


    Posted by mj | December 17, 2009, 3:57 am
  12. I voted “no” on the poll. I don’t believe we should grant too much significance to such official visits. In the last 35 years of Lebanon’s history, you always have two parties paying “historical reconciliation” visits to each other only to be shooting at each other a week later. For Hariri, Syria can now enjoy the assumption of innocence only because Assad changed his facebook profile to “in a relationship with Abdullah”. Someday, it’ll go back to being “complicated” and they’ll be at it again. Also, in my opinion, the Cedar Revolution ended back in 2005.

    Do you think Lebanon should boycott every Arab dictatorship and human rights abusing regime, or just Syria?

    Posted by mas | December 17, 2009, 4:19 am
  13. Ok, I hadn’t read Sami Moubayed’s article when I made my last comment.
    I guess Moubayed’s article will read as a pristine fountain… or a repulsing vomit, depending on who’s reading it. In any case, the article-fleuve reflects the Syrian version of the events of the last 5 years or so.
    “Rather than beat Hezbollah and Syria, they decided to join them, restoring a status quo that had existed during the 1990s between Syria, Saudi Arabia, Iran, the US and Lebanon. This means that the Saudis’ proxy in the region, Hariri, would co-rule Lebanon with Iran’s proxy, Hezbollah.

    Lebanon would no longer be used as a launching pad for anti-Syrian propaganda, and the Syrians would be assured that no anti-Syrian cabinet would reign in Beirut, now that its allies were strongly represented in the Hariri cabinet. More importantly, the Hariri visit proves that all talk marketed by the US and March 14, which blamed Syria for the murder of Rafik Hariri in 2005, had now vanished.”

    If that’s the case, somebody explain to me the warrants thing? What’s the Syrian interest in humiliating Hariri this way at the very time they want him to pay visit? Why not play magnanimous and elegant and let the press do the I- told-you-so part?

    Posted by mj | December 17, 2009, 4:51 am
  14. “Aren’t Lebanon and Syria’s interest better served if they had the best relation possible with open border and free trade like in the EU?”

    “Free trade” only serves one party, and in this case it would be Syria’s. The Lebanese industrial/agricultural base has already been decimated by the policies of the past 15+ years, the only way to stabilize it would be to completely step out of our trade agreements with Syria [it is impossible to compete with the labor or resource costs of the heavily subsidized Syrian economy], the EU [with whom our imports have been rising significantly but to whom we cannot export due to being unable to meet the agreed upon standards], and others.

    The government’s duty should be to protect and nurture Lebanese industry, not to rescind import taxes and trade laws which were rightly placed to stem the flood of cheap imported goods from China/Syria/etc. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out the dismal state our industry has been left in after years of deliberate mismanagement and dismantling.

    Sorry to derail QN, but I constantly feel that the soap opera being played out daily by all these politicians serves as a giant smoke-screen to distract the populace from the real problems being faced here. Is Hariri’s visit to Damascus really more important to the citizens than a functioning economy? Do people really care about what x said to y and what effect that might have had on z’s personal feelings? More so than the combination of functioning electricity/infrastructure/public education?

    My vote is for “Don’t know” but thats only because “Don’t give a shit” isn’t an option. I choose to care more about the enormous portion of our population that is living in poverty than the possible injured pride of the billionaire political class and their all-devouring sense of entitlement.

    Posted by vic | December 17, 2009, 5:18 am
  15. mas, vic, being thorn in between the no, and don’t know, for reasons similar to the ones you alluded to, I finally didn’t vote at all.
    Vic, I was asking myself, while writing my last comment, what was in it economically for both parts in resuming ‘normality’ in political relations. Was economic relationship significantly affected at any time at all during the last crisis? And anyway, could Lebanon ever have –as long as the Israeli enemy state is the other only border, the power to impose anything on Syria, be it in political or economic relations? As Youssef Chaitani’s book on Syria and Lebanon describes, economy was the music, politics the vocals, in the tortuous tango that the two countries have been dancing since their respective independences.

    Posted by mj | December 17, 2009, 6:21 am
  16. correction to #15: “being torn”, not “thorn”

    Posted by mj | December 17, 2009, 6:35 am
  17. mas says

    Do you think Lebanon should boycott every Arab dictatorship and human rights abusing regime, or just Syria?”

    I did not call for a boycott but I would not conduct the Lebanese Syrian relationship asexcept as one between equals. There is no need to ask for the blessings of Damascus on all details, foreign and domestic. If that is going to be the case then what is the purpose of independence?
    And to go straight to the heart of your point, which is a valid one, the principles that guide a countrys’ international relationship should be essentially the same. But there is no doubt that in some cases the abuse of a particular principle is more intense and impacts more on Lebanese citizens. In that case a stronger policy would be called for.

    It is a sham that many of the Lebanese politicians would not even suggest a move prior to te a[pproval of one of the great democratic bastions in the world: Saudi Arabia and Syria. We can also add to that group Egypt and the Gulf Emirates.

    Posted by ghassan karam | December 17, 2009, 8:42 am
  18. if a visit to Syria is a must. Hariri should visit DC before going to Damascus.

    Posted by V | December 17, 2009, 1:34 pm
  19. These articles prove that the issue of exoneration is not on the table – disproving once again QN’s attempt to make it an issue:




    The following article however proves that Hariri has some tough talk to Syria ahead of his visit. It also proves the falsehood of QN’s satirical cynism with regards to Sleiman’s visit to the US. Sleiman in fact was given double the time that he was scheduled for. It also proves that US weapons will actually be delivered to Lebanon shortly:


    The visit was, in fact, a real success. You cannot really rely on QN as a reliable source for analyzing current events. He seems to have some hidden ulteror motives.

    Posted by mike | December 17, 2009, 10:56 pm
  20. the question in the poll is asking what would the public opinion say and not necessary what an individual would “prefer” so i fail to see why so many obviously intelligent individuals are answering no. minus a 180 degree shift in american policy, its inconceivable how the developments of that past year or so is anything but putting the international court to rest. Even at the end of the Bush term it was obvious that it was dead

    Mike and Ghassan – please spare me the double-standard righteous BS. you either have to be a pragmatist and deal with certain nations and leaders in the best interest of your country. or a hardcore democracy advocate and downgrade ties with all nations that have human rights abusers. that means all arab nations including the GCC. let’s see what would that do to the lebanese economy

    Posted by Innocent Criminal | December 18, 2009, 7:36 am
  21. Innocent criminal,
    There is a difference between accepting the reality of a regime and that of paying homage to it. Don’t you think?

    Posted by ghassan karam | December 18, 2009, 9:49 am
  22. Everybody in this discussion seems to tacitly assume that Lebanon is a democracy, or why else would there be a problem dealing with dictatorships? Lebanon is not a democracy – it is a sectarian neo-feudalist system where the ancien regime is still alive and kicking. The only part of the Lebanese population that has kicked out its feudal landlords is the south, the part that is ‘out of government control’. In any case, even more or less real democracies like the European countries have no qualms dealing with dictatorships, so why should this be a problem for a small country like Lebanon which doesn’t even have the luxury to choose who to deal with?

    Posted by zentor | December 19, 2009, 10:37 am

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