Historical Step Needs Arab Support

  • 14 July 2008

The announcement by Syrian President Bashar El-Assad,  Lebanese President Michel Suleiman and French President Nicolas Sarkozy on restoration of diplomatic relations between Damascus and Beirut and the opening of embassies in capitals of the two countries is an important development for several reasons. If realised, it would be the first time that diplomatic relations would be established between Lebanon and Syria since their independence, which would usher in a new phase in relations between both countries and would help resolve doubts and suspicions. Such a development would strengthen stability, not only in Lebanon or in Syria, but in the Middle East region as well. Second, the announcement of this important development comes shortly after the establishment of Lebanese government. It was also stated by the President of the Lebanon that the step would help toward addressing the root causes of the Lebanese crisis. The third reason relates to the deep-rooted historical and geographical relations between Lebanon and Syria, which have unfortunately been strained in the recent past. For this reason, there was a need to restore the ties between these two sovereign and independent countries.

Any step taken in coming times for opening of embassies in the two countries will be in the interest of all parties, particularly Syria as it would get the opportunity to formalize its relationship with Lebanon in order to make it stronger and to establish strong ties with its all forces. It would also strengthen the historical relationships between both Syrian and Lebanese people and create a conducive environment for development and growth, in addition to opening a new page in Arab-Syria relations that have been riddled with tension over the Lebanese issue.                         

With this announcement, the need for settling some legal matters and border delimitation has come to the fore. There is a need to positively address and settle these issues by making the most of the current atmosphere of openness. Undoubtedly the Arab world, which has played an important role in settling the political crisis in Lebanon through “Doha Agreement," can play a meaningful role in restoring relations between Lebanon and Syria and in contributing to the resolution of all outstanding issues that are bedevil the relationship.