As more and more Syrians flee to Lebanon, the country’s capacity to receive Syrian refugees seems to have come to an end, reports the New York Times. The fear that the so-called “civil war” in Syria might also spread over and end the fragile peace in Lebanon is increasing. Although the Lebanese government wants to stay neutral, incidents have been reported that they actively object aid being delivered to the refugees. Central to these policies of the Lebanese government is the memory of 1948 and 1967 when Palestinian refugees fled Israeli occupation. The Palestinian refugees “helped ignite civil war”. However, the city of Saidnayel is known for welcoming Syrian refugees and has up to now hosted 265 refugee families. But also in this city where locals themselves are relatively poor, the influx of Syrian refugees let the prices and rents go up. In this situation “Lebanon’s government cut off minimal cooperation with the understaffed United Nations refugee agency”. Fears and suspicion among Lebanese that Syrian refugees might be from Al-Qaida or intend to take over the country become more wide spread as there seems to be no solution of the Syrian crisis. As for southern Lebanon, a Hizbollah stronghold, people remain calm of the situation. The author sees the reason in the resident’s own memory of receiving shelter in Syrian homes during Hizbollah’s war with Israel in 2006.
In the German Webmagazine qantara.de Kristin Helberg explains what Europeans should do to solve the Syrian crisis. First of all, Europe should engage more in the liberated areas of northwestern Syria and support local government structures. People should be asked what they think is needed and this should be provided in an uncomplicated way. Furthermore people should not just be helped but encouraged to pursue their own work. In rural areas, it is important not to constrain the export of agricultural goods and make sure there is enough seed to be planted. As such, the liberated areas could be seen as a role model for the rest of the country.
It is also important for foreign governments to not just formally accept the national coalition as the new legitimate representatives of Syria. Equally important is to act accordingly, e.g. to make them the new ambassadors. Also the United Nations should have ambassadors from the Syrian opposition. Otherwise it is paradox to give the recently approved humanitarian aid of 519 Million Dollar to the Syrian regime in order to “help” their citizens. As for the armed groups, the best choice would be to make the Free Syrian Army win this battle as fast as is possible. To make this happen, it is required to build more centralized army structures under the command of the National Coalition.
Helberg criticizes the west for remaining inactive. Europe has still not understood that it will support radical elements within the army who are financially well-equipped. Controlling the armed movement is crucial for stopping the fights once the Assad-regime is removed.
The National writes that it not still not clear what the US’ preferred outcome for Syria might be. Currently, Mr. Obama is not willing to support the armed Syrian rebels in their fight against Bashar Al-Assad. Apparently, according to John Kerry, the political goal is a negotiated outcome with minimal violence. A military solution would lead to the “implosion” of the Syrian state.
What the West wants is to get Assad out without him being replaced by current rebel leaders, such as Islamic radical parties. It is argued that even the removal of Assad will not necessarily end the fighting. Also, the offer by Moez al-Khatib to open negotiations with Assad was sanctioned by the US. The absence of any action by the US-administration thus points to their recognition that neither side can bring down the other side militarily.
Syria Deeply has interviewed a lieutenant who defected. It gives an interesting glimse of the mood within the army.