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Fouad Ajami er selv libaneser. Han gjør seg noen tanker om attentatet på Rafiq Hariri og hva det betyr for fremtiden. Legg merke til beskrivelsen av Syrias eksploatering av Libanon. Hvor mye har det brydd oss? Når diktaturene etablerer seg, tilpasser vi oss raskt, som det var et naturfenomen, og avskriver befolkningen de styrer.

A Syrian political and military class around a wily and shrewd leader, Hafez al-Assad, had come to a belief that Lebanon was its rightful claim. The Lebanese had been careless: They had feuded among themselves, and the Syrians had ridden those jealousies–and the pretext of an Israeli military presence in southern Lebanon–into veritable acquisition of their Western neighbor by the Mediterranean.

A great, pitiless hoax was played on Lebanon. A country that had known the crosscurrents of the world, a place of culture–French culture in east Beirut and the mountains, American culture on the western seaboard–was to pass into the control of the conquering army of a brutal, backward regime. The Syrians had usages for Lebanon: There was money there for the Syrian kleptocracy, opportunities for drug dealings and contraband, a border from which the Syrians could wage intermittent little wars and deeds of terror against Israel, while 2_kommentartaining the most quiet of borders on the Syrian-Israeli front.

Hariri knew the risks of Syria’s wrath: how could he not? For three decades, bigger players than he had been struck down right when they had begun to agitate for their country’s sovereignty against the power of Damascus.

The Hariri assassination is part, then, of a big story, with an unsavory history. We may never know the intimate details of this dark deed. The trail to Damascus may never be found. Access to the «crime scene»–Lebanon itself–will be controlled through Syria and through those Lebanese who accept Syria’s writ in their country.

It will not do for the Syrians to profess horror at this crime of Hariri’s assassination. There is an old tradition, and an old saying, in the hard hill country of Lebanon about killing a man and walking in his funeral procession. The only antidote to this terrible, senseless death, is the eviction of Syria from Lebanon. In a rare, but important, case of French-American cooperation, those two powers have backed a United Nations Security Council Resolution calling on Syria to respect the sovereignty of Lebanon. If Damascus’s operatives pulled off this assassination, the deed is a response, at once pathetic but brazen, to the mounting pressure on Syria to change its ways. It would be fitting that the Syrian hegemony in Lebanon consolidated during the first war against Saddam Hussein would be undone in the course of this new campaign in Iraq.

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