Lebanon & Syria
Bashir’s fears of Syria were due to several causes. First and foremost among these came Syria’s overt wish to annex Lebanon, or, at best, to make it resolve in the Syrian orbit, if it did not succeed in annexing it. Bashir clarified this point further by outlining the fact that all the textbooks in Syria’s schools describe Lebanon as “a district of Greater Syria”. And this was something that Bashir rejected outright “because the Lebanese simply won’t hear of a Grater Syria at the expense of Lebanon.”
As for the entry of Syrian troops into Lebanese territory, Bashir summarized the objectives which Syria had proclaimed, to justify its action, and the presence of its forces on Lebanese soil, as follows :
-Firstly : “To put an end to the massacres being perpetrated in the mountains and the fighting among Lebanese...”
-Secondly : “To help the Lebanese State in restoring law and order in the country...”
-Thirdly : “To restrain the PLO’s activities in Lebanon, in order to facilitate the solution of the Arab-Israeli conflict...”
Yet, rather than pursue the three objectives mentioned above, the Syrian State sought to dominate Lebanon, and instead of reconciling the conflicting Lebanese groups with each other - one if its declared aims - it drove a wedge between them by adding fuel to the flames, and intensifying the hostility existing between the Lebanese Muslims and Christians... Furthermore, instead of backing the Lebanese State, it merely imposed its will on the Army, the Security Forces, and all the State’s Institutions... In addition to which, it turned Lebanon into a battlefield for a “fight to the finish” between Egypt with its peaceful solution, and Syria, with its rejection of any separate peace moves...”
Not only did Syria never fulfil any of the three main objectives it had defined, to justify its entry into Lebanon, but its armed presence in the country, with that of its Palestinian allies, constituted a serious danger to Lebanon’s unity and territorial integrity, because it became a “de facto” party to the conflict between the two Arab occupants and Israel. Thus Syria alleged that the Bekaa Valley in Lebanon was a strategic zone upon which its security depended, whereas Israel also considered that valley as being vital to its own security.
Sheikh Bashir considered that if Lebanon assumed the sole responsibility of security in the Bekaa Valley, this would calm everybody’s fears and set their minds as rest, besides the fact that it would consolidate the unity of Lebanon. It would also restore Lebanon’s sovereignty over its territory. Furthermore, strong sovereign Lebanon would be the only factor capable of safeguarding its neighbours’ borders. In line with this outlook, Bashir declared himself in favour of undertaking any talk with the Syrian State that might be conducive to the welfare of both parties and lead to a better understanding between them. These contacts however, should be based on the following principles : No special agreements with Syria; no security, political, military or economic accords whatsoever. This attitude, Bashir explained was dictated by considerations of Lebanese sovereignty : Syria was an independent State, andso was Lebanon, and relations between them should be conducted on a basis of equal to equal. Lebanon has similar relations of mutual respect with all the Arab and non-Arab States, and does not see any point in granting especial privileges to any one State in particular, as this would make Lebanon a party to inter-state rivalries and political struggles in which it has no interest to be involved. Therefore, what is required is to establish relations with Syria exactly like those that exist with any other Arab or world State... And for its part, Lebanon would undertake to abide by the following principles:
-Firstly : Non-interference in Syria’s internal affairs or involvement of any kind in the struggles going on in that country.
-Secondly: Not to become a security hazard to Syria, whether this be through the activities of Syrians formerly persecuted in their own country, and now living as political refugees in Lebanon, or through military dangers threating its borders.
As a counterpart, Syria should relinquish any plans of annexation of parts of Lebanese territory, and withdraw its troops from Lebanon.