Friday, 17 August 2012

Most of the many coups which occurred in Syria between 1948 and 1970 (which is when Assad took hold of power) originated from or were planned and organised from Beirut. This explains the importance which Syria attributes to controlling Lebanon. This puts the whole Syrian-Lebanese relation into perfect context. One one hand, Syria is in some ways the hinterland of Lebanon just as Upper Egypt is the hinterland of Lower Egypt, or as Manitoba is the hinterland of Ontario. And yet on the other hand, Syria is the greater power; Damascus and Aleppo are great cities in their own right, and their combined influence far surpasses that of Beirut. So Syria is simultaneously hinterland and hegemon; Lebanon is cosmopolitan and vulnerable. I think that particular constellation of advantages and disadvantages is what most characterises the relationship.