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April 26, 2005
Syria Leaves Lebanon After 29 Years

The Syrians have accomplished what almost no one expected -- they have actually left Lebanon without a shot being fired to chase them back across the Bekaa Valley. Even the Syrian intelligence services have packed up, or at least that's what the Syrians say:

Syria will declare a formal end to its 29-year military involvement in Lebanon today with a "farewell" ceremony in the Beka'a valley - four days earlier than expected.

Hundreds of Syrian troops left the country over the weekend after burning documents, demolishing walls and filling bunkers. Yesterday, Syrian intelligence abandoned Anjar, the headquarters of Rustum Ghazaleh, the intelligence chief who was once the most feared man in Lebanon. He was reported to have left for Damascus last night but was due to return for today's ceremony.

The Syrians chased themselves out of Lebanon after the idiotic assassination of Rafik Hariri, one of Lebanon's wealthiest men and most popular as well. Bashar Assad did more to create Lebanese nationalism with one bomb than he ever did in the 29-year history of his and his father's occupation of their western neighbor. That bomb united Christians and Muslims alike on the nature of sovereignty and gave them both a martyr.

The bomb's shock waves continue to be felt. Lebanon's security chief has apparently resigned ahead of being sacked for insubordination to the new interior minister. Jamil Sayyed is a known collaborator with the Syrians. Ali al-Hajj, who ran the internal security bureau and also collaborated with Damascus, has placed himself at the disposal of the Prime Minister but may have left his position. Another Quisling, Raymond Azar, has left Lebanon entirely, flying to Paris ostensibly on a "mission" for the military intelligence which he headed, but more likely a mission to escape the coming wave of retribution for the Lebanese enablers of Syrian oppression.

All of this bodes ill for Hezbollah. These high-level collaborators in the Syrian military/intelligence complex could have helped Hezbollah remain armed, a power with which to reckon in any post-Syrian political arrangement. With their best allies getting purged from the security forces, it appears that Hezbollah's status as an armed militia has a limited future. Stripped of their miltary and intelligence cover, the terrorist group either will have to convert to legitimate political activity or fight a newly-sovereign Beirut for control of Lebanon. And with the land link between Hezbollah and their Iranian sponsors cut off by the 135,000 American troops in Iraq, Hezbollah can no longer count on winning a fight, either against Israel or even the Lebanese Army -- especially if the Americans and French respond to defend the new sovereign democracy in Beirut.

Sphere It Digg! View blog reactions
Posted by Ed Morrissey at April 26, 2005 7:10 AM

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