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Occupation, Syrian-Style

The hypocrisy of Bouthanina Shaaban’s Dec. 3 op-ed concerning what she calls the “occupation and colonization” of the Arab people would be laughable were it not so tragic. The director of foreign media for the Syrian Foreign Ministy, Shaaban blames Israel and American complicity for the “humiliation” of the occupied Arab people.

Yet, Syria has been an occupier of Lebanon for more than two decades, controlling policy and maintaining 25,000 troops there. As the Los Angeles Times has reported: “Syria still has intelligence agents based in the capital; its businesspeople still keep billions of dollars in Lebanese banks; tens of thousands of its troops still patrol large areas of the country; and top Lebanese government and military leaders are still beholden to Syria for their posts” (Aug. 10, 2001).

And woe to any force that dares oppose Syrian hegemony in Lebanon. In 1990, Syrian forces stormed the Beirut stronghold of Christian insurgent Michel Aoun, shelling the civilian population center and massacring 700.

In addition, in June 1976, Syrian artillery assisted Christian Phalangists in the seige of the Tal Za’tar Palestinian refugee camp in which thousands were believed to have died in mass killings.

So much for “the rights of all peoples in the region,” about which Shaaban so piously lectures.

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