Across the Bay

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Shiite Farmers Blast Syria

While Hassan Nasrallah smooched Rustum Ghazaleh a little while back, his co-religionist farmers, whose livelihood is being threatened by Syria, expressed rather different sentiments:

Ali Antar, who owns a citrus fruit orchard on the Sidon-Tyre road, expressed his disbelief at Syria's course of action, describing it as an unjustified attempt to pressure the government.

"These attempts are doomed to failure," he said, calling on the Lebanese authorities to take measures on the basis of reciprocal treatment.
"This measure [the border restrictions] is stupid and full of revenge," Ismail said, adding that it would negatively affect relations between the two countries.

"In the South, we are used to hearing that fishermen have been arrested by Israeli boats, but today we hear that fishermen are arrested by Syrians," he said.

Ismail was equally critical of the Lebanese state which he said was "incapable of finding a solution to this problem," describing some officials as "cowards."

So, the Shiite farmers are not only likening Syria to Israel, they're calling for their government to stand up to Syria, and to apply reciprocal treatment, should the Syrians persist in their spiteful bullying behavior. In the meantime, the Lebanese are looking for alternative routes.

Meanwhile, the French have accused the Syrians of deliberately blockading the border, and waved the possibility that no deal will be signed between the EU and Syria if they don't stop their disruptive in Lebanon, and start contributing to "regional stability," including in Iraq. Let's see if that deters Bashar, or if he'll slap the Euros, and the French, in the face... again!

Also, the UN envoy Larsen has renewed calls for Hizbullah to merge their weapons with the Lebanese Armed Forces, a proposal that HA naturally rejected. Moreover, HA maybe trying to haggle with the US on the matter of their weapons, through outgoing Labor and Agriculture Minister Trad Hamade, who is closely linked to the party, but is not an actual member. The Agriculture portfolio will in all likelihood go to a Shiite once again in the upcoming cabinet. Not that he'll have the unpleasant task of dealing with the Syrian blockade.