Nothing but the truth. Even if against me.

Nothing but the truth. Even if against me.

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Sunday, March 26, 2017

SYRIAN REFUGEES: GO HOME - إلى اللاجئين السوريين: عودوا إلى دياركم

يا أخي اللاجئ السوري: العودة إلى ديارك هي أفضل الحلول لوجودك الكثيف والثقيل على لبنان، وعليك البدء بالتفكير بكيفية عودتك. فلا بقاء لك في لينان على المدى الطويل. مر اللبنانيون بتجربة مرة مع اللاجئين الفلسطينيين واندلعت حروباً أهلية وغير أهلية بينهم. أرجوك أن تعود إلى بلادك في أقرب وقت ممكن، وألا تفكر في البقاء في لبنان، لأنه آجلاً أم عاجلاً سوف ينتفض اللبناني وتبدأ المشاكل وتندلع الحروب وتحصل المذابح كما يحصل غالباً في جميع البلاد العربية وكما حصل في الأردن في 1970 أو في لبنان في 1975.
سوريا بلاد كبيرة وشاسعة تسعك أنت وأسرتك، والحل للأزمة السورية بدأ يلوح في الأفق: سوف تبقى سوريا على المدى المنظور مقسمة إلى مناطق نفوذ مختلفة. فعليك أنت أن ترحل عن لبنان وتستقر في المناطق السورية المتجانسة مع هويتك وتعيد بناء حياتك. لبنان بلد صغير وصبر اللبنانيين ليس متناهي. أدعوك إلى التحرك اليوم قبل الغد لتساعد لبنان وتساعد نفسك على تجنب المشاكل والحروب التي لا بد أن تشتعل قريباً إذا قررت البقاء في لبنان رغماً عن إرادة اللبنانيين. 

How will the incompetent Lebanese government of Aoun and Hariri get the Syrian refugees to return home?

Why is the government of Michel Aoun and Saad Hariri not doing anything to begin deporting at least the illegal/unregistered Syrian refugees back to Syria. Syria has large swaths of territories free of war where they could settle temporarily.

We are at a critical juncture since the onset of the Syrian Civil War in 2011: Syrian refugees in Lebanon number anywhere from 1 million to 2 million, both legal and illegal.

The birth rate among the refugees is so high that the above numbers are likely to be underestimates.

Lebanon has gone through one horrible experience with the Palestinian refugees who waged war against the Lebanese State between the late 1960s and the early 1980s. The Palestinian refugees had tried to topple the Jordanian monarchy in the late 1960s, but then King Hussein crushed their uprising (September 1970) and evicted them from Jordan. They migrated to the chaos of Lebanon and tried to do the same, assisted by Kamal Jumblatt who thought he could restore power from the Maronites to the Druze. Unlike the cohesive and loyal Jordanians who stood firmly together with their king and government against Yasser Arafat, the Lebanese, bereft of any national identity and relying exclusively on sectarian identities, fell in the trap and a wholesale civil war erupted in the early 1970s.

But the Syrian refugees are a whole lot more numerous today relative to the native Lebanese population, than the Palestinian refugees were back in the late 1940s when they arrived.

International organizations generally tend to overlook issues of national sovereignty and demographic convulsions caused by the displacement of large numbers of refugees from one country to another, and focus instead on providing humanitarian assistance. This is fine and commendable. But it carries with it an insidious proposition of encouraging the refugees to stay in their host country, for no other reason than to promote the international organizations raison d'etre. In other words, the moment the refugees return home is the moment the international organizations have also to close shop and go home, and they don't like that. They like anomalous situations and uncertainty because they create conditions that justify the continued operations of international organizations. It's a Munchhausen Syndrome of epic proportions.

WE WANT THE SYRIAN REFUGEES TO RETURN NOW TO THEIR HOMES. Another few years, and the settlement effect changes from temporary to permanent. I talk to Syrian refugees all the time. They are now beginning to express their reluctance to return to Syria because they have settled, married, have jobs, children born in Lebanon, etc. After 5-6 years it becomes difficult to re-uproot yourself psychologically and re-settle somewhere else, even if it is your country of origin.

Michel Aoun and Saad Hariri should act in concert with the international institutions dealing witht the Syrian crisis to ensure the return of the Syrian refugees. The Lebanese government should not wait for the UN and international actors to tell us when the refugees should go home. The Lebanese government should lay down its own programs and plans, and should begin to implement them regardless of any action at the international level.

Failure to act now - not in one year, not in three years because it would be too late - is a recipe for another civil war between Lebanese parties (Christian and Shiite primarily, because the Lebanese Sunnis may not be too eager to see the largely Sunni Syrian refugees return home because any fraction of the refugees who end up staying in Lebanon will swell the demographic ranks of the Sunni sect to the detriment of the declining Christians and the politically aspiring Shiites.

If, however, by some miracle the Lebanese suddenly mutate into a sectarian-free society where people's religions are trashed (as they should be), then the Syrian refugees will no longer be a threat to the delicate demographic acrobatics that define Lebanon's constitutional construct. Their presence will only add economic pressure, since by culture and outlook, the Syrians and the Lebanese are essentially similar.

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