"And I have found both freedom and safety in my madness, the freedom of loneliness and the safety from being understood, for those who understand us enslave something in us. But let me not be too proud of my safety. Even a Thief in a jail is safe from another thief. "

Khalil Gibran (How I Became a Madman)

Lübnan Marunîleri / Yasin Atlıoğlu


Saturday, April 13, 2024

'Most Syrians' in Lebanon will be 'deported,' Mikati says from Bkirki-L'Orient Today

 Lebanon's caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati said on Saturday that "most of the Syrians in Lebanon" will be "deported … when the international community recognizes" the existence of safe zones in Syria. Mikati's remarks were made during a meeting with the Maronite patriarch, Bechara al-Rai, at Bkirki. The comments come against a backdrop of heightened tensions and xenophobic acts against the Syrian community in Lebanon, following what the Lebanese Army has reported as the murder last Sunday of a Lebanese Forces (LF) official by a Syrian gang.

"We are in the process of putting in place a solution through our contacts," Mikati assured the Maronite patriarch, while calling for "a distinction to be made between Syrians who work in Lebanon and those who arrive in Lebanon as refugees to take advantage [of this status]."

"The solution begins by considering most of the regions in Syria to be secure so that Syrians who have come to Lebanon as refugees can be deported there …. Once there are secure regions in Syria and the international community recognizes this, most of the Syrians who are in Lebanon without a job or legal pretext will be deported. We will respect the rights of those who have residence and work permits just as we respect any Arab citizen," the caretaker head of government continued. "Nothing unites the Lebanese today more than the issue of displaced Syrians," he added.

The murder last Sunday of LF executive Pascal Sleiman has raised tensions in Lebanon, with an upsurge in verbal and physical violence against Syrian nationals and their representatives. Since Monday, videos showing individuals assaulting Syrians and vandalizing their cars have been circulating on social networks. On Wednesday, unknown assailants ransacked an office of the Syrian Social Nationalist Party (SSBP) in Jdita, a town in the central Bekaa region. The assailants smashed the office windows, poured petrol on the premises and tried to set fire to it before fleeing, leaving a Lebanese Forces flag behind them.

Mikati, whose visit to Bkirki coincides with the 49th anniversary of the start of the Lebanese Civil War on April 13, 1975, also called for "lessons to be learned" from the past in a context in which the Pascal Sleiman killing has resurrected the specter of war and raised fears of security abuses. "Today we commemorate April 13, the date on which the painful Civil War (1975-90) began. I call on the generations that did not experience the war to learn from it," Mikati said. "We will lose out if we start fighting each other … Everyone must return to the fold of the state," he added.