The reasons for the abduction of a Turkish pilot and co-pilot as they exited Beirut’s International Airport is difficult to understand unless it is looked at it from the perspective of “Lebanon the arena.” Lebanon is an “arena” used by the Iranian regime to prove that it has clout in the region – that Beirut may as well be an Iranian city on the Mediterranean Sea, and that the whole of Lebanon and not only the Shiite sect is held hostage.
Why target Turkey from Beirut? The answer is simple. The aim is to pressure Turkey due over its stance on the Syrian regime which Iran supports. The Iranian regime considers the battle over the Syrian regime’s survival as its own battle but it is incapable of engaging in a direct and exposed confrontation with Turkey.
What we are currently witnessing is another episode in the long series of moves aiming to strengthen Lebanon’s role as an “arena” for conflict.Khairallah Khairallah
The battle over Syria is one of life and death. It is not a coincidence that the abducted Lebanese in Syria were used as an excuse to justify kidnapping the Turkish pilots. The abduction of the two Turks occurred as the Syrian opposition fighters advanced in areas close to Aleppo. This progress was made even greater by their capture of the strategically important airport of Menegh, used to send reinforcements to forces loyal to the regime and the site of several jets and helicopters. The question is thus does Iran benefit from pressuring Turkey from “Lebanon the arena?”
No Lebanese can accept that Lebanese people be abducted in Syria. Abducting Lebanese people is condemned by all standards. And what’s certain is that it’s not right to exploit this kidnapping to further harm Lebanon and isolate it from its Arab allies and from a country like Turkey – one of the few countries that Lebanese citizens can visit without a visa.
Lebanon is the real casualty
Iran wants to punish Turkey in Lebanon and through Lebanon, despite the harm this causes to Lebanon and its people. Lebanon is the real casualty of this situation – the eventual aim is to ensure that the Lebanese state and its institutions are not viable and to guarantee that Beirut’s airport falls under the control of Hezbollah, which is directly involved in the war against the Syrian people.
To put it simply, the Lebanese state has fallen largely under the control of Hezbollah. What is revealed on a daily basis is that Hezbollah’s Iran-backed “statelet” is much stronger than the Lebanese state. The real “statelet” is the Lebanese state that unwillingly plays the role of the “arena” for Iran’s machinations in Syria.
Anyone who takes a close look at the established relationship between Lebanon and Turkey will find out that Lebanon means nothing in this formula, at least for Turkey and its various interests. This evaluation takes into consideration the size of the Turkey’s economy and the nature of relations it has established with the international community. Add to that, Turkey, a Muslim country, is a major NATO member.
On all levels, Lebanon is the biggest loser in the confrontation sparked by the abduction of the pilots. If we cast the humanitarian aspect of the issue aside, there’s nothing pushing Turkey to respond to the captors’ request to release Lebanese abducted in Syria, if it even has any influence over the abductors of the Lebanese men.
Yes, Turkey has interfered in Syria. Some think its interference is beneficial. Others, even some among the Syrian opposition, think that the Turkish policy is wrong, especially coming from a cabinet whose short-sightedness reveals that it cannot deviate from the general path of the Muslim Brotherhood.
But the campaign against Turkey is one thing and harming Lebanon is another. The crime of abducting the two Turks neither helps release the Lebanese men captured in Syria, nor helps alter the Turkish stance towards the Syrian revolution.
Whoever carried out the abduction knows this well. The captors’ aim is first and foremost linked to the situation of an armed sectarian militia with direct ties to Iran which is controlling Lebanon and aiming to isolate the country from its Arab neighbors. That’s all what it’s about. What we are currently witnessing is another episode in the long series of moves aiming to strengthen Lebanon’s role as an “arena” for conflict. This makes Lebanon a card in the Iranians’ hand which they can play when brokering a deal with America or Israel.
Nothing happens by coincidence in Lebanon. It’s not a coincidence that the Turkish pilots were abducted at a time efforts are being made to obstruct the formation of a new cabinet headed by Tammam Salam and to destroy all state institutions including the presidency’s.
The abduction of the Turkish pilot and co-pilot is nothing but a mere cover of a crime being committed against Lebanon and the Lebanese people. It’s no more and no less than a war against Lebanon.
This article was first published in the Arabic news website Elaph on August 12, 2013.
Khairallah Khairallah is a Lebanese writer who has previously worked at Lebanon’s Annahar newspaper. He then moved to London and began writing political columns in Arabic language newspapers, including Al-Mustaqbal and Rosa El-Youssef.
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