Page last updated at 16:35 GMT, Wednesday, 6 April 2005 17:35 UK

Will Syria pullout ease Lebanon tension?

Syrian soldiers give the thumbs up as they leave Lebanon

Syria is to withdraw all its troops from Lebanon by 30 April, the UN envoy to the Middle East has said.

Syria has already begun the withdrawal, following an outcry over the assassination last month of former Lebanese Prime Minister, Rafik Hariri, and around 8,000 troops remain in the country from an original force of 40,000.

The Lebanese opposition has accused Syria of being behind Hariri's death and mass street protests led to the downfall of the pro-Syrian administration in Beirut. Lebanon is now preparing for elections in May.

What does the Syrian troop pullback mean for Lebanon? Will it ease tension in the country? Will recent protests and violence threaten national unity in the Lebanon and affect elections? Are you a pro-or anti-Syrian supporter in Lebanon and, if so, what are your views?

This debate is now closed. Thank you for your comments.


The following comments reflect the balance of opinion we have received so far:

Whether we like it or not, Syria and Lebanon will always be united
Fouad, Texas, USA
Whether we like it or not, Syria and Lebanon will always be united. No-one can change or deny geography and the nature that unites these two states. If our politicians are sincere and honest, and if outsiders would leave both states alone, Syria and Lebanon would enjoy peace and prosperity.
Fouad, Texas, USA

Like most Syrians, I am in support of the withdrawal of the Syrian troops from Lebanon. However, thanks to the mounting international pressure, it is being done so quickly it will cause a power vacuum and send an open invitation to terrorists to come into beautiful Lebanon and turn it into a mess.
Samer, Framingham, MA, USA

Syria entered Lebanon after USA allowed it to, and it seems that now USA wants Syria to pull out. This is as a punishment to Syria. I am with the full Syrian pullout. However, they are playing games over our heads and saying all this is happening not because they love Lebanon and they want democracy in Lebanon. That is rubbish! Also, all these bombings are occurring in Christian places so that the opposition (which is mainly Christian) will rise up turmoil will break out between Muslims and Christians. Shame on them!
Raffi, Dora, Lebanon

The UN Report investigating the murder of Mr Hariri has verified what the Lebanese have known for the last the 30 years; The Lebanese civil war was ignited and fuelled by the Syrian regime to conquer Lebanon. We are grateful for the courage of the Lebanese opposition and protesters and congratulate them on accomplishing the wishes of every Lebanese.
Tony, Manchester, UK

It may take some time before things settles down in Lebanon after the withdrawal of the Syrian troops to behind the international borders. It has been made clear that Syria has supported peace and stability throughout its presence in Lebanon, and in doing so it has paved the way for a strong unity to be forged amongst all Lebanese communities. It would be a complete success for Syria to be praised by the Arab League and the international community for its role in maintaining the stability following the departure of its troops from its neighbouring country. If there is a good will there is always a good way. Let's hope the leaders and people of both countries can live up to the high expectations of providing their future generations with the same leading role in contemporary civilisations as their ancestors had in ancient civilizations.
Anonymous

My problem with this whole new series of bombings is that they are the rough equivalent of emotional terrorism. People are so tired, washed out. As I read more and more comments posted, the real problem becomes even more apparent: everyone here has hit on some element of truth, but the big picture remains to be revealed. Too many cooks are spoiling the broth, and the impetus of the original demos has cooled off, and left us with much rubble to clear away. The so called unity we're proud to display is being tested as we speak. Will we have enough political maturity to take hold of power for ourselves? Do we have enough conviction to do that? Really?
Joumana, Beirut, Lebanon

No doubt Syria overstayed its welcome in Lebanon. It is sad that they had to leave under the current circumstances when they could have managed much better. Having said that, the Lebanese opposition should know its limits and use some wisdom in solving the difficult, intricate issues facing the country. Behaving as "winner takes all" will certainly drag Lebanon into another additional sad chapter of its recent history. The easiest thing in the world is to blame Syria for of Lebanon's ills, but I'm Lebanese and I know that we are no saints. Those in the opposition today who fully participated in previous Lebanese governments and who are responsible for the sad state of affairs the country is in, whether through corruption or just looking after their narrow communal interests, they should "stop and think".
M Mourad, Toronto, Canada

After the Syrians leave, there must be a race against time to strengthen the police and Lebanese army. There should be no other armed substitute. A strong army will maintain the peace, increase nationalism, enforce the law, and show all that Lebanon does not need baby-sitting by any other nation. The stronger the army, the less foreign influence.
Nader Wehbe, Michigan, USA

Syria is trying to show the world that when they leave Lebanon the place will fall apart. As if their presence was helping the country. Syria is trying to ignite sectarian violence and start a new civil war, hoping for a Christian retaliation. Syria is directly threatening Lebanon and the stability of the whole region. Syria needs to be dealt with on an international level or the situation will continue to worsen.
George Abi-Habib, Dubai, UAE

The younger Lebanese generation has forgotten the lessons they should be learning from the brutal past. Asking everything that is pro-Syrian to leave is like inviting even the worse enemy. They can forget about ruling the country on their own given that so many international powers have interests in the region. Syria could have been a prime suspect in Mr Hariri's assassination under some other circumstances, but given the fact that they are themselves at receiving end at present, Lebanese should try find the real culprit rather than pointing fingers at the usually obvious. Otherwise, everything would go ahead as their real enemy has planned for them.
Rajesh Kulkarni, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia



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