At first glance, Lebanon might appear like an impermeable country, with an enemy state to the south, and the northern and eastern borders occupied by a country at war with itself. But Monday’s events highlight exactly how porous the borders are, and just how easy it is to breach the country’s sovereignty.
If the near-daily overflights by Israeli aircraft were not enough, an incursion by Syrian soldiers north of the country, and the detonation of a communications device, believed to have been carried out by Israel, in southern Lebanon, signify how weak Lebanon’s borders are, and how inaction on behalf of the government is allowing these infringements to continue.
For years now there has been talk of official demarcation of the border with Syria, with the U.N. and other actors offering their help in this crucial matter. But talk has continued with zero action, and the lack of respect of Lebanon’s sovereignty to continue unabated.
For most other countries around the world, were a single such violation to take place against their borders it would understandably be considered an act of war. However in Lebanon, with different political alliances taking divergent sides when such violations are committed, it is nearly impossible for the country to take a unified stance. Condemnations are issued, or not issued, from different actors, but that’s about it. Both the president and prime minister issued statements Monday, but the incursions were not even thought worthy of warranting a special Cabinet meeting.
This detached attitude to such violations allows the culprits to continue acting with impunity, and permits them to view Lebanon’s borders as a mythical notion.
Linked to this is the issue of undercover spies, whole networks of which have been discovered over the last few years, whether by the Army or by Hezbollah. However, while news of networks discovered by Hezbollah is made public, what happens next is not communicated: whether these spies are tried or set free. They pose a genuine threat to this country’s stability, working as they are for Israel, and it ought to be made transparent exactly how they are continuing to operate.
And all of this goes back to the government’s failure for months now to address the concrete needs of its citizens, while every day, it seems, Cabinet members declare the safety situation completely under control.
Since coming in to power last year, the government has proved incapable of carrying out any major achievement, let alone succeeding in tackling day-to-day issues, which affect every citizen’s life, from traffic to pollution. Many such problems have actually worsened.
And amid an ongoing Arab Spring, the Lebanese people, so accustomed to inefficiency at every level and system of government and governance, have yet to react to this situation with a rightful sense of indignation, which might prompt some overdue government action.