Eye of the storm

FILE - This Friday, April 7, 2017 file photo provided by the U.S. Navy, the guided-missile destroyer USS Porter (DDG 78) launches a tomahawk land attack missile in the Mediterranean Sea. (Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Ford Williams/U.S. Navy via AP, File)

The region is being deafened by the drums of war, and as signaled by aggressive rhetoric, the redeployment of fleets, and relocation of bases and missiles, there is no doubt that the worse is yet to come, as if this part of the world is forever doomed to remain mired in fire and blood.

The U.S. has already promised Bashar Assad that “missiles are coming,” the Syrian regime is redistributing its air force in anticipation of a military strike, Russia has threatened to retaliate against any attack, and other regional states have all jumped on the bandwagon to field threats at their respective foes.

And as tensions escalate, spin doctors from every nation are having a field day as currencies plummet, stocks fall and genuine fear engulfs the Middle East.

Meanwhile, Lebanon, due to its geopolitical circumstances, finds itself in the midst of this lethal quagmire without actually being directly involved in either the looming conflict or the challenges, dangers and threats.

With such ominous developments coming just as Lebanon has had the fortune to win the support of the international community to the tune of over $11 billion to get the country back on its feet, Prime Minister Saad Hariri has moved to head off any spillover by affirming his determination to safeguard Lebanon’s sovereignty by shielding it from the impact of any possible escalation.

He has stressed that the only means to keep the country safe is to dissociate it politically, economically and in terms of security from the regional crises, even though some parties might try to use Lebanon as a pawn to further their agendas.

And it’s no coincidence that a statement has been issued by French President Emmanuel Macron and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman urging all parties to keep their hands off Lebanon and allow its government to keep abiding by the policy of dissociation.

In fact, the success of this mantra relies entirely on the commitment of all Lebanese parties to the policy of dissociation from the fires around us regardless of who is stoking the flames.

Lebanon has to address genuine and important challenges, and it can only succeed if sober heads prevail, ensuring that the government remains on the right track and that no party launches an unexpected situation that would reek of involvement or interference in the region’s conflicts.

We have to stay out of the approaching storm; there is no other way.

With the banners of war unfolding all around us, the notion of dissociation has become the golden shield that can protect Lebanon as the region trembles in fear.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on April 12, 2018, on page 1.




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