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Mansour calls for Cabinet meeting over Syria intervention

Caretaker Foreign Minister Adnan Mansour speaks during an interview with The Daily Star in Beirut, Monday, Aug. 12, 2013. (The Daily Star/Hasan Shaaban)

BEIRUT: Caretaker Foreign Minister Adnan Mansour warned Tuesday that a possible war against Syria would affect the whole region and called for the Cabinet to convene to discuss the impact on Lebanon.

“In case a war is waged against Syria, this would have negative repercussions on the whole region,” he said.

Mansour, who also contacted his Syrian counterpart Walid al-Moallem, said Lebanon’s resigned government should convene to address the repercussions of the possible military action.

“This dangerous situation requires an urgent Cabinet meeting or at the least a call for a small-scale ministerial meeting to look into the threats Syria is facing and the possibility of a military strike and how this would impact Lebanon,” Mansour said.

Aside from Mansour, Lebanese political parties were hesitant to discuss the possibility of a military strike against Syria.

The United States and other Western countries have signaled their readiness to take action over last week’s suspected use of chemical weapons by the Syrian regime in the suburbs of Damascus, an act which has been widely condemned by the international community.

Hezbollah MP Ali Ammar said he was not prepared to discuss the issue, while lawmakers from the Lebanese Forces were not available for comment. Kataeb MP Sami Gemayel also refused to make a statement on the matter.

Future Movement MP Ammar Houri told The Daily Star that if the U.S. chose to strike, then it should be something that the regime should take full responsibility for.

“It’s a complicated situation,” he told The Daily Star. “But the Syrian government has led its country and the entire region to this point.”

Houri also said it was too early to tell what kind of repercussions a possible Western intervention would have in Lebanon.

“It’s not knowable so far, and it all depends on the magnitude of the strike,” he said.

Amal Movement MP Ali Khreis said the U.S. was using last week’s chemical attack as an excuse to strike the Syrian government.

“The United States should instead pressure Syria to find a real solution to the crisis,” he said.

Khreis stressed that the situation was “very serious” and should not be taken lightly. He added that it was clear a potential attack would have negative consequences in Lebanon.

“I hope it will not have an impact on the country,” the lawmaker said. “But it appears it will.”

Speaking to reporters following the weekly meeting of his Reform and Change parliamentary bloc, head of the Free Patriotic Movement Michel Aoun pointed out that Lebanese deterrents to such a strike were very limited.

“Emotional reactions are stronger than others,” he said.

“We hope we will able to keep the fire from spreading.”

Reform and Change MP Alain Aoun said it was too early to discern the consequences of the impending move by Western countries.

“Either way, [the strike] is a new development in the Syrian crisis,” he said. “Its impact on Lebanon cannot be determined yet.”

Pro-Hezbollah Sheikh Afif Nabulsi warned that U.S. interests in the Middle East region would be targeted should Washington permit a strike against Syria.

“Any [U.S.] strike against Syria will be met by harsh responses against U.S. interests in the region and against Israel directly,” he said.

He warned that any strike against Syria could cause a regional or even an international war. “Approaching Syria [militarily] would be like approaching a dangerous zone and a threat to regional and international security alike,” said Nabulsi.

Former MP and head of the People’s Movement Najah Wakim said the strike would not only negatively impact Syria, but the entire region – particularly Lebanon, Palestine, Iraq and Jordan.

“The Lebanese people have recently suffered deadly explosions that are part of an ongoing series, and they must realize that the hands who committed these crimes are the same ones which carried out the chemical attack in Syria, and they are no doubt linked to the American intelligence,” he said.

Wakim called on all Arab states to take a firm stance against the United States and its allies.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on August 28, 2013, on page 4.

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