BEIRUT: Syrian army incursions into Lebanon are the result of a lack of demarcated borders between the two countries, Interior Minister Marwan Charbel told An-Nahar.
“The problem is the lack of demarcated borders and what is happening in the eastern part is a dispute over which country the area belongs to,” Charbel said. “In light of that, the Syrian army pursues those who escape into a territory that they consider Syrian.”
“Syria does not have the right to purse [anyone] inside our territories and we have to protect our borders to prevent any damage from Lebanon on Syria and vice versa,” he added.
Residents of border villages in the Bekaa have reported several incursions by the Syrian army in recent weeks.
Earlier this month, a farmer was killed in the village of Arsal when Syrian soldiers reportedly crossed several kilometers into Lebanese and shot in the direction of farms.
The minister also told the paper that both changing and maintaining the government in Syria would create a problem in Lebanon.
“Changing the regime in Syria would result in an internal problem for Lebanon and even if [the regime] remains [there will be a problem]. Any amendments to Syria’s position today would result in a losing and winning party [in Lebanon],” Charbel told An Nahar in a wide ranging interview conducted in Paris.
“At the end, all of the Lebanese will lose if they do not recognize the dangerous situation we are in,” he added.
Lebanon’s rival political coalitions hold opposing views regarding Syria’s unrest and the country’s relationship with Lebanon.
Damascus’ allies represented in the Hezbollah-led March 8 alliance say the situation has improved Syria in recent months, and have described the anti government protests as a foreign conspiracy targeting President Bashar Assad.
The March 14 coalition have repeatedly condemned the Syrian government’s violence against protesters, with former Prime Minister Saad Hariri expressing hope that the Syrian people will be victorious and achieve their demands of freedom.
Charbel also warned that the unrest in the neighboring country could extend to Lebanon, and said that such an event would deal a heavy blow to the country.
“But everyone is aware of this, and knows that everyone would lose [if it happens],” he said.
The ministry has information about the possibility of assassinations, Charbel said.
“If one of the officials is assassinated, God forbid, I do not know what might happen to the country,” he said.
Charbel, who has voiced his support for financing the Special Tribunal for Lebanon, said that if the majority in the government were able to gather enough opposing votes against the U.N.-backed court, then Prime Minister Najib Mikati would resign.
“If they are capable of gathering a majority against financing the tribunal, then Mikati would resign. That is the democratic game,” he said, adding that he thought the financing will be agreed upon.
Charbel, who repeatedly warned of the dangerous situation in the country, said sharp political division among the government’s components and the regional instability are alarming, and urged lawmakers to be aware of such a fragile situation.