Now that everyone knows where Lebanon is

While sympathizing with some who suffer injustice, leaders often ignore many others.

When I came to the United States four years ago to start my graduate work at the University, I used to see big question marks on people’s faces when I told them I was from that country called Lebanon. But since our former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri was assassinated in February, the situation has dramatically changed.

Everyone now knows about this Middle Eastern country whose geography is much smaller than that of the state of Minnesota. Everyone is aware of the Syrian presence in Lebanon, and all of a sudden the whole world is interested in liberating Lebanon from Syria and wants the Syrian troops that have been in the country for 30 years out immediately, according to the U.N. Resolution 1559.

Don’t misunderstand me; I’m not trying to argue for or against the Syrian presence. I am just wondering – why is this happening now? Is it the assassination? Because if it was so, Syria should have been out a long time ago. At least one prime minister and two presidents were assassinated with fingers pointing to the Syrians, but I never heard the world community asking Syria to leave Lebanon back then. Or is it the strong opposition movement that raised worldwide awareness of the situation now?

Because if you think of that too, you will find opposition movements in every Arab country that were much more active than ours and these never went anywhere with their opposition!

What happened before in Algeria, Egypt and even in Syria itself makes me very skeptical that seeing a liberated Syria-free Lebanon is the reason behind the current reaction of the United States and the European Union. Or is it the firmness in implementing U.N. resolutions? Somehow U.N. Resolution 1559 (2004) calling for Syria to leave is on everyone’s mind in the world community, but other U.N. resolutions, such as 425 (1978) calling for the Israeli withdrawal from Lebanon and 242 (1967) calling for the Israeli withdrawal from Syria, have long been forgotten. (There are other U.N. resolutions that were unimplemented, but these are the ones that pertain directly to my country.)

What I am trying to say is that while the Bush administration and other world leaders appear to sympathize with my feelings as a Lebanese suffering Syrian occupation, they completely ignore the countless other injustices that are being perpetrated all over the world. For instance, Russia is continuously interfering with Chechnya and just recently assassinated Chechnya’s democratically elected Aslan Maskhadov as part of a decade-long war that has resulted in thousands and thousands of casualties.

Is this issue even on the radar of the U.N. Security Council, or in the news? Or for now, is it an internal affair between Russia and Chechnya “whose time has not come to appear on the world stage?” I see a very clear pattern:

President George W. Bush and other world leaders seem to express their sympathy and sense of justice about an issue only when it coincides with other interests they have. The world would be better off if world leaders looked with both eyes. And if we really want world peace, as Bush puts it, we should work toward nonselective world justice!

Hassan Ghomrawi is a graduate student and a writer for Al-Madinah Cultural Center. Please send comments to [email protected]