Volume 96, Issue 76
Thursday, February 13, 2003

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Syrian occupation requires attention

To the Editor:

In a discussion of occupation in the Middle East, rarely is Syria's occupation of Lebanese land mentioned. Syrian forces have occupied Lebanon since the country's civil war began in 1975, and an estimated 35,000 Syrian soldiers remain stationed there. Repeated official calls for Syria's departure by the Lebanese government have not reduced this occupation, nor did the aborted "war of liberation" waged in 1989 by Lebanon's then-Prime Minister Michel Aoun.

Syria's excuse for its action is that there is no occupation; it is merely "one people in two statelets." Nonetheless, Syria controls 90 per cent of Lebanon with an iron fist. Syria diverts three quarters of the waters of the Asi River for the benefit of Syrian farmers. Syria imports one million of its citizens to work in Lebanon. As well, Syria uses Lebanon as a political tool through its control of the terrorist group Hizbullah (which is based in Iran and Syria). Syria can easily heat things up on Lebanon's southern border by having these terrorists fire missiles at nearby Israeli villages. This prompts an Israeli retaliation and puts the lives of Lebanese soldiers and civilians at risk.

The list of atrocities committed by Syria is far longer than space allows. Yet with all of the above, how much coverage of the Syrian occupation have you seen on television? How many Arab countries have you heard stand up for the Lebanese people? In several on-campus talks that I have attended regarding occupation in the Middle East, all I hear is discussions about Israel; Syria is never mentioned. It is time for more organized action against Syrian occupation to be undertaken.

Yaniv Berliner
Medicine III

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