Young Syrians and Lebanon

Here's an interesting take, by a Lebanese journalist, on why young Syrians don't really get the Lebanese independence movement because than can't begin to imagine it as a separate place:

In clear imitation of the one expression of Lebanese political will that had been most painful to the Syrian regime, the authorities commandeered one of Damascus' squares and set up a strike tent in the middle of it. Their respect conquered their resentment at what the Lebanese had done, and they encouraged university students to come and write messages and sign the huge boards they had set up under the gaze of television cameras.

Then, to make sure they'd left nothing unimitated they copied the idea of the Lebanese opposition they so despise, and started wearing shawls across their shoulders. They even had a Syrian gentlemen moving through the crowd and distributing such shoulder-wear to demonstrators.

They couldn't even manage to use the beginning of their own national anthem ("Syria, my sweetheart") as a slogan, they had to use the Lebanese national anthem. They couldn't think of anything for themselves. They made no attempt to distinguish themselves from the Lebanese. And why? Not because it was a conscious attempt to imitate them and not because the Syrian regime, with the downfall of the Soviet and Saddamist models of state, has exhausted its ability to renew itself. It is more likely that it stems from a deep-rooted Syrian conviction that Syria and Lebanon are one. Lebanon is not a different country or a separate people but a jealously guarded lover. What is Lebanon's is Syria's.
You can read the whole article at Babelmed.
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Issandr El Amrani

Issandr El Amrani is a Cairo-based writer and consultant. His reporting and commentary on the Middle East and North Africa has appeared in The Economist, London Review of Books, Financial Times, The National, The Guardian, Time and other publications. He also publishes one of the longest-running blog in the region, www.arabist.net.