BEIRUT (Reuters) – Hezbollah and its allies are pressing the Lebanese state to normalize relations with President Bashar al-Assad’s government in Syria, testing Lebanon’s policy of “dissociation” from the Syrian conflict and igniting a political row.
Calls for closer ties with the Syrian government, including on refugee returns and military operations on the Lebanon-Syria border, come as Assad regains control of more territory from insurgents and seeks to recover his international standing.
The Lebanese policy of “dissociation”, agreed in 2012, has aimed to keep the deeply divided state out of regional conflicts such as Syria even as Iran-backed Hezbollah became heavily involved there, sending fighters to help Assad, who is also allied to Iran.
The policy has helped rival groups to coexist in governments bringing together Hezbollah, classified as a terrorist group by the United States, with politicians allied to Iran’s foe Saudi Arabia, underpinning a degree of political entente amid the regional turmoil.
While Lebanon never severed diplomatic or trade ties with Syria, the government has avoided dealing with the Syrian government in an official capacity and the collapse of the policy would be a boost a political boost to Assad.
Source: News Now/Reuters