Is There a Saudi-Syrian Deal
By: Daoud Rammal Translated from As-Safir (Lebanon).
The deal concluded between Turkey and Iran, which resulted in the release of 2,100 detainees and hostages in Syria — including four Turkish pilots — that were in the Syrian regime’s custody in return for the release of 48 Iranian hostages detained by the opposition, has raised many questions about the reason it did not include the nine Lebanese detainees captured in the city of Azaz, and other Lebanese citizens detained in different regions of Syria.
About This Article
A recent hostage swap deal between Turkey and Iran leaves Lebanon wondering why Lebanese hostages were not included in the deal, Daoud Rammal looks at the reasons behind this.Publisher: As-Safir (Lebanon)
Prelude to Reconciliation Between Future Movement and Shiite Duo
Author: Daoud Rammal
First Published: January 15, 2013
Posted on: January 15 2013
Translated by: Sami-Joe Abboud
Observers noted that the hostage deal between Ankara and Tehran could have included the Lebanese hostages. This led them to raise the question, "Aren't Iran and Syria keen on the safety of Lebanese hostages and ensuring their release? The natural answer is that the two sides are extremely concerned about their safety and release, but there are hidden factors behind this issue, which will take a long time to be settled peacefully."
A source closely following the issue said that "it is illogical to separate the Lebanese hostage issue from internal and regional factors, especially considering that Lebanese parties seldom communicate. Those who continuously seek to heal the rift should find the opportunity to re-open channels of communication in order to end the long-standing rupture between key parties in Lebanon. The human hostages file could possibly be a key factor in opening closed doors internationally and regionally.”
The source added, "The Turkish-Iranian deal focused on releasing the Iranian hostages and Turkish pilots with no consideration for any other factors. In other words, if there were not Turkish air force officers among those held hostage by the Syrian regime, Ankara would not have acted so quickly to mediate their release through Iran. Thus, the deal had specific objectives and elements and could not afford any other goals. However, this deal will set the stage for another similar deal that would include the Lebanese hostages. The new deals tools will be different, in terms of the countries working on completing it. They will complete the deal in a period of time deemed suitable by Lebanon, which is preoccupied with upcoming milestones that are causing a heated conflict."
The source explained that "the Turkish-Iranian deal — which mainly succeeded due to the fact that there were Turkish pilots detained by the Syrian regime troops — will be met with a Syrian-Saudi deal that will lead to the release of the nine Lebanese hostages. The fact is that contacts between Damascus and Riyadh have reached their limit, especially at the security channel level. Moreover, there is a deal being prepared according to which the release of the Lebanese hostages will be made at the hands of the president of the Future Movement, Saad Hariri. This deal is being orchestrated by Saudi Arabia so that Hariri himself can release them."
The source said, "The deal is likely to take place between the months of March and April, and the nine Lebanese hostages will be released and transported to Lebanon on board Hariri's private jet. He will be on board the jet to receive them from the Turkish authorities after the completion of security arrangements between the Lebanese and Turkish sides. The released hostages will be received at the airport by Speaker Nabih Berri, Deputy Secretary-General of Hezbollah Sheikh Naim Qassem and former Prime Minister Fouad Siniora, among others. The beginning of reconciliation between the Future Movement and the Shiite duo, Hezbollah in particular, will embody the return of communications between Syria and Saudi Arabia and thus defuse tension, especially as far as Syria is concerned. This will pave the way for the return of Hariri to the premiership with the consent of Iran, Syria and Hezbollah."
The source added that "the debate revolving around the nature of the electoral system and the shape of electoral constituencies is only aimed at buying time until the overall political deal is completed, knowing that it will not be concluded without the return of serious and practical communication between the Future Movement on the one hand and Hezbollah and the Amal Movement on the other. This is aimed at ridding the country of polarization and the political stalemate plaguing it. This will happen when the kidnapped Lebanese nationals in Syria are released."
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