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Lebanon and the FutureOf 'Greater Syria'

One consequence of the Syrian crisis may be the end of its "greater Syria" approach to Lebanon, writes Mohammad Harfoush.
Relatives of Lebanese who had gone missing in Syria on Friday chant slogans during a protest to enquire about their relatives' fate, in Tripoli, northern Lebanon, December 3, 2012. At least 12 Lebanese gunmen were killed in a Syrian army ambush in the central Syrian province of Homs, a security source and people close the men's families said on Friday, a sign that Lebanon is getting further tangled in Syria's war. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said 30 Lebanese fighters had gone missing and a secon

Since the two countries first declared independence, the relationship between Lebanon and Syria has long been defined by mutual misunderstandings. The formation of Greater Lebanon in 1920 was a shock to a number of influential Syrian groups. These groups viewed Lebanon as an artificial creation of colonialism that had been stripped away from the territory of Syria. Some Syrians continued to hold this belief even after Lebanese independence in 1943, and the French evacuation from Lebanon and Syria in 1946. This belief — dubbed Syrian unity — applied not only to Lebanon, but encompassed any independent country in the Levant, including Jordan and Palestine. They were all considered parts of Syria that had been temporarily separated from Syria by French and British Mandates. Thus Syria has long presented itself as the victim of a conspiracy that stripped it of its rightful lands, starting with the Sykes-Picot Agreement of 1916 and continuing to this day.

Ever since the November 1970 coup staged by former President Hafez al-Assad under the name of the “Corrective Movement,” Lebanon has had to endure multifaceted attempts by Syria to interfere in its affairs.

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