Syria’s reconstruction fuels the profiteers
There is a repellent duality in Lebanon when it comes to dealing with Syria and Syrians. On one hand, the number of campaigns against the refugees keeps increasing, holding them accountable for the overall deterioration of the situation in Lebanon, the economic malaise, the rising unemployment and crime rates and the fears concerning the country’s demography.
It has become very easy for some to link any crisis in Lebanon to the Syrian refugees, forgetting that Lebanon has been a battleground crisis for decades. On the other hand, there is a frightening appetite regarding what is now called the “the reconstruction of Syria” that has started to reveal the face of evil.
Many Lebanese – officials, leaders and citizens – want the repatriation of refugees to Syria, regardless of the fates they might face, as they might die by bombing or even get killed directly, become detained or fall victim to forced recruitment by the Syrian regime.
Meanwhile, Lebanese businessmen and politicians are getting excited about establishing a “free trade zone” to help Lebanese businessmen negotiate with Damascus on the reconstruction.
The stark contrast here is that those people who wish to invest in Syria under the umbrella of President Bashar Al-Assad are the same ones who want the refugees expelled from Lebanon, regardless of their fate. Lebanese Industry Minister Hussein Hajj Hassan, a member of Hezbollah, said: “There are urgent needs to support the cooperation with Syria and participate in reconstructing it… Detractors in Lebanon will change their minds.”
Those people who wish to invest in Syria under the umbrella of President Bashar Al-Assad are the same ones who want the refugees expelled from Lebanon, regardless of their fate.
Therefore, talks about Syria’s reconstruction phase in Lebanon have become explicit, as some people and companies have started acting like it has become imperative, amid the Syrian regime’s control over vast areas, backed by Russia. Thus an appetite has emerged for the possibilities of deals that some officials, politicians and beneficiaries are promising themselves.
In fact, those who are demanding the expulsion of Syrian refugees from Lebanon are almost the same ones who corroded the Lebanese beaches, destroyed the heritage buildings in Beirut and established companies that have benefitted from relations with the men of power. Today, they are hoping for a share in the reconstruction phase and own or finance media promoting racist discourse against refugees.
These same people keep reiterating that “reconstructing Syria will represent a solution for the recession in Lebanon.”
This schizophrenia, represented by the investment appetite of corrupt people in Lebanon on the one hand and the excess of racist emotions reflected in their appetite for expelling refugees outside the borders on the other, seems provocative and flagrant.
Today, all eyes are on the “reconstruction of Syria,” and Beirut is taking part in the conferences promoting this situation, with complete disregard for the crimes committed by the Syrian regime against its people, and most importantly, for the role of Lebanon through Hezbollah’s fighting on the side of the regime. This means that Lebanon, responsible for part of the Syrian tragedy, is also working today on benefitting on behalf of the regime’s victims.
In Lebanon, racism is perpetrated against refugees while deals are concluded to traffic their rights.
Diana Moukalled is a veteran journalist with extensive experience in both traditional and new media. She is also a columnist and freelance documentary producer. Twitter @dianamoukalled