Monday, October 21, 2013

Lebanese Drama With Turkish, Iranian and Syrian Tones

I’m not the one to make light of kidnapping or hostage-taking. As a matter of fact I condemn both as acts of violence regardless of whether groups use them as negotiating tools or practice them as a sport.

I also condemn media and governments that insist on dumbing us down and insulting our intelligence with tall tales that have no basis or horizon. Thus, calling attention to the unfinished exchange between Lebanon and Syria. The release of two Turkish pilots is tightly linked to the release of nine Lebanese Shiites that were held in Syria since 2012. Lebanese authorities claim it is an exchange deal that was negotiated carefully and masterfully, but the truth will be known only when the other shoe drops.

Lebanon is a perfect ground for the ugly games of kidnapping and counter-kidnapping, as well as assassinations that never lead to suspects or arrests. Just let history speak. How the capital Beirut remains listed at the top in the world annals of travel and tourism is beyond comprehension!

Let’s get this straight: A group of 11 Shiite Lebanese were captured in 2012 by Syrian rebels fighting the Assad regime. The Lebanese were held on suspicion of being Iranian spies.

The families of the kidnapped Lebanese said their relatives were religious pilgrims visiting Syria. Earlier this year, two Turkish pilots were taken hostage in Beirut setting off a regional frenzy to free the Lebanese “pilgrims” in an exchange. An unknown group claimed responsibility for the Turkish pilots kidnapping but kept them comfortably, communicated comfortably through local media their demands and proof of life and negotiated the exchange comfortably as well.

After intensive talks involving Qatar, the nine Lebanese left in captivity were released and the Turkish pilots were set free. It all happened in good timing with Iran’s successful nuclear talks with the West in Geneva.

One of the released Turkish hostages has stated that they tried to get along well with their kidnappers. He even said that one of the kidnappers decided to name his new son Murat after the pair. A video is making the rounds showing the pilots partying and smoking hookah while in captivity.

Now that this crisis seems over, the Lebanese have a renewed sectarian animosity. Turkey is enjoying a much-needed victory. Iran seems to be an inch closer to being a player again with the West. In Syria, the rebels gave in to regional pressure while Assad did not yet release female prisoners as he was expected to.

Since in hindsight vision is near perfect, we can look back at the genesis and evolution of this Lebanese drama and.. weep!


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