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Lebanon-Syria.

Nabil Boumounsef, a political analyst with the opposition newspaper AN NAHAR, criticized the government's policy to "dissociate itself" from anything connected with the Syrian unrest and U.N. attempts to impose sanctions on Syria over the brutal crackdown on protesters demanding the ouster of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. "The policy of 'dissociating oneself' followed by Lebanese diplomacy at the Security Council on the Syrian crisis has constituted the best recipe for the government because it is a realistic ceiling for Lebanon to avoid being crushed in the escalating regional-international duel against the backdrop of the Syrian bloodbaths," Boumounsef said in his column on October 7.

He lashed out at the government's silence on what he called "a mysterious border 'phenomenon' that is proliferating between Lebanon and Syria, threatening to lead to a creeping de facto matter that allows the Syrian army to exploit the intermingling of borders [between the two countries] in the north and the Bekaa to stage incursions or carry out across-the-border operations."

"The expansion of the policy of 'dissociating oneself' to this sovereign phenomenon has exposed the dual standards followed by members of the government," Boumounsef said. He added that the government's complete silence on the Syrian incursions into Lebanese territory reflected "a disavowal" of the violation of Lebanese sovereignty or belittling them.

Syrian forces crossed into Lebanon on Thursday, killing a Syrian national in the second incursion into the Bekaa town of Arsal in 48 hours, in an incident that heightened tension on the common border between the two neighboring countries.

On Tuesday, two Syrian tanks crossed the Lebanese-Syrian border into Arsal and fired at an abandoned factory that manufactures batteries after suspecting the presence of armed men inside before heading back to Syria. Tuesday's was one of several similar incidents that saw Syrian troops cross the Lebanese border in the Bekaa region in a search for "armed gangs" which Syrian authorities blame for the escalation of a seventh-month-old popular uprising against the Assad regime. So far, there has been no comment from the Lebanese government or the Lebanese Army on the border incident.

However, commenting on reports of cross-border incursions by Syrian troops into Lebanese territory, Prime Minister Najib Mikati said a joint Syrian-Lebanese committee was closely following up the matter. "I am not being silent about this, we are dealing with the issue normally," Mikati told AFP Thursday, noting the permeability of the border. "I don't want to blow these incidents out of proportion and I don't want to belittle them either."
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Title Annotation:ARAB OPINIONS
Publication:The Weekly Middle East Reporter (Beirut, Lebanon)
Geographic Code:7LEBA
Date:Oct 8, 2011
Words:418
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