"We have asked the governor of the Bekaa (in eastern Lebanon), Antoine Soleiman, to promptly engage in contacts with the governor of the suburbs of Damascus to ask him ... to remove the sand berms, which have all been placed on Lebanese territory," AFPWhat tickled me the most was Ahmad Fatfat's following comment regarding the Syrian transgression,
"If these sand berms, which were probably meant to fight smuggling on the border, are necessary, then they should be erected on the border or inside Syrian territory,""The problem is that they are on Lebanese territory, and we do not want, after some time, to be a facing a 'new Shebaa Farms'" AFP
He should have also said: "We do not want to live with another "Security Zone" for the next 10 to 20 years."
Of course, nothing will come of this statement. Fatfat is known to be the loose cannon in the Hariri camp, and they do appear to provide him with some leeway to speak his mind. The frail Saudis are threatened by any signs of increased instability in the region, and the last thing they want is escalation on the Lebanon-Syria front. The Hariris have no choice but to oblige - or lose their income!
What would I have done if I was in control? Well... let me tell you what I would have done.
Do any of you remember that one international incident between Morocco and Spain that revolved around contested islands in the Mediteranean? Morocco basically sent troops to set up camp and create a de facto reality, and then Spain sent its own troops in retaliation. Ultimately, the Spanish troops "arrested" the Moroccans and sent them back home.
Well, if I was in Fatfat or Elias el Murr's shoes, I would do the same. I'd look for a unit of the Lebanese Army that is sitting around, doing nothing. Then I'd send them to that Syrian outpost to arrest the Syrians who have manned it.
Whatever the outcome of that move, I think Lebanon would win. If the Syrians fight back, then the Army unit would retreat. If the unit is able to complete its mission, then all the better.
The point is that the Lebanese government would have taken the initiative to bring the border demarcation issue back into prominence. Furthermore, if the Army sustains pressure on Bashar's regime by repeating this exercise in the different locations of Lebanon where "Syrian outposts" exist, then maybe the Syrians will get tired, and oblige to our demands. The Saudis may be weak, but so is Bashar. The last thing he wants, is to be in the limelight. He's happy living in obscurity in his Damascus cave.
Again, we don't need to have a strong military. We won't be invading Syria. All we'll be doing is asserting Lebanese sovereignty. And in the process adding fuel to the flame that Bashar is sitting on at the moment!
Frankly, Lebanon has nothing to lose; and this political/military move would hit two birds with one stone - both as a worthy end in and of itself and as a means to pressure an adversary.