In my article on Sunday, I reminded my readers of Syria's intervention in Lebanon in 1976 on the grounds of stopping the civil war. The Damascus regime initially started with a limited military intervention, but then attempted to occupy the whole country. Syrian soldiers remained in Lebanon until the mid-2000s, and Damascus, although not officially, virtually controlled Lebanon.
With the pressure of the Syrian oppositions of Lebanon, in 2004, the United Nations issued Security Council Resolution 1595, which stipulated that the Syrian military had to leave Lebanon. Rafik Hariri, former prime minister of Lebanon, who played an important role in the issuing of this resolution, was assassinated in a bomb attack. Following the assassination, with the coercion of the US, Damascus withdrew its military from Lebanon.
The US allowed Hafez al-Assad to deploy soldiers in Lebanon. The situation was beyond support. Working strategically in the Middle East with the Soviets, al-Assad deployed soldiers into Lebanon upon agreeing with Washington. This information was supplied by Yevgeniy Primakov, former foreign intelligence chief, foreign affairs minister and former prime minister, after the Cold War era.
Yevgeny Primakov was Soviet's official newspaper Pravda's Middle East correspondent. Of course, being a correspondent was a guise. Primakov's real duty was to hunt for sensitive information in Arab capitals. According to information Primakov gave in his book, “The Middle East through the eyes of Russians,” Soviet Prime Minister Aleksey Kosigin was in Syria during the intervention. However, he didn't know what was happening. Neither al-Assad nor his circle gave away anything. Kosigin was given this information by Oleg Grinevski, the general director of the Middle East Bureau at the Moscow Foreign Ministry. Grinevski was in Damascus at the same time too. Apparently blustering winds blew between Kosigin and al-Assad, but not knowing that it would balance the situation in Lebanon, Moscow supporter Syria's intervention.
Those who suffered from Damascus' intervention in Lebanon were the Soviet friend, Socialist leader Kemal Canbolat, other leftist powers and the “Palestine Resistance Movement.” Primakov says the US supported the intervention because it meant that the Lebanese left and the Palestinian movement would be weakened, and the Christian fascists and Israel would have the upper hand. Apparently, the Soviets did not want the Lebanese left and the Palestinian movement to lose strength. But the result concluded just the way the US wanted it to.
It is also alleged that, a few days after the Syrian soldiers entered Lebanon, Canbolat said, “If Syria was neutral, we would have come to power in three months” to Primakov. Canbolat was right. The leftist allies he was leading were close to coming to power, but with the support the Soviet Union gave to Damascus, they lost. Canbolat, given the “International Lenin Peace Award” in 1972, was asssasinated in March 1977. According to his family, the Damascus regime was behind the assasination.
On the other hand, it is important to remember the position the US held when Israel invaded Lebanon in 1982, showing the armed attacks in south Lebanon as justification. The US vetoed the UN Security Council's decision that projected Israel withdraw its soldiers from Lebanon. Fourteen of the 15-member council – four of them permanent – approved this decision. The US also vetoed the French decision stipulating that Israel withdraw its forces from Beirut. However, the decision was accepted in the UN General Assembly by all members other than the US and Israel. This information might be of use for those criticizng the situation in Syria.