The intermittent skirmis- hes in northern Lebanon, specifically Tripoli, can be termed a natural extension of the current tension in neighboring Syria. In Tripoli, as Shiite and Alawi sects live together, some people see what is happening in Syria as a conflict between these two religious sects. Since the beginning of the crisis, the Syrian regime has been trying to exploit the situation in the border areas and drag Lebanon into a civil war. Despite the tension and the intermittent skirmishes, northern Lebanon — including Jabal Mohsen and Bab Al-Tabbanah, where extremists from the two sects battled — remained relatively calm.
The Syrian regime, however, wants to convince the world by its fabricated story that it is actually fighting terrorist groups. This is a last straw to which the regime clings on to gain support of the West. According to the claims of the regime, if the freedom fighters were terrorists, then Tripoli was Kandahar. The regime also pledges that the Gulf citizens were financing terrorist operations against it.
These claims were made to serve what can be called "a badly produced movie" about elements from Hezbollah, working within the Lebanese general security, and arresting a man named Chadi Al-Mawlawi, who is a Sunni living in a Sunni-dominated area. The elements were aware that the man used to visit the office of Sunni leader Muhammad Al-Safdi regularly, so they called him to come to the office to receive a social assistance. When he arrived in the office, the Hezbollah men arrested him.
Before Al-Mawlawi was interrogated, the Syrians and the Lebanese media supporting them circulated news that he was a member of Al-Qaeda and was financing operations against the regime. To make the story more credible, the regime's puppets arrested a Qatari citizen who came to Lebanon for medical treatment on the pretext that he had arrived in Lebanon to finance Al-Qaeda to fight the regime, and that he was also providing Al-Mawlawi with finances.
This story was described by some parties as absurd. They doubted that an old man from Qatar would come to Lebanon especially to finance terrorist operations against the Syrian regime without fearing to be uncovered and exposed. The parties also said it was a lot easier for a Gulf citizen to be smuggled into Syria and work against the regime from inside than doing this from Lebanon, which is replete with Syrian security organs and intelligence men.
When the persons who arrested Al-Mawlawi were asked how they questioned him in the absence of a lawyer, they claimed that he refused to appoint a lawyer to represent him. This, in fact, is far from being true. The Lebanese security forces were trying to make up a story that north Lebanon had been turned into a land for Al-Qaeda and that the Gulf citizens were in Lebanon especially to finance the terrorist operations against the Syrian regime. As a result of these false stories of the Syrian regime, which were supported by Hezbollah, three GCC countries warned its citizens from traveling to Lebanon. They also asked their citizens who are already in Lebanon to leave the country immediately because it is no longer safe for them. This is what the Syrian regime is actually working for: To export chaos to Lebanon and make it unsafe, particularly with school summer vacation rapidly approaching.
Since the beginning of the revolution in Syria, the Syrian security forces and their allies in Lebanon have been endeavoring to achieve two goals: To expand the crisis to cover neighboring Lebanon and to control it, benefiting from the weak government in Beirut.
The Al-Mawlawi story is not only an indication of the atrocities of the Syrian security forces, but also of the submissiveness of the Lebanese intelligence to them. The official institutions in Lebanon kept mum on all these violations.
It is true that the Qatari citizen was released and traveled home, but the Syrian regime has achieved its purpose by stabbing the Lebanese economy, making it chaotic.
The writer is the General Manager of Al Arabiya. The article was published in the Saudi-based Arab News on May 20, 2012