Lebanon is a Middle East gem that gave us Khalil Gibran, Carlos Slim Helu one of the richest men in the world, the Maronite Christians, and the most delicious cuisine in the Mediterranean. Their ancestors, the Phoenicians, invented the alphabet.
If you remove Hezbollah from the equation, Lebanon is an experiment in governance that proves there is still hope for peace and democracy in the region. It is only when Hezbollah appeared on the scene that Lebanese politicians became corrupt and inept.
Its socio-ethnic demographics almost mirror those of Syria with one exception: Lebanon is a democracy. It was never ruled by one family whose very existence was to terrorize other peoples and countries as the Assad thugs have.
Syria could have been another Lebanon if it was not for the tyranny and the terror of the Assad family.
With its high literacy rate and entrepreneurial mercantile culture, the country remains a traditionally important commercial hub in the Levant. Lebanon, for its size, punches above its weight in commercial activities and spreading tolerance.
LEBANON’S MINORITIES ARE ITS SOURCE OF EXCELLENCE
In Lebanon, a hodgepodge of cultures and faiths, one can find Shia Muslims, Sunni Muslims, Christians, and Druze, which constitute the main religious make-up in a country that has been a refuge for the region’s minorities for centuries.
From 1975 until the early 1990s Lebanon endured a civil war as a result of the Assad family occupation. Like Syria today, regional players used the country as a battleground to resolve their differences.
Syrian troops moved in shortly after the war started as a pretext to stop the war but instead fed it to destabilize further the country. Assad presence had a long lasting negative impact on the country. He injected the tyranny and the culture of death so prevalent in Syria today. Something that Syria has suffered from in the last 45 years of rule of the Assad family.
Assad continued to exert considerable deadly political clout in Lebanon; even after President George Bush forced a withdrawal of his troops in 2005. With the withdrawal, Lebanon enjoyed freedom from a 29-year Syrian military occupation.
The withdrawal followed the assassination in Beirut of former prime minister Rafik Hariri. The Assad regime, in coordination with Hezbollah, killed a good man. One of the best politicians ever in Lebanon.