What can anyone say about Lebanon, a Middle East gem of a country that gave us Khalil Gibran, Carlos Slim Helu the richest man in the world, the Maronite Christians, and the most delicious cuisine in the Mediterranean.
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.
Its socio-ethnic demographics almost mirror those of Syria with one exception: 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, and even the whole Middle East region.
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 interference and 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 the country. Syrian presence had a long lasting negative impact on the country because Assad brought with it the tyranny and the culture of death so prevalent in Syria during the last 45 years of rule of the Assad family.
Syria continued to exert considerable deadly political clout in Lebanon even after President George Bush forced a withdrawal of its troops in 2005, thus ending a 29-year Syrian military occupation.
The withdrawal followed the assassination in Beirut of former prime minister Rafik Hariri killed by the Syrian regime in cooperation with Hezbollah.