On 25 April 2018 the Second Conference of Brussels in support of Syria and the other countries in the region, organized by the European Union and the United Nations, was brought to a close.

The donor states put on show their desire to help Lebanon to continue to provide shelter to the Syrian refugees for as long as it takes to come up with a political solution for Syria [1]. Accordingly, they entreated host countries to give legal status to refugees even if they return on a temporary basis to Syria. The Lebanese Prime Minister (a Sunni), Saad Hariri, seemed to agree with this request.

However, it appears from the final communiqué that was published, that the other Lebanese authorities (the President of the Republic (a Christian) and the President of the National Assembly (a Shiite), have fiercely denounced this conference. This is because they think that the conference has an altogether different agenda. It aims only at preventing refugees from returning to the country of origin by claiming to seek a political solution that has already been found at Sotchi [2].

The President of the Republic, Michel Aoun, has gone even further. According to him, what the Western powers are seeking to do is to deprive Syria of its inhabitants and to force Lebanon to naturalize them.

Furthermore, the Lebanese think this conference was going in the opposite direction to their policy of “keeping a distance” which, following the Declaration of Baabda, bans any state from intervening in the war in Syria.

Certain Europeans are also raising questions on the European Union’s accommodation of Syrian refugees. This “right of asylum” seems to have strayed from its goal: no more is the aim to save civilians from a theatre of war but in truth to deprive Syria of its inhabitants.

Anoosha Boralessa

[2Consensus between the Syrians at Sotchi”, by Thierry Meyssan, Translation Pete Kimberley, Voltaire Network, 6 February 2018.