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Al Jazeera World

Lebanon: Sibling of Syria

With war in Syria threatening to spill over into Lebanon, we examine the two countries' shared history.
Last Modified: 14 Mar 2013 16:02

Filmmaker: Rania Rafei

Syria’s conflict has been leaking out of its borders, but in few places are risks higher than in Lebanon.

Divided at birth by French colonial design after World War I, both states were destined to be bound by a common fate, but over the years their relationship was to prove uneasy - like that of rival siblings.

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Only in 2008 did the two countries formalise diplomatic ties for the first time since both gained independence from France in the 1940s.

Recounting their history, this film helps explain how Syria and Lebanon are inextricably tied together - the fate of one defining that of the other.

"Lebanon has always been the entry point for any intervention in Syria’s internal affairs. During the past 40 years, we got used to hearing people rejecting the Syrian intervention in Lebanese affairs. But the truth is all the coups that took place in Syria between 1949 and 1970 had been planned in Beirut. Beirut was the starting point for the planning and the logistic support for every coup in Syria," says Jamal Wakim, a history professor at the Lebanese International University.

This historical journey helps explain how ongoing sectarian conflict in Syria risks setting off the powder keg of Lebanon.

"For the first time since 1970, when Hafez al-Assad came to power, up until now, Lebanon misses the spirit of the ‘big brother’. The oppressive spirit that also brings our people together. We can’t just wonder how the current situation in Syria would affect life in Lebanon. This is a serious issue. And we need to think more about it," says Nahla Chahal, a researcher and journalist."

This film looks at the history of the turbulent relationship between Syria and Lebanon - a history of sibling nations that bodes ill for the future.

This episode of Al Jazeera World can be seen from Tuesday, March 12, at the following times GMT: Tuesday: 2000; Wednesday: 1200; Thursday: 0100; Friday: 0600; Saturday: 2000; Sunday: 1200; Monday: 0100; Tuesday: 0600.

Click here for more Al Jazeera World.

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