Jerry Maher, the media advisor to Sheikh Bahaa Hariri and Chairman of the Board of Directors of Sawt Beirut International (SBI), urged on Monday the need for Syrian nationals who still support the Syrian regime to be deported from the Lebanese territories immediately.
“The Syrian regime is still taking advantage of Lebanon’s resources by smuggling medicine, diesel oil and other (commodities), which further deepens the economic rift and leads to several other problems,” Maher said.
“The message is clear: we don’t want this regime to return in any way whatsoever and we shall not provide it with all of Lebanon’s resources,” he said during an interview with MTV.
He added that “the Syrian occupation in Lebanon is not over yet and the refugee is fleeing a political fate, war and famine. As for those who are not suffering due to this regime, they should return to it because they constitute a burden on the Lebanese people.”
On May 20, scuffles erupted between Lebanese and Syrians, who were on their way to cast votes at their embassy in Lebanon in favor of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, as polling abroad began before the presidential election.
The voters were driving in a convoy of cars and buses, waving Syrian flags and blasting pro-Assad songs on speakers, heading to the embassy on the outskirts of Beirut, when a group of Lebanese attacked their vehicles, witnesses said.
The Lebanese smashed windows and burned their flags, snarling up traffic on the thoroughfare, the witnesses said.
Lebanon’s relations with neighboring Syria have often been fraught in the past. Syrian forces were deployed to Lebanon in the 1975-1990 Lebanese civil war, ending their 29-year presence in 2005. Lebanon now hosts 1 million refugees from Syria’s own civil conflict.