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SYRIA RELATIONS

FPM delegation led by Gebran Bassil visits Syrian Embassy

FPM delegation led by Gebran Bassil visits Syrian Embassy

According to some analysts, Bassil’s visit to the embassy comes as he is seeking the support of Bashar al-Assad's regime ahead of the upcoming parliamentary elections in May. (Credit: AFP)

BEIRUT — A delegation from the Free Patriotic Movement led by its head Gebran Bassil, visited the Syrian Embassy in Lebanon on Wednesday to meet with Ambassador Ali Abdel Karim Ali. The visit follows recent comments from Bassil that he is ready to go to Damascus on an official visit to discuss the matter of Syrian refugees in Lebanon.

Here’s what we know:

    • According to some analysts, Bassil’s visit comes as he is seeking the support of Bashar al-Assad's regime ahead of the upcoming parliamentary elections in May.

    • Former minister and FPM deputy head Tarek Khatib, who participated in the visit to the embassy, said afterward that he “hopes for stability and security for Lebanon, Syria and the Arab countries this year.” He also insisted on “the importance of strengthening Lebanese-Syrian ties in the interest of both the people and the countries,” adding that he is in favor of strengthening relations and cooperation between the two countries.

    • For his part, the Syrian ambassador said he wanted Lebanon to experience “stability and economic recovery this year” and hoped “that the country can meet its constitutional deadlines successfully.”

    • Official relations between Lebanon and Syria have been tense, especially since the withdrawal of the Syrian army from Lebanon in 2005, and have divided the political scene in Lebanon. Several Lebanese ministers have visited the Syrian capital in recent years, including ministers from the current government led by Najib Mikati.

    • The FPM, which was founded by President Michel Aoun, was a staunch opponent of the Syrian regime during the 1990s and the first half of the 2000s, before the party changed tack and allied with Hezbollah, which is very close to Syria. Aoun himself visited Syria in 2008.

    • But as cracks begin to appear in the FPM’s alliance with Hezbollah,, Gebran Bassil, who is sanctioned by Washington, appears to be seeking closer relations with Damascus, perhaps in order to increase his chances of becoming the next Lebanese president after Aoun finishes his term, which is due to expire in October.


BEIRUT — A delegation from the Free Patriotic Movement led by its head Gebran Bassil, visited the Syrian Embassy in Lebanon on Wednesday to meet with Ambassador Ali Abdel Karim Ali. The visit follows recent comments from Bassil that he is ready to go to Damascus on an official visit to discuss the matter of Syrian refugees in Lebanon.Here’s what we know:    • According to some...