POLICY Statement

February 12, 2018: ATFL Statement on Latest Flare-ups between Israel, Syria, and Iran

February 12, 2018

February 12, 2018. The American Task Force for Lebanon (ATFL), an organization of prominent Lebanese-Americans who support strong US-Lebanon relations, is gravely concerned with the recent escalation in tensions between Syria, Iran, and Israel as a result of the shooting down of an alleged Iranian drone over Israel and its response targeting the drone’s command center in Syria manned by Iranian personnel. This bombing, and the subsequent attack against a Syrian airbase following the downing of an Israeli F-16, represents the first direct engagement between Syria and Israel since 1982.

Bellicose statements have been issued by all sides of the conflict, each defending their behavior and questioning the other parties’ version of events. Regardless of the sequence of events, the reality is that tensions among the parties are once again threatening the Lebanese as well as Israeli and Syrian civilian populations who are the first casualties of the saber-rattling.

As Heather Nauert, a State Department spokeswoman said this weekend, “Iran’s calculated escalation of threat, and its ambition to project its power and dominance, places all the people of the region — from Yemen to Lebanon — at risk.”

The ATFL firmly supports Lebanon’s policy of dissociation, wherein it is determined to avoid becoming entangled in any conflicts in the region, and calls on all parties to firmly commit to avoiding provocations and responses that threaten civilian populations and escalate military confrontation. With the decreasing threat from ISIS and the continued desperate conditions for Syrian refugees throughout the region, steps should focus on reducing threats and encouraging conditions that allow for the safe return of the refugees and the reconstruction of Syria.

The ATFL is especially hopeful that during his visit to the region, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson will reinforce the need for caution and diplomacy.

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