Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘President Emile Lahoud

Part 1.  Biography of a period (Lebanon, 1989-2009): President Emile Lahoud

Before 1989

The mother of President Emile Lahoud is from Armenia and his wife is Armenian and he speaks Armenian. In 1954, Emile miraculously recovered from meningitis while studying in London and thus decided to enjoy life to the hilt.  He spent his adolescent years riding a convertible white jaguar; he had a chalet on the beach and partied all night long. Lahoud married Andree Amadony in 1967.

Emile Lahoud would repeat this anecdote, countless times, for whoever cares to listen:  When a schoolboy, he got into a fight and had his regulation school overcoat ripped. His father, General Jamil Lahoud, asked him “Is your conscious at peace?” The reply was affirmative and the father said “Don’t you worry then; you will have another coat made”

Emile Lahoud used to never wear any coat or jacket during the coldest seasons until a friend was once shocked to see him swimming and asked him “Have you got hit on your head as a kid?”  Since then, Lahoud wears a simple black leather jacket in winter time, just to save appearances of normalcy.

Lahoud’s breakfast is a piece of banana and a cone of ice cream for lunch.  The main eating session is dinner.  Lahoud records on a tape the topics that he wants to approach in a discussion or matters to follow up on.

General Emile Lahoud, Army Chief

Emile Lahoud ascended the military ranks normally and was the first Chief of the army who came from the ridiculously tiny navy. He was appointed Chief in November 1989 after General Michel Aoun was forced into exile to France.

General Lahoud had the task to re-unite the dismantled army after over 15 years of civil war; he combined the regiments so that they represent all the Lebanese sects and ordered the regiments to relocate every 9 months to different parts of Lebanon so that every soldier knows his country.  He negotiated the best deals for arms, medicine, and insurance.

The General refused political deals with President Hrawy and Rafic Hariri PM for transferring officers and followed the strict military procedures.  Any high officer who refused to obey orders for the re-organization of the army was dismissed and Syria never tried to pressure Lahoud to rescinding his orders.  The billionaire Rafic Hariri used to offer the army cash money every month but General Lahoud refused saying “The State is responsible for the budget of the army” so that he can exercise his functions without undue political pressures.

There was an international decision to contain the Islamic resistance in south Lebanon and General Lahoud refused to confront the army with the Lebanese resistance fighting the Israeli occupiers.  President Hafez Assad of Syria decided to meet Lahoud for the first time.  General Lahoud told Hafez Assad “I am re-building the army to resist Israel and my conscience refuses to fight those who are fighting Israeli occupation”

Since that meeting the political pressures on Lahoud faded away and he could focus on the re-organization of the army and freeing the resistance from political pressures and its freedom of movement in areas not in the army control.  When Israel bombed Lebanon for 7 days in 1993, General Lahoud ordered to return fire and Israel stopped its shelling.

Walid Jumblat, leader of the Druze sect in the district of Shouf, offered General Lahoud a bullet proof car on account that their fathers were close friends.  Lahoud returned the car a few months later when he realized that Jumblat is in the habit of blackmailing for political gains.

The government had ordered the army to recuperate all public facilities and Lahoud recaptured the palaces of Al Amine in Beit El Dine to the growing angst of Jumblat.  Another time General Lahoud sent an army support to accompany the Druze Sheikh Akl Bahjat Ghaith to his home because Jumblatt forbade the Sheikh from entering his hometown.

Mr. President of the Republic

Lahoud was elected President of the Republic by the majority of 118 out of 128 deputy votes after revising an item in the Taef Constitution.  Item 49 in the Constitution denied candidacy to any a high ranked employee before resigning his post for a period. General Lahoud was elected President on October 15, 1998 and his first public oath in the Parliament said: “The President of the Republic is the only official to swear allegiance to the nation and to obey the law.  Thus, since I will be under the Law I expect everyone else to emulate my subordination to the Laws of the Land”

President Lahoud had a program of fighting corruption and made it clear and loud in his speech that didn’t mention the ex-President Hrawi or the ex Hariri PM in any sections of the speech.

When ex-President Hrawi urged Hafez Assad to change his choice Assad said: “The Lebanese public polls selected Emile Lahoud for President and I want him there” The Syrian President had complete confidence in the former Army Chief that he will first, resume his policy of strengthening and unifying the Lebanese army and will refrain from drawing the Lebanese army in internal infighting such as with Hezbollah and thus save the Syrian army any uncalled for problems, and second, that Lahoud will never contemplate unilateral negotiation with Israel.

Hafez Assad was not concerned with the Lahoud’s program for drastic reforms and fighting corruption.  Thus, Lahoud had to deal with a rotten political system in Lebanon that constituted an insurmountable barrier to change: the Taef Constitution robbed the President of valuable powers that were transferred basically to the Prime Minister and the cabinet combined.

Hariri had proclaimed three months ago that “I will return Prime Minister whoever is elected President to the Republic”  Hariri had returned from a long trip visiting important capitals and secured assent to be accepted as Prime Minister but only 83 out of 128 deputies selected him directly and the remaining deputies allowed the President to vote for them.

Cocky Hariri went publicly asking that another round of consultation takes place because he wanted as many representative votes as the President of 118 deputies.  Lahoud reacted by publicly accepting Hariri refusal and appointed Salim Hoss as Prime Minister with 95 deputy votes.

This tactic of Hariri backfired as he realized that Syria could easily deal with another Prime Minister.  Hariri was positioning himself for a vaster role as co-partner in the coming Middle East peace accord that he sincerely believed was almost agreed on.

It was a tradition since independence for the newly elected President of Lebanon to pay an official visit to France first of all.  Jacques Chirac was highly displeased that Lahoud did not mention France contribution to the April 1996 agreement to localize the confrontations in south Lebanon and for not consulting him on the government that excluded Rafic Hariri.  Consequently, Chirac took it personally and canceled the appointment for a formal visit to France.  Later Chirac was pressured to dissociate France interest in Lebanon from his personal animosity with Lahoud and the Francophone convention took place in Beirut in 2000.

In June 1999, assassins of the extremist Sunni movement “Osbat al Ansaar” killed four judges within Saida Court House and fled to the nearby Palestinian camp of Ain Helwi.  Lahoud understood that it was a trap to inciting the Lebanese army to start a war on the Palestinian camps; instead Lahoud focused on encircling the camp to apprehend the assassins.

As this nasty trap failed to divide the government, Israel launched destructive raids on Lebanon’s infrastructure targeting the electrical power plants and water pumps. Lahoud asked the Lebanese to contribute to a bank account in order to support the State treasury to rebuild what was demolished; (I remember that I contributed $100 while in the USA).  The Lebanese overseas contributed 50 millions dollars to that fund.

The president of the Parliament, Nabih Berri, told Lahoud “You are an excellent soldier but lack political acumen”.  Lahoud replied “If I managed to become Chief of the army and President of the Republic with lack of political acumen how do you think my path would have unfolded if I was cleverer in politics?”

In another moment Berri told the biographer:  “Lahoud plays it dumb but he is aware of all the political details and smarter in politics than most Lebanese politicians.  For example, Lahoud retains General Jamil Al Sayyed, Director of the General Security in Lebanon, in all his discussions with foreign personalities so that Al Sayyed would testify to the Syrian officials.”  Berri had no liking for the strong Shiaa man Al Sayyed.

Lahoud finally met with Rafic Hariri in the summer Palace of Beit El Dine after months of avoiding face to face encounter. Lahoud told Hariri “From the first moment, I knew that you wanted as much weight among the deputies as I obtained in my election for the presidency so that you may force on me your conditions. I kept the honest and performing high officials that you appointed and will dismiss anyone that is not up to his responsibilities.  I intended you to be my first Prime Minister but I was in no mood to be subjected to any conditions.  I know that you are spending lots of money on the media to ruin the image of this government but this not the way to behave with me.”  Two days later president Basher Assad paid Lahoud a quick visit to Lebanon and publicly supported the president and Hoss PM. To be continued

Note:  This is a biography of ex-President of the Republic of Lebanon Emile Lahoud from 1989 to 2009, written by Karim Bakradouni.  I had already reviewed “Shock and Steadfastness” (Sadmat wa Soumoud) in two posts.   I decided to re-edit the two posts in two tighter articles based on historical chronology, and further expansion.

Uncontested Palestinian Leader: late Yasser Arafat (Abu 3Ammar); June 15, 2009

 

            Known as Yasser Arafat; code-named “Abu Ammar”; full name Muhammad Abdel Raouf Arafat Al Koudwa Al Husseiny was born in Jerusalem in 1929.  He studied civil engineering at Cairo and worked in Kuwait. In the summer of 1965 he started guerilla activities inside Israel with ten feddayins, among them the future leaders Khalil Wazeer (code-named Abu Jihad; assassinated in Tunisia by an Israeli air raid), Salah Khalaf (code-named Abu Ayad), and Abu Ali Ayad (died in battle fighting the onslaught of the Jordanian army in 1970). 

            After the defeat of the Arab armies in June 1967 Arafat decided to take matters into his own hand: the Arab States can no longer be counted on to reclaim the Palestinians right to a homeland and the return of the refugees since 1948 (date of recognition of Israel as a State).  Arafat set out to organizing the Palestinians into a resistance force called “Hurricane” (Al 3asifat) and resumed incursions into Israel at higher rates. An acceptable resolution would be a secular State on the West Bank with East Jerusalem as Capital.  He would repeat: “As I liberate a single square meter then I would raise the Palestinian flag.  One day, a boy or a girl will hoist the flag in Jerusalem” Arafat insisted that “we may differ as Christians and Moslems on many issues but we are unified on liberating Jerusalem and consecrating it our spiritual and political Capital” Jerusalem was the cornerstone in any negotiation of more importance to him than the “right of return” of the UN resolution 194.  In fact, during the Arab Summit in Beirut 2002 Arafat was ready to accept the Saudi proposal of “land for peace” that did not mention the right of return.  Luckily, the Lebanese President Emile Lahoud was adamant on including this cause since the Palestinian refugees in Lebanon question is “a time bomb ready to detonate anytime”.

            The uncontested Arab leader Gamal Abdel Nasser recognized that the nascent Palestinian resistance activities are reactions to the failure of his leadership and he met with Arafat. Gamal Abdel Nasser gave Arafat’s organization political cover to preserve control of Arab politics and introduced Arafat to other Arab State leaders. Thus, the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) was formed in 1968 which included many Palestinian factions such as the national and Marxist faction of George Habash and the splintered faction of Nayef Hawatmed.  Syria would later include another faction with a military wing called Al Sa3ikat (Thunderstorm).  Arafat was the leader of the largest faction called Fateh (Conquest) and thus was elected Chairman of the PLO; Arafat was to hold the purse or the treasury of this organization to keep all factions in line.

            King Hussein of Jordan defeated militarily the PLO in 1970 and the resistance fighters fled to Lebanon.  The Egyptian leader forced the hand of the Lebanese government to allocate a strip of land in south Lebanon called “Al 3arkoub” from which the PLO could wage guerilla attacks on Israel.  This was a top-secret deal; Deputy Raymond Eddeh would persist in the parliament to divulge the details of the deal at no avail.  Thus, the mostly Shi3a Lebanese citizens in south Lebanon were caught in between the military retaliations of Israel, the exactions of the PLO and the non-existence of the weak Lebanese government in that region. South Lebanon was de facto controlled and governed by the PLO.  The Lebanese army controlled every resistance movement in the south before 1970 but relinquished its hold after that secret deal.

            The PLO quickly established political and administrative headquarters in the Capital Beirut and was immersed deeply in Lebanon internal politics. The Palestinian resistance fighters occupied all the Palestinian camps and transformed them into bunkers. Israel didn’t mind the transformation and the involvement of the PLO in Lebanon’s politics. Israel goal was to displace the Lebanese citizens from the south and then conquer it. In fact, thousands of citizens in the south moved to the southern outskirts of Beirut in Haret Hrik, Ghobeiry, and Dahieh.  These areas would become the “belt of misery” and shantytowns.

            In April 1973, an Israeli commando (headed by Ehud Barak) assassinated three Palestinian leaders in Beirut Kamal Edwan, Kamal Youssef, and Abu Youssef Al Najjar; it failed to locate Arafat.  In May 1973, the Lebanese army was encircling the Palestinian camps and Arafat took refuge in Embassies.  Arafat had a sixth sense on personal dangers and he did sleep in Embassies when the tough got going.  His best strategy for avoiding detection and maintaining security is to be “unpredictable”; thus he frequently moved from one residence to another and never informed anyone of his displacements, even his driver or bodyguards.

            Arafat highly valued Medias and used it tot the hilt. He also lavished on and befriended the sheikhs of mosques so that their Friday preaches increase his positive exposure. Arafat was not that good in rhetoric but his charisma and large smile compensated greatly on other verbal deficiencies.

            Arafat was super patient, like fish hunters.  He didn’t mind waiting for years until his enemy is caught in his nets.  He fundamentally used persuasion and then extending financial bait and then blackmailing when everything failed.  Arafat could focus under extreme dangerous situations and keep his cool for the sake of his surrounding assistants. He slept a few hours on early morning and then had siesta after lunch.  He extended aid to the needy and took excellent care of the martyrs’ families.  He owned only two military suits.

            Arafat read every piece of mail and replied in details.  He carried a small booklet and noted down information; he once said “if one of my small notebooks is published monarchies would disappear and Presidents fall.”  Arafat was feared by Arab leaders because of his wide connections and the vast intelligence he had on each one of them; thus, the PLO coffer was replenished on demand.

            Arafat visited India PM Indira Gandhi. A guru asked Arafat “How many Palestinians are there?”  Arafat replied 8 millions. The guru retorted “I have 9 million followers who worship me as their God.”  Arafat said with a large smile “The difference is that every one of the 8 million Palestinians thinks that he is indeed God”

            On November 1974, Arafat delivered a speech to the UN assembly and offered two alternatives: the olive tree or the gun.  He also talked to the UN General assembly in Geneva on December 1988 and declared his willingness to end armed struggle and the recognition of Israel; the USA decided then to recognize the PLO.

            Arafat played a central role during the Lebanese civil war that started in April 13, 1975.  He tried to maintain a balanced position in the tag of war between Hafez Assad of Syria and Sadat of Egypt at the expense of the Lebanese civilians.  The leftist Lebanese organizations relied on Arafat for logistics in arms and ammunition and he controlled them completely.  Arafat once declared in Ramallah around 1998 that he was the de facto governor of Lebanon for over 20 years, even before the civil war. Lebanon would have been saved 13 years of mindless civil war if Arafat had decided to relinquish Lebanon to Syria and dealt with Israel in 1977 instead of 1993 for part of Palestine as he was forced to do later.

            After the signing of the Oslo agreement with Rabin, Arafat returned to Gaza on July 1994.  He signed an agreement for the return of the West bank in September 1995.  Rabin was assassinated by one of his body-guard. Netanyahu refused to go along with the agreement but finally submitted to the USA pressures and returned Hebron (Al Khalil) after the negotiation of Wy River in 1998.

            On September 28, 2000, Ariel Sharon entered the Masjed Akssa during the tenure of Ehud Barak PM.  The second intifada started.  Ariel Sharon was elected Prime Minister in February 2001 and he invaded Ramallah (headquarter of the Palestinian Authority, al mukata3a) and encircled Arafat in his quarter. George W. Bush said to Sharon “Leave Arafat to God” and Sharon relied “I will give God a nudge”

            Arafat had food delivered through Israeli check points. He suffered acute ailment and knew that he has been poisoned by small doses.  Before being hospitalized in France Arafat said to his personal physician Ashraf Kerdi “The Zionists got me…”  Mohammad Dahlan (Fateh officer) told Arafat “When you are back your authority and power will remain intact” Arafat replied “In that case you are coming with me to France”

            Mahmoud Abbass replaced Arafat and refused to have an autopsy performed.  Arafat managed to hold together an organization of many factions for 40 years by centralizing the disbursement of the financial import he secured from the Arab States and from investment.  Arafat struggled hard to keep the Palestinian decisions independent of the vagaries of the multiple Arab States leaders’ interests of abusing of the “Palestinian cause.”  Probably, most of Arafat’s “peace deals” with Israel emanate from the disunity of the Arab States toward a strategic plan for checking the Zionist plans.  Arafat had to juggle Arab States priorities concerning their proper interests. Arafat sculpted an image of Palestinian resistance by wearing the special “koufieh” headdress and the military attire. He forged a logo for the Palestinian cause.

Legitimate, Temporary, and Necessary (June 5, 2009)

 

            On June 7, 2009 the Lebanese will vote for a new Parliament. Theo groups of citizens will vote; the group constituted of the patriotic, secular, and reformists and the group of an amalgam of confessionals, feudalists, isolationists, statue quo,  and “colonial minded” mentalities. The “colonial minded” citizens follow leaders who invariably rely on foreign interventions to balance a broken alliance among confessional castes system and perpetrate the conditions for weak central governments.

            A brief current history might elucidate this drastic splitting among the Lebanese citizens. In May 24, 2000 Ehud Barak PM of Israel withdrew from most of south Lebanon with no preconditions, the first ever in Israel 61 years history. The joint strategy of Lebanon President Lahoud and Bashar Assad of Syria enabled Hezbollah a resounding victory.  The Arab League decided to hold its annual meting in Beirut in August 2002 as a god gesture for its acknowledgment of the victory in 2000 of this tiny State.

In 2003, Syria had plans for partial withdrawal to the Bekaa Valley but the vehement rhetoric from the Druze leader Walid Jumblat and the Patriarch of the Maronite Christian sect slowed down the execution process. 

Before the assassination of Rafic Hariri in February 14, 2005 the Bush Jr. Administration and Jacque Chirac of France issued the UN resolution 1559 for the retreat of the Syrian forces from Lebanon and the dismantling of Hezbollah’s military wing and the return of its heavy armament.  The withdrawal of the Syrian troops was not the main objective because the international community and the main Arab States wanted and kept high hopes that Syria will ultimately be pressured to do the dirty work of taming Hezbollah.

            The Syrian government factored in many variables to opposing the frequent lures and pressures of what is expected of her to do in order to remain in Lebanon.  The targeting Rafic Hariri for assassination by the US, France, Saudi Arabia, and Israel was not one of the variables considered and Syria strategy was shaken violently. In fact, Rafic Hariri received so many encouragements and acted in such confidence that the Syrian government forgot to contemplate such an evil and drastic eventuality.

The mass demonstration on February 14 was not a threat to Syria; General Aoun was still in exile in France and was pressured by the French government not to return to Lebanon.  What Syria comprehended the loudest was the mass demonstration by Hezbollah on March 8, 2005.  Hezbollah thanked Syria for its sacrifices, which meant “Now it is time for your complete withdrawal” Hezbollah was always nervous of the Syrian presence in Lebanon because it was the only power capable of restraining its activities.  Hezbollah was sending the message to Bashar Assad “We can take care of ourselves and still continue the resistance against Israel if you definitely put an end to the international pressures by getting out of Lebanon” 

The mass demonstration in March 14, fortified by the supporters of General Aoun (The Tayyar Horr), was not even a threat to Syria.  It was the realization of Syria that its continued presence in Lebanon will ultimately confront its army directly as the Lebanese government lost control over events and cowered under uncertainties.

Syria withdrew quickly to the frustration of the US and France who realized that they wasted Hariri for naught: Hariri could still be of great benefit to their policies in the Middle East region alive rather than dead.  The International Community, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia fel back to plan B: re-kindling the civil war in Lebanon.  They initiated a series of bombing in Christian quarters hoping that the Christian will side en mass with the Sunni/Hariri clan.  Plan B petered.  They came back with more vigorous scare tactics by assassinating Christian personalities.  Samir Kassir, George Hawi, and Jubran Tweiny were marked as potentially not reliable and could shift sides because they were independent minded and honest characters.  This wave of select assassination backfired because General Aoun signed a pact with Hezbollah and de-activated a potential civil war targeting the Christians.

Plan C also failed and civil war did not flare out.  Thus, direct intervention from outside was considered and Israel trained its forces for incursion into Lebanon with the US total aids and support in all phases.  Hezbollah, intentionally or by coincidence, preempted the completion of the plan in June 12, 2006.  Israel launched its offensive for 33 days and failed miserably in all the goals.  The attack backfired and the stature of Hezbollah ballooned and overflowed to all the Arab and Moslem populations.

The International Community, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia did not desist.  Plan D was to re-enforce the Sunnis with a military wing of extremist salafists called “Jound Al Sham” and financed by Bandar Bib Sultan of Saudi Arabia.   In the summer of 2007 a few ignorant and violent Sunni extremists preempted the timing by slaughtering Lebanese soldiers; the army pride and dignity reacted with an all out attack and crushed this insurrection in Nahr Al Bared Palestinian camp after many months and many martyrs. 

The International Community, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia studied for two years to dismantle Hezbollah secured communication lines and to start a mini civil war in Beirut between the Shiaa and Sunnis.  Plan E backfired again on May 8, 2008 and the Lebanese leaders had to meet in Dawha and agree on the election of a President to the Republic, an election law for Parliament, and the constitution of a national government. Lebanon has suffered for 4 years of an incompetent and illegitimate government; the Lebanese lived in a totally insecure political vacuum; the economy was farmed out to the size of the Hariri clan and the financial debt skyrocketed to $60 billions.  This “political” debt is intended to pressure the Lebanese government into accepting the settling of the 400,000 Palestinian refugees in Lebanon in return for debt cancellation.

 

            We need to compare four categories of leaders along the two dimensions of principled leaders and pragmatists.  In the dimension of principled leaders we can discriminate the hate monger isolationist leaders versus the principled for the public and State good. In the pragmatic dimension we have the individual interest oriented and the public/State pragmatists.  For example: Walid Jumblat, Merwan Hamadeh, Amine Gemayel, Samir Geaja, and the Patriarch of the Christian Maronite sect can be categorized in the isolationist, confessional, and personal minded leaders.  Ex-President Emile Lahoud, General Michel Aoun, Suleiman Frangieh, and Hassan Nasr Allah could be classified as the principled and public/State object oriented pragmatists.  The classification of the remainder of the semi-leaders I leave it to the readers as exercises. The Mufti of Beirut is a non entity: he is the bugle of Saad Hariri.  Saad Hariri is a non entity: he re-edited the slogan of the chairman of General Motors to say “What is good for the Saudi Monarchs is good for Lebanon”.  General Motors has declared bankruptcy; the Hariri/Seniora clan will declare bankruptcy on June 8, 2009.

 

            With the exception of General Aoun who refused any kind of occupation all leaders welcomed the mandate of Syria for 20 years; they kept repeating the mantra “The presence of Syria in Lebanon is “Legitimate, Temporary, and Necessary”; Merwan Hamadeh and all the actual ministers were the ones repeating this mantra to nauseating public.  The Maronite Patriarch Sfeir was against the Syrian presence but was pretty cool regarding Israel’s occupation.   The members of the Seniora PM government did not voice out their refusal of Israel’s occupation of part of south Lebanon and constantly conspired to weaken the resistance forces against the Israeli occupiers on the basis that only international diplomacy can pressure Israel! 

Only President Lahoud stood steadfast with Hezbollah and refused to deploy the army in areas of the resistance’s operations.  Thanks to Hassan Nasr Allah and President Lahoud Lebanon managed to secure its integrity and unify its army.  Thanks to Hassan Nasr Allah and General Michel Aoun Lebanon buried any likelihood for the resurgence of a civil war.  My spirit went to statesman General Aoun who said once the Syrian troops crossed the borders “Syria is now out of Lebanon.  I have no qualms with Syria anymore. This is the time to open a new page in our relations”.  This position stands in contrast to those who begged Syria for crumbs and privileges for 20 years and once Syria withdrew they refrained from normalizing relations with Syria; the fictitious excuses to antagonize Syria were dictated by Saudi Arabia and Egypt.  What kind of state leadership is that?

The election results of June 7, 2009 should fortify Lebanon as a Nation and project the image of a solid central government with serious reforms and changes to the archaic political system.  That are my wishes but I know the struggle will be long and protracted.  Sweet revolutions need time to mature in this diversified Lebanon.

How Superpowers behave toward the smaller States (June 1, 2009)

 

The ex-French Foreign Affairs, Hubert Vedrine once told Lebanon ex-President Lahoud: “When our relations with the US Administrations are closer to cooperation than competition we communicate our information to them but they fail to return the honor.  When our relations are fine then the US tends to horde the solution.  When world politics deteriorate then the US asks us to resolve the problems on their behalves, on conditions that the signing of any agreement is done in Washington, DC.

Bill Clinton insisted on the sick and dying Hafez Assad for a month to meet him in Geneva in February 2000 on the ground that a deal is ready for the return of the occupied Golan Heights.  The two Presidents met in March.  Clinton knew very well that Assad is not ready to negotiate for less than 100% on the returned land. Clinton proudly declared “Ehud Barak is willing to return 98% of the Golan Heights”.  The meeting was over in ten minutes.  Clinton lost a golden opportunity for peace in the Middle East.

Madeline Albright, US Foreign Affairs during Clinton tenure, met in Beirut with Lebanon’s Salim Hoss PM in September 1999.  It was the first high ranking US emissary in 16 years.  Without preambles, Albright ejaculated “The USA wants the two highjackers of the TWA of 1985; the USA wants the perpetrators for the blowing up of the Marines headquarter in 1984; the USA wants those who demolished the US embassy in Beirut and the one who assassinated our Ambassador” Our Prime Minister retorted “When the TWA was high jacked I was subjugated to an assassination attempt and three of my bodyguards died.  At the time of this civil war Lebanon witnessed 150,000 civilian victims’ dead and over 400,000 severely injured” The same Albright confronted President Lahoud to desist demanding an accurate demarcation line (The Blue Line) on the southern borders after Israel withdrew in May 24, 2000.  

The Syrian young President Bashar Assad described the superpower games saying “The first fundamental principle is that superpowers and especially the USA try hard to convince the smaller States that they are too weak and need urgent aids.  They claim that the smaller States have practically no “products” to transact.  They insist on “market demand and offer” and barely care about State values or the logic of Statehood.  The second principle is that superpowers care to the extent they need to resolve a problem.  It does not matter the level of rhetoric or the squeeze of economical and financial embargo on the smaller State; once a superpower is in need then everything is forgotten and relations resume normally.”

 

In October 2000, Hezbollah took prisoners three Israeli soldiers in the Shabaa Farms and then lured the retired Israeli Colonel El Hanane Tanenboum to Beirut.  Israel had withdrawn from south Lebanon unilaterally in May 24, 2000 but had failed to vacate the Shebaa Farms. Albright demanded the release of the Israeli prisoners and Ehub Barak gave an ultimatum of 4 hours. Lahoud answered the US Ambassador Satterfield “Consider the 4 hours have ended.  I will not negotiate the release of the Israeli prisoners” Lahoud was in strong position because the Lebanese army was not on the borders so that Israel could not exercise any pressures on the President and Lahoud won his bet and Israel refrained temporarily from any incursions.

Foreign diplomats and officials view the problems of Lebanon from the outside in; they never consider the precarious social and political conditions of Lebanon.  Emile Lahoud refused to deploy the army across the Litany River since he was appointed army chief in 1989 and then President of the Republic till July 2006 when Hezbollah agreed under UN resolution 1701 to withdraw his military presence behind the Litany River.  During all these years the international community and the Arab States had constantly pressured Lahoud to send the Lebanese army to the borders with Israel.  Lahoud kept steadfast and never obeyed any of these orders and he was completely right; he had said: “As long as there are no guarantees that Israel will not violate Lebanon’s integrity and security then the Lebanese army will refrain playing the police force and antagonizing our resistance to easing Israel’s security at the expense of jeopardizing Lebanon internal security.” (To be continued)

“Shock and Steadfastness” by Kareem Bakradouny (Book Review, May 25, 2009)

 

This Arabic/Lebanese manuscript “Sadmat wa Soumoud” is of 518 pages and a report of the period of former Lebanese President Emile Lahoud.  The author and politician Kareem Bakradouny is the biographer of Lahoud since he acceded to chief of the army in 1992. Bakradouny met with Lahoud every Friday from 1992 to 2007. The meetings were held first in the Kaslik swimming club till the assassination of late Rafic Hariri PM, and then at the Presidential Palace. Before heading to a meeting, Bakradouny would wait for the call and then they would talk in a small room facing the sea.  The author hand wrote the discussions and sometimes he would record them.

Bakradouny decided to postpone the military period of Lahoud for another volume. The book is divided into three parts each of three chapters.  The first part is “The Road to the Presidency”, the second part “Period of Cohabitation (with Rafic Hariri PM)”, and the third part “Period of Calamities”.

 

“Shock and Steadfastness” takes you from unifying the army, internal political struggle, the liberation of south Lebanon in May 24, 2000 and the negotiations for confirming the “Blue Line” on the border with Israel, the confrontation with the Moslem extremists in the district of Donnieh, the logic of statehood versus market requirements, the beginning of a string of assassinations, the pressures of the US Bush Jr. Administration, the roadblocks for extending the Presidency tenure three more years, the assassination of Rafic Hariri, the July War of  2006, the withdrawal of the Syrian troops from Lebanon, the string of assassinations, and the ceremony for leaving the Presidential Palace.

            Emile Lahoud used to never wear any coat or jacket during the coldest seasons until a friend was once shocked to see him swimming and asked him “Have you got hit on your head as a kid?”  Since then Lahoud wears a simple black leather jacket in winter time. Lahoud’s breakfast is a piece of banana and a cone of ice cream for lunch.  The main eating session is dinner.  Lahoud records on a tape the topics that he wants to approach in a discussion or matters to follow up on.

            President Lahoud ascended the military ranks normally and was the first Chief of the army who ran the tiny navy. He was appointed Chief in November 1989 after General Aoun was forced into exile to France.  General Lahoud had the task to re-unite the dismantled army after over 15 years of civil war; he combined the regiments so that they represent all the Lebanese sects and ordered the regiments to relocate every 9 months to different parts of Lebanon so that every soldier knows his country.  He negotiated the best deals for arms, medicine, and insurance.

            General Lahoud refused political deals with President Hrawy and Rafic Hariri PM for transferring officers and followed the strict military procedures.  Any high officer who refused to obey orders for the re-organization of the army was dismissed and Syria never tried to pressure Lahoud to rescinding his orders.  The billionaire Rafic Hariri used to offer the army cash money every month but General Lahoud refused saying “The State is responsible for the budget of the army” so that he can exercise his functions without undue political pressures.

            There was an international decision to contain the Islamic resistance in south Lebanon and General Lahoud refused to confront the army with the resistance fighting the Israeli occupiers.  President Hafez Assad of Syria decided to meet Lahoud for the first time; General Lahoud told Hafez Assad “I am re-building the army to resist Israel and my conscience refuses to fight those who are fighting Israeli occupation” Since that meeting the political pressures on Lahoud faded away and he could focus on the re-organization of the army and freeing the resistance from political pressures and its freedom of movement in areas not in the army control.  When Israel bombed Lebanon for 7 days in 1993, General Lahoud ordered to return fire and Israel stopped its shelling.

            Lahoud was elected President of the Republic by unanimity after revising item 49 in the Constitution that denied a high ranked employee candidacy before resigning his post for a period.  Lahoud asked the Lebanese to contribute to a bank account in order to support the State treasury; (I remember that I contributed $100 while in the USA).  He had a program of fighting corruption but the political system in Lebanon was a insurmountable barrier given that the Taef Constitution robbed the President of valuable powers and the power was transferred basically to the Prime Minister and the cabinet.  Rafic Hariri controlled the new powers were bequeathed on the cabinet combined. (to be continued)

Who Assassinated Lebanon’s late Rafic Hariri PM? (May 26, 2009)

 

The German daily Der Spiegel reported excerpts from internet blogs posted by Syrian dissidents six months ago claiming that a special team of Hezbollah masterminded the assassination of late Lebanon Rafic Hariri PM.  The timing of that report, which the International Tribunal denied any knowledge, was evidence that the real perpetrators were scared shit of the victory of the opposition in Lebanon at the next Parliamentary election on June 7.  It meant that the opposition is not about to let the assassination case linger any longer and will pursue its own investigation or force the International Tribunal to move swiftly and close the doors to further political manipulations of that case. What exacerbated the political climate is that Lebanon has started dismantling systematically Israel’s spy webs and dangerous intelligence are accumulating relative to Israel involvement in many of the string of assassination cases in Lebanon since the murder of Rafic Hariri.in 2005.  The US Vice President Biden visited Lebanon for 6 hours before the publishing of the report and met with the leaders of the government alliances.  Lebanon has to expect the worst every time a US official pay us visit to give us orders.

Thanks to Walid Jumblat, one of the principal allies to the government, he quickly and adamantly lambasted this chimerical and fabricated report and proclaimed that the report was intended to draw Lebanon into another civil war between the Shiaa and the Sunni Moslem sects.  Saad Hariri (leader of the Future movement) and Seniora PM were forced into suspect silence; proof that they were aware of the plan that backfired on them, a plan that is backed by Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Israel, and the USA.

Seymour Hirsh has pronounced that former Vice President Cheney had formed a secret cell with purposes to assassinate a few leaders, including Rafic Hariri.  Hassan Nasr Allah, Secretary General of Hezbollah, delivered a speech on May 25 warning the Lebanese of the seriousness of the planning to resume machinations for instigating civil war in Lebanon.  Sayyed Hassan recounted the well planned dissemination process of the report.  Al Arabiya news media started drawing comments on the report but the feedback was lukewarm and the session fell flat.  Then, Israel’s dailies picked up the report on their front pages and the Israeli Foreign Affairs and Defense ministers urged that Nasr Allah be apprehended and delivered to the International Tribunal.

This report is timed before Israel’s all out military maneuver on May 31 and lasting 5 days.  This is to be the largest and most exhaustive maneuver ever in the 61 years of the creation of the Zionist State; it should involve all Israel civil and military institutions and cover all the land.

 

On March 7, 2005 I wrote an article with the same title “Who assassinated Rafic Hariri?”  The subsequent chapter is a copy of the article.

 

“Since the assassination of former Prime Minister Hariri, thousands of citizens have been gathering, every day and night, in Downtown Beirut demanding to know who assassinated Hariri.  Not many believe that the government has enough credibility to investigate properly this political crime.  The UN has sent a team headed by a former Irish police officer and then later, the Lebanese government asked the help of several criminal experts and investigators from Switzerland and Denmark.

So far, how the blast occurred and what kind of explosive was used is still not conclusive and pretty much vague and divergent.  The government is claiming that it was a suicide car bombing done by Abu Abbass who sent a video to Al Jazira channel, one hour after the incident, claiming the responsibility of an unknown group. The government hinted that it analyzed genetically remnants of the perpetrator.  A political scientist, Dr. Nakash, believes that the video is real and that two similar simple terrorist techniques were successfully used in Iraq and Saudi Arabia. Dr. Nakash produces documents published in the New York Times of many serious threats to King Fahd, owner of Al Arabiya channel and the main mentor of Hariri.  Apparently, Al Arabiya was muting news on Iraq that could damage the US presence there. Thus, Saudi Arabia bribed Alawi (Iraq’s prime minister) with two billion dollars to shut down the offices of Al Jazira channel and to crack down on the militia of Al Sadr in Najjaf.   Alawi executed the order effectively.  Hariri was for some time following the political premises of Saudi Arabia in Iraq but had a change of position lately: It was too late.

The Hariri’s deputies in the Parliament affirm that the detonating charge was planted underground and the material is so new that the labs have failed to determine its composition until now.  One of the surviving bodyguard claims that the street was clear and no visible obstructions was evident before the blast.

May be the people want to know but the powers to be, locally, regionally and internationally are not that excited to divulge the parties behind this barbaric crime. The rhetoric of President Bush, Chirac, and the European Union has already pointed the finger to Syria: an indication that any investigation is decided to be politically motivated. 

It is hardly credible that any Lebanese political party is behind this assassination.

It seems that Syria has much to lose from the death of Hariri because of his wide range of connections and the many favors he enjoys with Saudi Arabia, the main financial backer of Syria and his stabilizing power within the Lebanese political system.

 

I am leaning toward an Israeli/US connection for several reasons:

1) The next day to the assassination, Sharon dismissed or refused to extend the appointment of Yaalon as head of the army and appointed the head of Israel secret services to replace him. Was Yaalon against this assassination decision or was he not informed and expressed his position accordingly?

 

2)  Hariri failed many Israeli attempts to internationally cast Hezbollah as a terrorist organization and he succeeded in Europe and in France.

 

3)  Hariri was behind snubbing Israel for the failed May 17, 1983 peace treaty agreement with Lebanon.

 

4)  Hariri was behind the April understandings in 1997 with the direct involvement of the USA on the procedures of conducting war between Hezbollah and Israel.  This agreement seriously hampered Israel in waging its devastating traditional attacks on civilians’ targets in south Lebanon and carrying out mass detentions.

 

5)  Hariri had reversed his position on the issue of the return of the Palestinian refugees to Palestine and could certainly block any UN resolution to the contrary.  For many years Hariri on purpose heavily indebted the State of Lebanon; the plan was that the Lebanese would cow and accept the residency of the Palestinians in return of the cancellation of the international debt.  The pragmatic Hariri comprehended that his former plan was not feasible and agreed to reverse the indebtedness program.

 

6)  The timing of the assassination was appropriate because Israel was under pressures to negotiate with Abu Abbass (The recently elected Palestinian prime minister).  Israel wanted a free hand to pressure Abu Abbass into a flexible understanding about the refugees’ problems and Hariri could very well exercise effective counter attacks when he returned as prime minister after the April election.

 

7)  Israel has a history of eliminating every enemy to its plans for expansion and the timing was perfect because first, Hariri was no longer a prime minister; second, the political discourse within Lebanon was very heated for blaming Syria of the many current setbacks, especially for generating the UN resolution 1559.  The unfounded rumors that Hariri was behind this resolution could divert the guilt for the assassination to Syria for an extended period of time.

 

8)  Since Israel never makes such serious decisions before receiving the green light from Washington, it is obvious that the USA government has an interest in eliminating Hariri at this junction.  Hariri was to be reelected in April and be appointed prime minister again.  With this international heavy weight and with his personal friendship with President Chirac of France it would be very difficult for the US to pass a resolution in the UN council to attack Syria in due time, especially after the State of Palestine is recognized internationally.

As newspapers in Israel rightly analyzed the situation, Syria is very probably not directly the guilty party in the crime, but Syria is certainly the party to pay the price and the consequences.  Bashar Assad, President of Syria, gave Israel the proper ammunition and the excellent timing for his inexperience and his hubris responses to international pressures.   I am certain that it is the Lebanese citizens who are and will pay the price for years to come.”

 

This is going to be a lengthy article. On March 31, 2005, I wrote another article on the same subject entitled “Okay, let us Cut Out the Crap, Who Killed Rafic Hariri?”

 

“If anyone is still waiting for the results of any kind of investigation into the assassination of Hariri, I suggest that he build himself a shack in Downtown Beirut and wait there for at least twenty years. If anyone did not get it that more than two great States are behind this assassination he better not stock up on Lebanese flags hoping for another big demonstration with the slogan of “We need the truth. Who killed our martyr Rafic?” 

If anyone is still wondering why a thousand kilograms of TNT explosives are needed to assassinate Hariri, or who can stock pile that amount of explosives, or how Hariri was killed by a moving truck, or a suicide bomber, or the detonation technique used or any kind of these stupid details he sure will no more hear any of that crap anymore.

Why Yasser Arafat, the symbol of the Palestinian resistance to Zionism, had to be assassinated, in the meanest possible alternatives, by slow poisoning when even the meanest British allowed Napoleon to dictate his memoirs before dying his slow death with arsenic poisoning?  Why Hariri had to be done with in pomp and in grandeur that left dozen killed, a hundred injured and part of Beirut destroyed?

Are the assassins sending an honorable farewell to the overbearing friend, the worthy enemy, the great leader who was much bigger than his tiny country?  Apparently the Western Powers have set up a style coding system for eliminating leaders whose time had come and are becoming huge liabilities.  I would hypothesize that the number of times the unfortunate bugger was invited officially to visit the leaders of the Western Powers and the frequency of friendship expressions are main factors for this pomp in the assassination; perhaps secondary factors such as the quality and number of citizenships he accumulated in the Western World and less probably the number of honorable degrees which were bestowed on him by universities.  

Hariri died on Valentine day.  What was his wife Nazek doing in Paris on that day?  Was she expecting Rafic to join her in Paris or was she to return that evening to Beirut, or was she held in Paris on purpose so that she might not be a member of the deadly motorcade?  Why Hariri was so happy in the morning of his death?  Did he receive the good news from Chirac that Syria will be soon be withdrawing its troops but failed to warn him that his hours were counted?

Does anyone still believe that Chirac, a President of a proud country, stayed more than six hours with the Hariri’s family to mourn such a great friend of his?  Or may be he is so guilt ridden that he had to shift attention somewhere else?  How come France was so chummy with Israel lately as if missing an old friend and cannot stop chatting and cuddling with?

How come the US Administration has been moving its butts in and out of Lebanon and shaking them much more than it did during its Iraq invasion?  How come the US Administration has been admonishing Israel to stop affirming the US agreement on its policies whether in Israel or in the Middle East?

I stated in a previous article that the USA and Israel are the culprits and provided the rationales. I stand a little corrected because I am adding a few more culprits. 

 

The 1559 UN resolution that was sponsored by the USA and France was the tip of the iceberg of the package deal between these two States and one of the little secret in the agreement was to contract out Israel to eliminate Hariri with utmost prejudice within specific constraints on when and how.  Israel was overjoyed that the opportunity finally came to erase her enemy number one off her black list.  Hariri not only attempted several times to undermine Israel plans in Lebanon and in the region but succeeded hands down in all his political counter offensives against Israel and was still capable of doing Israel great damage.

Chirac was relieved from an overbearing friend who kept reminding him of what were the right things to do toward Lebanon.  Chirac knew better that doing the right things is not necessarily the right political decisions at this crucial time.  Chirac was paying dearly from his prestige and France political positions by opposing the persistent pressures from the European Union and the USA to list Hezbollah as one of the terrorist organizations.  Hariri kept showing at the Elysee door and taking photos with Chirac that said “My dearest friend Chirac” as Egypt President Sadat used to say to Kissinger, the USA Secretary of State during Nixon, “My dear friend Henry”.

The USA and France had already agreed on plans for the Greater Middle East and time was of the essence.  These plans could not succeed for certain and on time as long as Hariri is still alive and active. France, for now, is winning big: it managed to reaffirm her protectorate rights over Syria and Lebanon like during the colonial times, secured her oil rights in Iraq and removed the American veto to selling military hardware to China.

The USA is succeeding in destabilizing Syria and weakening any resolve Syria might still have to counter the plans in the Greater Middle East.

The price for Hariri’s life was certainly worth any stupid friendship that reached the stage of no return on investment but was becoming a real liability in prestige for Chirac and France geopolitical interests. 

A practically weakening Lebanon President Emile Lahoud quickly agreed to an international investigating team without discussing the details of its composition or duration. Lebanon is going to be manhandled by the world community as President Lahoud, reluctantly, invited the wolves, through an international resolution, to come and freely investigate their own deeds and mischief. Lebanon will be welcoming an international team of investigators, about 60 of them and for 6 months automatically renewed for another 6 months. 

Citizens, what sort of political and economic stability do you expect for Lebanon in the coming year?  Another wave of immigration is taking place and no noble slogans can undo this trend.  If Syria was in cohort to this assassination plan it certainly was left to drown and take the heat alone.


adonis49

adonis49

adonis49

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