Saturday, September 27, 2003

General Michel Aoun

This just further proves what a farce the situation in Lebanon is.

Lebanon pressed charges on Thursday against an exiled former army general over anti-Syria remarks backing a U.S. draft law designed to counter terrorism.

Judicial sources said Lebanese General Michel Aoun was charged with ''tarnishing the standing of the state'' of Lebanon, where Syria is the main powerbroker, and with inflaming sectarian tensions

[...]

The ex-general, who lost a conflict with Syrian troops late in Lebanon's 1975-1990 civil war and lives in exile in Paris, compared Syria to an ''organised crime syndicate'' in testimony to U.S. lawmakers a week ago backing the Syria Accountability Act.

[...]

Syria poured troops into Lebanon early in the civil war to rescue Christian militias from defeat by Muslim, Palestinian and leftist forces, but turned on them when they sided with Israel.

Many Lebanese Christians resent Syria for its role in a post-war political settlement that has entrenched its place in Lebanon and diminished the traditional political power of Christians in favour of the country's Muslim communities.

So, basically, Lebanon is "pressing charges" against one of its former military generals for remarks he made in France regarding Syria. Who could take this seriously?

General Michel Aoun does have some interesting things to say, however. Here are some words from a speech he made to The Foundation for the Defense of Democracies (a great organization in its own right):

Since 1990, the Syrian regime has been undertaking the systematic destruction of the very infrastructure of Lebanese society. Throughout all political and administrative institutions of the state, Syria has installed puppets that take their orders directly from Syrian intelligence officers. These minions are required to execute their wishes and justify their policies. Syria has broken up each political party into numerous sub-entities and imposed on them a single ideology.

In addition to falsifying election results to ensure the success of Syrian allies, a new law prior to each round of election was put in place in order to custom-tailor the boundaries of electoral districts in favor of Syrian allies.

Syria has enforced a policy of self-censorship on the media. For example, the MTV television station was shut down because it did not always abide by the non-constitutional directives of the authorities and the ban imposed on covering certain political figures.

The authorities have converted the judiciary into an instrument of revenge against its opponents and subjected it to its security apparatus. The justice system has become selective, pre-suppositive, presumptive, and defamatory, as accusations preceded investigations and verdicts are issued based on political decisions. Arbitrary arrests, beatings, and torture of detainees have become ordinary in the life of Lebanese citizens, in addition to the fabrication of judicial files to be used as threats against targeted individuals.

The Syrian regime has all but eliminated Lebanon from the international political map. It has halted all bilateral negotiations between Israel and Lebanon, thus bypassing the bilateral nature of peace negotiations. It rendered the prospect of peace between Lebanon and Israel contingent upon the dragging and slow process of the Syrian track with Israel. It forced the Lebanese government to submit to its will and not implement UN resolution 426 which calls for the deployment of Lebanese Army Forces alongside the United Nations Forces following Israel’s implementation of resolution 425 and its withdrawal from South Lebanon. On the issue of the Shebaa Farms, the Syrian regime created a pretext not to disarm its allied militias, which it has used to maintain tensions at the Lebanese southern borders and terrorize those Lebanese citizens demanding the withdrawal of the Syrian army from Lebanese soil.

In addition to the sad reality of the political and security aspects of their lives, the economic reality for the Lebanese people is even worse. A haphazard fiscal policy has been imposed on Lebanon that is modulated according to the interests of a corrupt ruling class, and which has no basis in any modern or sound economic and scientific standards and rules. This economic policy is based on financing unproductive projects and programs and accumulating debt at unnecessarily high interest rates, and then spending without any transparency, accountability, or oversight. In addition to approaching a state of bankruptcy, the public sector has crowded out the private sector and the level of productive economic activities and productivity has diminished. Privatization has stalled with empty promises. Government interference in the market has drastically increased. The middle class has all but vanished, and the ranks of the poor have swelled. Illiteracy has soared even after being nearly eliminated in the past. One third of the Lebanese people have been forced to emigrate due to the government’s economic policies, which incidentally twenty years of war could not accomplish. While some societies have organized crime as one element of corruption to deal with, Lebanese society has indeed become, thanks to the Syrian occupation, totally owned and ruled by a Mafia class to which most corruption in the country can be attributed.

Well said my friend.


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