January 29, 2003
PR 030129     

Dictatorship VS Democracy and World Stability. The Council of Lebanese American Organizations (CLAO) would like to take the opportunity of the State of the Union Address to re-iterate our full support for President Bush’s decisive stand and determined effort to lead the fight against outlaw regimes who thrive on repressing their own people, garnering weapons of mass destruction for the sole purpose of supporting their hegemonic ambitions over their neighbors and the civilized world.

While President Bush pointed out the evil deeds of the Iraqi regime, and the oppressive behavior of Iraqi as well as Iranian regimes over the People who entrusted them; with utmost sincere respect and appreciation to our President, CLAO was expecting a similar coverage related to yet another dictator, brutal and ambitious regime, the Syrian one. While the Iraqi President, Saddam Hussein, must be stopped from pursuing his weapons of mass destruction program and from resuming “his ambitions of conquest in the Middle East and create deadly havoc in that region”, the Syrian regime must also be disarmed from its existing illegal arsenal of mass destruction. After all, Syria is on the US State Department list of terrorist-sponsor countries. CLAO undoubtedly believes that the Syrian regime is as much a threat as the Iraqis one is. After all, to date, the Syrian regime is still arming, training and fully supporting groups that many are headquartered in the Syrian and/or the Lebanese Syrian occupied and controlled territories; most of such groups are listed by the U.S. as being terrorist organizations.

Moreover, as Saddam, “the dictator who is assembling the world’s most dangerous weapons has already used them on whole villages, leaving thousands of his own citizens dead, blind or disfigured” similarly, the late Syrian President, Hafez Al Assad, the father of the  current president, Bashar Al Assad, with the help and assistance of the current Syrian Baath regime in charge, did perform similar brutal massacres to Syrian and Lebanese towns.

Furthermore, in 1976, Syrian troops and intelligence have entered Lebanon. On October 13, 1990, the Syrian regime was able to accomplish its long-term goal of fully occupying the neighboring smaller country, Lebanon, just as Saddam has done to his neighboring smaller country, Kuwait. Similar to what the Iraqi refugees have reported on “how forced confessions are obtained: by torturing children while their parents are made to watch…” so many Syrians and Lebanese have told what they have experienced as well. Thousands of Lebanese kidnapped by the Syrian army or intelligence were taken to the Syrian terror jail, El Mazzi, and have tasted the horror of “electric shock, burning with hot irons, dripping acid on the skin, mutilation with electric drills, cutting out tongues, and rape.” Meanwhile, so many other thousands could not as of yet, for over a decade now, have the luxury to be back and share such experiences. The Syrian regime is to date denying that such detainees do even exist. “If this is not evil, then evil has no meaning.”

The Lebanese regime is a Syrian-appointed puppet regime. It is not a freely elected government and is unrepresentative of the people of Lebanon. The opposition and anti-Syrian dissidents have been silenced by repression, assassination, and exile. Prior to the Syrian occupation, Lebanon was well known as one of the very few democratic states in its region. Today, the Lebanese citizens are just like what President Bush pointed out about the Iranians “risking intimidation and death as they speak out for liberty and human rights and democracy.” The Lebanese “like all people, have the right to choose their own government, and determine their own destiny…”

Lebanon that was the catalysts of moderation in the Middle East, which was preventing the rise of extremists in the region, and which has served the world as a bridge of civilizations between East and West, has now lost its role under the Syrian hegemony.

As an American organization, CLAO appeals to the U.S. Administration to publicly denounce the Syrian occupation of Lebanon and to lead the world in implementing the UN resolution 520 that calls for the withdrawal of all non-Lebanese forces from Lebanon. CLAO is very optimistic that under President Bush’s leadership, world justice will finally be championed, dictators will be further isolated and weakened, and larger countries will no longer be permitted to occupy smaller weaker ones. Free Lebanon is the cornerstone of building a new democratic and moderate region and a leap in winning the fight against terrorism.