Thank you Mr. Harper, You are the right man for the right job.
By: Elias Bejjani
LCCC Chairman
December 23/06

Thanks to our honest and courageous Prime Minister, His Excellency Mr. Stephen Harper Harper. Thanks from the Lebanese Canadian Coordination Council (LCCC) and all the members of the Canadian Lebanese community all over Canada who fully share the Council's love for peace and freedom, their honoring of democracy and the rule of law, and their commitment to Human Rights, tolerance, diversity and the acceptance of others.

Thank you, Mr. Harper, for standing tall like the Holy Cedars of our homeland Lebanon. Thank you for declaring loudly and strongly Canada's firm stance against terrorist organizations and the states of the axis of evil. Thank you for saying a big NO to any dialogue with the terrorist Hezbollah organization, which is Iran's army in Lebanon and which, through force and against the will of the majority of the Lebanese people, has erected a state inside the state. This fundamentalist organization is fully run, financed and controlled by Iran and Syria, and has dragged Lebanon and its people into a devastating and crippling war last July. Its leadership, and in response to military instructions from Iran and Syria, has been for the last three weeks resorting to scare tactics to topple Lebanon's legitimate elected Government.

Mr. Harper, you have proved again that you are a great leader and that your dedication to worldwide peace and to the fight against terrorism in all its forms is genuine and committed. Yes it’s impossible to negotiate with groups that advocate violence and want to wipe out other countries and other peoples. Yes, Mr. Harper, you are right when you say that under previous governments Canada has been “completely absent” from Mideast peace efforts, rather than playing the role as a neutral, honest broker. Yes. Mr. Harper, we share with you our full conviction in a strong, neutral and honest Canadian broker role in the Middle East in general and in Lebanon in particular.

Mr. Harper, we take this occasion to wish you, your government and our Canadian people a Merry Christmas and a Happy New year, and share with you the following concerns and facts:

1- Hezbollah is leading an open-ended sit-in in downtown Beirut aimed at toppling the government of Premier Fouad Saniora. This militant group and its subservient accessories and allies have rejected repeated calls by pro-government groups to go back to the dialogue table. They are adamant at taking over the whole country under the threat of their 30,000 missiles and heavy weapons that they refuse to surrender to the State. Hezbollah's General Secretary had made his scheme so clear when he said: "We will lead two million Lebanese citizens to starvation, and instead of bread we will give them swords to cut the politicians' necks and thus bring the condition of Jihad to maturity."

2- The entire free world should understand without a shred of doubt that as goes Lebanon, so goes the Middle East. That's why Lebanon's democracy must not be allowed to succumb to Syrian - Iranian dominance and, more ominously, to the growing influence of Iran's theocracy through Hezbollah. Yet many don't recognize just how serious the situation is. The 2005 Cedars Revolution, which restored democracy to the only Middle East country that has ever truly experienced it, is in great jeopardy.

3- To the public eye, Lebanon's democratically elected leaders are merely locked in a contest of wills with mass demonstrations. But these protests are fueled by Hezbollah, the Shiite militia group sponsored by Iran. This fact makes the situation nothing short of a Tehran-backed coup attempt - a counterrevolution with grave consequences for the region.

4- To help prevent this course of events, Canada, the US and all the Free World countries have an obligation in not compromising on Lebanon's democracy by considering talks with Syria and Iran, as recommended by the US Iraq Study Group (ISG). It's also imperative that the Free World countries stop making "fact-finding" trips to Syria and talking with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. The only language that the Syrian Baathist regime understands is firmness and deterrence.

5- Lebanon as well as the entire Middle East will know neither tranquility nor peace before UN Resolutions 1559 and 1701 are fully implemented and Hezbollah is disarmed with the rest of the Syrian sponsored Palestinian and Lebanese militias. Meanwhile, with enormous financial and military support from oil-rich Iran, Hezbollah is said to have restored its military capabilities after suffering major losses this past July. Iran's riches are also helping Hezbollah win additional loyalty from Lebanon's Shiite underclass. With it, Hezbollah mobilizes the masses to call for increasing the opposition's share in the cabinet. Such a move would give opposition members the power to dissolve the cabinet and block the institution of UN tribunals that would try those who assassinated former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri and other democracy advocates. It would also enable them to block cabinet efforts to disarm Hezbollah, as required by two UN resolutions. If this expansion isn't granted, counterrevolutionaries threaten to demand Prime Minister Fouad Siniora's resignation or create their own shadow cabinet.

6- Hezbollah and its cronies have misrepresented Mr. Saniora's attempts to govern by consensus as weakness. They have also misinterpreted the ISG report, which calls for talks with Iran and Syria, as a sign of the Western "need" for those countries' cooperation. They see a Western "deal" in the offing that would allow them to control Lebanon. All these wrong conceptions need to be clarified.

7- Changing the government in Lebanon is a legitimate and constitutional democratic issue, but not by force and threats and by striking at the institutions of the State and casting the free and the pro-sovereignty activists among our people as traitors. It is by the same token certainly illogical to change the government by way of Hezbollah which has erected a State within the State, which possesses power that is greater than that of the State in money, weapons and institutions, and which has organic and ideological ties to each of Syria and Iran.

*Elias Bejjani
Chairman for the Canadian Lebanese Coordinating Council (LCCC)
Human Rights activist, journalist & political commentator.
Spokesman for the Canadian Lebanese Human Rights Federation (CLHRF)

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