General Michel Aoun's Alliance with Hezbollah: A Bizarre and Groundless Marriage of Opportunism
By: Elias Bejjani-LCCC/Chairman
November 20/2006

"The positions of those afflicted with contradiction between acts and words cannot be reassuring. Such individuals desire one thing and its opposite at the same time" (General Aoun on 16/06/2000).

I would like to tell my readers that I am really happy and extremely pleased with the many emails, phones and faxes, both negative and positive, that I have been receiving from the Diaspora and back home since I started publishing this series of editorials. In response to those who are accusing me of creating division among the sovereignists' ranks, I borrow my reply from Edmund Burke, the well known English statesman and political philosopher (1729-1797):
"All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing."

In this fifth episode from General Michel Aoun's series, the prime focus will be on a set of miscellaneous selected quotations from the man's documented speeches, theses and political positions that focus all on Hezbollah's weapons, south Lebanon, Lebanon's sovereignty, independence and security.

My prime objective is to give our people, as well as our world wide friends, the chance to examine thoroughly General Aoun's positions, promises, pledges, convictions, his party's 2005 parliamentary electoral platform, his alliances and then check these against the extent of his sincerity and commitment to all of the above. This study aims to fairly and openly pinpoint the General's post-exile trend of contradictions between his acts and his words.

A very simple and straightforward comparison between his pre- and post-exile attitudes and stances makes it very clear, and without a shred of a doubt, that the man has molted, turned against all his positions, and accordingly, allied himself with Hezbollah and the Lebanese agents of Syria in Lebanon. Needless to say that he has built his leadership and popularity all through the past eighteen years on fighting all of them, initially militarily, and then politically.

Six years ago, and while he was still in exile, the General denounced similar patterns of behavior and accused his opponents of adopting them for personal
gains, power and status. On 16/06/2000 he said: "The positions of those afflicted with contradiction between acts and words cannot be reassuring. Such individuals desire one thing and its opposite at the same time".

One wonders if General Aoun, who has recently joined forces with the "Evil Axis" through his alliance with Hezbollah and Syria's agents in Lebanon, is the same
man who enthusiastically and staunchly sponsored, advocated and worked hard with the Lebanese lobbyists in the US to prepare, promote and then pass the "Syria Accountability and Lebanese Sovereignty Restoration Act of 2003". An Act that stipulates: "To halt Syrian support for terrorism, end its occupation of Lebanon, stop its development of weapons of mass destruction, cease its illegal importation of Iraqi oil and illegal shipments of weapons and other military items to Iraq, and by so doing hold Syria accountable for the serious international security problems it has caused in the Middle East, and for other purposes."

One wonders why the US ambassador to Lebanon had to warn Aoun of 'Grave Consequences' over an alliance with Hezbollah, as Naharnet posted on its Internet site on Friday November 3, 2006: {"Beirut-U.S. ambassador Jeffrey Feltman has allegedly warned General Michel Aoun of 'grave consequences' over his alliance with Hezbollah, accusing the Shiite group of plotting to obliterate Lebanon."Feltman was quoted as saying: "Hezbollah is constantly working on destroying and obliterating Lebanon as well as sowing chaos," according to the Lebanese daily As-Safir. It said his remarks were made during a visit to Aoun at his house in Rabieh on Thursday. The paper quoted leading sources in Aoun's Free Patriotic Movement (FPM) as saying that Feltman also slammed the so-called "political understanding" between Aoun and Hezbollah. But Aoun has reiterated his adherence to the "political understanding," the sources said. They said
that Feltman has indirectly threatened Aoun that his alliance with Hezbollah would bear "grave consequences on his political future." As-Safir said that this was
a tortuous reference to the presidency issue, in which Aoun, a Maronite, is eligible for under the Lebanese constitution. The paper also said that the FPM has
previously received similar threats from the American administration warning Aoun against establishing any "material or financial ties with Hezbollah, or be
blacklisted for assisting terrorists".

Aoun's supporters and followers in the Diaspora and back home have an obligation, at least towards themselves to rationally and intelligently question his post-exile new plans, positions and alliances, and decide if he actually is still the leader whom they supported as far as platforms, convictions, and promises.

Below are selected excerpts from Aoun's documented writings, speeches and interviews that delineate his pre-exile anti-Hezbollah, anti-terrorism stances.

1) January.3/2005- An excerpt from Aoun's speech (via the phone) in the inauguration of his party's office in the Lebanese Northern city of Zgharta:
"We should not compromise on the country's cause. The cause is not a bet in a race, nor an issue of trade. It is a matter of existence for everybody (Lebanon's people), and not the existence of a one segment and not the other. If you want the country, make it a priority in all your thinking. Everything else is secondary; this is the salvation. As from today, we will not accept any loyalty that supersedes that for our country. We will not accept that all matters be given two meanings and two specifications, especially the national convictions. We cannot be with Syria or the Palestinian cause more than we are with ourselves and with our country. We cannot love the neighbors' children more than we love our own family members. In our relations with each other, we should get rid of  lying & dodging, as well as of ambiguity and the every day planting of mines in a bid to improve and develop our national life, or otherwise we will remain wedged in ongoing problems."

2) Excerpt from General Aoun's Free Patriotic Movement Party Parliamentary 2005 electoral platform, "Annex number one, Hezbollah's issue": 
"N Resolution 1559 and the 'Taef Accord' both stipulate that all militias (in Lebanon) must be disarmed. This matter raises the paradox of Hezbollah's military existence. Regardless of different opinions on Hezbollah's ideological choices and its relations with Syria, that is suspicious in its intentions towards Lebanon, Hezbollah's military activities were seen in the UN Resolutions frame as resistance acts against occupation until the day Israel withdraw from Lebanon's southern region (May 2000). After the Israeli withdrawal, legitimacy for Hezbollah' military operations dissipated. Meanwhile, since then, it created a crisis on national and international levels. This status put Lebanon in a confrontation with the international law, while at the same time exerted a threat to the national unity as it indicates that one group Monopolizes Lebanon's national decision making process."
Doubts in regards to Hezbollah's actual objectives and hazards of its strategy are not by any means going to dissipate through avowed relations with hardliner Iran, or through its alliance with (Palestinian) Hamas and the Islamic Jihad movements that are both classified by the West as anti-peace movements. In this same context, the Shebaa Farms ploy is not a convincing proof (to justify Hezbollah's military anti Israel Acts) and it did not succeed in concealing Syrian intentions that hide in the back. Keenness on the national sovereignty is not one religious denomination's monopoly and should not be so."

3) January.3/2005-An excerpt from Aoun's speech (via the phone) in the inauguration of his party's office in the Lebanese Northern city of Zgharta:
"We hear at times an MP saying that UN Resolution 1559 is an internationalization for the "Taef Accord". This Accord has no relation with the UN. It is a tribal
accord forged between the Lebanese themselves and has no execution mechanism. Where is the Taef Accord execution mechanism? Is it the withdrawal to the Bekaa Valley? What is the Bekaa fate than? What is the fate of both regions, the North and the South? If they want to keep any rifle that is not the one with the
Lebanese army, then where is the State's centrality of security while Hezbollah keeps holding on to its arms? They invented the Shebaa Farms tale as an excuse to keep the arms. Why weapons should remain (with Hezbollah) and nobody says anything? Are all these things found in the conduct of some opposition figures
or in the majority of the new opposition that lately joined its ranks? All of this makes us adopt reservations on the topics they circulate in a bid to attract people. Definitely in the future they will reach dead ends. You ask them the questions: What after the Bekaa Valley and when? What is the style that will be implemented in the Bekaa Valley to make the Syrians leave? And what is the style that will follow with Hezbollah? When will the country reassume its security responsibilities? All these questions must be answered. We are the front opposition and have the right to ask. In 1990 the US offered Lebanon as a gift for Syria in return for its participation in the Gulf War. What price will we pay the US in return for its help?"

4) Quotation from Aoun's (via the phone) meeting with the Free Patriotic Movement's school students third annual conference on April 5/2003. Journalist Katia Srour moderated the dialogue.
*Question by one of the students:
The US considers Hezbollah a terrorist organization. Hezbollah is the son of our country. What will be our position?
"Aoun's answer: "I had previously invited Hezbollah to a solution. I am not willing to assume the results for the policies it follows and for its external ties. I
advised them to abandon the military work and return a political party, for then we congratulated them on liberating Lebanese land. But when Hezbollah wants to stand outside the Lebanese framework for other objectives, we cannot bear the results of its policies. Then I cannot engage in a dialogue with Hezbollah while it is carrying the rifle. Let it put the rifle aside, then we sit down and talk. I call on Hezbollah to turn into a political party and we will cooperate with it. We don't want to eliminate this part, but it too can not enmesh us; from the Palestinian resistance to the Lebanese resistance, to others. [As the Lebanese proverb says]: "We brought the bear to our vineyard and then gave ourselves the credit for pushing it out". And everything is on our account. Taking out the Palestinian bear, taking out the Israeli bear, all on our account. To where will we continue? I don't know."

"If what they (Hezbollah leadership) want are the Shebaa Farms, they have to get a small paper from the Syrians saying that these farms are inside Lebanese territory so we can liberate them. And then there is no need for the canon and the parades. But if carrying the rifle aims for Hezbollah's hegemony over Lebanon and if it becomes a Syrian tool for hegemony over Lebanon's decision, then Hezbollah would have abandoned much of its Lebanese affiliation and abandoned the fact that it is our brother, because we don't see him acting like one. He (Hezbollah) did not have any forgiveness or any understanding in the southern issue after the Israeli withdrawal.. The result was thousands of refugees in the south. Why were they treated like this? Because the State has neglected them for many years and accordingly they were forced to deal with an imposed status quo".

"We then, cannot bear the results of a wrong policy when we have been giving Hezbollah advice from its first days. It is enough for us that we have postponed the solution in the Southern region since 1994 till year 2000. Today we want to liberate Jerusalem, as if Jerusalem is Hezbollah's responsibility. There are one billion and two hundred million Muslims who say Jerusalem is theirs. Let them step in and liberate it. For us in Lebanon alone to bear responsibility for this is a matter that is not at all acceptable anymore. It is a matter that is beyond our capabilities and not a normal one. Because of this wrong policy, look how many Lebanese have emigrated and how they are dispersed all over the world, both Muslims and Christians. We do not consent and support blindly. Let Hezbollah step in and explain to us its policy."

5) Quotations from Aoun's meeting with NDU University students on March 26/2002. Journalist and FPM senior official, Mr. Elias Zoghby (who has now left the FPM) moderated the dialogue.
"*Question from one of the students: There is a paradox in the fear of the Lebanese. They are afraid from the occurring tranquility in the South that Hezbollah has abided by, because of American threats (made by Colin Powell, U.S. Secretary of State) and in accordance to advice from Iran's Foreign Minister Mr. Kharazi. Is this tranquility a pretext for a new status similar to the one that prevailed 12 years ago, or it is the tranquility that precedes the storm?
Aoun's answer: Today, in the new American policy, America and its allies would not anymore be satisfied with only a tranquility status. The Americans want to
dismantle the capabilities of those they classify as terrorists. Dismantle their action capabilities at the present time and also in the future. Tranquility is a paralyzing act and will be followed by dismantling. This tranquility, if not followed by dismantlement, would not last for long and the status will return to be hot again. I stress that the importance here lies in the result that we will reach. We are now one step far from the final phase, and dismantlement will follow the tranquility.".

"In Lebanon many have dealt with Hezbollah through "Dissimulation" [Taqiyah]. They, within themselves, wish that [Hezbollah] would be attacked, while in the
open they encourage and command its stances. They push Hezbollah towards collision. This is a bad and wrong course. Meanwhile when we call on Hezbollah to abandon weapons and turn into political practice, we do so because we don't want it to be attacked. Or otherwise we would have encouraged it on wrongdoing and pushed it as others do. I said before and now I will repeat it: A complete divorce with the rifle should take place in Lebanon internally and externally. There is a solution for the Middle East, it will be enforced. Why then increase the losses, and why increase the casualties? Let everybody step in and go back to their selves under the shade of Lebanese laws and constitution. Let them go back to their Lebanese status. Do not be afraid. The tranquility will prolong the current status and breakdown will occur before such a decision is taken in case there is one."

6) Quotation from an Arabic editorial written by Aoun and published on 08/04/2001 under the title "Lebanese Majority Crushed and an Occupier who Masters Black Humor":
"The national occasion is Lebanese Army Day. We observe the memory, but we don't celebrate before this army reclaims its normal position in the country's
life, and before it reclaims the sole military power on its land. An army that extends its nation's sovereignty on Lebanese soil without any partners [militias]. An Army that is committed to a liberated Lebanese regime, free from guilt and inferiority complexes towards Syria. Up until these righteous circumstances are provided there will be no festivities, and no talk about sovereignty is acceptable, specially from those who sold and infringed on all (national) taboos.

7) Quotation from an Arabic editorial written by Aoun and published on 14/07/2001 under the title: "Syria is Lebanon's Soft Flank":
"Syria has resisted the Israeli withdrawal (from South Lebanon), but was not successful in stopping it. with its pressure on Lebanon, it aborted the implementation of UN Resolution 426. It invented the Shebaa Farms' case in a bid to keep Lebanon an Israeli soft flank and a protective zone for Syria. Israel decided to deal militarily with Hezbollah (the dominant power on Southern Lebanese land) after the understanding neared its end. Hereupon starts the stage for change in both game and roles."

8) Quotation from an Arabic editorial written by Aoun and published on 29/05/2001 under the title: "Continuation of Blackmailing":
"The bitter reality that we are sensing today is the transformation of the resistance (Hezbollah) into a political tool geared by Damascus to create internal (Lebanese political) equations in a bid to solidify its policies in Lebanon and support its regime in Syria".

9) Quotations from Aoun's Lecture that was delivered in France - Lyon on January 3/2001:
A)" For the Lebanese, the Shebaa Farms farce was not enough to justify the continuation of the military struggle, while negotiation channels were always open.
This land that Syria has annexed long time ago, and the Israelis occupied after the 1967 war, was never before an official Lebanese issue of property claims,
not before nor after 1967. On top of all this, the irrational and unjustifiable refusal by Lebanese Authorities for the return of Lebanese sovereignty to
the Southern region has isolated Lebanon politically from the international community and even from its friends. Those (Friends) countries were never
convinced with the vague excuses that Syria who controls Lebanon's decision-making process has produced. As a result Western countries decided to
freeze their economic aid to South Lebanon as long as the legitimate Lebanese authorities are not in control of the liberated land (In may 2000, Israel
unilaterally withdrew its forces from South Lebanon).

B) "The Lebanese had hoped that the end of the military conflict in South Lebanon would bring back to their country more tranquility, assurance and trust that could reflect positively on reclaiming peace and economical prosperity. But Syria has decided otherwise. By not allowing the Lebanese authorities to reclaim its southern region, (after the Israeli withdrawal in May 2000), it has dragged the country back into the same pre-liberation status, and even worse. The ghost of the Palestinian camps (Syrian sponsored militias) sharply emerged with full Syrian coordination and became a threat to stability and a tool in Syrian hands for compromising and blackmailing. All this has come as a compensation for the weakening of the Syrians resistance card (Hezbollah) or its loss in the power balance between them and the Israelis.

C)" We can add up to the national peace illusion, the regional one, and also the promised coming spring and the wishes for tranquility that the Lebanese people
have deserved through these last years which were tagged, erroneously, as the post-war years. Nonetheless, if we do not take in consideration the Syrian control over the resistance card in south Lebanon and the motto that became holy in the past, the "Unity of track and fate" between Syria and Lebanon. This motto that was a mere maneuver orchestrated by the Syrians to keep holding on to the resistance card between their teeth and forbid Lebanon from reclaiming its sovereignty on its southern region through peaceful negotiations. For the Syrians, this is a very important maneuver because an Israeli withdrawal from Lebanese territory would expose the shameful Arab/Syrian withdrawal from the military confrontation with Israel. The military conflict in south Lebanon has been hiding primarily the Syrian, and in general the collective Arab, withdrawal from the military confrontation with Israel.

D) "On May 2000, and in a bid to split the Lebanese Syrian track and achieve security on its border after failing to reach peace (with Syria and Lebanon),
Israel withdrew its army from South Lebanon. In the absence of the whole peace, this new status was supposed to provide a great deal of tranquility and
stability for the Lebanese Southern citizens in particular. But instead, and contrary to all their expectations, the Lebanese harvested disappointment and frustration. The Southern Lebanese residents of the zone from which Israel withdrew had expected to be warmly welcomed for returning under the patronage of their Lebanese state after a long and forced exile, during which the state had left them facing their fate alone without help or care. But instead, they sadly discovered the state's hostility and its accusations to them with treason and treachery. Many of them were hunted and arrested. What made the humiliation even worse are the practices of the status quo militias (Hezbollah) who took the state's role. They interrogated and imprisoned many Southern citizens before handing them over to the (State's) judicial authorities.

E) "The Southern Lebanese citizens had hoped too that the State's legitimate authority, as reason and logic dictate, would return to the land that the Israelis have withdrawn from. But, the Lebanese state, instead of enforcing back its authority over the liberated land, bowed to Syria's demands and dictates and refused to deploy its armed forces there. It handed over the land to the control of the militias, the only master over the area there since day one of liberation (May 2000).

"Official statements issued by Hezbollah in regards to its continuation of the fight up and until the liberation of the Shebaa Heights that soon translated into reality led to the dissipation of all hopes for the return of normal status and stability. In the absence of peace talks that the citizens have been longing for in the aftermath of an occupation that lasted for quarter of a century, and because of the frequent counter military attacks (between Israel and Hezbollah), the Lebanese in general and the southern citizens in particular, were again preoccupied with fear of a comprehensive war, and today, they still do.

10) On 17/11/2000, Aoun's wrote:
 "The Syrian regime found its long pursued desire in the Southern Resistance (Hezbollah). Syria claimed protection for this resistance in its liberation mission. But in spite of the destructive many wars waged on Lebanon by Israel in response to the resistance attacks (Hezbollah), the Syrian Army remained idle".

11) On 03/07/2000, Aoun wrote:
"It is our right to inquire where is this republic (Lebanese Republic)? Is it in the South that is void from all sovereignty and its people are moving from the occupation yoke to the party's (Hezbollah) despotism?"

12) Quotes from an Interview with Aoun conducted by Journalist Hyam Qusayfi (An-Nahar, 18.1.03):
Q: Are you at all concerned about the impact of a regional war on Lebanon and its inability to absorb the impending changes?
A:  ­ The issue is that the Lebanese depend on the Syrians, in spite of the latter's faults, to resolve their question. They just donąt understand that the Syrians will have to deal with the regional changes, which in turn will have repercussions on Lebanon. The state is non-existent and is unable to contain people because the leaders have no popular base whatsoever they can rely on. The authorities have starved their people and rule them with forces of repression. Without the backing of the Syrians, these forces do not have the backbone to repress people. So if the Syrian presence is suddenly dismantled, and absent any agreement among the Lebanese for a substitute, there is bound to be a number of disturbances.
Q:­ Some are concerned about a convergence of fundamentalist movements into Lebanon.
A: This is the only thing that I am not worried about. Fundamentalism is being challenged and confronted globally, and it can barely protect itself.
Q: So what worries you therefore about the Lebanese situation?
A: Internal chaos. People are lost and feel defeated, and there is no role model around which to gather. People have become moving skeletons. Period.
Hezbollah will cease to exist.
Q: There is talk about a regional deal of which Hezbollah will pay the price.
A: There wonąt be any deal over Hezbollah, because a decision has been made to end the military wing of Hezbollah without trade-offs. It will cease to exist without any deal.

13) Quote from an editorial Aoun published On 27/05/2000 under the title "When is the Liberation?"
A) "We wonder if South Lebanon has actually returned back to Lebanon, and if so under what sovereignty it is now to justify the joyful drum-beating and
jubilation celebrations?"

B) "What is there for the Lebanese regime and its deceitful society to be proud of, when the Israeli withdrawal had forced thousands of innocent Lebanese citizens to flee out side the country’s borders? Why were the Southern women scared and the mothers escaped with their children to the Israeli camps? Is it not because of the threatening speeches’ uttered towards the Southern residents promising and voicing revenge and cold blood murder? This blood shedding savage policy has been hailed and adopted by the regime because of an apparent inability to assume its security and judiciary responsibilities".

C) "Under what jurisdiction the head of the state (President Lahoud) has uttered rhetoric empty assurances to his scared fleeing people, and how could he ask them to return to their land and homes? Who would trust his reassurances when he personally has no say in any of the state’s affairs, and when his official role has been characterized by an ongoing shameful phenomenon of abandoning responsibilities and breaking oaths?"

D) "What delight is in the triumph liberation festivities when the people of the liberated land have been forced by the liberators to flee the country fearing for their lives? The Southern people have been fighting courageously for the last 25 years, refusing to abandon the land they worship and the identity they honor. The successive Lebanese governments have abandoned them for quarter a century and left them isolated encountering unbearable circumstances. They are now paying the price of the occupier’s withdrawal in which they had no say as they have paid previously the price of the occupation that was forced on them."

E) "The Beirut regime is making the residents of the liberated territories, who are actually the victims, legally accountable for the occupation. The heroic
Southern residents who resisted the occupation and refused to leave their land are now the target of reprisal and savage official campaign spearheaded by
officials and politicians who were originally responsible for the occupation of the Southern region and for the pain, destruction, poverty, displacement, loses and sufferings of all the Lebanese people since 1975. The free world countries and UN should not allow this judicial mockery to be inflict on our innocent
patriotic southern people."

F) "In the meantime what we are now witnessing in occupied Lebanon is a biased, selective, unfair, revenge, double standard and politicized judiciary".

*End of the editorial
N.B: All quotations listed in this editorial were translated by the writer from the original Arabic version.
*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)

LCCC Web Site
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