General Michel Aoun: An improvised political version of Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde ‎
By: Elias Bejjani/LCCC Chairman
November 30/2006
‎(Part ‎‏6‏‎ of the Aoun series of editorials)‎

In this editorial - part six in my Aoun series - the focus will be solely on the text of a lengthy ‎audio interview that the Lebanese MTV channel conducted with General Michel Aoun on ‎October ‎‏9‏‎, ‎‏2002‏‎ while he was still in exile in Paris - France. This is another lengthy text of ‎‏40‏‎ ‎pages that shows without a shadow of doubt, and by this man's own words, that he has in cold ‎blood buried under ‎‏12‏‎ feet all his declared national and political convictions whose banner he ‎carried for ‎‏18‏‎ years, only to back off completely on all his promises in the end. He simply ‎made a ‎‏180‏‎ degree turn without even bothering to explain himself or at least to his supporters ‎the rationale for such a drastic turnaround. ‎

He is still claiming boldly to be the most popular Lebanese Christian politician, and ‎accordingly he acts in an extremely aggressive and reckless manner as he elaborates his ‎national and political choices and alliances. His demagogic attitudes, approaches and speeches ‎are still appealing to many young Lebanese, especially in the Christian community, because he ‎is hypocritically playing on sectarian fears while portraying himself as a secularist and the ‎savior and protector of the Christian community. This metamorphosis had the effect that many ‎intellectuals among his close supporters have either left him or just backed off and are not ‎involving themselves in political activity any longer.‎

The Lebanese people in general and the Christian community in particular had hoped for many ‎years that General Aoun's return from exile would be a very constructive push forward and a ‎solid patriotic cornerstone for reclaiming the country's confiscated sovereignty, independence, ‎freedoms and security. But to their disappointment and frustration, the man lost all focus on ‎national priorities except for his unabated drive for the presidency. Everything he does or says ‎revolves around this apparently unreachable ambition.‎

And instead of working genuinely for unity in his own Christian community after he got almost ‎‏80%‏‎ of its votes in the last parliamentary elections, he became his community's main problem ‎and element of division after he backed off on his electoral platform and forged an alliance ‎with Hezbollah and all the pro-Syrian parties, officials, and militias in Lebanon. He turned into ‎a Syrian mouthpiece defending the Damascus regime's conduct and atrocities, aborting all ‎efforts to replace the Syrian hand-picked Lebanese President, General Emile Lahoud.‎

In his blind pursuit of the presidency, he turned against France, the US, UNIFIL, and all UN ‎resolutions, and took a hostile stance against the Maronite Patriarch after his Beatitude and the ‎Maronite Council of Bishops expressed their disapproval of his alliances. He continues to issue ‎threats to topple the Siniora government by force and through street demonstrations side by ‎side with Hezbollah and the pro-Syrian parties.‎

On Sunday November ‎‏26‏‎, ‎‏2006‏‎ and because Aoun was still persisting to join forces with ‎Hezbollah and topple the Lebanese government, His Beatitude the Maronite Patriarch ‎Nasrallah Sfeir urged the Lebanese Christians to close ranks although he acknowledged that ‎such a unity is difficult to achieve, (mainly because of Aoun's stubbornness): " We are going ‎through miserable days, but we hope they will be followed by happy days in which the ‎Lebanese will reunite…We mean by that the Christians who are divided," Sfeir told his visitors ‎on Sunday. "It seems that their reunification has become hard," Sfeir added. He said the ‎Lebanese should join hands since "our leaders are being killed one after the other."‎

Because of Aoun's individualistic, selfish and uncalculated ambitions, Lebanon's Christians are ‎divided between those who support Fouad Siniora's government and those who are revolving ‎around Aoun and are calling for the toppling of the government.‎

Below are a number of selected quotes from Aoun's MTV October ‎‏2002‏‎ interview which ‎shows Aoun's own description of Hezbollah's fundamentalist doctrine, weapons, ties to foreign ‎countries, power balance between Arab countries and Israel, Lebanon's borders with both ‎Israel and Syria, the big lie of the Shebaa Farms, suicide operations, reckless military ‎skirmishes against Israel through Lebanon's borders, rules of negotiation, acceptance of others, ‎civil and military societies, Syria's criminal role, terrorism and the pressure it exerts on the ‎Palestinians, Dhimmitude attitudes, extermination of Lebanon's Christians, inefficiency of ‎Lebanon's current pro-Syrian president, General Lahoud, and many other opinions and stances ‎in the same context.‎

The prime objective from this illustration is to show - using Aoun's own words - the educated ‎and intellectuals among his supporters, as well as within his party's members, and in particular ‎the young and university students, how the man since his return from exile last year has backed ‎off from all his political advocacy of the past ‎‏18‏‎ years and reneged on all his platforms and ‎promises. All what is required from the reader is to just compare, with an open mind and ‎without any kind of sentiment or bias, Aoun's platforms during the exile years which they ‎admired and supported, with those after his return from exile. The Lebanese people owe it to ‎themselves and to their country to only support politicians based on platforms and not on ‎emotions or blind sentimentalist fanaticism. Only sheep can be lead blindly to slaughterhouses, ‎but not the Lebanese people. ‎

Below are selected excerpts from General Aoun's interview with MTV on ‎‏09/04/02‏‎. Journalist Elie ‎Nakouzi conducted the interview (Below also some writer's comments)

1-General Aoun: "By the way, I remind you here that the Syrian regime had said that it came to ‎Lebanon to save its Christians from extermination. I want to ask this regime who, apart from ‎it, in fact wanted to exterminate us?" ‎

2-General Aoun: "I sure am very optimistic with the Palestinian people's victory, but not the way ‎some envisage it. Not by the extermination of Israel as Hezbollah and Bashar Al-Assad say, ‎because this kind of policy is globally rejected".‎

3-General Aoun: "The best that Syria has offered is rejected by us. What can Syria offer us? Its ‎liberal regime, freedoms, or economic system? All of these are rejected because they do not ‎match our thinking. For the Syrian regime to be accepted by us, it has to be like us in Lebanon, ‎and not vice-versa".‎

Writer's Comment: Does the General have any assurances from the Syrian Baathist regime that ‎its leadership has scraped their schemes to exterminate the Lebanese Christian community, or ‎at least their intellectuals and leaders who oppose their interferences and hegemony? If he ‎does, the Lebanese people are entitled to be informed, especially that the horrible Syrian ‎crimes continue to target Lebanon's national leaders, journalists and officials one after the ‎other. Needless to remind the General that he himself has accused Syria and its Lebanese ‎agents to be behind three assassination attempts that targeted him personally.‎

4-General Aoun: "The Arabs have gained the experience. I noticed that whose who got the ‎experience are acting wisely at this stage. Meanwhile, there are those who don't own the ‎experience, mostly the young, are enthusiastic for war, like Hezbollah and his Excellency ‎president Bashar Al Assad".‎

5-General Aoun: "There are rejectionist factions (in the region), Hezbollah and Syria are such ‎well-known rejectionists. They are the factions that pressure the Palestinian people and the ‎Palestinian resistance in a certain direction".‎

6-General Aoun: "We can't live today according to Bin Laden's school (doctrine). We can't live ‎in the East or in the West with a war slogan against Jews and Christians".‎

7-General Aoun: "Whenever the Palestinian problem get close to a solution, we feel that the ‎Palestinian people are exposed to pressure from outside bidding factions striving to corner and ‎embarrass the Chairman of the Palestinian Authority and make him reject the solution. They ‎put him in a weak position and at times tag him with treason if he accepts the proposed ‎solutions".‎

8-General Aoun: "I am against any suicide operation (for any target) if you can bombard or ‎explode the target. In any kind of military operation the soldier should always have a good ‎chance to return alive. No one (fighter, soldier) should detonate himself. As far as I am ‎concerned, this (suicide operations) is against my human and faith beliefs".‎

9-General Aoun: "We are the country that was struck by ‎‏258‏‎ booby-trapped vehicles during the ‎unfolding events. The Lebanese people remember very well these cars that exploded in all (the ‎Lebanese) regions. We are against this kind of thinking, the thinking of annihilating the society ‎because it does not distinguish (between military and civil societies)"‎

Writer's Comment: The General has so far not cleared the rejectionists from what he accused ‎them of doing in ‎‏2002‏‎. Does his alliance with them simply mean that he was wrong at that ‎time, or that they have abandoned such practices? Aren't these rejectionists the General's new ‎allies? How could he now sell his supporters such an alliance? Aren't they still rejectionists?‎
One wonders whether the General's new allies, especially Hezbollah, have abandoned this kind ‎of thinking, or if they have succeeded in convincing the General himself to adopt their own ‎doctrines in this regard. It is worth mentioning that Hezbollah has fired tens of its missiles ‎against civilian targets during its last war with Israel.‎

10-General Aoun: "I consider these martyrdom operations wrong because, as I previously stated, ‎they freed the Israeli military destructive power and legitimized its usage."‎

11-General Aoun: "Israel owns a mighty military and destruction power. By using the booby-‎trapped vehicles weapon against them (the Israelis), we give Israel a free hand to use its power ‎and even legitimize it".‎

12-General Aoun: "The Palestinians should know that their case can't be solved through violence. ‎They have ‎‏45‏‎ years experience of violence and mutual wars".‎

13-General Aoun: "Once engaged in negotiations, this simply means the parties recognize each ‎other. One cannot, by the end of a peace process and because of not agreeing on some issues, ‎turn around and again deny the existence of the other party, and accordingly make this ‎existence a questionable matter. We can't adopt an argument that advocates for Israel's ‎cancellation (annihilation)". ‎

Writer's Comment: Does the General have any doubt that Hezbollah, his new ally, has fully ‎freed the Israeli mighty destructive military power when its men crossed the Lebanese border ‎into Israel to kill and kidnap Israeli soldiers? The perplexing question for the General remains: ‎Did Hezbollah and President Bashar Al Assad change their way of thinking, or is it the General ‎who did?‎

14-General Aoun: "I say the military escalation does not help, especially when power balance (in ‎the Middle East) is to a great extent subjected to international constraints and not to Arab ‎power in the face of Israel’s power" . ‎

Writer's Comment: If this is the situation, how could the General justify his adaptation for ‎Hezbollah's latest “divine victory?”‎

15-General Aoun: "In Lebanon there was a UN Resolution (‎‏452‏‎), meanwhile the resistance ‎‎(Hezbollah) has prolonged the time of occupation (for South Lebanon). There was a proposal ‎from Israel in ‎‏1994‏‎. Would the Lebanese government tell us why at that time it withdrew from ‎the negotiations when the Israeli proposal for withdrawal (from South Lebanon) was ‎submitted".‎

Writer's Comment: If actually Hezbollah did not liberate the South and instead it prolonged its ‎Israeli occupation, how does the general instruct his followers to share with Hezbollah and ‎Hezbollah supporters all over the world their annual festivities of the so-called liberation?‎

16-General Aoun: "Lebanon's frontiers were originally never closed. All Lebanon is open (not ‎guarded). Where are the closed frontiers? They are neither closed with Syria nor with Israel. ‎The Lebanese state does not exist on the frontiers. These frontiers are open and every night ‎skirmishes take place. I am with closing the frontiers and not with abandoning responsibilities. ‎But what is happening today? All are washing their hands from all responsibilities".‎

Writer's Comment: Are these frontiers closed now to make the General refuse the deployment ‎of UNIFIL forces on the Lebanese Israeli borders, and to oppose putting UNIFIL under the ‎UN’s chapter seven?‎

17-General Aoun: "The Shebaa Farms is a big lie; I am fully responsible for what I am saying. We ‎can't adjust the map in accordance to our mood. Shebaa Farms are not Lebanese. Even if they ‎were, this land was confiscated by Syria since a long time and Lebanon has been silent about it. ‎The Lebanese government did not state once that it has an occupied land subjected to UN ‎resolution ‎‏242‏‎ ". ‎

18-General Aoun: "Let them leave the Shebaa story which is originally a fabricated one, they want ‎to keep the borders open. Let us assume for the sake of argument that the Shebaa Farms is ‎Lebanese, and that we have the right to fight for it, and that we don't want to implement the ‎UN Resolution. But what about the Golan Heights? Why doesn’t our sisterly neighboring Syria ‎open its front (with Israel) at a time when it made of itself a trustee over Lebanon?" ‎

Writer's Comment: Based on the General's own words, how could he and his parliamentary ‎bloc members allege that Hezbollah's weapons are a result of the occupation of Shebaa, and not ‎the cause for Lebanon's current problems? And how could he support a lie and tie the fate of ‎Hezbollah's disarmament with the fate of the armed Palestinian militias in Lebanon and the ‎erection of a strong, fair and resistant Lebanese state? One wonders how could a strong ‎Lebanese state be erected when Hezbollah has its own Iranian-Syrian militant state inside the ‎state and uses force to deny any Lebanese efforts to rectify peacefully this bizarre imposed ‎status.‎

19-General Aoun: "Emile Lahoud, as he says, is not qualified to be president of the Republic or to ‎head the Arabic summit conference".‎

20-General Aoun: "Didn't you hear the speeches threatening us with a civil war in case we call for ‎a Syrian withdrawal (from Lebanon). Hezbollah is the one that threatened and who else has ‎weapons. Hezbollah said we want to erect another Kosovo (in Lebanon) and it intents to ‎confront this matter. Hezbollah said that they are on the front at the border to defend Syria. ‎This is exactly what Al Syassa Kuwaiti newspaper quoted Sayed Hassan Nasrallah as saying. It ‎seems that he was threatening us with a civil war if we called for a Syrian withdrawal".‎

Writer's Comment: Isn’t Nasrallah now resorting to the same kind of speeches and threats? ‎And is it not true too that the General is now on Nasrallah's side? And aren’t both Aoun and ‎Nasrallah threatening the Lebanese people with a civil war if the Siniora government does not ‎give them the power to run the country?‎

21-General Aoun: "We have the independence pact, as well as the foundations of the country. ‎None of them could build on any contracts Hezbollah forges with foreign countries. The ‎country's foundations are sovereignty, independence and the unity of both the people and ‎land".‎

22-General Aoun: "What is the military value of the Syrian Army in the power balance in case a ‎war erupts with Israel? Do you really believe peace and tranquility in the East are sustained by ‎power balance? What actually preserved tranquility up till now is the international will. ‎Military skirmishes (on the borders with Israel) occurring these days could lead to the freeing ‎of these constraints. We live these days a very delicate situation because if Hezbollah and Syria ‎are serious in their escalation and not merely theoretical, then the possibility of the plight of ‎war is serious".‎

Writer's Comment: Here the General has a great deal of explaining to do in regards to his ‎groundless and non-military support for Hezbollah's last devastating war against Israel. ‎Hezbollah did or did not free the destructive Israeli mighty military power when it kidnapped ‎the Israeli solders from inside the Israeli borders? Meanwhile and based on his own words in ‎‏2002‏‎ how could he declare Hezbollah victorious in the last war? Isn’t the General ‎contradicting himself between ‎‏2002‏‎ and ‎‏2006‏‎? In ‎‏2002‏‎, he said that Hezbollah’s skirmishes ‎with the Israelis could lead to war. Now he says that the July War was a war that the US had ‎been preparing for regardless of what Hezbollah does or does not do in the south?‎

23-General Aoun: "Hezbollah can not forge partnerships (with foreign countries) and then tie all ‎the country (Lebanon) to its opinion. Such partnerships are unacceptable. I refuse both ‎religious and political Dhimmitude. These days we live a state of political Dhimmitude in ‎Lebanon". ‎

Writer's Comment: The General, for the sake of credibility, ought to inform at least his party ‎members and supporters if Hezbollah has severed its financial, military, strategic, and ‎ideological ties with Syria and Iran? He should also tell them if he approves today of political ‎Dhimmitude? [A “Dhimmi” is a second-class non-Moslem citizen in a State ruled by ‎Moslems].‎
‎"Did the General renege on his own words when he signed the so-called "Paper of ‎Understanding" with Hezbollah while its leadership openly and daily declares that they are ‎allies with Syria and Iran? Didn't Hezbollah’s General Secretary loudly say over and over that ‎if and when Syria is forced to withdraw from Lebanon, we [Hezbollah] will be its own army? ‎Does the General recall to whom Sheik Hassan Nasrallah bestowed the recent so-called divine ‎victory? It was for Syria and Iran. He should remember that because his delegation was in the ‎front seats during that huge victory celebration.‎

24-General Aoun: "No one is armed except the state's parties: the Syrian National Social Party, the ‎Baath Party and Hezbollah. These are the supporters of the authority. All of this is used under ‎the resistance tag. They keep the weapons in a bid to threaten others with killing and a civil ‎war. We do not fear killing, but if violence is forced on us we will defend ourselves".‎

Writer's comment: "Aren't these same armed parties the General's new allies today on the ‎ground in Beirut? Aren't he and them threatening the rest of the Lebanese with massive ‎demonstrations and aren't they threatening the Siniora Government to resign or otherwise?".‎

25-General Aoun: "It is impossible to tag those who want to go to the West Bank for help as ‎agents. What is this complex? Are all the Palestinians there Israeli agents. This same complex ‎was practiced in South Lebanon when its citizens were dealt with as agents and put in jails". ‎

Writer's Comment: "It would be great if the General tells our people that his current ally ‎Hezbollah was the authority that tagged and still tags the South Lebanese Army members, their ‎families and many other security zone citizens as Israeli agents".‎

26-General Aoun: "And this subject, the dialogue I have put it forward for others and in particular ‎for Hezbollah. That was through our youth who were engaged in a dialogue with Hezbollah ‎between ‎‏1993‏‎ and ‎‏1994‏‎. These youth visited me at that time in France (Haute Maison) and ‎asked for my opinion. I requested that they put forward this same question for Hezbollah: "If ‎we reach the national borders (Israeli-Lebanese borders) tomorrow by one way or another, ‎does the role of the rifle end there and the Lebanese state is erected, or we will keep holding to ‎the rifle for other things? The Hezbollah response was:" the matter will be left for an ‎assessment of the situation at that time". This simply means and in a very diplomatic way that ‎they don't want to give up the rifle".‎

Writer's Comment: The irony here is that the General has kept a blind eye on his own theory ‎and prediction when signing the so-called "Paper of Understanding" with Hezbollah, which ‎subsequently linked its weapons to the “Sacred, honor, dignity, defense strategy, a strong, fair ‎and resistant State and until a time when Israel would not be able to fly a kite over Lebanon”. ‎Does the General recall who ignited the last war?‎

27-General Aoun: "I know that Lebanon will not be divided. It will return again a country for all ‎of its people, even in the presence of supporters for Syria whose role in the end will cease to ‎exist because they can't stand against nature on the account of the country and its foundations. ‎But if one does not believe in a sovereign, free and independent Lebanon, then everything is ‎finished".‎

Writer's Comment: "What is funny here is that the General himself, and after his return from ‎exile, has aggressively and enthusiastically joined the Syrian supporters through his alliance ‎with Hezbollah, General Lahoud and the rest of Syria's agents in Lebanon, including the pro-‎Syrian Baath Party...One wonders if the General's perception of what is ‘nature’ and ‘the ‎foundations of the country’ has been revolutionized, Syrianized, and baathized?".‎

28-General Aoun: "Up till today I notice that the Lebanese Forces Party and the "Qornet ‎Chehwan" (political Christian coalition) are very persistent in their support of the "Taef ‎Accord" as if it is another bible, while in fact it is a ploy that they were dragged in. Some do ‎not know how to get out because they refuse to admit they were cheated and that their choice ‎was wrong".‎

Writer's comment: “It is no secret that the General has revolutionized his position on the "Taef ‎Accord" and became, like those ploy victims, one of its major supporters. He even scolded ‎some of his prime supporters when publicly they reiterated his original "Taef" opposition ‎stance. Is his new choice righteous in his own eyes? And if so, how could he in ‎‏2002‏‎ say that ‎the accord was a ploy? I believe he owes our own people a great deal of explanation.”‎

29-General Aoun: "We start from the southern region. If it does not return back to the (state's) ‎legitimate authority, to the jurisdiction of the law and to the legitimate Lebanese armed forces, ‎then we can't consider it liberated, but still under the control of a militia and that it has been ‎transferred from two occupations to one.‎

Writer's comment: "It is worth noting that when the General signed his " Paper of ‎Understanding" with Hezbollah, this armed militia was still in full control of the southern ‎region (now it is under the control of the UNIFIL and the Lebanese Army), and at that time too ‎there was no existence there whatsoever for the state's authority, jurisdiction of law, or ‎Lebanon's legitimate armed forces. This same militia is the one that still holds tight to its ‎‏40,000‏‎ missiles and to its destructive arsenal, refusing to disarm with the full support of the ‎General. This is the same militia with which the General has forged with not a mere ‎‎“understanding” as both parties allege, but a full alliance accord".‎

30-General Aoun: "The issue is not that of an ally, I am America's ally. I went there (to the USA) ‎to call for Lebanon's independence. We do not forget that America is the sole mighty country ‎and its policies affect the whole world whether we like it or not. America has a power formula. ‎If one can make this formula to his advantage he will be able to save his country. Although ‎America and Israel had hurt me the most in the world, I can't ignore America' power and ‎influence in the world. We should understand that a mistake was committed against Lebanon ‎who fell a victim for terrorism. The mistake should be rectified. I showed them (the USA) the ‎assassination and explosion schedule that Lebanon had been exposed to. I told them, I did not ‎want to accuse anybody, but requested they ask their Intelligence. I asked them not make ‎parties accountable because these parties have ties with regimes. The organizations that you ‎consider terrorists are tied to regimes. These organizations should be disarmed and the regimes ‎rendered democratic and to help in developing the poor people".‎

Writer's comment: The General instead of working hard to disarm these organizations, and in ‎particular Hezbollah, has forged an alliance with them and has become a guardian angel for ‎their weapons.‎

31-General Aoun: "Not at all, attacking Hezbollah is not requested. Our call for Hezbollah has ‎always been a peaceful one. We told Hezbollah's leadership, ‘Your liberation role has finished ‎and you should not be a tool in the hands of others. Come and play your political role’. It is ‎true that I reject many of their ideas, because they have somewhat strange ideas as far as our ‎society is concerned. These ideas do not comply with our society nor with Lebanon's ‎traditional mission. But they are a part of the Lebanese society. I call on them not to be an ‎outside (foreign) dimension n Lebanon, but a Lebanese dimension abroad. It does not bother ‎me whether their religious loyalty is in Qom or in Iraq. This a religious authority with whom ‎we have no relations. But what is rejected, is the turning of any Muslim or Christian faction ‎into a dimension in Lebanon for the outside (foreign countries).‎

Writer's Comment: Hezbollah's ideas are still the same and even more crystal clear. ‎Meanwhile, Hezbollah is not only an internal dimension for outside powers, but in fact an ‎Iranian-Syria armed militia in Lebanon. Its leadership is not hiding this fact, can the General do ‎otherwise?‎

10/04/02‏‎: Below are Excerpts from the Aoun MTV interview, the subject of our editorial, as published in ‎the As-Safir Lebanese Arabic-language daily one day after its airing.‎
("Aoun: The Shebaa Farms are not Lebanese and the Resistance (Hezbollah) has prolonged the ‎Occupation.‎

General Michel Aoun appeared live yesterday from Paris and presented his views and positions ‎regarding the developments in the region. Aoun described the martyrdom missions executed by ‎the Palestinian resistance against the Israeli occupation as "suicide missions" and not "missions ‎of martyrdom". He added that such operations "reveal an uncivilized conduct," and that the use ‎of booby-trapped vehicles against Israel is an act of terrorism.‎
Aoun, in a televised interview with MTV, fiercely attacked Hezbollah and Syria and accused ‎them of nurturing the rejectionist discourse of the Palestinians. He also accused them of ‎wanting to annihilate the Israelis, and of prodding the Palestinians to destroy a whole ‎population. Aoun criticized the military operations undertaken by the resistance (Hezbollah) in ‎the Shebaa Farms stating that "the Farms issue is a lie: the Shebaa Farms are not Lebanese; let ‎Syria give us an official document that these Farms are Lebanese then we will work at ‎liberating them."‎
Aoun described Hezbollah's and Syria's position regarding the developments in occupied ‎Palestine as "an extremist position stemming from either political recklessness or collusion ‎with Israel." Aoun criticized “the rejectionist discourse that rejects even the human Israeli ‎existence, such as the Hezbollah discourse that considers the killing of anyone in the Israeli ‎society as ´fair game', and the discourse of President Bashar Assad that is identical to ‎Hezbollah's and proclaims that ´there are no civilians in Israeli society'. Aoun added: "We ‎reject this kind of discourse. We reject such policy of extermination. Such things are ‎contradictory to any human or civilized conduct. They are calling for the destruction of a ‎whole people through terrorist means, and this is unacceptable. The use of such means released ‎the destructive military power of Israel and legitimized it."‎
He also stated that the military victory of Israel "will not eliminate the Palestinian State nor the ‎rights of the Palestinian people. However, those goals cannot be reached by the extermination ‎of Israelis and wiping out Israel, as Hezbollah and Bashar Assad want." And regarding the ‎resistance (Hezbollah) that liberated the South from Israeli occupation, Aoun said: "The ‎resistance prolonged the occupation. There was an Israeli proposal of withdrawal in ‎‏1994‏‎. ‎Why did Lebanon withdraw from the negotiation process? Lebanon attached itself to the ‎Syrian tractor and dissolved its own political and diplomatic identity… the resistance ‎prolonged the occupation and damaged Lebanon economically". He called for the "disarming ‎of Hezbollah that keeps threatening us with civil war."‎
Aoun attacked Syria fiercely and said: "Is it allowable for Syria to kill in the name of ‎brotherhood? Is it allowable for Syria to occupy Baabda (Presidential Palace) in the name of ‎brotherhood? Why did it greet me with hostility from my first day as head of the interim ‎government?"‎
Aoun described the Lebanese constitutional institutions as "farms" (in a veiled reference to the ‎Shebaa Farms) and said: "The Baabda farm (Presidential Palace) needs to be liberated, so does ‎the Qoraytem (Prime Minister’s Office) and the Nejmeh Square (Parliament) farms. There is ‎no free decision in any of these places."‎
On the future of the region, Aoun said: “Peace in the Middle East is a civilization condition ‎that must evolve against the politics of violence. It rests on the acceptance of the "other", the ‎right to be different, and the democratization of the political systems. It is impossible to build a ‎new Middle East with a war mentality. Competition through development and pluralism, which ‎arises from the acceptance of those who are different, the plurality of races, genders, and ‎origins, and the freedom of creed, is consistent with the stipulations of the Charter of Human ‎Rights. ‎
I do not trust States that engage themselves in the path of peace and try to develop their ‎systems, but that do not recognize the right of freedom of creed, which by the way is not ‎limited to religion, but also includes political and all other forms of freedoms. There are ‎underdeveloped autocratic and theocratic states that are anachronisms and are incompatible ‎with the times in which we live. The Bin Laden School is such a belief system and it cannot ‎survive. The slogan of war on Christians and Jews is an aberration that cannot survive, neither ‎in the East nor in the West. Lebanon is the only oasis for the reconciliation of cultures because ‎of its Moslems and Christians who have lived the experience and found it to be viable. Aoun ‎said his return to Lebanon is tied to "changes on the ground" he expects to happen soon and ‎which are linked to regional developments." ‎)
‎ ‎

Note: To read the five previous editorials of this series click here
N.B: All above quotes were translated by the writer from the original Arabic sources.‎

*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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