Aoun: An improvised political version of Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde
By: Elias Bejjani/LCCC Chairman
(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
N.B: All above quotes were translated by the writer from the original Arabic sources.
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 http://www.10452lccc.com
CLHRF Website http://www.clhrf.com