Lebanon's Foreign Minister & the lost credibility
By: Elias Bejjani
October 3/2005

Numerous Lebanese leaders, politicians and intellectuals, cried foul while Mr. Fouad Siniora was in the process of forming Lebanon's first Cabinet in the aftermath of the 28 years of Syrian occupation. They strongly warned about the devastating hazards of surrendering to pressures and threats from the Shiites Hezbollah-Amal coalition, and the handing over of the Foreign Ministry portfolio for a minister of their choice. All the warnings fell on deaf ears, and the two armed groups were successful in hijacking Lebanon's Foreign Ministry portfolio through their hand picked man; Fawzi Salloukh. The fears focused on the fact that a Hezbollah Foreign Minister will bring with him all its unilateral, bizarre and sickening concepts in regards to the Arabic-Israeli conflict, the so called resistance against Israel, the “duties of the Lebanese army”, the group’s peace and war philosophy and its heretic interpretation of all UN Resolutions related to Lebanon especially 194, 425, 426, 520, 242 338, 1959, and 1614 etc.

The new imposed Lebanese Foreign Minister, Mr. Fawzi Salloukh did not waste any time in carrying out his mission. He boldly started from his day one in the ministry, advocating for Hezbollah's stances and concepts, and not for those of the Lebanese government. His covert and avert conduct in all domains and on all levels has been unambiguously a Hezbollah tunnel-visioned one. 

During the last two weeks, Mr. Salloukh has been repeating like a parrot the following misleading and fabricated statement: "As long as the state of Israel keeps occupying the Lebanese Shaba Farms and Kfar Chouba Heights, detain Lebanese prisoners in its jails, and did not hand over to Beirut a map for the mines it implanted in all the southern region, that plainly means it did not fully implemented the UN Resolution 425". In response to the overwhelming local, regional and international calls for the deployment of the Lebanese army in the southern region and on the Lebanese - Israeli border, he alleges that the Lebanese army is already deployed there, and on all Lebanese soil, as well as on the green line (UN Israeli-Lebanese border drawn line), "We still say the UN Resolution 425 is not fully implemented by Israel". 

Mr. Salloukh is an experienced politician, a university professor and a very smart individual. He knows very well that his lies are not going to foul any ordinary Lebanese. Meanwhile and because of his systematic kind of manipulations, Lebanon will lose all its credibility at the UN and the international arenas. 

Below are dates, documents and facts that negate Mr. Salloukh's lies and shed the light on actual realities because Shaba Farms were under Syria's military hegemony since the middle fifties and Israel occupied them in year 1967 with the Syrian Golan Heights. According to the UN, these farms belong to Syria and accordingly are covered with UN Resolutions 442 and 338 and 525 or 426. 

1- In 1978, Israel troops entered the south of Lebanon on its "Operation Litani" campaign, and on March 9, 1978, the Security Council issued resolution 425 and its implementation mechanism in resolution 426. That resolution did not mention the Shebaa Farms.

 2- On May 25, 2000 the Israeli Labor government unilaterally implemented UN Resolution 425 and withdrew its troops from the "security zone" border strip of south Lebanon. At the same time, it also implemented all clauses pertaining to UN resolution 426  (the mechanism for the implementation of the 425).

3- The Lebanese government refused to implement its part of both 425 and 426 which calls for handing over security on the international border to the Lebanese Army and spreading the authority of the Lebanese State over the entire South. Hezbollah took over the entire region that was evacuated by the Israelis. A combination of Syrian will, and international-Israeli complicity, granted Hezbollah the exclusivity of controlling the entire southern Lebanese region, including the patrolling of the Israeli-Lebanese border, thus preventing the Lebanese State, and its army, from shouldering its responsibilities in the region as it is supposed to do. Hezbollah erected its state in the southern region from day one in the aftermath of the Israeli withdrawal and continues to this day to carry out this highly suspicious mission assigned to it, maintaining in a historically unprecedented and twisted logic that the Lebanese Army is not a police force and will not be deployed to protect the Israeli border. Meanwhile, Damascus and the Beirut government continue to accuse of treason any Lebanese who demands the spread of the authority of the Lebanese State - through its legitimate forces - to the South and along the Lebanese-Israeli border.

4- It should be noted here that the borders between the Syria, Lebanon and Israel were confirmed internationally in 1949 after the creation of the sate of Israel. And from that time, the Armistice Agreement between Lebanon and Israel became the working modality for the borderline between the two countries, and the Engineering Corps of the Lebanese Army drew the borderline under the supervision of international observers in the early 1960s.   Since 1924, the Shebaa Farms were treated as Lebanese territory, but Syria refused to recognize this fact, as it refused indeed to recognize the independence of Lebanon as a sovereign country. In the 1950s, Syria seized the Shebaa Farms and kept the territory under its control until Israel occupied the Farms - along with the Golan Heights - in 1967. Syrian control of the Farms was an anomaly because the inhabitants and properties were Lebanese, but the administration and authorities in charge were Syrian. Lebanon did not accept Syria's control of the Farms but did not seek redress at the United Nations or with the Arab League, out of fear of adding complexity to the issue. Still, the Syrians remained obstinate in maintaining their grip on the territory and never paid much attention to Lebanon's claims. 

5- During the Six-Day War on June 6, 1967, Israel invaded and occupied the Golan and with it the Shebaa Farms. UN resolution 242 issued by the Security Council on November 22, 1967 did not mention the Shebaa Farms as Lebanese territory. It did, however, clearly state that all territories occupied by Israel on the Syrian-Israeli front are Syrian territories. Lebanon was not a participant to the war, and did not at the time claim in any official manner that Israel had occupied part of its territory. 

6- When the 1973 war broke out between Israel and the Arabs, Lebanon did not participate, and neither did it consider at the end of the war, that Israel occupied any of its territory. Resolution 338 of the Security Council dated November 22, 1973 did not mention anything at all suggesting any occupied Lebanese territory. Not one official in the Lebanese government at the time said anything about Israel occupying a single inch of its territory, and Lebanon remained officially bound by the 1949 Armistice Agreement. 

7- In October 1991, and after the Gulf War, all Arab countries, as well as Israel and Lebanon, participated at the Madrid Conference under American-Russian sponsorship. Then the completely Syrian-occupied Lebanon said that resolutions 242 and 338 were immaterial to Lebanon and instead focused on resolutions 425 and 426, demanding a return to a commitment to the Armistice Agreement signed with Israel in 1949.

It is important to remember here that a resolution was adopted by the Lebanese Parliament in 1991, which "requested that the government attend the Madrid Conference on the basis of several principles, including the principle that resolutions 242 and 338 do not pertain to Lebanon". Not one Arab country, and neither Israel nor Syria pointed then to the Shebaa Farms as occupied Lebanese territory. The same position was also adopted by Lebanon and Syria in their negotiations with Israel that took place in the US over several periods of time between 1994 and 1996 during the Clinton administration. No where in the minutes and proceedings of these negotiations were the Shebaa Farms mentioned, while Lebanon called for a return to the implementation of the Armistice Agreement with Israel. The Lebanese Foreign Minister again reiterated that Lebanon was not concerned by resolutions 242 and 338, but only by resolution 425. 

8- Ever since Israel occupied the Golan in 1967, and since the international observers have been watching the Syrian-Israeli border, the Shebaa Farms have always been considered as Syrian territories by the international community. Several international maps place the Farms inside Syrian territory that is occupied by Israel. 

9- Following the Israeli withdrawal of May 2000, the United Nations tasked its delegates, with Lebanese and Israeli participation, with the mission of delineating the border between Lebanon and Israel. The Blue Line was thus drawn with the stipulation that the Shebaa Farms were located inside Syrian territories. 

10- Under the Lebanese regime in place since 1990 and the hegemony of the Syrian Baathist occupier of Lebanon, the "Shebaa Farms" issue has become a big lie and a pretext to pre-empt the ability of the Lebanese state to assume its responsibilities. An alibi to maintain tensions along the Israeli-Lebanese border. Cheap intelligence and moronic political manipulations, including threats, promises and bribes, persist in placing batons/sticks in the wheels of resolution 1559, but to no avail. Neither the Lebanese people, nor the international community is buying any of it, and the end of Hezbollah's hegemony over the Southern region is imminent. 

11- Syria never recognized Lebanon's right to exist as an independent country since the borders of the State of Greater Lebanon were drawn in 1920, even as it continued to speak about brotherhood, geography and history. Syria always and categorically rejected the idea of establishing diplomatic relations with Lebanon and it also refrained from undertaking any official assessment of the borders between the two countries, consistent with its hidden ambition under the slogans of "one people in two states", "the unity of geography and history", "Lebanon is the 'soft flank' of Syria, "the unity of path and destiny", and others. 

Mr. Fawzi Salloukh should know that his lies and fabrications are not going to deceive the Lebanese people nor deter the UN and the free world countries from marinating their pressure for the implementation of the UN Resolution 1559 that call for the deployment of the Lebanese army on all the Lebanese territories, patrolling of the Israeli Lebanese borders, enforcing the authority of the state and disarmament of all Lebanese and non Lebanese militias, among which is Hezbollah, and the armed Palestinian militias stationed in Lebanon. 

Elias Bejjani
*Human Rights activist, journalist & political commentator.
*Spokesman for the Canadian Lebanese Human Rights Federation (CLHRF)
*Media Chairman for the Canadian Lebanese Coordinating Council (LCCC)
Web Site http://www.10452lccc.com