The General's Accountability
Elias Harfoush Al-Hayat - 17/10/06//
In other circumstances, Michel Aoun could have been able to give his speech on the anniversary of his exile from Baabda Palace somewhere else; especially in France, where he was exiled. However, the Spring events of last year, which brought about a new political reality in Lebanon, allowed Aoun to return to Beirut Airport on May 7, 2005, and appear for the first time before his supporters, 'on a painful anniversary', as he described.

But the General, who chose to stay away from accountability and rubbing salt in the wounds of those who were behind his deportation from his country for 16 years, could not provide accountability to the people of his homeland, who are politically opposed to him. That is because they are supported by an imaginary majority that may not allow him to reach the desired end: the Presidency of the Republic.

For this end, the General seems ready to ignore a painful era that afflicted Lebanon. He was, in fact, a key player in that era. It witnessed two wars: one with the Lebanese and one with the Syrian forces. They only had one destructive objective: first, to destroy General Aoun's project (the restoration of sovereignty and free decision-making), and second, the reconstruction of the country. This is what has already happened. The 'Syrian mandate' (which the General called 'occupation' when he was in Paris) has been extended for another 16 years. Lebanon witnessed two presidents, during whose terms in office, the Lebanese decision was mostly governed by unavoidable external considerations and circumstances.

Aoun did not lose the Liberation War in 1990 by accident. Every average observer of the events in the region at the time was aware of the inevitability of the end. However, the General counted on elements that only appeared positive to him. These elements included, for example, the popular support around him, which he considered a path to victory and the 'legitimacy' trump card as the president of a transitional government. This card was supposed to be used to prepare for a new presidential term in office through constitutional means.

Although General Aoun prefers opening the files of the past and holding parties accountable, he overlooks this when the matter is related to the era that paved the way for the October 13, 1990 civil war. He also overlooks accountability when it is related to the era that followed July 12 of last year. The General, who is keen on national sovereignty and national independence, has no word to describe the situation in Lebanon now, where the country's land, sea borders and airspace are under international control (not to say blockade), after it had regained its sovereignty over most of its territory: the liberation of the South in 2000, and the withdrawal of Syrian forces last year.

But when it comes to Hezbollah's arms, an issue that is not clear whether it will be included in the 'understanding', the General uses quotes from Hezbollah's statements, and adopts stances of its Secretary General, Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, whose Movement considers armament 'temporary' (can you recall the last time this word was used in another situation?) and contingent on the establishment of 'a fair and capable State'. This was said by a military commander, who participated in the 'cancellation war' under the pretext of striking any armed force outside the framework of the Lebanese army, which he was its commander at the time!
Indeed, it is a time of accountability, or should be. Unfortunately, General Aoun and many other politicians are unlucky, because the Lebanese' memory is short and cannot go as far back as 16 years!