Lebanon After Assad: Our Job & Our Duty as Lebanese Patriots and Activists.
With Syrian despot Bashar al-Assad on his way out, what does the future for Lebanon hold?
One thing is for sure: Hezbollah ; one of the world’s most dangerous terrorist organizations is also surely heading for trouble losing its grip on Lebanese politics – whether they like it or not.
President Michel Suleiman rejected Hezbollah’s basic pillars of discourse in his Army Speech marking the 67th anniversary of the foundation of Lebanon’s national army; including but not limited to:
* Hezbollah insisting that it maintains an unofficial army to “resist Israeli aggression.”
* Hezbollah claiming to be part of a “Resistance Front,” along with the Islamic Republic in Tehran and the Assad regime in Damascus – waging a “relentless war” against the United States and Israel until “the Islamic Revolution” triumphs worldwide.
Suleiman said: “Defending the nation and ensuring its sovereignty with the force of arms is the exclusive prerogative of the national army.” He also pointedly asserted that no one had the right to involve Lebanon in conflicts that have nothing to do with it and that Lebanon will not be dragged into problems created by others.
In tones that would have been unimaginable even a month ago, President Suleiman basically said the national army would assert its presence throughout the national territory. “The state shall never accept that the army abandons its role in any parcel of national territory,” he further said. “No to mini-states and sectarian enclaves anywhere in national territory.”
Most importantly, he did something never dared before… Raising the issue of disarming Hezbollah, a goal already enshrined in documents of national accord as well as three UN Security Council resolutions.
Well, did you ever think we Lebanese would be anything other than unbelievable? Get used to it because this is going to be the norm from now on.
For three decades, thanks to massive financial and political support from the Iranian mullahs, Hezbollah has blackmailed Lebanon’s political elite and built a state within the state. It has involved the nation in adventures having nothing to do with national interests, including terrorist operations and the kidnapping of Western hostages on behalf of Tehran.
With Mafia-style operations, the “Harvard of terrorism” clique of thugs has built a large black economy, often imposing monopolies by terror. It runs today banks, insurance and transport companies, hotels and telecom networks, as well as factories assembling bombs and rockets. Its leader, a megalomaniac narcissist called Hassan Nasrallah, claims that the group has stockpiled more than 100,000 short- and medium-range rockets and missiles…. and Hezbollah’s grand daddy Tehran routinely describe their cronies in Lebanon as an “Iranian advance post” in a war against the United States and Israel.
It is high time the circus ends and the garbage to be cleaned up… the sooner the better.
Assad’s out of power is certain to make it harder for Iran to ferry arms to Hezbollah, limiting the terrorist group’s ability to blackmail Lebanese politicians. It will also end without a doubt the political career of all of Hezbollah’s cronies in Lebanon … from Prime Minister Najib Miqati, a Syrian cat’s-paw, along with the megalomaniac Maronite Christian ex-Gen. Michel Aoun who might cut and run before their Syrian patron falls and have already started distancing themselves from the Iranian scheme in Lebanon. Well they can run but they won’t be able to hide and that’s for sure.
For the first time since its civil war of 35+ years ago, Lebanon has a real chance to regain its sovereignty, shake off Syrian and Iranian domination and embark on the “democratic leap” that President Suleiman has evoked. Supporting that process is in the best interests of the United States and other Western democracies.
It is also high time for the Obama administration to unfreeze the package of aid, including the delivery of helicopter gunships to the Lebanese army, approved by Washington in 2005 after the Syrian army was driven out of Lebanon.
By ending the freeze, President Obama can signal support for Lebanese President Suleiman by offering a new timetable for talks to reorganize and re-equip the Lebanese army, so that it can assert its presence throughout the country and prepare the way for disarming Hezbollah.
I sincerely hope and am in fact sure, that some time in the near future we shall have many more reasons to celebrate. So keep your chins up my fellow Lebanese and let’s work together to unite all Lebanese of good will in their endeavor to come to terms with the “New Lebanon” in the making so that we can start building together a “powerhouse” in the region second to none.
Let’s all rally and do whatever is needed under our President and our Army and help liberate our homeland from all enemies of the state and we all know who they are – whether Lebanese cronies of the Syrian regime or foreign.
You want real power and independence, you fight with “brainpower”. You fight with educating your youth and empowering them, not by playing the poor victim. This is what topples the enemy in the end.
I personally credit and respect all the Lebanese who actually stayed and did something in/for the country. Your efforts my Lebanese fellows were not in vain and now with Assad’s fall around the corner, your efforts are going to be magnified tenfold with the Lebanese Diaspora stepping up to the plate.
My humble recommendations:
1. Let’s all start working on obtaining the right to vote from abroad. Don’t forget that Lebanese abroad accounts to over 15 million individuals, mostly very educated and some pretty powerful and wealthy. Work with them; don’t antagonize them and most importantly don’t let them feel as “traitors” cause they didn’t stay in Lebanon when you were there. Embrace them and work with them in building the Lebanon of the future.
2. Make sure we hold accountable every Lebanese business or political leader who sold us to Syria, the mullahs and their allies over the last 35 years. No worry – I have a detailed record of all and will gladly share. It is a fact that until we clean our country from the Mafia leaders put in office, don’t expect much.
3. Work with our Lebanese President and provide full cooperation and support to the Lebanese Army in disarming Hezbollah by all means – whatever this will entail. We in the Lebanese Diaspora in the US will do our part with this and future Administrations. You do your part in Lebanon.
4. Protest until the government implements normal things like equal opportunity, equal rights and equal treatment for all Lebanese citizens from all walks of life. You tell me this is fantasy… I tell you not. It will take a long time, but if there is a will there is always a way and we have to start somewhere …. sooner than later.
5. Stand up for what you think makes a difference, avoid being part of the herd – the clapping majority – even if you end up being singled out. There are hundreds of thousands of other Lebanese who think like you, just find them and work together.
6. Be a Doer and not a Rider of Society because the only way anything in Lebanon will change is when we all take responsibility. Remember John F. Kennedy’s words delivered now 50 years ago? “Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country”. Our time has come.
7. See what we’ve been through over the last 35 years under the “Syrian boot”? Well just remember this should never ever happen again. This is our “Holocaust” and will have to be avoided at all cost now and in the future. Don’t let anyone mess with you, your country and your Lebanese brethren EVER…And this goes from the rich Saudi who thinks he owns you to the idiotic mullah who thinks he controls you.
8. Remember one very important thing: We rebuilt this country’s infrastructure from scratch after a 15 year civil war without anyone’s help. We never asked for handouts, aid or anything of the sort from anyone… whether Americans, Saudis or others. We did it on our own with a few good men first and then massive resources from our Diaspora. Now it is high time to rebuild our civil society and totally take our country back. Time cannot be better than today.
You can count on me as part of that revolution. I commit to you my full financial, business and political support as I would not settle for anything less. I sincerely hope I can count on you too.
And always remember: The most important kind of freedom is to be what you really are. You trade in your reality for a role. You trade in your sense for an act. You give up your ability to feel, and in exchange, put on a mask. There can’t be any large-scale revolution until there’s a personal revolution, on an individual level. It’s got to happen inside first.
It is high time to dare to be ourselves, however frightening or strange that self may prove to be.
One thing you should never forget: Any loser out there who tries discouraging you in taking these steps; just tell him to grow up and stop wasting his life.
After all, don’t be afraid of your fears. They’re not there to scare you. They’re there to let you know that something is worth it.
God bless you all.
Ziad K. Abdelnour is Founder & President of the US Committee for a Free Lebanon – America’s Pro- Lebanon lobby – and co-Author of Ending Syria’s Occupation of Lebanon.