The Shiite Crescent and the treacherous politics of a madman
By Pierre A. Maroun

Two months ago, MP Michael Aoun paid a visit to the USA where he met with Congressmen Eliot Engel and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen. At this meeting, Aoun requested to address the US Congress, but his request was rejected. Congresswoman Ros-Lehtinen's rejection of Aoun’s request was based on the fact that he has too many opponents in Congress due to his latest treacherous positions in Lebanon, especially his relationship with Hizbullah and Syria. Prior to the Syrian withdrawal from Lebanon, Aoun was praising the US Administration’s stance regarding its backing of Lebanon's freedom and for its calling on Syria to end its occupation of its tiny neighbor-Lebanon. Aoun went to the extent of portraying himself as a partner of the US Congress where he assumed responsibility for the passage of the Syria Accountability and Lebanese Sovereignty Restoration Act of 2003, and later considered himself behind the issuance of the United Nations Resolution 1559. This was Aoun’s position before his suspicious return to Lebanon on May 7, 2005 and before striking new alliances. Following his return, Aoun has distanced himself from the US and the March 14th independence group and allied himself with Hizbullah and the Syrian/Iranian/Hamas adding to the influence of the Shiite Crescent.

The Aoun/Hizbullah alliance did not come as a surprise to observers who sensed Aoun’s extensive flirtation with the Party of God. On January 24, 2006, talking about the Baâbda-Aley by-elections after the death of Lebanese Forces MP Edmond Naim, Aoun announced: "We will run the electoral campaign in alliance with Hizbullah." A day earlier, in a speech at al-Achraf University, the head of Hizbullah Mr. Hassan Nasrallah called the Druze leader Walid Jumblat an “unstable and unbalanced politician guilty of many crimes,” while he expressed his total trust in General Michel Aoun calling him a “man of integrity capable of leading the country towards stability.” Furthermore, on January 22, 2006, Mr. Nasrallah warned the Lebanese officials from co-operating with the United States against his organization, promising that they would "repent" such a mistake. He affirmed:“Whoever dreams about getting rid of Hizbullah in any position is mistaken," Nasrallah said in a speech at a graduation ceremony for 1,300 Hizbullah members and supporters including two members of Aoun’s bloc MPs Selim Aoun representing MP Aoun and his colleague Abbas Hashem. Meanwhile, Aoun boycotted a March 14th gathering in the Martyr Square commemorating the latest martyr GibranTueini’s 40th day mass.

Earlier last month, Aoun sent a delegation of his bloc to attend the Youm el-Qods parade (Jerusalem Day), which is an annual event where Hizbullah flexes its military muscles while Hassan Nasrallah address the “Islamic Resistance.” Furthermore, during a TV conference while conversing with reporters regarding the US claim that Hizbullah is a terrorist organization due to its kidnappings of foreign civilians in the 1980's, he laughed sarcastically and asked rhetorically: "Do you think they [kidnapped Westerners] were tourists?" reaffirming that "The foreigners that were kidnapped by Hizbullah were neither tourists nor saint." He further defended Hizbullah’s past by asserting that the Party did not have mass graves. He later announced that his Free Patriotic Movement's closest ally in Lebanon was Hizbullah, as the two held similar views with regards to reform and other internal issues. Aoun's alliance with
Hizbullah’s Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah was sealed when on February 6, 2006, the two leaders met in Beirut and issued in a joint press release of a working agenda. Most important of this agreement is the issue of Hizbullah disarmament, which they agreed that such an issue depends on "the liberation of the Shibaa Farms; the release of Lebanese held in Israeli prisons; and on the defense of Lebanon from Israeli threats." Responding to a question regarding the implementation of the UNSCR 1559, Aoun replied: “the agreement does not oppose or support the UNSCR 1559; this is a national issue and it will be discussed according to the national interest.” In a consensual democracy, however, this means that the UNSCR 1559 could be implemented only if all members of parliament agreed that it is for the best interest of Lebanon and its national unity to implement the 1559, which include the disarmament of Hizbullah and other terrorist groups, which are interconnected with regional issues, especially the Arab-Israeli conflict. Thus, it is fair to say that since his return, Aoun first tried to cripple the Cedar revolution through his alliances with the pro-Syria’s groups, while in his alliance with Hizbullah he is trying to assassinate it by acting as an umbrella for Hizbullah against the UNSCR 1559. Thus, he must be dealt with accordingly.

Notwithstanding, despite the fact that Congresswoman Ros-Lehtinen flatly rejected Aoun’s request to address the Congress, Mr.
Engel agreed to join Aoun in planting a Cedar tree in the Capitol’s yard. It was supposed to be a symbol of friendship rather than treason. However, after having stated the above facts, it is evident that Aoun does not represent the true spirit of the Lebanese people, nor does he uphold the values and aspirations they share with their American counterparts. Therefore, the Cedar tree which he planted represents treason not friendship; it represents betrayal not loyalty; and it represents deception not purity. It is evident that there is no compatibility or synonym-ity between Aoun and the Cedar tree. Thus, we ask Mr. Engel to remove the Cedar tree from the yard of the US Capitol for it is an honor that Aoun does not represent or deserve. We will replant another Cedar tree which truly represents our people’s shared values and friendship when a true representative of the Lebanese people visits the USA. Such an act is not going to stop Aoun’s treacherous politics, but it will send a message to those who comprehend realpolitik. Meanwhile, we hope that the Lebanese people, especially the Christians who voted for Aoun in the parliamentary elections and who consider him their “savior,” will realize the danger behind Aoun’s treacherous politics in linking the fate of the Lebanese Christians to that of the Shiite Crescent, which is heading towards confrontation with the UN, similar to linking them to Saddam Hussein's fate in the 1990s and take action to stop this madman from burning the nation, again.

Pierre A. Maroun
Secretary General
American Lebanese Coordination Council

February 7, 2006

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