|The Cedar Revolution: Mission Unaccomplished-Reasons and Remedies
By Pierre Maroun
On September 11, 2001, the United States and the world were irreversibly changed by the terrorist attacks in New York
City, Washington D.C. and the plane crash in Pennsylvania. On this horrific day, the tragic acts of terror and devastation
that were usually observed on televisions and that occurred in faraway places now occurred in our own neighborhoods. It
became clear that there was no super power that was immune to terror. With this realization, President George W. Bush
declared a war on terrorism; focusing US foreign and domestic policies on this objective. Regardless of the means, either
through diplomacy if possible or by military means if necessary, President George W. Bush stressed that this war against
terrorism would be won. Hence, the President initiated hisdoctrine to spread democracy around the world, especially in
the greater Middle East region. Consequently, all politics have become local. What happens in London, Beirut, or in any
remote area i.e.Tora Bora concerns Washington DC. The White House and the US Congress recognizes that they can no
longer afford to ignore what a local cleric in a small mosque is preaching or what a teacher in a remote town madrassa
(school) is instructing young kids, for the next terrorist attack may be planned and carried out by that same radical cleric
and fanatic student. Similarly, decisions and policies made in Washington DC echoes around the world including the most
remote areas. Therefore, the Presidents or the Bedwin tribal leaders in Yemen, Somalia, or Iran can no longer ignore the
policies of the US Administration since their own survival may depend on these policies. This is political globalism catching
up with economic globalism.
The United States war on terrorism today is comparable to its Strategy of Containment against the former Soviet Union
and the spread of Communism during the Cold War era in a sense that any victory or defeat to democracy anywhere, is a
victory or defeat to the free world everywhere. In this regard, the US has achieved numerous victories around the globe,
both diplomatically and by force. Most notable are the Orange Revolution of Ukraine in 2004-2005, the Rose Revolution of
Georgia that displaced President Edward Shevardnadze in 2003, and the Tulip revolution in Bishkek, as well as the
elections in Afghanistan, Iraq, the Palestinian territories, and the Cedar Revolution in Lebanon in 2005.
II. The Cedar Revolution
In the case of the Cedar Revolution, which was sparked by the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri
on February 14, 2005, a semi-victory, was witnessed. This is due to the fact that while the united Lebanese succeeded in
liberating Lebanon from the Syrian troops, they failed to attain peace and security. Thus, the main question remains: why
did the Cedar Revolution fall short from achieving a complete victory?
Similar to other parts of the world, what happens in Lebanon echoes in DC, Paris, and London. However, the situation in
Lebanon is more complex than other countries. This is due to the number of different political and terrorist enemies, which
are trying to undermine the progress of the Cedar Revolution. Some of these enemies are barbaric, as in the case of Syria’s
Ba’ath regime who frequently utilizes methods of terror to silence its critics within the Cedar Revolution. For example,
since the illegal extension of President Emile Lahoud’s term and the passage of the UNSCR 1559, the Syrian Ba’ath regime
have managed to assassinate five Lebanese leaders (Rafiq Hariri, Bassel Flayhan, Samir Qassir, George Hawi, and Gebran
Tueini) killing many innocent bystanders in the process. There were also three failed attempts (MP Marwan Hamadeh,
Minister of Defense Elias Mur and media icon May Chadiac.) There were also five bombings in mainly Christian areas which
killed a number of innocent citizens. These horrific events have created an atmosphere of chaos and terror in the country.
This has been Syria’s method to prevent Lebanese unity and to thwart Lebanon from reaching complete independence
since 1975. Especially, since President Assad of Syria is aware, that he can only win against the international community if
the Cedar Revolution fails to achieve independence. Therefore, Assad is determined to destroy the Cedar Revolution
leaders, even if he has to “destroy all of Lebanon over their heads,” just as he promised PM Rafiq Hariri in their last
meeting in August 2004 before the Syrian coerced extension of Lebanese President Emile Lahoud.
Meanwhile, Syria and Iran’s proxies in Lebanon and in the Middle East, Hizbullah and AMAL movement, and to a lesser
extent the smaller groups as the Lebanese Ba’ath Party, the Syrian Social Nationalist Party (SSNP) and the Marada of
Suleiman Frangieh, remain loyal to their founders despite the possibility of grave consequences of their misconducts in the
region and the dangerous
ramifications of these actions on Lebanon. Their loyalty to Syria and Iran at the expense of Lebanon and the Lebanese
stems from their determination to establish a Shiite state in Lebanon run by the Mullah in Iran, and/or from a more selfish
reason, which is their determination not to lose the illegal privileges and leverages which they obtained during the period
of Syrian occupation of Lebanon. These illegal activities stretch, from over-staffing of Shiites in government institutions and
the misuse of public funds, to the illegal
import/export of drugs and weapons, money laundering and the counterfeiting of foreign currencies and credit cards.
Furthermore, it has been evident that Hizbullah is involved in transferring Jihadists to Iraq via Syria, as well as funding,
training, and planning terrorists’ attacks in Iraq and in the Palestinian territories.
III. The Aoun Effect
Retired General Michael Aoun poses another hindrance to the progress of the Cedar Revolution. In a situation similar
possible due to a constitutional law which prohibits the Army General from running for the presidency. Meanwhile, Syria
wanted to prevent the presidential elections in order to create a constitutional void, which would have facilitated the
completion of its grip over Lebanon. As a result, Aoun was appointed an interim Prime Minister with the main responsibility
of facilitating the presidential election. Instead, he launched a war of “liberation” against Syria followed by a war of
elimination against the Lebanese Forces. The results of Aoun’s wars, combined with fierce opposition against the US policy
in the region, mainly in Iraq, resulted in the defeat of the Lebanese resistance and total Syrian occupation of Lebanon.
Today, Aoun does not have the same influence in the Lebanese political life the way he did in 1988-1990; yet, he has just
enough strength to cause disturbance to the fragile and incomplete independence of Lebanon. How so? His election to the
Parliament in 2005 gave him considerable power as head of a bloc comprised of 21 deputies, a total of 16 % of votes in
Parliament. Therefore, in order to use his parliamentary bloc effectively, Aoun has situated himself on the fence of political
life in the country. Basically, he has crippled the majority in parliament who fear that any blowing of wind towards him will
tip him further towards Syria’s proxies, especially President Lahoud and the Hizbullah/Amal bloc that control 29 deputies,
which is 23% of votes. Combined with Syria’s allies, they will bring 56 pro-Syrian deputies against 72 for the Cedar
Revolution movement. However, if Aoun returns to the Cedar Revolution, together they will have 93 predicted votes; a
clear majority to make a substantial change. Thus, the significance of this fact, along with Aoun’s recent support of the
Syrian camp, has been very damaging to the objectives of the Cedar Revolution.
Since Aoun’s return to Lebanon, he has literally halted the advancement of Lebanon’s full independence. Apparently
satisfied with the superficial departure of the Syrian troops, he refused to delve further into the substance of Syrian’s
control in Lebanon. He refused to topple the head of the Syrian/Lebanese security regime, represented by President
Lahoud, after denying the Cedar Revolution the 2/3 majority required to annul the extension law that renewed Lahoud’s
term. Furthermore, he refused to call for demonstrations demanding the resignation of Lahoud from office, similar to the
toppling of Omar Karameh’s government. According to his logic, the presidency is more important than Lebanon’s
independence, peace, and security. Therefore, Aoun and whoever is helping or backing Lahoud is morally responsible for all
the death and destruction which have occurred after the launching of the Cedar Revolution on March 14, 2005.
Additionally, Aoun’s alliance with pro-Syrian parties has brought back to power Syria’s most loyal agent Speaker of the
House, Nabieh Berri. The March 14th movement feared that refusing Berri would push Hizbullah/Amal alliance to form a
formal bloc with Aoun. As a result, Sunni leader MP Saad Hariri and Druze leader MP Walid Jumblat created the so-called
“quadripartite-Alliance,” with the Hizbullah and AMAL movement which resulted in the re-election of Berri at the expense
of real change. Furthermore, Aoun’s action forced MP Hariri to acknowledge the Muslim brotherhoods in Lebanon after he
tried to marginalize them for so long. Hariri simply feared that ignoring them will push them towards the
Syrian/Lahoud/Aoun camp that will use them to further weaken the Cedar
Revolution group by dividing the Sunni street.
Aoun appears to be augmenting the disintegration of the Cedar Revolution by coordinating his actions with the Syrian Ba’
ath regime and by elaborating on their allegations, but in his own style. For example, The Syrian controlled media has been
attacking the March 14th movement daily; so has Aoun. The Ba’ath press has been attacking the Lebanese anti-Syrian
press especially LBC, FTV, and
Annahar; so has Aoun. The Syrian regime has been trying to weaken the Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Sanioura and his
cabinet; so has Aoun who condemned the cabinet for not stopping the assassinations of its own deputies and allies.
Meanwhile, Aoun does not only avoid accusing Syria and President Lahoud of any crime, but also rejects others’
accusations of them, in stark contrast to his previous statements early in his exile. In addition, Aoun is giving the Lebanese
a false sense of security by announcing that “there are no more Syrian agents in Lebanon” which in turn validates the
Syrians action and statements that they have in fact are no longer involved in Lebanon’s internal affairs. Furthermore,
Aoun’s current stance strengthens Syria’s position against the international community by prolonging the current chaotic
security situation in Lebanon, which is exactly what the Assad regime wants.
All the above mentioned facts, along with Aoun’s continuous announcements that there is no more opposition since there
is no more Syrian occupation or presence in Lebanon, have triggered many within the Lebanese community to question
Aoun’s loyalties and priorities. Several theories have emerged concerning this sudden fraternization between Aoun and
Syria and the conditions surrounding his return to Lebanon. For example, certain anti-Syria Lebanese officials charge that
Syria allowed Aoun to return to Lebanon under the condition that he dispose of the March 14th movement and halt its
progress. They allege that President Lahoud’s son, Emile, along with Karim Pakradoni worked the deal with Aoun, on
behalf of Syria and the puppet regime in Beirut. Others believe that Aoun was in direct negotiations with the Syrian regime
through his followers in Washington DC, mainly Gaby Issa, who also traveled to Syria prior to Aoun’s return to Lebanon
under the pretext of inviting Syria for a round table national dialogue. Such claims were not taken seriously by observers
who believe that Aoun was conducting secret negotiations with the Ba’ath regime. Aoun’s “propaganda” group made Mr.
Issa’s visit to Syria public only after it was exposed by the media. Aoun denies these allegations claiming that the March
14th leadership, especially Jumblat, tried to block his return from France. A Lebanese Army intelligence source, however,
contradicts Aoun’s accusations by affirming that Jumblat’s visit to Aoun in Paris was actually to strike a deal with him by
offering him the entire Christian parliamentary seats in the Ba’abda-Alley; A deal rejected by Aoun. However, the signs of
a deal between Aoun and Syria/Lahoud became evident when the judicial court in Beirut postponed a court appearance
for Aoun, only two days before his scheduled return to Beirut on May 7, 05. If Aoun had returned without an arrangement
with the General Prosecutor Adnan Addoum, a Lebanese from Syrian origin and a faithful agent to the security regime, he
would have been arrested at the airport due to a pending arrest warrant that was issued earlier by the Lebanese court.
Technically speaking, Addoum only postponed the court date until after the parliamentary elections. However, in reality,
Addoum dropped the charges against Aoun since after being elected to Parliament Aoun could not be prosecuted due to
the immunity such a position offered him. Thus, technically speaking, the Syrian/Lebanese regimes only postponed Aoun’s
court date, but in reality, they closed his case. Hence, Aoun switched loyalties.
Furthermore, Aoun portrays the conflict in Lebanon between the Cedar Revolution movement and the Hizbullah/AMAL
groups as a Shiite -Sunni one claiming that he wants to keep the same distance from both parties until their resolve their
differences. His position, which is a fallacy, is also irresponsible for he is harming the pro-independence movement while
helping the pro-Syrian/Iranian one by treating them equally. Therefore, Aoun should rethink his stance on all issues,
especially regarding his relationship with the Syrian Ba’ath regime and Hizbullah. He should understand that Assad will
never have another chance to control Lebanon’s internal affairs. Moreover, while Aoun’s support to Hizbullah and Lahoud
has been emboldening their positions and that of Syria vis a vis the UNSCR 1559, they should all realize that there is no way
around this or any other UN resolution. It is worth mentioning that Aoun initially opposed UNSCR 1559, despite his claim
otherwise after its success. His followers in Washington DC claimed that “going to the UN is a mistake, and that nothing
could come out of the Security Council.” In fact, they persuaded their contacts in Congress, Ileana Ros-Lethinen and Elliot
Engel to work against it. As a result, these two congressmen refrained from signing the Congressional letter in support of
the said Resolution. Furthermore, the Aounist base refused to participate in the American Lebanese Coalition (ALC)
petition drive in 2004 to send letters to the White House and State Department asking for their full endorsement of the
said Resolution. Besides, when the Resolution passed, they called it "useless" and "without teeth" since it did not mention
Syria by name claiming that it cannot replace the Syria Accountability and Lebanese Sovereignty Act of 2003 (SALSRA.)
Regarding SALSRA, Aoun’s followers portrayed him as the "Godfather" of this bill, which will "liberate" Lebanon. In reality,
his testimony was insignificant since he testified before a small panel and not before the subcommittee on the Middle East
and south Asia of the committee on international relations. Therefore, his testimony is not included in the Congress Public
The difficulty in dealing with Aoun’s issue is due to the fact that he is the result of a "democratic" election, which means
that unlike Hizbullah and the Palestinian groups, he cannot be dealt with through UN resolutions. However, those who
voted him into parliament must hold him accountable for his actions. Furthermore, Aoun hindrances of US policy in the
Middle East today, may
lead to the same results of his similar misdeeds back in 1990. Back then, while the US was trying to curb Saddam Hussein’s
influence and threats to the region by attempting to contain him, Aoun’s dealing with Hussein came in direct conflict with
the policy of the USA. Moreover, when the US needed a calming of other conflicts in the ME i.e. in Lebanon and the
Palestinian territories in order to focus on Iraq, Aoun launched his war of rhetoric and Liberation against Syria. This came
at a time when the US was looking for the largest coalition, especially in the Muslim and Arab world to fight the Ba’ath
regime in Iraq. As a result, the US struck a deal with Syria to eliminate Aoun, in which it did on October 13, 1990. In
addition, Aoun must understand that he cannot adopt SALSRA and the UNSCR 1559 one day, and participate in the Yom El-
Quds (Jerusalem Day) parade of Hizbullah the next. He should realize that his last visit to the USA was a complete failure
due to the fact that the US Administration, similar to the French government, is aware of his schemes and games of
It has been evident that Syria has brought Aoun back from France to destroy the Cedar Revolution. Therefore, he has been
attacking anyone and everyone who opposes Syria and its Ba’ath leader Bashar Assad. Aoun is simply the Syrian version of
Elie Cohen, the Israeli spy who almost became Syria’s Prime Minister in the 1960s. The Syrians, however, put an end to Mr.
Cohen’s ambitions; can the Cedar revolution do the same?
IV. RECOMMENDATIONS TO REMEDY THE QUAGMIRE
As a result of President Assad Ba’ath’s crimes against Lebanon, the United Nations passed UNSCR 1559, 1595, 1636, and
1644 ; All aimed at curbing Syria’s meddling in Lebanon by bringing to justice the perpetrators of these heinous crimes.
Thus, an investigation committee, headed by German Prosecutor Detlev Mehlis, was established for this purpose. After six
months into the investigations, Mehlis concluded in his first and second reports to the UN Security Council that Syrian
authorities were implicated in the crime of PM Hariri and that Syria failed to cooperate with the investigations, which is
another violation to UNSCRs. Adding insult to injury, the Ba’ath regime tried to derail the investigation by creating double-
witnesses such as Hussam Hussam who was a Syrian Mukhabarat agent who was kidnapped from Lebanon taken to Syria
to reverse his testimony, in order to save itself from a certain guilty verdict. Syria’s hindrance of the UN investigation is
sheer attempts to buy itself more time hoping that Hizbullah’s escalation of tension with Israel may lead to war, or that
internal Lebanese strife may require a different approach from the UN to resolving Lebanon’s problems. The Syrians are
even counting on the US anti-war movement which they believe may pressure the US to pull its troops out of Iraq similar to
what happened during the Vietnam War. However, what the Syrian regime is overlooking is that the Civil Rights
Movement which the anti-war activists used to their advantage does not exist today. Therefore, the anti-war movement
will have very little, if any, effect on the US Administration’s decision vis-à-vis the war in Iraq.
Regarding the current state of affairs in Syria, the Ba’ath regime has been partially crippled, but not dead. International
sanctions may be effective on the long run. However, the fast pace in which the Ba’ath regime is assassinating the leaders
of the Cedar Revolution makes time of the essence. Accordingly, it is time that the US and the UN start offering more than
lip service to Lebanon’s Cedar Revolution. Moral support is greatly appreciated but there is a need for tangible evidence
that the international community is willing to hold Syria accountable for its crimes against Lebanon, Iraq, and elsewhere in
the region. In fact, the US must make it clear that in the new world order there will be no place for terrorist entities i.e.
Hamas and Hizbullah or for rogue states that sponsor terrorism i. e. Syria and Iran who are threatening peace and security
in the whole region. Thus, the US should seek quick regime change in Syria and Iran. This can happen by increasing
international pressure and removing all the allies Ambassadors from Syria, allowing the ambiance for Syrian nationals to
rise up within Syria and/or by encouraging the people to rebel against their oppressors and to take control of their country.
Thereafter, free and democratic systems will be established and allowed to thrive, bringing the region into the 21st
century. Only then the US can claim victory over terrorism.
Regarding the Hizbullah and AMAL leaderships, they should not count on intimidating the Lebanese cabinet in order to
keep their arms, especially since the UNSCR 1559 is the responsibility of the UN to implement and not that of the Lebanese
government. It was generous and courteous of the international community to give the Lebanese cabinet the chance to
resolve the issue internally. However, if such peaceful attempt fails, the UN should and will deal with the issue
There are many other necessary measures, which only the March 14th movement that holds the majority in parliament
may undertake in order to contain Syria’s proxies in Lebanon as well as to achieve the required progress sought by the
people of the Cedar Revolution. They must make bold, yet necessary decisions and put them to vote. Let each deputy be
responsible for his/her choices and let the people judge them accordingly.
A) Name immediately new Lebanese Ambassadors to Washington, France, England, Beijing, Moscow and the United
B) They must annul the illegal citizenships given to hundreds of thousands of Syrian and Palestinians of origins.
C) Immediate disarmaments of Hizbullah and other militants group in Lebanon by implementing the Taef Accord.
D) Give the Lebanese expatriates the right to vote in their respective embassies overseas.
E) They must remove President Lahoud by a majority vote in parliament and elect a new President who will uphold the
hopes and spirit of the March 14th movement.
The Lebanese must realize that the success of the Cedar revolution movement in Lebanon is essential to the spread of
freedom and democracy in the region. This victory is also crucial to the Bush Administration’s plan for the Broader Middle
East as well as to the war on terrorism. Therefore, rumors regarding a US/Syrian deal at the expense of Lebanon must be
realized as sheer fabrications of the Syrian Mukhabarat; fabrications created to spread fear in the hearts of the March
14th movement, in order to deter the Cedar revolution from pressing forward with their demands for reform, as well as
preventing the demands for truth about who has been terrorizing and destabilizing Lebanon by assassinating the Lebanese
officials. In his prepared speech at the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University, November
17, 05, the Director of Public Diplomacy for Middle Eastern and MEPI Affairs at USAID, the Honorable Walid Maalouf,
clearly reflected the opinion and attitude of the US government towards Syria by demanding regime change in Syria. This
was an unprecedented yet straightforward demand by any US official regarding Syria. Therefore, to push on with
President Bush’s policy in the region, the international community should move fast in removing the Assad regime for
three crucial reasons: A) They are maintaining a quagmire in Iraq and killing our boys. B) They are stagnating the road map
through Hamas and Islamic Jihad from Damascus; C) They continue to murder the opposition leaders of Syria’s policy in
Lebanon. For the sake of security, stability, freedom and democracy in the whole region this regime must be removed and
The Lebanese united on March 14th, in an unprecedented move, both Christians and Muslims stood up for democracy and
demanded their freedom after years of occupation. Their unity, along with the help of the international community,
allowed the cedar revolution to succeed! Do not allow enemies from within to fragment the dream of having a free,
sovereign, and independent Lebanon.
Pierre A. Maroun
December 30, 2005
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