We are republishing this article today with the title: History Will Repeat Itself in Lebanon
for No One Learns from it.



Will History Repeat Itself in Lebanon?
By Pierre A. Maroun
May 18, 2005

Reflecting on the post-Taef conditions following the 1975-1990 war in Lebanon, the situation appears to have worsened
despite the fact that no armed conflict has occurred in the streets of Beirut for over a decade. The mayhem that is being
experienced today is the result of the “culture of corruption” which the Syrian Ba’ath regime has introduced and
incorporated into the Lebanese institutions in the post-Taef era. Theft, bribery, deception, murder, rape, and
embezzlement have become the norm. The result is a social, political, and economic decay with public debts of $40
BILLION which the Lebanese people will have to repay. It has taken 15 years of struggle at home and abroad, as well as
the lives of many activists who were assassinated i.e. Ramzi Irani, Pierre Boulos, and PM Rafiq Hariri and Bassel Flayhan
with 18 others, not to forget the failed attempt on MP Marwan Hamadeh’s life and the POWs in Syrian prisons, in order
to expose the Syrians’ crimes against Lebanon. It necessitated a million Lebanese men, women, and children to mobilize
and march down the streets of Beirut to demand a change in the status quo. Thankfully success has been achieved-Syria
is out and its security regime’s agents are falling one by one everyday. However, more work is needed before we can
fully reclaim our independence, freedom, and sovereignty.

The first scheduled post-Syria parliamentary elections are supposed to be a powerful instrument through which the
Lebanese can oust Syria’s appointees in government and replace them with true nationalists. However, some charge
that the over zealousness of the Americans and the French have boomeranged, and almost derailed the Cedar
Revolution of its national path. Desperate to eradicate Syria’s influence in Lebanon and to disarm Hizbullah and other
militias, they have ignored the fact that under the current electoral law, the Ba’ath agents in Lebanon, including
Hizbullah, will maintain the majority in parliament, which will make it harder, if not impossible, to reform the
institutions, to eject Ba’athists within the security agencies, and to disarm Hizbullah peacefully through an Act of
Parliament.  

While these allegations have merit, there is more to the story than meets the eye. There are numerous reasons as to
why the French and the Americans are in a rush to hold elections on time instead of allowing the current parliament to
take the time to provide a new and fair law. For example, the French are eager to see change in Lebanon since they
want a way to regain their influence in the Middle East through Lebanon. This presence, if occurred, will protect the
French and European interests in the ME, especially after the loss which they have suffered financially as well as in terms
of influence due to the US/British invasion of Iraq and the ousting of Saddam Hussein. The French might go a step further
by offering to provide peace keeping troops under the mandate of a new UN resolution and under the pretext to help
disarm all militias and secure the Lebanese borders as mandated by the UNSCR 1559. While this is a legal way for the
French (EU) into Lebanon, it will also serve as a helping hand to the US war on terrorism, without forcing the EU
countries to change their opposing positions on the war in Iraq. The EU peace keepers may also help preserve peace and
security in Syria given that the Ba’ath regime may collapse under sanctions or through a coup d’etat, which is a great
possibility.

On the other hand, while the US will benefit from the political and military support of the EU, it will also free its hands to
redirect its attention on the real issues i.e. fighting terrorism and moving forward with the road map. Accordingly, it is
quite possible that the US may widen its military mission in the ME to include the Gaza strip given that the Palestinian
lasting peace with Israel. In addition, the Bush Administration authority failed to secure its area by restraining the
activities of Hamas which helped liberate Lebanon from the Syrian occupation is viewing the success of elections in
Lebanon as a victory for its policy in the Middle East. This will help President Bush boost his approval rate which has been
dwindling since his introduction of the Social Security reform plan has not been receiving wide support in Congress and in
public opinion due to the Democrats opposition to the plan. Moreover, the reason why the US is expecting positive
results from the elections, regardless of the flawed law, is that when the Saudi Crown Abdullah accompanied Mr. Saad el-
Deen Hariri to meet the US officials, which was a Saudi royal sponsorship of Mr. Hariri, he told the US officials that the
opposition can win the majority of seats in parliament under any circumstances and in any electoral law. However, he
added, a law based on small district will help bring radicals to the parliament, a source confirmed. Radicals are perceived
by the US as people similar to Bin Laden and Zarqawi. As a result, the US has favored to hold elections on time regardless
of the bias electoral law instead of risking the unknown alternative. Then they will deal with Syria's agents in different
means. For example, let's not forget that there are an International Investigation Committee which will have great
affect on the Lebanese political life when it begins working; there will be new cabinet outside the influence of the Syrian
moukhabarat; and there will be many changes on all levels from the presidency to the last post in government.  All these
and more will affect the balance of power in the country.

As a result, it is probable that the new map of the ME may eventually include a French (EU) mandate over Syria and
Lebanon, and an American/British one over Iraq.  This will depend on the success of local governments, which are
attempting to reform their institutions in order to adopt democratic systems to satisfy some of the US demands. In post
September 11, the US Administration believe that it should no longer sponsor or support individual leaders. Instead, the
US should support a system based on democracy and elections where the freedom of citizens to choose their leaders is
respected, protected, and implemented. President Bush believes that this is the best way to eradicate radicalism,
totalitarianism, and terrorism.

Accordingly, it is important for the Lebanese people to make sure that their leaders are not going to swim against the
flow this time too. Lebanese leaders should beware not to put themselves at odds with the International community as
the Ba’ath regime has done in Syria, which can be a suicide. They should not act in a way that will make the West
perceive them as the Moqtada el-Sader of Iraq who is trying to defy the international community by resorting to street
rebellion; or as the Zarqawi insurgents who are trying to block democracy and derail the peaceful transition of authority
through elections. They should not give the impression that they are the enemies of tolerance, co-existence, and
democracy. In other words, they should not allow the scenario of October 13, 1990 to be repeated in 2005 by failing to
read the regional and international developments, or by opposing the US policy of spreading democracy in the ME.
Therefore, it is significant to note that while the current electoral law is biased, corrupt, and will certainly lead to the
cloning of the current parliament, the alternative, as Murphy put it in 1988, is “chaos.” This is by no means suggesting
that they should not protest, and or demand their rights. However, their action should not reach a level of obstructing
the elections, or to creating instability in the country, which will actually serves Syria’s interests and Hurt the US ones.
After all, these elections are not the end but the beginning of reforming the Lebanese institutions and strengthening
democracy which will lead to a prosperous future for all. Hence, the Lebanese should not commit suicide to get rid of a
headache. As President Gemayel said regarding the current electoral law: “We initially demanded the electoral law of
the 1960, but to no avail. Today, however, being faced with a bad situation (the law of 2000) and a terrible one (chaos),
we chose the former.” In other worlds, we suffered a setback but we're not destroyed, and when materialized, the spirit
of March 14th, demonstration should result in more victories and hope, not despair and defeat, given that we preserve
our unity.

Moreover, the Lebanese should not fail to notice that the Lebanon’s “FILE” has been removed from the Syrians’ hands
and is now being handled by the UN through the US ambassador in Beirut. This should provide comfort to all including
the minorities and those who were marginalized by the Syrian
moukhabarat.  In fact, it has become evident that the US
and the French ambassadors are going beyond the call of their duties to avoid conflict among the Lebanese by trying
their best to help establish a new order in Lebanon based on a “No Victor-No Vanquish approach. This may sound
overoptimistic or an exaggeration, but the latest altering of electoral lists is nothing but mere proof of the validity of this
premise.  In fact, instead of worrying, the Lebanese should celebrate the remarkable achievements of success, which are
freeing Lebanon from the Syrian and the Israeli occupations, and secondly, elections without Syrians interference in
Lebanon. Then, they should recognize the fact that this has occurred first due to their unity after the assassination of PM
Hariri and Falyhan, and secondly due to the American and French pressure on Syria. Therefore, it is time for Lebanese to
be less emotional, less theoretical, and more pragmatic, not to say intelligent. Thus, in the upcoming elections, do
yourself and Lebanon a favor-GO VOTE.


Long Live Free and Democratic Lebanon!



Pierre A. Maroun
May 18, 2005


Originally published on
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