The Return of the “Retired” General Michael Aoun
By Pierre Maroun

The wave of freedom that washed the shores of Lebanon with the long awaited expulsion of the Syrian troops permitted the return
of exiled General Aoun.  However, in contrast to the positive atmosphere of hope and freedom brought by the historical
demonstration of March 14th, 05, Aoun’s return has resulted in a fragmented and chaotic political environment triggered by his
belligerence and contentiousness, very much reminiscent to the painful and chaotic era in Lebanon's history--1988-1990.

Since Aoun’s return to Lebanon, he has been very active and visible, participating in numerous television interviews and speeches.
However, instead of perpetuating the spirit of hope and encouraging the continued unity and leadership of the LEBANESE PEOPLE,
his message has been continuously negative and destructive. He has bombarded various religious, political, and civil leaders with
generalizations and random accusations. For a decade and a half, Aoun’s followers were taught by him to believe that all pro-regime
officials were traitors, corrupt, and thieves for they had sold out Lebanon and their honor to Syria. Suddenly, however, he has turned
a 180 degree and allied himself with them. For example, Aoun claims that his electoral program is to fight corruption, yet, he is allied
with Mur; He claims that he wants to end political inheritance and feudalism, yet he is allied with Erslan and Frangieh. He claims to
have been fighting the Syrians hegemony over Lebanon, yet he is allied with Syria’s # 1 agent in Lebanon, Emile Lahoud and co., and
the list goes on and on. As a result, the Lebanese, Christians in particular, have become indecisive, confused, and unsure of whom to
trust and follow; especially since Aoun’s phoniness and hypocrisy cannot be ignored with his recent actions and alliances.

Action speaks louder than words; Aoun’s record in Lebanon’s history

It is a fact that since Aoun appeared on the political scene in 1988, we, as Lebanese and as Christians in particular, has suffered one
defeat after another. He split the Christian community in 1988-1990 when he launched his war of elimination against the Lebanese
Forces. The result was devastating to us. First, the Lebanese Army and the Lebanese Forces were destroyed, which was the Syrians’
objective since 1975. Second, the “green lines” collapsed when the Syrians and their allies the SSNP, overran our frontlines where
thousands of Christian Martyrs gave their lives defending them since 1975. Notwithstanding, the SSNP, who are Aoun’s allies today,
literally desecrated the tomb of President Bashir Gemayel, raped women, and killed innocent people including Dany Chamoun and
his wife and kids. This was also a Syrian objective which would have never happened without Aoun’s action. Third, Aoun transferred
the Baabda Palace and the Ministry of Defense to the Syrians who executed the Lebanese Army soldiers before the statue of Fakher
el-Deen; stole the secret intelligence reports and military maps; and imposed Hrawi and General Lahoud in his place. This was
another objective of the Syrians which could have never occurred without Aoun’s action.

Today, Aoun remains Syria’s best friend. He has openly supported the continued presidency of Syrian supported Emile Lahoud; even
his son-in-law Gibran Bassil walking out of a meeting following the murder of Anti-Syrian journalist Samir Kassir, in which there
were calls for the resignation of Emile Lahoud.  It is also evident that Aoun is doing his best to revive Syria’s agents in Lebanon by
allying himself with them. This is also another Syrian objective which cannot be reached without Aoun’s help because neither
Michelle Mur, nor Sleiman Frangieh, or Faissal Erslan, and the SSNP candidates can win any seats in parliament without Aoun’s
alliance. Some might believe Aoun when he claims that they (the opposition) are trying to corner him, which is absolutely untrue.
However, when a person shoots at everyone in sight, he will create a hostile surrounding to himself. Besides, it seems that Aoun is
intentionally trying to prevent alliances with the opposition. For example, if he couldn’t reach an agreement with Jumblat and Hariri
in Beirut, or in the Shouf Mountain, why couldn’t he reach an agreement with the opposition in the Metn, or in Jbail/Kisserwan???
Furthermore, if he couldn’t set an alliance with President Amine Gemayel or MP Nassib Lahoud, why did he fail to create an alliance
with Carlos Edde, Dory Chamoun, or any other official from the opposition? Is he possibly honoring a commitment to the pro-Syrian

It is apparent that Aoun was planning to break away from the opposition since he was still in France. Therefore, he went out of his
way to provoke, or to sabotage, any possible alliance with the opposition group, especially with the Christian leaders. First, he tried to
reshuffle all cards when he announced from Paris that after the Syrian withdrawal, there was no longer opposition and pro-regime
personalities. Second, he hosted Karim Pakradoni and Emile Emile Lahoud in his house a week prior to his arrival to Lebanon, which
raise suspicion of cutting a deal with the regime. Some said that they asked for an appointment and he couldn’t say no since it is not
our Lebanese traditions. That’s great. However, how can Aoun explain hosting Pakradoni in his house in Rabyeh few days before
announcing the Metn lists for over two hours? If this was not a mere provocation, not to say a stab in the back, to the Kataeb
Reformist Movement, President Gemayel in particular, then what is? If Aoun’s alliance with the SSNP who killed Bashir Gemayel is
not a provocation, or an insult, to the Kataeb, the LF, to President Gemayel, Solange Gemayel, and all the Gemayel family, then what
is? If hanging up the phone on Carlos Edde is not an insult, which will prevent an alliance between the two, then what is? If telling
Dory Chamoun that the Ahrar have marginalized themselves and therefore they do not represent anyone anymore, and when
completely ignoring the sacrifice which Dany Chamoun and his family paid for standing by Aoun does not prevent a possible alliance
with Aoun, then what is? If accusing everyone of being corrupts, thieves, and bought by the “petro-dollar” is not an insult which will
alienate people, then what is? Having said that, it is evident that Aoun is honoring a deal he has cut with the regime, and probably
Syria, too.  

The Lebanon of General Aoun

On the other hand, Aoun claims that he wants to rebuild Lebanon, but it is not clear what kind of a Lebanon he wants. Has Aoun ever
participated in any coalition? NO. Never was in the Lebanese Front, not in Qornet Shehwan, not in the American Lebanese Coalition
(lobby), not in the Bristol gathering…Therefore, it is logical to ask: how could Aoun build a nation as diverse as the Lebanese one if
he has no allies??? What kind of a nation does he want to build??? Furthermore, what kind of reform does he want to introduce??? As
of now, it seems that General Aoun wants to rebuild a country around himself similar to the Iraq of Saddam Hussein, and to the Syria
of Hafez Assad, and to the Libya of Moaamar Qaddafi…After all; Aoun is just another Arab general like them. However, one question
remains: Is Aoun really a retired General, or was he on leave of absence in Paris and he was brought back for another mission
impossible similar to that of 1988-1990?

Vote responsibly for according to Abraham Lincoln: “The ballot is stronger than the bullet.”

God Bless Free Lebanon

Pierre A. Maroun
June 11, 2005