Secretary of State Hillary Clinton visits the grave of former

Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik al-Hariri during a visit to the

country on Apr. 26. U.S. allies there are leery of the Obama

Administration's plans for the region.



L'Orient Le Jour, Lebanon

Nothing Wrong with Hillary Obeying Rituals of Lebanon


"All foreign guests pray, as Hillary Clinton did, at the tomb of [slain Prime Minister] Rafik Hariri. Tributes to the memory of our assassinated former prime minister are a denunciation of the despicable terrorism that killed so many of our leaders in politics and public opinion, is a denial of impunity for the assassins, and an act of faith in the reliability and impartiality of international justice."


Editorial by Issa Goraieb


April 29, 2009


Translated By L. McKenzie Zeiss, Sandrine Ageorges and Nicolas Daghar


Lebanon - L'Orient Le Jour - Original Article (French)

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton with the Lebanese parliament's majority leader, Saad al-Hariri, at the grave of his pro-West father, Rafik Hariri. Rafik Hariri, it is widely believed, was murdered in an attack engineered by Syria.


BBC NEWS VIDEO: Secretary of State Hillary Clinton calls for 'open and fair elections' in Lebanon, free of outside interference' Apr. 26, 00:01:10RealVideo

From Hillary Clinton's whirlwind visit to Beirut last Sunday, we will above all remember her warm and insistent praise of the virtues of moderation in a country where the most unbridled political passions have been unleashed these past few years. This fact is hardly fortuitous and precisely conveys the amount of change that the advent of the Obama Administration represents for our country.


What hasn't changed one iota, judging by public indications, is the firm engagement of the United States in favor of the independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of our country, as well as the assurance that its interests will not be sacrificed on the altar of accommodating the influential states in the region [Syria and Iran]. In that vein, the Secretary of State hasn't failed to say unambiguously that Washington continues to support the underlying principles of the Cedar Revolution. [triggered by the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri on February 14, 2005].


The players discussed in this article: former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik

Hariri, murdered in February, 2005; Lebanese President Michel Sleiman,

elected in a compromise between pro-West and pro-Syria groups; Émile

Lahoud, Lebanon's pro-Syria president until 2007; West-friendly former

Prime Minister Fouad Siniora; General Michel Aoun, ex-acting prime

minister, MP, ally, pro-Syria and losing popularity among Christians.


What has changed dramatically, however, is America's evaluation of how best to concretize these ideals, and with them the restoration of democracy in Lebanon. It is therefore not a question, as it was under George Bush, of sounding the clarion call morning and night of U.S. support for the [pro-West] March 14 Alliance so that its slogans remain popular [this is Lebanon's ruling bloc]. For the Americans, the man who incarnates that much-vaunted moderation is obviously President Michel Sleiman, the only official Hillary Clinton met during her brief stopover in Beirut. The time is over when deficiency - and then vacancy - regarding the duties of the president made Prime Minister Fouad Siniora the person to see and privileged partner of almost the entire global community.


[Editor's Note: When the author refers to "deficiency" in regard to the presidency, he refers to former President Émile Lahoud. When he talks of "vacancy," he refers to November 2007-May 2008, during which the pro-Syria faction led by Hezbullah prevented the election of a new president. Lahoud was pro-Syria and anti-West, so when his term ended, Hezbullah and its allies preferred not to risk the election of a new president, leaving Syria-friendly Prime Minister Fouad Siniora in the role of acting president. President Sleiman, who was a consensus candidate, barely made it into office last May.]


Does this necessarily presage a resurgence of Baabda's influence [where the presidential palace is located] on the matter of the distribution of power in Lebanon, which has been governed for two decades by various interpretations of the Taif Agreement?  



[Editor's Note: The Taif Agreement, also known as the National Reconciliation Accord, was signed in 1989 and ended the decades-long civil war in that country in part by changing the way seats in Lebanon's parliament, the presidency and the prime ministership, are divvyed-up amongst the various factions in the country - in this case, giving less weight to the country's Maronite Christians than had previously been the case].


This would require President Sleiman, a military man who rose through the ranks and was a consensus presidential candidate elected with great difficulty - and who has few foot soldiers in the parliament and government - to rise to the occasion in the genuine free-for-all that dividing the state pie would necessarily entail. Moderation in Lebanon is not only about one man, but is a project. It is in fact the emergence of a centrist block at the end of the forthcoming legislative election that Washington would like to promote, without seeming to have taken a hand in matters.


It comes as no surprise that the message isn't to everyone's liking. We've already seen [former prime minister] General Michel Aoun decry the idea of an artificial bloc [based on ethnic or religious orientation] assigned to the president. Aoun had wanted the presidency for himself, although by spreading money around he has already gained a parliamentary bloc of his own. 



No less striking in its awkwardness was Aoun's denunciation of the ritual that all foreign guests are subject to: going to pray, as Hillary Clinton did, at the tomb of [slain Prime Minister] Rafik Hariri, when there is already a monument designed for this type of ceremony: the monument to the Unknown Soldier. For if one likes to believe, like the general, that no one in this country can claim to hold the unenviable monopoly on martyrdom; and if it is equally true that while he lived, Rafik Hariri never brought unanimity among Lebanese, it seems to have eluded Aoun that all of the posthumous tributes to the memory of our assassinated former prime minister are also, and perhaps most importantly, a denunciation of the despicable terrorism that killed so many of our leaders in politics and public opinion, a denial of impunity for the assassins, and an act of faith in the reliability and impartiality of international justice.


Indeed, it's time to exhibit an initial demonstration of seriousness, now that a judge on Lebanon's Higher Judicial Council will decide the fate of the four generals who were being held in connection with the Hariri affair - a decision that will not affect the subsequent legal process. [In a controversial decision this week, Lebanon's Higher Judicial Council ended the 44-month detention of four generals implicated in the assassination of Rafik Hariri.] On this occasion, we'll probably hear some brilliant recollection of how all suspects are presumed innocent until proven guilty. But is this sufficient cause to release them, in a ritual of the road to Damascus and without any benefit to the nation, to provide a fig leaf of innocence to a certain regime that remains to this day, the primary suspect?


[Editor's Note: The author suspects that the release of the four generals detained in connection with Hariri's assassination indicates a change of heart on the part of Lebanon's judiciary in regard to pursuing the Syrians for his murder, i.e.: the ritual of the road to Damascus - and that releasing these men provided a "fig leaf of innocence" to the Syrians - who most analysts believe were behind Hariri's death].








































[Posted by WORLDMEETS.US May 1, 5:29am]