Boston , Massachusetts
Walid Maalouf in an interview on UNSCR 1559
Boston – Ibrahim Tannous
Speaker Berri quoted Assistant Secretary of State for NEA Jeffrey Feltman saying that 1559 is implemented and is finished?: It is hard for me to believe the speaker is quoting Assistant Secretary of State Jeffery Feltman. Ambassador Feltman, like everyone in the Obama Administration, supports the full implementations of UNSCRs 1559, 1680 and 1701. Speaker Berri, like the rest of us, is aware that only one out of the six articles in UNSC resolution 1559 has been implemented. I am also very concerned that four ministers in this government, El-Shami, Abou Faour, Sayedhusein and Khalifeh, have given negative public comments on 1559. The only article that has been implemented is number five, which calls for the presidential elections to be conducted without any foreign interference. Therefore articles one, two, three, four and six have yet to be implemented. So whatever Minister Khalifeh and the others have said is not correct and I don't know where he got those ideas. UNSCR 1559, adopted in 2004, was based on the 1989 Taif accord because Syria, all those years later, still had not honored its commitment to Taif by withdrawing from Lebanon as stipulated. Therefore 1559 is a continuation of the Taif in the highest court of world affairs, which is the U.N. Security Council. Some politicians are attacking 1559 to please Syria and Hizballah. If all Lebanese parties worked collectively for the restoration of the territorial integrity, full sovereignty and political independence as called for in article six of resolution 1559, Lebanon today would not be listed as a terrorist haven and Lebanese would not have to have to suffer through enhanced screening when they travel abroad.
What do you say regarding Deputy Kabbani's remark on 1559?: When I hear some deputies pledging to bypass the execution of UNSC resolution 1559 in favor of the “national interest” of the country, it reminds me of all the historical mistakes that the Lebanese politicians have made which have worked against the interests of the Lebanese people since the 1969 Cairo Accord. In fact, fulfilling 1559 is in the best national interest of the people of Lebanon. It restores their dignity and Lebanon’s sovereignty. I believe that the March 14 coalition should join with President Suleiman to send a clear and strong message backing the three UN resolutions that support and protect the government of Lebanon, its institutions and its territorial integrity. Those are 1559, 1680 and 1701. All the other 10 to 15 resolutions including the UNIFIL renewals are directed against Israel. I hope that the Lebanese legal authorities (President, Council of Ministers and Parliament) do not compromise any of those resolutions whatsoever.
Jumblatt, Aoun & March 14 Coalition
As a former candidate in the Shouf how do you view the Jumblatt – Aoun reconciliation?: If the meeting between Jumblatt and Aoun is sincere, two things should happen immediately: A) The Christians in the Shouf district feel that they are second-class citizens. They paid a heavy price in the 1980s when they were displaced for more than 10 years. Many migrated into other areas of the country and many others left Lebanon, and they are returning in very small numbers. The neglected Christian towns of the Shouf and the Ikleem need lots of development, but they have no political say and statistics indicate that their political participation is very low. Therefore Aoun and Jumblatt should agree on redrawing the geographical electoral district of the Shouf and the Ikleem and divide it into two districts with four deputies each. One would be the Shouf including Aindara with two Druze, one Maronite and one Melkite. The Ikleem district would be represented by two Sunnis and two Maronites. The division already exists in practice. If you travel from the Shouf toward the Ikleem, passing through the town of Gharifey, geographically you are naturally crossing from one area to another. Likewise, when you are traveling along the coastal highway after passing the town of Damour, there is a natural boundary for another region. As a precedent, this district was once divided in the 1950s. The result would be that all the inhabitants of both districts, regardless of their community, would be better represented. B) Secondly, both leaders should immediately work together on repatriating the Christians from the town of Brih, who are still displaced in the suburbs of Beirut. It has now been 26 years of displacement for this particular village, and enough is enough. Money should not be the problem. If there is a will there is a way.
Do you think March 14 coalition is dead after one of its major leaders Walid Jumblatt abandons it and now he is calling for the formation of a larger national front?: I don't know if there is any one in the world who believes Walid Jumblatt anymore. After his last political flip-flop, he lost credibility with many Lebanese as well as in Washington. He has lost the faith of not only the U.S. government but also with all the civil society groups and think-tank organizations that received him in March 2006, October 2006, February 2007, October 2007 and November 2008. Back then he was not shy at all about attacking the Syrian regime and calling for its demise. But since he has not been able to secure a meeting with President Assad after his recent flip, he is now calling on his friends in Washington to figure out a new way to flip back. He is not a strategic politician. His main objectives are three things: Maintain his feudal role over the Druze, his feudal leadership over the Druze and the Christians in the Shouf, and his family's dynasty over the Druze in the region. With this latest surprising flip, Jumblatt is dragging the Druze of Lebanon into a regional conflict and I am afraid that they could pay a heavy price for this political misstep. In 2005, when he joined the Lebanese nationalists and the sovereignty movement represented by the March 14 coalition and he abandoned Syria, we Christians forgave him.
We forgave him all of his criminal actions during the war when his party slaughtered the Christians of the Shouf, twice: 1. After the Syrians killed his father as he told us, and 2. In 1983 following the withdrawal of the Israeli army from the Shouf. We forgave him and we embraced him as a leader for all Lebanon. We forgave him and we considered him one of the main voices of March 14. Yet he has again betrayed us and turned his jacket once more, and has left us out in the cold.
In conclusion - 1. I think March 14 will survive without Jumblatt. 2. After all the USAID grants that he received for the Druze community - Washington does not believe him anymore, and 3. He has lost credibility and trust and I would be surprised to see anyone joining with Jumblatt in this so-called larger national front.
What is your take on the elimination of political confessionalism at this time? Is it a priority and what are the priorities for Lebanon in your opinion?: It is too early to speak about this touchy subject before there is total stability - politically and economically - in all Lebanon. I recommended to Speaker Berri the idea of the territorial neutrality as step one. Why? Because when you have Lebanese territorial neutrality, Lebanon will be free from any military use of its territory by Syria, Iran, Israel and armed Palestinians. There will be no militias attached to any of those countries operating on its territory as well. When this takes place and the Lebanese start trusting each other and respecting one another's uniqueness, than de-confession for Lebanon is the answer not only politically, but also socially and culturally.
In my opinion the priorities should be A. Withdrawal of the Israeli army from Shebeaa, Ghajaar and the northern demarcation of its boarders with Lebanon B. The relocation of the Palestinian camps out of Lebanon. Lebanese and Palestinian officials and the international community must tackle the issue of the Palestinian refugees in Lebanon as quickly as possible. I recommend that an international body comprising all concerned parties be assigned the task of establishing a mechanism to re-settle - on a temporary basis and until a final resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is reached - the Palestinian refugees in other countries around the world that are willing and able to accommodate them under better living conditions than those that exist in Lebanon. C. Outstanding issues with Syria: 1. The demarcation of the borders. - 2. The elimination of the higher council and the implementation of UNSCR 1680. - 3. The release of all Lebanese prisoners from Syrian jails and the return of the remains of those who were executed.
Unfortunately, President Assad is backing off from the promises he has made to Prime Minster Hariri. This regime in Syria will never change its policy toward Lebanon - which are: consolidate it, swallow it, control it, use it and abuse it - neither their historical behavior in not delivering their promises.