19 2018
 March 14 Forces Memorandum
 On the occasion of the Convening of the Arab Summit in Damascus 29/3/2008
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The Arab Summit convenes in Damascus on March 29, 2008 at a time when the Syrian regime continues with the most belligerent campaign of assaults by an Arab country against the sovereignty, security and the existence of another Arab country. This campaign has continued ever since Syrias decision to impose upon the Lebanese an extension to the mandate of President Emile Lahoud in the summer of 2004. It continued following the withdrawal of the Syrian Army from Lebanon in the spring of 2005, and including Syrias preventing the election of a new Lebanese president and maintaining a presidential vacuum of more than four months. The Syrian regime seems determined to breach international law and the charters of the Arab League and the United Nations through its chronic refusal to recognize Lebanons independence, and sovereignty, and to treat it respectfully and on equal basis, according to the principles of Arab brotherhood and the genuine interests between the Lebanese and Syrian peoples.


There follows a detailed presentation of this hostile and ferocious campaign, leaving no doubt about the inappropriateness of the Syrian regime to host or chair any Arab meeting regardless of its level, at a time where it continues to breach on a daily basis the sovereignty, security and constitution of the Lebanese Republic, which is a member of the Arab League.


Stage one: Terrorizing the Forces of Independence  
Syrias decision to impose the unconstitutional extension of President Emile Lahouds mandate came in direct contradiction to the wishes of the majority of Lebanese and in the face of mounting Lebanese. But Syria quickly realized that the presidential extension alone was insufficient to safeguard its presence in Lebanon. The regime then resorted to threats and terrorism, beginning with the failed assassination attempt against MP Marwan Hamadeh which he miraculously survived (October 1, 2004). After that the Syrian regime committed the heinous crime of assassinating Premier Rafik Hariri who was accused of working for his countrys independence. The martyrdom of Premier Hariri, MP Basil Fuleihan and their companions led to an intense popular rage which turned into a broad movement that saw the launch of the Independence Uprising


In the weeks that followed March 14, 2005, when the Lebanese people gathered to demand truth and justice, the Syrian leadership launched a campaign of terror against Lebanon and the forces of independence:


- A campaign of assassinations and attempted assassinations: journalist and independence campaigner Samir Qassir (June 2, 2005), independence campaigner George Hawi (June 21, 2005), Minister Elias al-Murr (July 12, 2005), and journalist May Chidiac (September 25, 2005);

- Several random bombings, most notably: Jdeideh (March 19, 2005), Kaslik (March 23, 2005), Bouchrieh (March 26, 2005), Brummana (April 1, 2005), Jounieh, against the building containing Sawt al-Mahabah Radio Station (May 6, 2005), Zalka (August 22, 2005), and Achrafieh (September 16, 2005).

- Recurring assaults on the security forces carried out by Palestinian organizations that take their orders from the Syrian leadership in the Bekaa area, and Naameh, south of Beirut;  

- Frequent closure of the Syrian-Lebanese borders starting June 2005


Stage two: Attempts to topple the legitimate Lebanese authority and prevent the establishment of the International Tribunal
After the release of the first report of the International Investigation Committee (October 20, 2005), which declared the existence of many leads that directly point to the involvement of Syrian security officials in the assassination of Martyr Premier Rafik Hariri, the Syrian regime moved from terrorizing the forces of independence and destabilizing the Lebanese Government to an active attempt to overthrow the freely elected government and trying to prevent the establishment of the International Tribunal.

The Syrian president launched his campaign during his famous speech delivered on October 10, 2005 in which he stated that the truth became an emblem for ridicule and sarcasm in Lebanon, that Syria had formed an investigation committee, and that the attack on Syria aims at finishing the Lebanese resistance and imposing a new agreement with Israel. On October 14, 2005, Tishreen newspaper called on the opposition to organize a demonstration in Beiruts Central District to topple the government. And on October 15, 2005 an announcement was made in Tripoli on the formation of a committee for supporting the Iraqi resistance a scheme of Syrian intelligence in Lebanon. And on December 12, 2005, the Syrian regime assassinated journalist and MP Gibran Tueini in an attempt to intimidate the International Investigation Committee as it handed over its second progress report to the UN secretary-general.

The Syrian plan became effective with the end of July 2006 war, when Syrian President Bashar Assad announced that the Lebanese opposition should transform the military victory into a political one, considering the March 14 forces an Israeli product and that the assassination of Hariri is a game that has been exploited (August 15, 2006). Also, Iran called for the establishment of the new Islamic Middle East (August 16, 2006) and its president saw that the Lebanese arena embodied the resistance of the Iranian people against Saddam Hussein (August 17, 2006).

The serious planning to topple the International Tribunal started during the July war when President Emile Lahoud, whose mandate was extended contrary to the constitution, started to pave the way under Syrian pressure. Lahoud announced during the battles that one should wonder if Israel assassinated Premier Hariri (August 2, 2006), considering that the Saint George crater is similar to the craters resulting from the Israeli missiles (August 4, 2006). This was followed by a statement made by Hezbollahs secretary-general who explained that the aim of his demand to change the government is to alter the political balance by having the blocking third in the government in order to prevent the majority from imposing its decisions on the others (September 12, 2006). And during celebrations for the divine victory (September 22, 2006), Hezbollahs secretary-general threatened the Lebanese authority that the resistance is stronger than before and it owns more than 20,000 rockets.

However, the opposition was unsuccessful in achieving its goal which led to its ministers resigning en masse even as the government received the draft copy of the International Tribunal from the United Nations. With their resignations, they considered the government illegitimate and unconstitutional, meaning it could not take a decision regarding the tribunal. Hezbollahs deputy secretary-general warned the same day that the resignation will be followed by other steps and that going to the streets will not be a one day demonstration.

The practical steps of these threats were as follows:
- The assassination of Minister and MP Pierre Gemayel on October 21 2006,
- Announcing the formation of Fatah al-Islam following a rift within Fatah al-Intifada (November 28, 2006)
- The call of President Emile Lahoud for civil disobedience (I dont eliminate the possibility that civil servants may refuse to take orders from the illegal government-November 29, 2006)

On December 1, 2006, the opposition started a street coup dtat, occupying the Beirut Central District, turning it into a camp protected by the security of Hezbollah, and tried to besiege the Serail to topple the government by force. But it failed to achieve its goals and had to retreat. On January 23, 2007, the opposition tried again to topple the government by organizing the burning tires uprising but failed once again in achieving its goals. The Syrian regime tried to prevent the March 14 Forces from organizing a demonstration on the second anniversary of the assassination of Martyr Premier Rafik Hariri, by carrying out on February 13, 2007, the eve of the anniversary, twin bus bombings in Ain Alak (3 killed and 23 injured)

Stage three: Work on dismantling the Lebanese State 
On April 3, 2007, the majority MPs sent a petition demanding the UN Security Council adopt the International Tribunal. After the UN Security Council formally adopted the tribunal under the Chapter Seven mandate on May 30, 2007, the Syrian regime decided to dismantle the Lebanese State in order to trade the International tribunal for the survival of the Republic. The practical steps of the Syrian decision were as follows:

1-Destabilizing civil peace
The Syrian regime organized a wide scale operation in North Lebanon with the aim of splitting the country into embattled cantons. It used Fatah al-Islam for this purpose as the group is a Syrian invention. Its alleged leader, Shaker al-Absi, was released from Syrian prison before heading to Lebanon to establish a radical Islamic emirate in North Lebanon. This regime took this step to demonstrate to the world that only it can control Lebanon and prevent the establishment of a second Iraq in north Lebanon. The attempts failed due to the decisive intercession of the army amid wide popular support, as well as removing any Islamic or Palestinian cover for this terrorist organization, despite the statement of Hezbollahs secretary-general that a military attack on Nahr al-Bared camp constituted a red line.
Fatah al-Islams attempt to establish a radical Islamic emirate in North Lebanon was accompanied by an intense terrorist campaign:
- Renewal of the assassination campaigns: MP Walid Eido (June 13, 2007), MP Antoine Ghanem (September 19, 2007), Brigadier General Franois Hajj (December 13, 2007), Captain Wissam Eid (January 25, 2007).
- Explosions in a number of Lebanese areas: Achrafieh (May 20, 2007), Verdun (May 21, 2007), Aley (May 23, 2007), Barbir (May 27, 2007) Sid al-Buchrieh (June 4, 2007).
- Assaults on the UNIFIL and the Diplomatic missions in Lebanon: A car bomb attack against the Spanish UNIFIL battalion (6 killed June 24, 2007), targeting a US Embassy car (3 killed and 26 injured- January 2008), addressing threats to the embassies of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. 

2- The assault on the constitution and the constitutional institutions
The opposition force, loyal to Syria, proposed an amendment to the Taef Accord by demanding the return of the Presidential powers to their pre-Taef status (the Christian opposition), or by implementing a tripartite division of the state (Sunni-Shiite-Christian), instead of the current Christian-Muslim parity (Hezbollah). Despite the striking contradiction between these two propositions, they share the same intent to destroy the states institutional legitimacy.

Additionally, the opposition distorted the concept of communal balance and sectarian partnership, to give the dominant political party in each sect the right to veto the state and its institutions. Based on this distorted view, Hezbollah and the Amal Movement considered the government as constitutionally non-existent. The Speaker of Parliament went further and closed the parliament, thus unilaterally assuming the role of sole authority on constitutional norms in contravention of the role of parliament and the Constitutional Council, then in the process of re-organization.

Syrian Vice President Farouq Sharaa explained the concept of Lebanese democracy by saying, on December the 12, 2007 that Syria today has a concrete strength on the ground in Lebanon adding that Lebanon is unique because any successful government should be based on a common national agreement and consensus, which is contradictory to the democratic principle of a party governing with 50 percent plus one while ignoring the opposition. (10 January 2007). Mr. Sharaa did not explain why Syria did not follow this principle, when it ruled Lebanon from 1990 until 2005, excluding the opposition throughout this period, imposing two presidents from outside this consensus, and extending their mandate in contradiction to the constitution. Additionally the vice-president did not explain why it imposed an electoral law on Lebanon, which was contradictory to the basic principles of democracy.

3- Creating a power vacuum
The opposition implemented the Syrian regime decision of not holding a presidential election, by linking the election to the demand for a two third quorum in parliament and threatening the majority with dire consequences if it went ahead with a simple majority vote.

The opposition justified the need for a two-third quorum by relying on convention, disregarding the fact that the same convention requires that all MPs should attend the parliamentary session. Additionally, there is no constitution in the world that allows any party, from the majority or the minority, to impede the states institutions.
Speaker Berri tried to mitigate the oppositions stance by proposing the idea of a consensual president in order to ensure the quorum. However, when France tried to implement the speakers idea, asking the Maronite Patriarch to facilitate it and compose a list of candidates, the opposition changed its position and blocked the French initiative. Additionally, it appears that the Arab League initiative to immediately name the Lebanese army commander as president (5 January 2008), will share the same fate as the French initiative.

4- Harming the economy
Dismembering the Lebanese state requires hitting the national economy, and thats what Syria and its allies are working on.

Following the formation of the freely-elected government in July 2005, the Lebanese economy achieved an unprecedented 9 percent GDP growth in the first half of 2006. But the situation changed following the July 2006 war and the catastrophic $8.4 billion loss to the economy. But this figure  is nothing compared to the overall cost of repairing war damage. Additionally, the economy faced irreparable damages with the emigration of over 220,000 highly educated and skilled Lebanese representing over 20 percent of the total workforce under 35 years of age.


Furthermore, the March 8 Forces sit in ordered by the Syrian regime for economic as well as political reasons (to attract the Arab investments out of Lebanon into Syria) resulted in severe damages and the closure of many businesses and institutions. More than 10,000 employees were laid off and the investment drive, which was set to garner some $4 to $6 billion for the beating heart of Beirut, was blocked.

Additionally, the economy was unable to reach expected GDP growth of 6 percent for 2007 and instead lost $1 billion in state revenues. The national debt also increased by $2 billion instead of shrinking as originally envisaged. Therefore, the total economic losses in Lebanon from the July 2006 war until the end of 2007 equaled our annual national income GNP or half of our debt.

The Arab states and countries that support Lebanon, its peace, stability and the role model it represents in the region, should exert the utmost pressure on the Syrian regime to put an end to its deep-rooted ambitions in Lebanon and its constant attempts to regain its control and impede the revival of the Lebanese state and its peace, stability as well as the continuation of political assassination. This pressure must compel Syria to finally accept that Lebanon is a sovereign nation and that it should demarcate the shared border, establish diplomatic relations, exchange embassies, and implement the National Dialogue and the Taef Accords decisions that Syria refused to implement during its dominion over Lebanon. Any improvement to the Lebanese-Syrian relations should first take into consideration Lebanons interests. And any reorganization of the relations with Syria should wait for its clearly stated recognition of Lebanons independence, and the exchange of diplomatic relations.

The principles of this position are:
- Syria must cease treating Lebanon as if it is just a segment of the motherland that was carved off during colonization, or considering it an arena to strike deals. This requires Syrias unambiguous, frank and final recognition of the state of Lebanon.

- The Syrian state must abandon its mantra of regarding the Lebanese and Syrian peoples as one people in two states thus granting Syria the right to interfere in Lebanese affairs and unequivocally accepting the unique identity of the Lebanese people.

The Syrian state must concede that the legitimacy of the Lebanese nation equals the legitimacy of all other Arabs nations including Syria.

The determination of the Syrian regime to create a void in the Lebanese presidency has dangerous political implications. Yet of even greater consequence is the impact that the absence of the only Arab Christian president in the Middle East has on Muslim-Christian dialogue. This failure to elect a president, the first in the history of the Arab League, is Syrias poisoned message to Lebanese co-existence and to the Arab and Islamic worlds.


Mmorandum des forces du 14 mars




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