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A Strong Lebanese Government

Only a strong government will be able to restore stability to Lebanon and secure the withdrawal of all foreign forces: PLO, Syrians, Israelis, Iranians and the UNIFIL.
Total Syrian, Iranian and Palestinian armed forces withdrawal from Lebanon is prerequisite to the strengthening of a central Lebanese government. Bachir Gemayel categorically rejected the notion of a weak and compromising President. For Gemayel, the concept of a strong government was based on the following:

  1. A democratic, sovereign state guaranteeing equity and security for all citizens in all of its institutions.

  2. A Lebanon with a strong and duly elected Parliament; an independent, impartial and truthful media; a better education for all Lebanese; an honest judicial system; and above all a strong and dedicated Lebanese Army to maintain law and order and defend the country against foreign aggression.

  3. A Lebanon that will no longer permit private militias to exist but will make that all foreign forces will leave its soil.

  4. A government that will unite the Lebanese into one, undivided people.

 

A Strong Lebanese Government

Only a strong government will be able to restore stability to Lebanon and secure the withdrawal of all foreign forces: PLO, Syrians, Israelis, Iranians and the UNIFIL.
Total Syrian, Iranian and Palestinian armed forces withdrawal from Lebanon is prerequisite to the strengthening of a central Lebanese government. Bachir Gemayel categorically rejected the notion of a weak and compromising President. For Gemayel, the concept of a strong government was based on the following:

1.       A democratic, sovereign state guaranteeing equity and security for all citizens in all of its institutions.

2.       A Lebanon with a strong and duly elected Parliament; an independent, impartial and truthful media; a better education for all Lebanese; an honest judicial system; and above all a strong and dedicated Lebanese Army to maintain law and order and defend the country against foreign aggression.

3.       A Lebanon that will no longer permit private militias to exist but will make that all foreign forces will leave its soil.

4.       A government that will unite the Lebanese into one, undivided people.

A strong Lebanese government needs a strong Lebanese Army. With a strong army, Bachir believed, Lebanon would have no need for foreign armed presence on its soil. the Lebanese people, Moslems and Christians, those of the South or of the North, have demanded that only the Lebanese Army be empowered to protect them. Such an army would not only need to be re-equipped and strengthened through a program of military draft but most importantly would need strong leadership within its ranks, increased motivation and a sense of national duty. Gemayel expressed strong confidence in the ability of the Lebanese Army, under the proper leadership, to extend Lebanon's sovereignty over the entire country. The Lebanese Army's main problem was not its inability to defend Lebanon; rather, it was the lack of leadership and firm decision by a civilian government.

As for the militias, all of them must be dissolved either by being integrated--man and materiel--with the Lebanese Army itself or by giving up their military role and returning to the daily tasks of civilian life. In this context, Gemayel repeatedly pledged that following the evacuation of foreign forces from Lebanon and with an order from the new government, the Lebanese Forces would cease to exist.

 

 

The Lebanese Moslems

Since the beginning of its existence, Lebanon had been internationally known as a democratic state build on tolerance, equity and hospitality among its own people and towards the foreigners who sought refuge from persecution.

Bachir Gemayel strongly believed in the unity of Lebanon: one people, one land and one government. In the last five years of his life, he had stressed the need for a Lebanese national entente and reunification of the Lebanese Moslems and Christians. he called on the Lebanese Moslems to reject foreign occupation and be true partners in the creation of a new Lebanon:

"I extend my appeal to all our Lebanese Moslems brothers in the occupied areas to assure them and to remove from their hearts any doubts, fear, ambiguity or effects of Syrian and Palestinian brainwashing, and to emphasize to them that we are their natural and true allies as well as their original partners in our common Lebanese life." (March 21, 1982)

Gemayel stressed that the Palestinians and Syrians had driven a wedge between the Lebanese themselves so that foreign occupation could be perpetuated indefinitely.

"The Syrians and the Palestinians are imposing partition on us.... We cannot accept the disintegration of our country.... Partition is a myth propagated by Syrian and the PLO." (March 21, 1982)

He urged the Lebanese Moslems to understand the truth and be convinced that their Lebanese brothers in East Beirut were genuine allies. He urged them to free themselves from the thinking imposed upon them by the foreigners. He invited them to a dialogue and mutual understanding before the country could suffer further destruction.

"Let us march together: You have your own circumstances which we understand and respect. But let us be one people with a strong legitimate government." (March 21, 1982)

Lebanon has suffered over 100,000 casualties, over 250,000 wounded citizens and billions of dollars in material losses. Gemayel pleaded with t he Lebanese Moslems to help put an end to this tragedy:

"Do not bow to blackmail; do not believe the lies you are told. You must your confidence in your Lebanese brothers than in the occupying forces.... Let all the sons of Lebanon rally around the homeland.... there is no room for recriminations and trivial sensitivities. Let us take a unified decision to free our land." (March 21,1982)

Gemayel added:

"We assure the Lebanese Moslems that we will fight on their side.... We are one people and one country.... We will not exist without them." (March 21, 1982)

Gemayel believed that once the foreigners left Lebanon and a new government assumed power, all the Lebanese should by then have put aside their differences. the Lebanese of the new Lebanon must not resolve their differences through violence and force; rather through the rule of law and the political process as provided for in a democratic constitution. He called for a new formula to be established to provide security and respect for every Lebanese citizen. Such a formula would be revised periodically and reassessed to meet the needs of the people. The basic principles of the formula are:

1.       The unity of Lebanon.

2.       Liberty, security and justice for all Lebanese within the framework of a democratic regime guaranteeing basic freedom as a "bill of rights".

3.       Strong and peaceful relations between Lebanon and the surrounding states of the region.

(November 29, 1981)

The people of Lebanon will still look forward to the day the can be united ad free to travel from one end of the country to the other without being subjected to foreign harassment and terrorism. This unity needs to be nourished by a true Lebanese sense of nationalism and consciousness.

The Palestinians and the PLO

Between 1948 and 1968 Lebanon gave the Palestinian refugees shelter, food, jobs and protection. The refugees lived protected by t he Lebanese laws as if they were Lebanese, and were treated like guests with compassion and respect. Furthermore, Lebanese scholars, businessmen, workers and youth in and outside the country espoused their cause and internationally defended their rights.

Soon, however, the guests sought to reverse their role and become the masters. They armed themselves and embarked on a political conspiracy to destabilize Lebanon, partition it, destroy its institutions, divide its population along confessional lines, and lastly establish a state within a state.

Bachir Gemayel drew a clear distinction between the PLO and the civilian Palestinians in Lebanon. He called for a dialogue with the Palestinians within the concept of Lebanon's sovereignty which cannot tolerate any Palestinian armed presence on its soil regardless of size and purpose.

he invited the civilian Palestinians to remain in Lebanon as long as it is necessary without fear of any retaliation as long as they obeyed Lebanese laws and did not involve themselves in acts of treason against the state. Those civilians may remain until a final solution is reached regarding their future and status.

The PLO never respected Lebanese laws, nor abided by precious agreements they concluded with the Lebanese Government, namely the Cairo, Melkart and Chtaura agreements. They have been responsible in large measure for the political, military, social and economic destruction of Lebanon. they have been responsible for promoting and training many of the world terrorists. they were also responsible for the Israeli military operation in Lebanon and the destruction of Beirut.

In the summer of 1982 Gemayel added his voice to those of all Lebanese, rejecting any redeployment of the PLO in other Lebanese regions, namely in the North or the Bekaa. The PLO must unconditionally leave Lebanon. Gemayel totally rejected the concept of implanting the Palestinians in Lebanon. Lebanon is not and will not be a substitute of Palestine. Furthermore, he rejected any partial settlement of the Lebanese-Palestinian problem for Lebanon's sovereignty is not divisible.

Instead, Gemayel called for new Palestinian-Lebanese relations to go beyond hostility to "confidence and cooperation within the framework of Lebanese laws and sovereignty." (August 7, 1982)

 

Lebanon and the United States

Bachir Gemayel believed that the U.S. and Lebanon are natural allies since they enjoy a common cultural affinity, similar ideological beliefs, free economic systems and strong commitment to human rights and dignity.

Both the U.S. and Lebanon believe in:

1.       A pluralistic society where people of various ethnic and religious creeds can share alike and be equally protected by the law.

2.       A democratic system where the will of the majority is respected and where opposition can be heard.

3.       A free enterprise system allowing private initiative and ingenuity to develop without the ear of nationalization or confiscation.

4.       A strong commitment to a "bill of rights' provided for by the constitution and the judicial system to protect all citizens from injustice and abuse.

Lebanon, in addition, offered the U.S. several strategic values:

1.       There are three major extensions of Soviet policy converging in Lebanon: Syria, whose army is in Lebanon; the PLO, who live in Lebanon; and Libya, whose largest politico-military investment is in Lebanon. This is in addition to Soviet and East European trade, cultural and political activities which have threatened the existence of the pro-West Lebanon. Hence, a strong Lebanese state would blunt all this activity.

2.       International terrorism, largely exported from Lebanon, could be brought under control for the benefit of free nations everywhere.

3.       The peace process would be helped by downgrading Syria's ability to oppose it. Defusing the volatile Lebanese flash-point would increase regional stability and help preserve continual access to oil.

Gemayel believed in the U.S. leadership of the Free World and he was confident that Washington would strengthen its ties to Lebanon. the Lebanese people, he declared, do not wish that their American friends fight their battle and suffer casualties. However, they look to the U.S. for economic and military aid so that they themselves may free their country.

There are about two and one-half million Americans of Lebanese descent, some of whom have rendered great services to the United States of America. Lebanon is proud of them and wishes to strengthen the ties between countries through their efforts and the efforts of the American friends of Lebanon, since what truly lasts are the strong bonds of friendship between the two peoples.

 

Social, Economic and Political Future of Lebanon

Since its independence, Lebanon has been the only democracy in the Arab World where peoples of all creeds and cultural co-existed in harmony and peace. Lebanon's constitution provided a system that initially was much praised for its tolerance, freedom and stability. Lebanon was the envy of the Arab people where many sought refuge, fleeing from their own regimes and country. But like any other system, the Lebanese system needed periodic reexamination on its social, economic and political levels to keep peace with modernization and the needs of the society.

Bachir Gemayel, with his futuristic vision, rejected the perpetuation of the present Lebanese system and institutions which had become archaic and out-dated and instead called for a modern system.

The old Lebanon according to Gemayel, with his futuristic vision, would be replaced by a

"New Lebanon free from corruption, incompetence and traditional feudalism....The Lebanese people shall learn to be loyal to Lebanon only and such loyalty shall be the basis of their relations with other foreign countries....No more Arab and non-Arab regimes will be allowed to finance and buy the Lebanese media. However, this new Lebanon must be created by the Moslems and Christians alike; with love, trust and unity." (September 8, 1982)

Gemayel vehemently opposed a one-party system. Although he himself belonged to the Kataeb Party and believed that the raison d'Ítre for the Kataeb is Lebanon's independence, he strongly called for pluralism and a multi-party system in a democratic state.

He sought a Lebanon where justice and the rule of law prevailed and where national faith is sustained by a healthy economy shared by all. This new Lebanon needed a new National Pact, or better, a new social contract based on:

1.       Freedom and economic planning as its base.

2.       Production and equal opportunity as its approach.

3.       Partnership as its style (May 1, 1982)

Gemayel declared Lebanon would have:

"freedom without anarchy, economic planning without government control, production that will produce equity, justice and equal opportunity with a partnership between the Government Management and Labor." (May 1, 1982)

Gemayel was committed to a free economic system based on individual initiative and private ownership.

"We want a society of freedom. That freedom is indivisible; therefor, a free system of government cannot co-exist with an unfree economic system. Consequently, we declare our attachment to a free economic system as well as to a free Lebanon." (May 1, 1982)

The government shall "not run the economy, but only prevent abuses, bribes, monopolies, exploitation and corruption. Merit by accountability shall be the criteria in hiring and firing labor." For Gemayel, the workers have a "natural right to organize themselves into syndicates and unions." It is the duty of the Labor movement in Lebanon to "assume more responsibility" in the socio-economic life of the country. Furthermore, "Labor and Management should not be isolated from each other, rather, they shall form a partnership."

The future of Lebanon depends on its ability to remain the center of "excellence in education." No child shall be without school and Lebanon shall be called the technological brain of the Middle East. Gemayel sums it up in these words:

"Every Lebanese has the inalienable right to be equally protected under the law. He has the right to an honorable life and the pursuit of happiness." (May 1, 1982)

Lebanon and Syria

Lebanon shall insist upon normalization of its relations with Syria through the establishment of diplomatic relations, Gemayel maintained. Lebanese-Syrian relations shall be based on equality and mutual respect.

Lebanon's differences with Syria go back to Lebanon's independence; Syria has continuously sought to make Lebanon a province of "Greater Syria".

Lebanon has, in the past, been subjected to various hostile political and military actions by Syria. Damascus has periodically closed its borders with Lebanon causing great financial losses for Lebanon's transit business with other Arab countries. It has refused to establish an embassy in Lebanon, and above all persists in teaching its children that Lebanon is a part of the Syrian homeland.

Syria helped instigate the present war in Lebanon when Syrian forces entered Lebanon as part of an Arab Deterrent Force, placed under the command of the Lebanese President to help restore peace and security to the country. Slowly, however, the Syrians turned into an occupying force directly responsible to the leadership of Damascus. Instead of uniting the country, the Syrians promoted partition; instead of peace, they caused bloodshed along factional lines; instead of disarming the PLO, they incited them to fight the Christians and to undermine the authority of Lebanon, creating a state within a state; and instead of protecting Lebanon from Israeli invasion, they hastened such an invasion.

As of July 26, 1982, the Syrian presence in Lebanon is illegal, constituting a flagrant violation of Lebanon's sovereignty since they have been officially asked by the Lebanese government to leave the country.

The Syrian occupation, according to Gemayel, only serves Soviet interests. It camouflages international communist expansion in Lebanon and the region under the cover of Arabism.

Furthermore, Syria's claim that it must control the Bekaa Valley because it is essential to its security is a pretext to keep its forces in Lebanon. Such a claim could also justify Israeli counter-claims for Israeli's security. Gemayel declared tat Syria was not concerned with security but with expansion and territorial gains. Under Syrian occupation, the Bekaa would become another South Lebanon: the scene of destruction and bloodshed. Syria's claim for security was like the Communist claim for security in Afghanistan.

the Lebanese people reject any Syrian presence in Lebanon. Gemayel often proclaimed that the Lebanese people are descendents of a 6,000-year-old civilization and do not need Syrian protection or guidance. Syrian forces must return home and any future Syrian-Lebanese relations must e formulated within the framework of uncompromising sovereignty of Lebanon.

Gemayel had repeatedly invited the Syrians to a dialogue that would make Damascus understand that Lebanon is not a Syrian puppet or province.

the Lebanese will have no choice but to resist Syrian occupation if it continues. The people of Lebanon refuse to be enslaved and will not die or vanish because of Syrian terrorism.

Lastly, despite all the suffering Syria has caused Lebanon and its population, Gemayel invited the Syrians to start a new era of friendly and productive relations. Lebanon, he believed, would be prepared to extend its arms to Syria and play a role in Syria's development and modernization.

by keeping its forces on Lebanon soil, Syria has nothing to gain, but much to lose since it will not break the Lebanese will and yearning for freedom and self-rule.

Lebanon and Israel

The nation-state Israel was formed after World War II. Yet Arab policy-makers and political and intellectual leaders never considered the existence of the state of Israel a fact of Middle East politics. Thus they have continued to perpetuate an unrealistic approach in their regional and world politics.

Since 1948, Lebanon has been the only Arab country on the border of Israel to pursue an undeclared and unofficial peace with its new neighbor. Lebanon and Israel legally signed an armistice treaty at the end of the Arab-Israeli war in 1948. but no further development in official, legal or normalized relations between the two neighboring and independent states occurred

Bachir Gemayel held a different view and began building a more realistic regional policy for his country long before he was elected President of Lebanon. Contrary to traditional Lebanese and Arab regional policy, Gemayel's policy took into full account the existence of a strong, modern state on Lebanon's southern border which had the distinction of being non-Moslem with a significant non-Arab population.

To Bachir, as to other non-Moslems and even some Moslems, Israel was a good example of a modern, democratic state and a potential ally for those who were working for free, democratic. western-style states in the Middle East. Toward that end, Bachir initiated communication with the leaders of the state of Israel. This relationship soon became systematic and permanent. And in spite of the unequal partnership--Israel being a strong state and Bachir Gemayel the leader of a Lebanese community only--Bachir always made the effort to work with Israel as an equal. He succeeded in nurturing a good relationship between an independent and free people and an independent and free state.

After Basher's election to the Presidency, the special relationship he developed became more evident. he was the only leader in Lebanon and the Middle East who could talk about and build upon the relationship between Israel and Lebanon without prejudice. To him, Israel was a fact and any Lebanese regional policy needed to accept Israeli's existence as a state and consider its historical importance and weight in regional politics. He believed that Lebanon could live in peace with Israel and that such a peace could benefit both states and even help pave the way for a general Middle East peace.

Gemayel saw the 1982 Israeli "Operation Peace for Galilee" as an important development for Lebanon which would not only equilibrate Syrian influence on Lebanese politics, but could also generate a new political dynamic, which, if properly used, could lead to the simultaneous withdrawal of Syrian and Israeli troops from Lebanon. By the summer of 1982, the equilibrium of forces in Lebanon had changed and the Lebanese, he believed, finally had the opportunity to act in their best interest and invest in that change.

Lebanon and the Arab World

Lebanon is the gate to the Arab World. Lebanese culture and ingenuity, in spite of its pro-Western affinity and outlook, remains, in essence, rooted in the Orient. there are over one million Lebanese working in the Arab World, helping its governments and peoples to modernize through cultural, social and economic developments. Lebanese financial institutions have been instrumental in managing Arab funds and in financing Arab construction and development. Furthermore, despite the war, which for nine years has engulfed its territory and people, Lebanon remained the Middle East's center for economic, social and cultural development and achievement. Most of all, Lebanon continues to be the key to stability, peace or war in the region.

Unfortunately, the Arab countries have in the past collaborated with the Syrians to prolong the Lebanese crisis. All Arab and non-Arab countries were pleased to perpetuate the problems of Lebanon where the "fire of death" was contained although it was consuming Lebanon and its people. hence, Gemayel described the Lebanese as having been "crucified" for the past seven years. (March 15, 1982)

Gemayel strongly supported Arab initiatives to restore Lebanon's sovereignty. "We believe in the Arab initiatives to be proper channels thorough which the Lebanese crisis could be resolved." (March 15, 1982)

He joined, supported and totally cooperated with the Arab Following-up Committee, which was working to resolve the crisis in Lebanon in 1981-82.

"We were asked to make due apology for mischiefs we have not committed, yet we have accepted. We equally took initiative to make overtures towards the Syrians and the Palestinians to bring them to cooperate with us, but our efforts were in vain." (March 15, 1982)

The Arabs failed to live up to their promises and help resolve the Lebanese crisis.

Gemayel firmly believed that Lebanon has a great role to play in emancipation of the Arab world. but Lebanon must be respected and trusted as an equal and be free of foreign intervention, including Arab intervention. Arab governments must understand that Lebanon is a sovereign state and has right to reject any policy contrary to its national interests.

Gemayel warned the Arab world not to exploit the friendship and cooperation of the Lebanese people by attempting to settle Middle East conflicts at Lebanon's expense. He acknowledged, however, that during his visit to Taef, he was advised by his Saudi hosts that they understand Lebanon's problems and position on the PLO and Syria. Saudi leaders publicly lauded him for his leadership and vision. Gemayel insisted in his talks that the PLO and Syrian armed presence in Lebanon is not negotiable or open for compromise since it undermines Lebanon's sovereignty which cannot be divided among non-Lebanese armies.

Gemayel praised the efforts deployed by Saudi Arabia and Kuwait in helping Lebanon, and he called for stronger relations with these two countries. "The Lebanese people," he declared, "will reserve a special friendship for the Saudis and their Arab friends."

Conclusion

Today, years after Bachir's assassination, Lebanon still strives for peace, Its people still suffer from warfare, insecurity and economic strains. Lebanon soil is still subjected to foreign occupation.

Bachir Gemayel was one of the rare leaders who invoked popular emotions on both sides of the scale: joy and sadness, love and hatred. But above all, he was designing a path for Lebanon in Lebanon's best interest and leading way.

he addressed every Lebanese with his heart, in words they could understand. he spoke to the Lebanese about concerns they faced every day. he spoke to foreign leaders and countries about the inequities of the daily life of the Lebanese people under a foreign yoke.

He was first of all human being; he understood human sufferings as only one who suffered himself can understand. He was able to lead his people and relate to other leaders as equals. he raised Lebanon from a forgotten, dying country to a dynamic, hopeful and eager state.

Lebanon was in search of such a leader. Bachir became one long before his election as President, the center of gravity in Lebanese politics. He had become the real hope of the future generations.

History alone will judge what Bachir Gemayel achieved for his country. But for the young generation--the war generation and the generations to come--he proved that the nation which produce a Bachir Gemayel was still a viable nation.

From his life, we all learned. Form his experience, Lebanon will benefit for decades to come. For those who worked with him, died with him or achieved both great and small with him, the road is still long, full of hardships, emotion and things still to be achieved. A great deal remains to be done to raise Lebanon from its ashes. No effort should be spared. For those who did not have the chance to meet him, he will remain a myth, a strong personality, bound to the history of his country. For those who knew him, he is an inspiration. And it is sometimes good to regain strength from the legends of one's history.

In these difficult days, we are in need of the legend. We need to renew the dream. We can only hope that, in time, this dream will come true.

 
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