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Lebanon: Watch and Learn How AIPAC Does it

Washington DC – December 22, 2009 – (Farid Ghadry Blog) — Spoils of success come to those who understand the US political system and how to influence the US government to always side by your policies and concerns.

When we watch how the US, after it isolated Assad for five years, breaks with this policy to engage with him leaving behind sorrow corpses and disappointed friends, one cannot blame the US nor Assad for that matter. The blame squarely falls on the shoulders of Hariri, Jumblatt, and the rest of the March 14 movement as well as the weak Syrian opposition the majority of which still to this day has no clue what drives the US.

AIPAC is an organization whose aims is to protect the special friendship between Israel and the United States. With a budget of over $40m annually, it excels at insuring that members of Congress are attuned to the nuances of Middle East politics. If one has to append a motto to AIPAC’s vision, “never again” would come to mind. AIPAC is run by professionals who dedicate their lives to the cause.

The work accomplished by the American-Lebanese community over the last five years in support of Lebanon’s interests cannot be underestimated. With sweat and tears, they kept the pressure on Syria and were instrumental in passing the Syria Accountability Act. They did so with a miniature budget mostly through donations by the community itself and very little help from the March 14 movement overseas. The Syrian opposition, with very little resources and even less people, did its part as best as it can.

There is a small Think Tank in Washington, funded by Hariri, but little can they do to affect policy. Run by young and inexperienced Lebanese, they tow the line of March 14 instead of being on the avant-garde by directly influencing US policy. Meanwhile, Assad has friends in the CIA, the White House, the NSC, and the US State Department; and had it not been for AIPAC’s resistance, the Syria Accountability Act would have long been reversed.

So when the winds shifted in Washington, there was no one, with AIPAC’s professionalism and budget, to protect the interests of Lebanon even though Hariri has the proper funding and access to a capable American-Lebanese community able to build an influential organization to protect Lebanon from Assad, Hezbollah, Iran and Islamic extremism in general.

To this day, I doubt if Hariri comprehends fully what he should have done. Hiring a PR firm for their interns to run around Washington exploiting old friendships is not the kind of influence that would get you too far in the shark-infested waters of Washington.

Unless the March 14 movement, with a treasure of human experience and dedication of its American-Lebanese community, fully commits itself to helping Lebanon by independently supporting Lebanese interests in US Congress against those intent on harming Lebanese sovereignty, Hariri and his sons will always be travelling the Beirut-Damascus road, hat in hand repeating Assad’s petty slogans, while their PR men attribute the trip to wisdom and necessity.

And if the Saudis object, send them a thank you Christmas postcard. Lebanon’s fate is to protect itself from others and not to hide behind anyone’s empty immensity.

The Lebanese community should also, in writings, speeches, Op-Eds, and TV appearances, pressure the government in Lebanon to get its act together. Given how Lebanon is wedged against a wall of terror between Hezbollah on the inside and Syria and Iran on the outside, the country’s leadership has no choice but to create its own AIPAC in Washington run by the American-Lebanese community with its heritage of American Ambassadors, Members of Congress, and a long list of sympathizers Syrians could only dream of.

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