Michel Suleiman: Lebanon’s President or Syria’s Ambassador?

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Did Suleiman deliver a message from Assad to Obama? Is he heading back to Damascus to deliver Obama’s response?

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Washington DC – December 16, 2009 (Farid Ghadry Blog) — The well established American-Lebanese community, whose traditional influence over the US Congress provides the small country of Lebanon with a potent punch, may not be all too happy, after hearing what president Suleiman had to say to president Obama, about his visit to Washington.

A side note as to the make-up of the American-Lebanese community. Many of them, who left Lebanon after the civil war broke out in 1975, did so also because of the mistreatment Assad heaped upon the Lebanese during 30 years of occupation. Mostly from the Christian precious minority of Lebanon, they left behind yet another Assad killing field of their relatives and patriots. All those who died defending Lebanon under Michel Aoun’s uprising of ’88 died in vain after they watch Aoun selling them and Lebanon short by flipping like a circus gymnast. Today, they represent the main anti-Assad engine lobbying US Congress for sanctions and tough policies. It goes to show, what goes around comes around.

Incidentally, similar favorable conditions are shaping today the many Syrians who emigrated to the US after the Damascus Spring and the continued abuse of human rights in Syria under yet another Assad. Their effort will certainly also morph into a potent lobby to reclaim our native country back.

As far as Suleiman’s visit, some Lebanese MP’s, mainly what I call the LLLS group (Live in Lebanon, Loyal to Syria), have manifested some reservations after hearing what Obama had to say publicly. Somehow, when Israel gets the benefit of the doubt, all Syrian lackeys object.

But the main surprise remains the issues raised by Suleiman during his visit, which have all been promoted in the past by Assad in his quest for instability. None, in our opinion serves the best interests of Lebanon.

For one, we know that Suleiman raised the issue of arms for the Lebanese Army (i.e. advanced night goggle technology), which Hezbollah will certainly have access to considering that Suleiman thinks Hezbollah is now part of the Lebanese government. Such weaponry has long been sought by Syria for Hezbollah and its own Republican Guard in anticipation of fighting Israel. For Suleiman to address this issue directly with Obama makes one wonder if Suleiman was behaving more as a Syrian Ambassador than Lebanon’s president. It is hard to imagine that more arms falling in the hands of Hezbollah is in Lebanon’s best interests.

Additionally, Suleiman raised only the issue of UN Resolutions in regard to repatriating Palestinians to Israel or the ’67 borders. Contrary to what one US official has claimed to al-Hayat (run by a pro-Syria editor-in-chief), we do not believe Suleiman raised the issue of implementing fully UN Resolution 1559, which dictates disarming Hezbollah. It is safe to imagine that some US officials are so much pro-Assad (emphasis on: Not pro-Syria) in the Obama administration that they would say anything to make Suleiman’s visit a success. Besides, even if he did not call on withdrawal of UN Resolution 1559, the facts remain that Hezbollah will not disarm with or without UN Resolutions unless it is forced through a total defeat of the organization.

Suleiman also wanted Obama to pressure Israel to pull out of the partially occupied Lebanese small village of Ghajar. It is normal for any president of a country to alleviate his nation from the burden of an occupier but in this instance, Hezbollah, and not Suleiman, will get the credit if Israel indeed relinquished the tiny Ghajar back to Lebanon. On the surface, this is a Lebanese cause but deep below the skin, this is really a “resistance” cause. The one Assad enjoys brandishing his neck around in interviews and speeches.

There is also an indication that Suleiman may have delivered a message from Assad to Obama. If one has to venture into the realm of the rumor mill that is. Such message would, more than likely, carry a carrot and a hidden knife for Israel. The carrot is: Assad’s readiness to make peace with Israel. The knife is: We want the Golan back. It is also possible that Assad may have offered a sweetener to induce Obama to provide arms to Lebanon (i.e. Hezbollah) possibly in the form of delivering secretly to Iraq some of the Ba’athists operating inside Syria Assad would sell in a minute. It is in the interest of Assad to see US forces evacuate Iraq and anything to support such measures, while maintaining the pressure of terror to oust al-Maliki in the next Iraqi elections, will be considered.

Almost no one, from the Lebanese community, estimated that Suleiman’s visit was a success. To the pro-Syria camp, he failed to deliver on any of the issues he raised. To the pro-Lebanon camp, Suleiman missed an opportunity to speak of and voice concerns about Lebanese sovereignty in the face of Assad’s aggression. Unsurprisingly, it is very possible that Suleiman may head back to Syria just so he can brief Assad on his message to Obama and Obama’s response to the Assad’s message.

But for a president who looks more like a Lahoud sold to the world as a steadfast Gemayel or a brave Chamoun, the Lebanese high expectations of him will continue to disappoint them because in reality, he is just another president whose allegiances have to confront the local political pressures of the moment dominated today by Syria.


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