and pushing it towards chaos and internal fighting, or through the use of different methods of intimidation or scare tactics , and will not go unpunished by the international community . The international community headed by the United States and France are determined to stand up for Lebanon and confront the regime of President Bashar al-Assad .The confrontation is focused on three main points:
1- Exposing Syria’s negative and disruptive role in the Lebanese arena. President Nicolas Sarkozy of France and his aides possess detailed information on the role of Syria and its allies blocking the election of Gen. Michel Suleiman as President of the Republic.
2- . Accusing the Syrian regime of violating international law and relevant Security Council resolutions, which call for free presidential elections in accordance with the Constitution and which require all States to respect Lebanon's independence, sovereignty and non-interference in its internal affairs.
3- Imposition of sanctions and other penalties against Syrian regime. These sanctions could have a very negative effect on the regime
both internal and external
Syria according to a reliable European diplomatic source is trying to force through its Hezbollah-led allies in Lebanon preconditions on General Suleiman before his election to weaken his position as a new president . Syria wants him to arrive to Baabda handcuffed , according to the source and this is something Suleiman , the anti-Syrian majority and the Christian community headed by Patriarch Boutros Sfeir refuse to accept.
The source revealed the reasons behind the Syrian position and which are as follows:
1- Syria is alarmed by the Arab and international support for the candidacy of General Suleiman. As a result of this Syria is concerned that Suleiman will not be Syria’s man in Lebanon and will not therefore implement the Syrian demands like Emile Lahoud did. Hence Syria will not be able to return to Lebanon and disrupt the international Hariri Tribunal and other UN security council resolutions .
2- What is most disturbing to Syria is the fact that it did not reach any secret understandings between General Suleiman and the Syrian regime on the management of the affairs of Lebanon and serving the interests of Syria and its allies in Lebanon after he is elected president . “Syria in short was caught with its pants down” according to the sources.
Syria is also upset with Suleiman for refusing to take any position that is hostile to the Government of Fouad Siniora and for thwarting acts of violence by the opposition to destabilize the country .
3- The Syrian regime and its Lebanese allies took advantage of the French mediation effort and pushed France to adopt their position against the parliamentary majority . In doing so they hoped to reduce the French and US support to the parliamentary majority.
Syria used several methods to achieve its goal with the French.
a- Asked the Gulf state of Qatar to intervene and encourage the French government to open up to the Assad regime on the basis that Syria is capable of resolving the Lebanese crises and could therefore help French president Nicolas Sarkozy achieve a diplomatic victory
b- Asked its allies in Lebanon , the Hezbollah led opposition to use terror and scare tactics with the French during the negotiation process, like threatening to start a civil war in Lebanon or threatening the UNFIL force in south Lebanon in the event the elected Lebanese president is not acceptable to Syria
c - Used its friend General Michel Aoun (leader of the Free Patriotic movement , who is anxious to be a president at any price ) to set impossible preconditions that will make it extremely difficult for anyone to reach the presidency without Syria’s consent.
But Syria and its allies failed in their efforts because France is committed to supporting the March 14 forces whose number one priority is the sovereignty , independence and freedom of Lebanon . The French also set preconditions for Syria that call for the unconditional Syrian support for the elections of a Lebanese president and ending the assassinations as the price for openness by France to the Assad regime. The Syrians were disappointed in the French position and for this reason refused to cooperate as required.
d- The Syrian regime was betting that French President Nicolas Sarkozy will mediate between them and the American administration because his close relationship with President George Bush will help to achieve rapprochement between Washington and Damascus. Syria also expected that its participation at the Annapolis conference will serve as a first step towards the strengthening its relationship with Washington.
But the US administration refused to make any changes in its policy toward the Assad regime and accused it of destabilizing Lebanon , blocking the election of the president and undermining Lebanon’s sovereignty and independence. This hard line position by the Americans pushed the Syrians to block the election of Suleiman through its Lebanese allies
Syria's plan and how it failed
The Syrians were hoping to present the candidacy of General Suleiman in 2 stages:
First by agreeing secretly with the French to nominate Suleiman . Their precondition for nominating him was to have another agreement on key issues such as the ministerial posts in the new government and veto power , the replacement of Suleiman as the army chief, the head of Lebanon ’s security and other issues that interest the Syrians in controlling Lebanon
The second step called for officially announcing the nomination of Suleiman for the presidency based on a French Syrian agreement , after a meeting between the Speaker Nabih Berri and parliament majority leader Saad Hariri , to show the world that Syria has played a key role in the nomination of Suleiman . The Syrians wanted to prove to the Lebanese parliament majority that they are the key decision maker for Lebanon
The French detected the Syrian intentions and refused to go along with Syria’s proposal on Suleiman’s candidacy . France considered this as a blatant interference in the internal affairs of Lebanon which could undermine Lebanon’s sovereignty and independence
In the meantime the March 14 anti-Syrian alliance was discussing internally the candidacy of General Suleiman and came t the conclusion that he deserves to be the president of the republic , even though they preferred to have one of their members to be the next president.
After the French failed in their mission the March 14 forces announced their decision to nominate Suleiman as the compromise presidential candidate without prior understanding with Speaker Nabih Berri, recognizing it is very difficult for the opposition to reject his nomination . This announcement outraged the Syrians and this outrage is reflected in the position of the opposition . The opposition is making it again extremely difficult for Suleiman to be elected as the next president .
Where has the opposition failed
The opposition has been acting as if it is not very comfortable with the fact that the majority has nominated General Suleiman and not sure about his policies and the direction he will be taking once he becomes the president . For this reason it ( opposition) is creating lots of obstacle as preconditions for his election . These conditions contradict with the Taef accord , and undermine the role of the president and weakens him before he gets to the presidential palace . Has the opposition been confident about Suleiman it would have acted differently and would not have created so many obstacles .
The source said the opposition is making things difficult by trying to make up for its failure in achieving its objectives. It failed to secure the election of a weak President who would have had a prior understand with the Syrian regime to implement their policies in Lebanon such as Emile Lahoud did . It also failed in taking the initiative of nominating Suleiman first . It also failed in creating tension between the army and the government . Failed also in weakening the government and in creating a second parallel government when Lahoud was still in power . It also failed in committing the Arab countries and the Europeans to ensure a Syrian role in Lebanon and thereby weakening the pro- Lebanon March 14 alliance . It also failed in blocking the UN International Tribunal for trying the killers of Hariri and the related crimes .
The European diplomatic source stressed that "Lebanon has entered a dangerous stage of head on conflict between the majority and the pro-Syrian alliance . He cautioned that the Syrian regime will continue to try and disrupt of the presidential elections and could push the country towards anarchy and civil war . If this is the case , the International community and the Arab countries will impose sanctions and penalties on the Syrian regime that could spell the end of the Assad dynasty . Lebanon will then be able to become more free and stable and its institutions will be able to function normally and without any interference from Syria.
This special report was originally written in Arabic by Abdel Karim Abu al-Nasr and published on the March 14 website
Tags: Berri, Elections, France, Hariri, Hezbollah, Lebanon, President, Suleiman, Syria, US