Sunday, May 25, 2008

President Michel Suleiman

My initial skepticism and disappointment in the manner in which the election was carried out today was tempered by the new President, Michel Suleiman's, inaugural speech. The speech underscored, to a large extent the hopes and aspirations of the national populace that had brought about the Cedar Revolution more than three years ago.

Suleiman emphasized the need to activate and protect the country's constitutional institutions - implicitly recognizing the closure of Parliament explicitly denied by the man who swore him into office and who kept the institution's door shut for over 18 months.

Suleiman also called on the Lebanese to put the country's interests above their own individual ones, calling on all parties to recognize and abide by the results of democratic elections.

On Hizballah's weapons, Suleiman highlighted the need to build a national defense strategy which drew on the experiences of the country's resistance to Israeli occupation, and decried the use of Hizballah's weapons internally. His words echoed those of regular citizens and political leaders, alike, who have called on the group to integrate its weapons into the Army, and who have called on the state to exercise a monopoly over the use of arms and over national decisions of war and peace.

The President also highlighted his support for all UN Resolutions and their enforcement on Lebanese land. Among those UN resolutions are 1559, 1701, and 1757 which call for the disarmament of all militant groups in the country, the withdrawal of all foreign troops from occupied Lebanese lands, the enforcement of the state's control over all Lebanese territories, and the country's abiding by the results of the International Tribunal to try those accused in the assassination of Rafic Hariri and other Lebanese politicians and personalities.

On Syria, Suleiman echoed calls by the sitting government for the building of relations based on mutual respect for each country's sovereignty [and not one country dominating the other]. On the issue of the Palestinian refugees, the President underlined Lebanon's role as a hosting nation awaiting, and continuously calling for, these refugees right of return, and rejecting their naturalization in Lebanon. Suleiman also rejected the presence of weapons in the Palestinian camps which could threaten Lebanese security.

His speech was reassuring, and reflected to a very large extent the political orientations of a Christian community which saw its top political seat assailed and undermined by a Syrian-enforced hijacking in 2004 and a Syrian-backed blockage from 2007 to the present.

For the Lebanese population as a whole, the President's speech brought back respect for the position of the presidency and underscored the undeniable path to sovereignty laid out by the events of the spring of 2005... whats left is to turn those words into actions. Suleiman has brought hope back into the country - now lets hope it lasts.


  1. Bad Vilbel10:34 PM

    One quick comment. You forgot to mention the bit in Suleiman's speech about the expat being entitled to some kind of re-naturalization (whatever that means), which I took to address, at least in part, a longstanding demand many of us have had: The right to vote/representation for Lebanese expats.

    I thought that was an interesting topic that i did NOT expect to be tackled so soon and so prominently.

  2. Orange Storange12:59 AM

    "Both Lebanon and Syria should also respect each other's borders," the president added.

    from DailyStar

  3. Orange Storange1:01 AM

    Prior to the election, MPs Butros Harb, Hussein al-Husseini, Nayla Mouawad and George Adwan voiced reservations about the procedure of used to elect Suleiman, describing it as "unconstitutional."

    The lawmakers said they preferred to see Suleiman elected after amending Article 49 of the Lebanese Constitution. The article bans the election of grade one officials unless they have resigned two years prior to being elected to the country's top post.

    Berri responded that the election process was in line with Article 74 of the Constitution. The article stipulates that if a presidential vacuum occurs, Parliament should immediately meet and elect a president.

  4. Anonymous1:18 AM

    Sleiman also say we have to get libanese prisoners from Syria and have to bring back Lebanese who go to Israel after it leave south.

    he is very good

  5. Let's see the 2 kidnapped israeli's returned as per the UN resolution.

    After all, if Hezbollah still can cause a war and not have any responsibilities what kind of nation is lebanon?

    btw, i am sure both of those israelis are long since tortured to death... after why has not the great victorious iranian army, ops I meant hezbollah allowed ANY red cross visits?

  6. Still, this sounds too good to be true.. and after 3 years of pussyfooting and appeasing, talk is still cheap, especially from an army-chief who allowed Hizbo to go mediaeval on Beirut a few weeks ago.

    Segway, if I remember correctly, Bashir was the last president-elect in recent memory to have vowed to bring the Lebanese immigrant community into the political process; famous last words...

  7. A good man among bad persons. Let us hope he can succeed; so much depends on him, and him alone.

  8. Sounds great, now let's see how his program is going to be implemented; hopefully, he will become another Fouad Chehab and not another Emile Lahoud...

  9. As long as he does not become another (dead) Gemayel... :-(

    Frankly, I don't see how much he can do, considering his powers are relatively limited and considering he has not Parliament (party) backing not much weight in the yet to be formed government...

    I mean, I wish him the best, but I am not sure he can be much more useful at the Presidency than he was (or not) at the head of the Army. A positive note (on BBC) is that the only picture on his desk is the one of his late second in command, assassinated by "you know who".

  10. Andrew8:10 PM

    The Palestinians are never going back to Israel.

    Sixty years of cruelty is enough. Lebanon needs to figure out how to integrate them. Right now they are a big festering wound, a source of violence and instability.

  11. Arabic Coffee Pot9:08 PM

    Keep dreaming Andrew. The Palestinian issue is an international one and the international community needs to bear responsibility for the Palestinians' state of affairs - as do the Palestinians themselves, as do the Israelis and the country's hosting them.

    What we'll eventually see is some Palestinians going back to Israel, some to Palestinian territories, some staying put and some going to bigger countries with more open immigration policies.

  12. Arabic coffee pot is totally right. There must be an international solution to the Palestinian refugee issue. I posted somewhere else (on Solomon2 blog, I think) that it should be one which involves all parties: the UN security council, Israel, the UK, France, Russia, the USA and all Arab countries. And everyone should pay for a bit of it. Responsibility are extremely shared in this affair and nobody is clear of wrong doing, including many Palestinians, so it is only right that everyone shares the burden, be it financially or socially.

    And by the way, it is also a fact that neither Israel, nor Lebanon nor the Palestinian territories of today can absorb the refugees. So the world (and that includes us) should try to find another solution.

  13. Andrew8:29 PM

    Unless Israel collapses, which is unlikely, they aren't going back to Israel. Not in any significant numbers. Maybe someday there will be a Palestinian state that can absorb a fraction of them.

    The President's plan is to keep them locked up in horrible camps for another sixty years waiting for someone else to take them away. They aren't going away, and their numbers are constantly increasing.

    It's a problem. I don't have a solution.

  14. Anonymous6:18 AM

    I don't think its going to play out that way Andrew


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