Lebanon In 2008

It is salutory to read the text of a speech given by the Lebanese Prime Minister, Fouad Siniora,on May 10th 2008. The speech was made following a Hezbollah attack on government forces in Beirut.

The text of the speech is taken from the online newspaper, Lebanon Now

“My beloved Lebanese in all cities, homes in the diaspora in Aisha Bakkar, Tarik al-Jedideh, Hamra and all the streets of our beloved capital, my brothers in Saida and Achrafieh, in Kharoub Tripoli, Akkar Zahle My beloved in Future TV and Ash-Sharq [radio station] Your country will not fall under the coup, nor will we return to hegemony and terrorism Lebanon is living through difficult times dealt a poisoned stab by the coup staged by Hezbollah, [who] took over your homes and possessions.

They were calling for dialogue and preparing for escalations, talking of calm and preparing for war.

We succeeded in keeping victory from Israel and the result was that they accused us of treachery and conspiracy with Israel.

What is Hezbollah doing in the streets of Beirut? Has Palestine come to the heart of Beirut? What is Hezbollah doing on the road to the Rafik Hariri Airport? By cutting off the road to the airport for all Lebanese, are they cutting off the road to Tel Aviv?

Did we have a problem with Hezbollah? Yes, we had a real problem with Hezbollah Has the Lebanese government ever said it wanted to forcefully disarm Hezbollah? Never. Never. We have said that openly and before the international community.

Is our problem with Hezbollah that we diverge on who the enemy is? Not at all, for Israel is our enemy and Syria was and will remain our sister built on mutual respect.

Did the government declare war on Hezbollah and think of targeting a sect? We did not and will not declare war on Hezbollah. We have all been partners in building the country. The problem is that Hezbollah decided what the fate and future of Lebanon will be.

Our problem with Hezbollah is that they decided to monopolize the decision of when and where to go to war, and their decision that whoever disagrees with them is a criminal and traitor. The core of the problem with Hezbollah is that they decided to force their beliefs on the Lebanese without concern for the Lebanese and their will.

We did not want to fight, like Hezbollah. Our stance has always been clear on the role of Hezbollah in freeing Lebanon from Israeli occupation But when their arms are pointed at their fellow Lebanese, we have a problem. We have not and will not declare war on Hezbollah and the proof is that no guns were pointed back at them.

But we will not accept that innocent civilians be harmed, nor that Hezbollah force its will on the Lebanese and the government without discussion with constitutional institutions first.

We will not place the Lebanese in this position against the world If Hezbollah decides to use arms or construct a communications network, the government must be informed. The decision to go to war is made by the Lebanese government and not one party.

[The statements] we heard yesterday were only words to kill time while the coup against the government and the streets and educational institutions of Lebanon were taken over.

Sayyed Nasrallah yesterday said that Hezbollah’s logic was that of government, and the government was a gang. But we do not understand that. We cannot understand that. What logic burns education, the press? The Hariri Foundation helped educate tens of thousands of students. Did this foundation harm Hezbollah, so that Hezbollah’s militias take over their offices and destroy them?

I will say it frankly. Today Hezbollah’s problem is with all Lebanese, and no longer with the government.

Let us think together of a solution The Lebanese cannot go on like this. We never doubted for a day that Hezbollah could militarily occupy Beirut, as happened in hours. But we had believed them when they said that their arms would never be turned inward.

Yet Hezbollah must know that the power of arms will not scare us and it will not force us to back off from our beliefs, even if they use their arms further than they already have. We will not accept or excuse the attacks and killings that have happened. We protect ourselves with the law.

We hope that Hezbollah felt, in the past few hours, that force will not solve the problem. The solution, as I have always said, is in agreement and dialogue. It is not true that we rejected dialogue. We rejected dialogue under the auspices of the Speaker, who is a political party himself We want dialogue on the real problems of our citizens.

We both know each other very well, and there is no need for any further destruction. First, neither of us is non-partisan anymore, and we must agree on a neutral mediator to help us reach agreement and solution.

Secondly, the arms of Hezbollah are today more than ever an issue that necessitates discussion Hezbollah’s arms must be pointed at resisting Israel only, and with the agreement of the Lebanese and the government. Otherwise, the only role of the arms is illegal. Hence, we must search with Hezbollah for a solution through constitutional institutions.

Third, we must develop a Lebanese political system but not through hate and violence but through calm dialogue So we may need a transitional formula:
1) The two decisions of the government have not yet been decreed, and will be left to the discretion of the army.
2) Withdrawing gunmen from the streets, ending the sit-in and handing security over to the national army.
3) The election of a consensus president immediately with a national-unity government in which neither party can force its beliefs.
4) The discussion of an electoral law in parliament.
5) The promise of all parties to abide by a code of media ethics that we can build with our own hands.

We request the army to fulfill their role in protecting the Lebanese and to the fullest without delay, which they have not yet done I ask them to enforce stability in all regions and withdraw all arms from the streets, end the sit-in and restore life to the capital and all of Lebanon.

O Lebanese, we have brought a state of oppression down before, and we will not allow it to return I therefore call on all my brothers in Lebanon to prepare for a solution, and hold a minute of silence at noon tomorrow for our martyrs and victims, and raise the Lebanese flag to denounce violence and internal terrorism.

All Lebanese are invited to stand in the streets tomorrow at noon, on their balconies, all over Lebanon, in silence.

O Lebanese, we will not be afraid. We will not be silenced. We will remain free and Lebanon will remain, it will remain free, Arab, sovereign, democratic.”