September the Martyr’s month – Part 2

shlomo2His name is Sleiman Akiki, known as Shlomo. He was also given the name of “Hares al-Jird”. Shlomo is from the village of Kfardebian, where he was assassinated after the end of the war on Christmas eve 1991. Shlomo was killed by Syrian agents.  I met him in Oyoun el-Siman, the ski resort area. At the time he was the head of the LF Ski unit. His story with the resistance started when he was 13. He fought on all fronts and was wounded several times. I’ll summarize Shlomo in one story. A major snow storm hit Lebanon in late eighties. Even though Oyoun el-Siman was prepared with machines to open the roads, at that time minister Walid Jummblat ordered all them to head to Daher el-Baydar to open the roads there because civilians were stuck on the roads. From our side, we were stuck in Oyoun el-Siman for few weeks. The roads were covered with over 3 meters of snow. One day, we hear a voice calling. We stepped outside and here he was, with his usual smile, standing in front of the white snowmobile Ratrak. Are you OK? You have enough food? What do you need? We are out of bread, he passed us couple of “Rabtit Khibiz” (bundle of bread). He refused to come in and rest, he has been driving and tackling the snow for hours. Shlomo reason:” I have to get to the Lebanese Army soldiers, those guys for sure are out of food. They are my priority.” He jumped in the Ratrak and headed to feed the Lebanese Army soldiers. Those soldiers will turn their guns on him after few years …. Shlomo was assassinated on Christmas eve, he was heading home to give his kids Christmas gifts. Several time he approached me on the ski slopes and asked to either join his unit or come train them skiing. One day the Syrians were shelling the ski slopes with their Russian Grad rockets. We kept skiing, we met him heading to inspect the front and he told us: “you are one crazy sons of B…..”.

A man like him should either live for a long time to tell his story or die on a front.

September the Martyr’s month – Part 1

toninasrSeptember is the month of the martyrs for the Lebanese Resistance. It is the month in which we remember those who fell defending the freedom and sovereignty of Lebanon. Many died too young and others in the wrong places. They died dreaming of a better Lebanon. A Lebanon that we are still searching for. Today, while surfing the net, I stumbled on a picture that made me remember a friend of mine. We were in the boy scouts together. I still remember the day we visited this place, the climbing, the swimming and the laughter. For some reason, I only remember him through this picture. I left the country and he stayed behind. Few years later, he joined the Lebanese Forces, hoping he can change things. I worried about him and other friends during the “Liberation war”. I asked about him and told me that he was an instructor in the LF officers training facility, teaching topography. When “Ilgha'” war started, I asked about others but didn’t ask about him. For me he is an officer teaching topography. Little did I know that he joined the “Sadem”, LF élite unit. One day the call came from overseas, Toni passed away. How? In Adma battle … Few years later, I met those who were with him in the battle as well as the head of the Sadem unit. They told me how he died. Toni was the silent type of guy, who died in silence on a battle front that should have not existed. Toni Nasr, I hope, from where you are today, remember the Yahchouch waterfall and probably the last day I saw you. Until we meet again.

Great President

On August 8, 1987 a great Lebanese President died away. He was 87.

Camille Nemr Chamoun was elected President of Lebanon from 1952 to 1958, and one of the country’s main Christian leaders during most of the Lebanese Civil War. Lawyer by profession, Chamoun was first elected to the Lebanese parliament in 1934. One of the fathers of Lebanon Independence, he was arrested on November 11, 1943 and was imprisoned by the French authorities in Rashaïa castle, where he was held for eleven days, along with Bishara el-Khoury and Riad el-Solh, who were to become the first President and Prime Minister, respectively, of the new republic. Massive public protests led to their release on 22 November which is now commemorated as Independence Day. He served as ambassador to the UK and the UN in the late 40’s. Chamoun served as president of Lebanon in 1952–58.

When President Bishara el-Khoury was forced to resign amid corruption allegations in 1952, Chamoun was elected to replace him. Near the end of his term, Pan-Arabists and other groups backed by Gamal Abdle Nasser of Egypt, with considerable support in Lebanon’s Muslim Sunni community, attempted to overthrow Chamoun’s government in June 1958 when Chamoun tried to seek another term as president. At the time Chamoun appealed to the United States for help under the new Eisenhower Doctrine, and the American marines landed in Beirut. The revolt was squashed, but to appease Muslim anger, Gen. Fouad Chehab whom, though Christian, enjoyed considerable popularity in the Muslim community, was elected to succeed Chamoun.

On his retirement from the presidency, Chamoun founded the National Liberal Party (al-Wataniyoun al-Ahrar) NLP. As the leader of this party, Chamoun was elected to the National Assembly again in 1960, much to the consternation of President Chehab.

In the 1970s and 1980s, Chamoun served in a variety of portfolios in the Cabinet. This was during the Lebanese Civil War (1975–1990), in which Chamoun and the NLP participated through the party’s militia, the “Tigers” (in Arabic, nimr means tiger). He servived several assassination attempts.

In the early stages of the war, he helped found the Lebanese Front, a coalition of mostly Christian politicians and parties, Chamoun was chairman of the Front in 1976–1978. In 1980, all christian military factions were joined in one group which was called the Lebanese Forces.

Chamoun was one of the rare man of state. He is a giant in politics comparing to the politicians we have today.

“We are not a nation that likes war. We just want everybody to be on his own side.” Camille Chamoun.

Camille Chamoun, people of your caliber are really missed today.

August 7 2001 … August 7 2016

On August 07 2001, a massive wave of unrest was launched by the Lebanese Security Forces against opponents of the Syrian occupation. These arrests paved the way to the second republic and the withdrawal of Syrian Forces from Lebanon. 17 years after and none of those responsible for these arrests and tortures was brought to trial. In addition, most of those who were in power (president, ministers, deputies, ….) are still in power or are free to live free. It is to note that some of these politicians died either a natural death or assassinated when they decided to flip on Syria. When these arrests took place, some politicians who call for freedom and democracy today, didn’t even resign. I’ll name  few: Fares Soueid, Nazem el-Khoury, Farid al-Khazen, Naamtallah abi Nasr, Ghazi al-Aridi, Nabil De Frej, Pierre Helou, Nadim al-Rasi, Elias Murr, Sleiman Franjieh, karam Karam, Fouad Saniora …..

No country will advance if it doesn’t deal with its past let it be the executioners of the security system or the politicians that covered it.

SSNP more democratic than the LF?

The Partisan Court of the Syrian Social Nationalist Party (SSNP) agreed unanimously to the appeal submitted in front of it to refuse to extend to Assaad Hardan for a third term in the presidency of the party, after the party constitution was amended. The recent election which was won by Hardan is canceled, and it must be held at a further date. The court’s decision is not subject to appeal.

In return, if we look at the Lebanese Forces (LF) party bylaws, article 86 states: “The duration the President term is four years commencing from the date of announcement of the last results. The president has the right to run for several consecutive terms in a row.”

Did the SSNP party became more democratic than the LF? Doesn’t the LF pride itself as defender of democracy in Lebanon?

Furthermore, in June 2011, Samir Geagea, president of the LF party, announced the bylaws of the party. If the party laws took effect in June 2011 and the article 86 states that the president term is 4 years, doesn’t this make Samir Geagea an illegal president because his term ended a year ago and no election was held since?

To be true to its claim as defender of democracy, the LF must put a limit on how many times a president has the right to run for election and elections should be held as soon as possible. Maybe its time for Geagea to follow the steps of Michel Aoun.

 

Sami Gemayel did it !!!!

6 days ago I asked Sami Gemayel, head of the Kataeb party, to stop threatening and if he is serious, he should ask his 2 ministers to resign from the government and to stop covering theft… Today, Sami did it.

The Kataeb Party has decided to ask its two ministers Sejaan Qazzi and Alain Hakim to resign from Prime Minister Tammam Salam’s government, Kataeb chief MP Sami Gemayel announced on Tuesday.

“The Kataeb Party has decided to resign from the government because Lebanon needs a ‘positive shock’,” said Gemayel at a press conference.

“For a while now, they have been trying to suppress us through cabinet mechanisms that were created with the aim of stifling our opinion and preventing us from stopping their deals,” Gemayel added.

“They are not concerned with protecting the banking sector against the verbal attacks and they did not care about the economic plan that was submitted by the economy minister (Hakim),” Gemayel went on to say.

“They are only concerned with passing suspicious deals,” he said.

Bravo Sami. Geagea and Aoun should reach out to Sami and include him in their project.

Are we back to 2005?

A bomb exploded outside the headquarters of Lebanese Blom Bank in central Beirut on Sunday, causing damage but no fatalities, the interior minister said. So far no one claimed responsibility for this attack. It is to note that the Lebanese banking sector has been at the centre of an escalating crisis since the United States passed a law requiring banks to take steps to target the finances of the armed Shi’ite political group Hezbollah. Several Lebanese banks had closed accounts belonging to people suspected to be members or have llinks to Hezbollah. Interior Minister Nohad Machnouk said: “Politically it is clear that the target was Blom Bank only.”

This bomb reminded me of 2005. Let’s hope it’s not the case. For those who forgot what happened in 2005:

New Jdeideh bombing

A car bomb exploded in the New Jdeideh suburb of Beirut on 19 March 2005. The blast happened in a part-commercial, part-residential area, and wounded eleven people. Reports said that the driver had tried to park it in front of a bingo hall, and was turned away, so he parked it next to an apartment.

Kaslik bombing

On 23 March, a bomb left in a leather bag exploded at the back entrance of the Kaslik shopping center in Jounieh. Three janitors, two Indians and a Pakistani, were killed, and two Sri Lankans and two Lebanese were injured. The roof of the mall collapsed.

Sad el Bouchrieh bombing

On 26 March, a car bomb parked between two factories exploded in the Sad el Bouchrieh area of Beirut, wounding six people. It caused a blaze which destroyed several workshops.

Broummana bombing

On 1 April, a bomb ripped through the Rizk plaza in the Broummana resort village, 20 km (12 mi) east of Beirut. Twelve people were injured.

Jounieh bombing

On 7 May, a car bomb exploded between the Christian Sawt al Mahaba radio station and the Mar Yuhanna Church in Jounieh. The radio station was destroyed and the church suffered major damage. Twenty-two people were wounded.

 Monot bombing

On 22 July, a bomb exploded in a car parked in front of a restaurant on Monot Street in Beirut, wounding twelve people. The bomb was estimated to be 50 lb.

Zalka bombing

In the mostly Christian neighborhood of Zalka, on 22 August, a bomb placed between a shopping center and a hotel damaged shops and windows, wounding eight people. It consisted of 20 to 30 kg of TNT and was set on a timer.

 Jeitawi bombing

An explosion, believed caused by a car bomb, rocked the largely Christian area of Ashrafieh on 17 September. One person was killed and 23 injured. Two cars were blown up and buildings near the blast were severely damaged.

It is to note that no one was arrested in relation of these attacks.

In the same year, Rafiq Hariri, Samir Kassir, George Hawi and Gebran Tueni were assassinated. And attempt assassinations of Ali Ramez Tohme, Elias Murr and May Chidiac.