Dr. Walid Phares

www.walidphares.com

Phares warns: "Axis" propaganda machine is spinning Lebanon
 
 
Washington DC, November 22, 2007, Mideast Newswire
 
At one day from the final deadline to elect a new President in Lebanon, within the constitutional time frame, Mideast expert Walid Phares said "the Syrian-Iranian propaganda machine was so far successful in spinning the game in Lebanon so that no President would be elected by midnight of Friday November the 23rd." Phares, the Director of the Future Terrorism Project of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies in Washington added: "The intelligence and policy architects in Tehran and Damascus were so far successful in undermining the political process in Beirut and creating the illusion that short of satisfying them, hell would break loose in Lebanon. Lebanon's Government and the Parliamentary majority were led to believe that by proceeding to elect a President by normally voting for a candidate with the universal principle of simple majority will lead to disaster and bloodshed in the streets. Hence, by waiting all the way till the end of the constitutional period, and trying to accommodate Hezbollah, the March 14 Coalition would be faced with two choices: either accept a "defeat President" or move to the next stage that is two Governments in Lebanon. The third choice, to elect a strong President with simple majority is still open though, even after the end of the constitutional time period." 
 
Phares said the "axis" plan was to lead their opponents to believe that:
 
1. The United States and the UN will not confront the terror threat if a President is elected by a majority in Parliament, which is wrong.
 
2. That France wanted to impose a "Hezbollah-blessed" President, which is wrong.
 
3. That some deal with Syria was cut with the Arab countries at the eve of the Annapolis conference, which is not accurate.
 
Reality is that all these points and others are mirages created by the Syro-Iranian propaganda machine to intimidate March 14 and crumble the willingness of the majority to perform its duties and elect a President. Unfortunately, it has worked till now."
 
Phares, who was one of the architects of the introduction of UNSCR 1559 in 2004 told France 24 that "the deputies have the right to meet, to elect whomever they wanted and that the so-called opposition can continue to oppose the new President politically and prepare itself for the next legislative and Presidential elections. This is how all countries with political crisis and tensions behave. But in Lebanon, said Phares to the French cable, "it is not an issue of a normal opposition dealing with a constitutional crisis. There is an armed group, that calls itself an opposition, and is threatening to seize power in the streets if their candidate is not chosen. This is called terrorism not opposition." Responding to a journalist from TF1 participating in the panel, Phares said "there is public evidence that Mr Hassan Nasrallah and his deputy Naim Qassem who say they command twenty thousand missiles and rockets openly stated that unless things goes their way, they will launch an insurgency against the democratically elected President. That is the heart of the matter," said Phares. "For after six legislators -voting for the President- were assassinated over the past two years by 'axis' terror networks, and as terrorist threats are made against the Seniora Government and the Parliamentary majority openly, what is happening in Lebanon is not a normal election in normal circumstances. The political process has been subverted by a terror war directed against the legislators and Lebanon's civil society." 
 
Addressing the options available, Phares told the "Right Balance" radio in the US that "three roads are open now: 
 
1. If the anti terrorist Majority elect a strong President within the constitutional term, which is a very remote possibility today at 24 hours from the deadline, the country will have an internationally recognized President and a cabinet. However, the "axis" will mount an insurgency and pro-Syrian President Lahoud will form a pro-Syrian cabinet.
 
2. If a last minute agreement is reached over a weak President, Lebanon will slowly fall back into the hands of the Syrian-Iranian axis. It would be a gradual death of the Cedars Revolution. This is the worse situation.
 
3. If no election is done by the end of the constitutional term, the Seniora Government would resume as a care taker, according to the constitution, and would work on bringing the deputies to elect a President. But expect Lahoud to form another Hezbollah controlled Government. In this situation Lebanon will have two Governments as well."
 
Phares told Mideast Newswire that the first and best option strategically is for the Lebanese MPs opposed to terrorism to meet and elect a strong President with a 50% plus one vote. They will have all the time they need to negotiate after. Nothing else would protect Lebanon than having a free President, a free cabinet and a free parliamentary majority for the next two years, and possibly six years. For the other side will carry as much as it can from its threats, regardless. Hezbollah is not expected to be tender with the Cedars Revolution if a so-called consensus candidate is selected. If the March 14 Coalition allow Iran and Syria to impose a weak President, the latter will not protect them from terrorism. If they wait too long and have Lahoud appoint another Government, this would complicate things internationally." Bottom line, concluded Phares "there is one sound choice for the deputies, that is to elect a committed President now better than tomorrow, and tomorrow better than later, but to elect a free President anytime better than a Hezbollah chosen President now."