My Fellow Lebanese,
It's been more than a year since I was handed the banner, and I told you at the time that you needed a President who will not surrender what was left of the country, but rather a President who will reclaim what was lost and take back what was taken away.
I also wondered in my first Independence Day address to you: "Must we submit to the many outsiders who had conspired to appoint a hostage President, thus making us false witnesses to the final blow they were dealing to our existence as a nation?" As to the reforms that had become a national urgency, I asked you: "Must we implement conditional reforms on a people that has no say in the matter, that is forbidden from expressing its will on the reforms, and that is prevented from proclaiming its unity with its land, its sovereign State, and its identity?"
I pledged to you then that I will work to achieve "the resurrection of a strong and unified Lebanon from the ashes of their many and pitiful sectarian Lebanons". We knew at the time that the convergence of interests between the outsiders is what was driving the push for a figurehead President of a virtual Republic. There was no question in our mind that such a President will be just another tool in the hands of the occupation and a bridgehead from already occupied Lebanon to the remaining holdovers of a free and sovereign Lebanese existence. That was why we refused to be a false witness to the assassination of the nation. Similarly we refused forcing on our people the so-called reforms over which it had no say. Reforms that do not flow from the free will of the people, or that do not include the people's needs and future vision, are not foundations for stability, nor are they a balancing factor in the desired national equation.
There were those who were a cause of the war in Lebanon, including those who messed up with its sectarian and political composition, and who destroyed its equilibrium, security, and internal stability. There were those who split the country apart over the map of their regional interests and in complete complicity with the country's presumed strategic enemies, and who went on to divide it up into districts and front lines and buffer zone. Others who saw Lebanon and its people as no more than another number in the regional equation, or an obstacle that must be removed to facilitate the redrawing of their interests on the resolution map of the Middle Eastern conflict. Or those who stood by for fifteen years watching the tragedy of Lebanon unfold.
All of them are incompetent and have no right to impose a solution to the problem of a nation that they themselves dismembered, or to a people upon whom they themselves inflicted pain, misery, and endless suffering. Isn't all that we suffered for fifteen years the result of foreign occupations and outside interference, both of which managed to exploit the weaknesses in our democratic system? Wasn't the war against us under the headline of recovering sovereignty and implementing reforms?
We ask them: What
sovereignty has been restored, and what reforms have been implemented, so we rejoice and
celebrate victory for the achievements of Taif?
Our people resisted for fifteen long and dark years, as they resisted for more than a year now since we foiled the Syrian-American plot of imposing a President on us in Villa Mansour and denounced the Taif signing off on what remained of the country. We heard their contrition, their penance, and their apologies for the steadfastness of our people, the sacrifice of our martyrs, and our resistance against oppression and occupation.
There are no better names for what they consider an achievement in Taif than treason and failure. It is the utmost Lebanese treason for failing to get the Syrian regime to recognize Lebanon as an independent and sovereign nation, which would have required the Syrians to acknowledge their inevitable withdrawal from all Lebanese territory as recognized by the Arab League and the United Nations. Some may have gone to Taif to extract that recognition and demand that acknowledgement. Yet they came back after signing off to Syria a humiliating document that grants that country the right to appoint our President and our government, and that relinquishes to Syria the right to indefinitely maintain its forces in Lebanon anywhere on its territory. Moreover, they legitimized the precedent of giving an outsider the right to interfere in Lebanon's political affairs and its internal security matters. As to those who surrendered the Bekaa, the North, and the South, let them know that no part of Lebanon's territory will be a gift to anyone, because no one owns the right to dispose of a single grain of sand from it.
It is also a terrible Arab failure, starting with the Tripartite Committee recanting on its own report in reaction to Syrian obstructionism, and ending with the failure of the Arab League to make one of its members comply with its charter. By failing to prevent the precedent of one powerful Arab country aggressing a weaker one, the League also failed in allowing the more dangerous precedent of the Arab World formally acquiescing to the fait accompli of an aggression, to the legitimization of one member of the League attacking another, and to the occupation by one member state of the territory of another.
To the extent that Taif was both an act of Lebanese treason and an act of Arab failure, it becomes a de facto international failure. The international community failed by not taking the initiative to impose the United Nations Charter, uphold Human Rights, and implement its own resolutions calling for the withdrawal of two occupying countries from the territory of a founding member state of the UN. Was that community a victim or an accomplice when it hurried to support the fallacy of Taif which legitimizes occupation, exculpates aggression, and provides an international cover for oppression and hegemony against all articles of the United Nations Charter? How can the nations of the Free World fail to salvage their credibility when they failed to prevent abuses of human rights in Lebanon, foremost of which is the right to self-determination? And how can the nations of the Socialist and Communist camps fail to salvage their own credibility in regard to their claims of supporting liberation movements and vindicating oppressed nations and peoples? According to what logic can the world reconcile its failure to support Lebanon in its rightful quest for self-determination, with its celebration of the fall of the Berlin Wall?
My Fellow Lebanese,
The world knows that Taif was a major and grave wrongdoing that bordered on the crime, and whether it admits it or not, a crime remains a crime and a major mistake becomes a deadly sin against international law and the principles of justice, peace, and rights. It is not the first time, nor will it be the last, that a small nation falls prey to the interests of mightier countries and becomes the price to pay for a balance between regional forces in the geopolitical game of a given time and place. Yet History is replete with examples of the inevitable victory of peoples in the face of big conspiracies against them, and the vindication of the will to resist and gain freedom over oppression and enslavement.
Our people have demonstrated in this context their capability, competence, and readiness to fight and resist, and ultimately bring down all suspicious schemes against them and tear apart the deeds of humiliation that are imposed on them.
We have repeatedly stated and proven time and again that we are not warmongers and lovers of deadly weapons. We are seekers of peace and disciples of rights. Is it too much for us to insist on our right to sovereignty over our land and on carrying out a free dialogue among ourselves to formulate our own version of reforms that will accommodate our needs and provide for our people freedom, justice and equality?
Is it a crime to tell Syria and others that we want better relations with them, only without the threat of cannons and the intimidation of superior force, and after the evacuation of the last foreign soldier off our land? Is our demand to the Arab League and the United Nations that they comply with their charters and principles a departure on our part from Arab and international consensus? If the world at the end of the twentieth century continues to wrongfully violate its basic principles, and if we the Lebanese are being forced to choose between acquiescing to those violations and rebelling against them, then let everyone know that we are rejectionist rebels. Rebels who are determined to win our dignity, independence, and freedom back, even if we have to confront the whole world. We categorically reject the big lie of unification under occupation because it will lead us to disappear and cease to exist, inasmuch as we categorically reject any form of partition.
With these firm and basic convictions we are fighting the most vicious battle in our march to independence. Indeed it may be the first time in our history that we fight a genuine battle for a real and definitive independence. It is this liberation march that will tell friend and brother from foe and enemy, and through that lens we will define our clear relationships with our environment and the world, without any feelings of fear, weakness, or confusion.
To all the Lebanese
people and leadership,
All I am asking of you in this occasion is to answer one question: "Are you genuinely convinced that what is taking place is the right path for a free, sovereign, and independent Lebanon, that will provide security, justice, and stability for all its people?
If your answer is "no", then the march of liberation is yours and needs your every competence, skill, and will.
My Fellow Lebanese scattered in all Four Corners of Lebanon and the World, Lebanon is yours, and it belongs to all of you, and it will be victorious.
Long Live Lebanon.
General Michel Aoun