Our colleague Mr. Nehad El Mashnouq, the ex-counselor to the late
Lebanese Prime minister Rafiq El Hariry, has replied to the resigned manager of the State Security Chief of Lebanon Major General Jamil El Sayed, through ”Al Hayat” newspaper. He stated during my interview with Major General Jamil El Sayed, that the general had verbally insulted him as the dilemma between ”Asharq Al Awsat” and Lebanese authorities was taking place. The truth is that I was deceived by the rumors that Major General Jamil El Sayed wanted to penalize the newspaper, and sought legal pursuit. Moreover, I believed that he was the only one who could solve the matter and was responsible for the blacklisting of my name, prohibiting me from entering Lebanon.
There is nothing better than to face your opponent. It is for this reason that I wanted to meet the man. Favorable circumstances allowed my entrance to Lebanon despite the prohibition ruling. I was surprised to find that despite the fearful persona that is portrayed of the State Security Chief of Lebanon, Major General El Sayed, was appreciative of the role of media, in contrast to other institutes that are actually supposed to assist the media such as the presidency. Actually, his stance was much more respectable than that of some Lebanese media colleagues, who have called for the severest punishment to be inflicted upon the newspaper, in their hypocritical support for the president.
After an in-depth conversation with the general, I became aware that the State Security Chief of Lebanon, Major General El Sayed, was not behind the lawsuit or even the decision to prohibit my entrance to the country. He was merely carrying out the orders that were issued from the president”s office. He even clarified that he was against the decision of filing a lawsuit against the newspaper from the very beginning, but was only responsible for implementing the official orders of the presidency. The attorney general was not convinced of the validity of the accusations. As for the decision to prohibit my entrance to Lebanon, the Major General made all the necessary procedures to exclude my name from the list, the very day that I met him.
Before this occasion, I had met Major General El Sayed when I was the editor-in-chief of ”Asharq Al Awsat” newspaper. During this meeting, we had a civilized conversation in which there were no verbal accusations made from his part as Mr. El Mashnouq claimed. I was welcomed by an eloquent speaker of whom I had previously imagined to be a stern character due to his military background. However, I was surprised to find a flexible and understanding politician. I then understood why he aspired towards a high political post and why he had been nominated by many to succeed Nabih Berry as president of the council of representatives. Today, however, this may be difficult after Major General El Sayed was ousted from his post due to numerous severe accusations that were projected against security authorities in regards to Prime minister”s Al Hariri”s assassination.
As a result of the difficult situation that Major General El Sayed has found himself in today, I feel an obligation to elaborate on the truth of what happened with him, despite the triviality of the matter in comparison to the major events that are taking place in Lebanon is the moment.
The man may be great or may be evil that I do not know. However, I had to clarify his honest position with regards to Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper that the problem had stemmed from the presidency despite all the legal formalities.