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Wisdom and Rationality - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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The earthquake that resulted from the assassination of the late Rafiq AL-Hariri, in a morbid and condemned crime executed with well-planned meanness, makes us still feel shaken in our hearts and minds as we sensed the harsh physical, psychological and political repercussions of that incident. This is not only due to our love and appreciation to Rafiq Al-Hariri, but also for our realization of the huge vacuum that resulted by his disappearance. Many forces – some are good and some are evil – will try to fill this vacancy, and thus Lebanon and the region will go again into a huge turmoil, which will add more to their pain and suffering, and only the enemies will be happy with that.

It is elementary in the beginning that we agree on the difference between the “enemy” who wants nothing for us except evil on one hand, and any other party that we might disagree with, reject its policies and practices, but still cannot reject its presence and existence on the other; in all cases, we should aspire for the best for us and for that party.

By that concept, it is important for all those who wept for Hariri and vowed to preserve and continue with his mission, raising his pictures up high and enumerating his good deeds, to remember what Hariri truly represented. Hariri has been a symbol for the noblest meanings and the greatest intentions. He has been the man who loved to spread good life and welfare around him. He has been the politician who practices a kind of politics that was new and strange to many, for his politics were based on public service and the wish to promote knowledge, tolerance, moderation and balance. He has been the patriot who believed in his small country and wanted to work for its prosperity, helping in the reconstruction of Lebanon after the tragedies of the past and rejecting all sorts of sectarianism.

He has been the nationalist who was truly dedicated to his greater homeland i.e. the Arab nation, serving the mutual interests that would translate brotherhood into prosperity and development, and to defend this nation against all its enemies. He honorably disagreed with his opponents and agreed with dignity with his friends. He fought in a manly manner, and he was an honorable friend and a decent and well-mannered enemy to those who were against him.

The critical situation, which Lebanon is passing through nowadays, stipulates that these qualities should be the ones cherished by all the actors on the Lebanese political arena. They have the right to disagree. They have the right to have diverse and even contradictory positions. They have the right to have conflicting viewpoints; yet, they should always overcome the narrow vision towards a wider horizon. They should avoid – by all means – fighting against each other, because that kind of fighting was about to finish Lebanon at one day. It would not be harmful only to those who are involved in it, but its flames would burn every body and thus, there would be neither winners nor losers. Everyone in Lebanon would be a loser, together with his or her brothers, friends and neighbors.

In this regard, I am interested in pointing a number of things to express how I feel as an Arab citizen keen to see every Arab country moving on the right path and believing that the interest of the whole nations is interlaced with that of every single part in it without exception, the same way the interest of the smallest part of the Arab nation is linked to that of the nation as a whole.

My points would be as follows:

1- Lebanon and its people are capable of taking their issues in their own hands, and they are ready and willing to do so. They do not need any body&#39&#39s assistance except their own, and they need no foreign presence in their country whether by friends or enemies. Lebanon has passed the experiment when it allowed others to make the Lebanese land a battlefield for their military, political and media confrontations. This resulted in the tragedy that we all know about and we should make sure that this should not happen again and that time should not go backwards.

2- The Syrian military intervention has been based on a Lebanese request and it had played an important role in restoring calmness in Lebanon. This was greatly assured by Al-Taief Accord. Now, after all these years had passed, it is more appropriate – or even necessary – that the Syrian-Lebanese relations take a normal form that combines the full recognition of the Lebanese sovereignty with special strong relations between Syria and Lebanon as two independent countries.

3- In this regard, everyone should welcome the latest steps taken by Syria to resolve this matter, starting with lowering the volume and quality of its military presence in Lebanon and transferring the Syrian-Lebanese relations file to the Deputy Foreign Minister in Syria instead of leaving it in the hands of the military authority. These Syrian steps should be continued and accelerated for the interest of Syria itself, and to cut the way for any pretext that could be used against Syria as well as to avoid the external pressure that would not carry anything good to either of the two countries (Syria and Lebanon). The foreign pressures are only working to serve certain ill-intentioned regional and international interests. Again, I should emphasize in this context that the Security Council resolution 1559 had no justification; there could even be some doubts about its legality. Yet, after all, the Security Council issues it, and thus, though we might argue about it, we should not forget that we have been – and still are – calling for the international resolutions and international legitimacy to be implemented regarding our causes. So, we even had to accept some Security Council resolutions – as in the case of Iraq – that some of us would consider contradictory or not matching with the UN Charter.

4- Added to that, the Syrian presence in Lebanon has been one of the sources – or pretexts – for the internal congestion in this country. Therefore, ending this Syrian presence – through consent and agreement – would contribute to ending that kind of congestion (though some people would think otherwise). When this happens, the Lebanese people would be more than capable to find the appropriate way to deal with each other and with that brotherly neighboring country.

5- This Lebanese-Syrian understanding should be concluded before the coming Lebanese legislative elections, so that the issue between the loyalists to Syria and their opponents would not dominate the elections and consume the two sides in the debate on the Syrian presence. Instead, these elections should be addressing how to manage the Lebanese-Syrian life and how to address legitimacy, reconciliation and the common interests of all the factions and groups of the Lebanese people in order to act to achieve more construction and prosperity, as well as calmness, tolerance, and full recognition of the Lebanese sovereignty.

6- This would require two basic elements; first, full respect and recognition of the constitutional system and agreeing not to revert to the idea of introducing constitutional amendments that are based on timely considerations rather than inevitable needs, and second, there should be a swift and transparent investigation about the assassination of Al-Hariri to uncover the criminal perpetrators who harmed Lebanon itself by assassinating this figure whose presence meant a lot to the Lebanese and whose absence would lead to a great deal of turbulence and tension. The Lebanese investigation authorities should be up to the level of the responsibility instead of calling for foreign bodies to undertake this mission. After all, there is nothing against using the assistance of foreign experts, yet, it would be shameful if we need foreigners to uncover the truth, while we exclude those who should take this responsibility in their hands to prove their credibility. Those who are keen for the independence of Lebanon should also be keen that Lebanon practices its independence in uncovering the truth and put the perpetrators – whoever they are – to trial. Again, it would be a mocking situation if we talk about independence while Lebanon is incapable of fulfilling an important mission such as this one.

The situation is grave and pressing and it requires seriousness as well as overcoming the motives of anger, which might lead to irrationality. The situation requires as well abandoning the feeling of incompetence, because such negative attitudes might lead to grave consequences.

We pray to God to save the people of Lebanon from such disasters. We should note that being grateful to the martyr Hariri stipulates acting with wisdom and rationality. It is the interest of both Syria and Lebanon to move together in the right direction, and it is our duty to advocate this and push forward in that direction with all love, hope and honest national spirit.

Ahmed Maher

Ahmed Maher is a former foreign minister of Egypt.

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