The ATFL & Issam Fares's Decoration !!!
By: Elias Bejjani & Charbel Barakat

The American Task Force For Lebanon (ATFL) has recently, in a big celebration ceremony, honored the Lebanese businessman Issam Fares with its highest award, an award that it grants annually to a American Lebanese whose achievements were effective and a benchmark in his field.

In principle, we do not see anything wrong with the ATFL practice, but in reality this organization did not honor Mr. Fares, the successful businessman, but the Syrian-appointed Lebanese puppet official who currently serves as Deputy Prime Minister in Lebanon's Syrian-appointed satellite regime.

The award to Mr. Fares is indeed an award to the Syrian Baathist occupier who installed Mr. Fares in his post, like the rest of the Lebanese regime's officials in a bid to serve Syria's interests and not those of Lebanon and its oppressed people.

There is no doubt that Mr. Fares is a very successful businessman, and as Lebanese and descendants of Lebanese immigrants living in the Diaspora, we cannot but be proud of Mr. Fares's achievements and those like him. Moreover, honoring him and any other successful Lebanese for their achievements in their field of business is commended as an effective means for encouraging the Lebanese to take them as role models in their pursuit of success.

What the ATFL did not actually take into consideration when it decided to give the award to Mr. Fares is that this successful businessman is now handling issues of national importance, like identity, justice, democracy, human rights, freedoms, etc.. in a business mentality that is based strictly on personal gain. He has trashed all that is genuinely in the national interest and everything the Lebanese people hold as their national convictions and principles in a bid to appease the Syrian occupier and so he can keep his post and protect his own financial investments in both Syria and Lebanon. Accordingly, he is not serving the interests of the Lebanese people, nor those of Lebanon the nation and its institutions.

Here lies the danger of rewarding Mr. Fares by an American Lebanese organization whose prime mandate is to protect and safeguard the interests of the United States and Lebanon, and the relations between them. By giving an award to Mr. Fares, the ATFL has negated all its stated objectives. It has made a precedent in honoring an individual who willingly and happily accepted to be a cover for the Stalinist-Baathiest regime that is destroying Lebanon's core existence as an independent and sovereign country.

The ATFL not only infringed on the human rights of the Lebanese people and their dignity, but it has also opted for a belligerent position against the American official war on terrorists and terrorism. The ATFL has sided with Mr. Fares who flagrantly advocates for the Syrian Baathist Regime, serves its interests and adopts its stance on the most notorious terrorist organizations that Damascus harbors.

The ATFL by decorating Mr. Fares has in fact decorated the Syrian Baathist rogue country that is supporting terrorist groups, sending foreign fighters to Iraq to kill USA soldiers, occupying Lebanon, abusing its own people and oppressing them, arbitrarily detaining hundreds of innocent Lebanese prisoners of conscience, producing weapons of mass destruction, providing chemical weapons to Al Qaeda to terrorize neighboring Jordan, blocking the peace process in the Middle East, massacring the Syrian Kurds, and most importantly, is labeled by the State Department as a sponsor of terrorism for its support of terrorist groups such as Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and Hezbollah.

We are not sure if ATFL Board Members have heard what General Richard B. Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said on Sunday 18.4.04: ''We know that the pathway into Iraq for many foreign forces is through Syria. It's a fact. We know it. The Syrians know it." Myers, speaking on CNN's ''Late Edition," said, ''The Syrians need to take this situation very seriously. They need to help us stop that infiltration of foreign fighters. It doesn't do their government any good."

We are not sure also if those ATFL Board Members who planned and orchestrated the honoring of Mr. Issam Fares have read Joseph Farah's editorial that was published by the WorldNetDaily on December 13, 2002, addressing the question: Who is Issam Fares? (Click here to read it)

This is not the first time that we address the ATFL'S  anti-USA & anti-Lebanon stances, and apparently it is not going to be the last if its Board Members keep repeating the same pattern of activities. Hopefully this message will not fall on deaf ears as did the previous ones.

Our advice to the Board and general members of the ATFL is either they abide by their declared objectives and policies, or amend them to match what they are doing.

Elias Bejjani
*Human Rights activist, journalist & political commentator.
*Spokesman for the Canadian Lebanese Human Rights Federation (CLHRF)
*Media Chairman for the Canadian Lebanese Coordinating Council (LCCC)

Charbel Barakat
*Vice President for the (WLO) World Lebanese Organization
* Historian & political commentator
*Author of the book "Madamik"
*Retired Colonel - the Lebanese Army