April 17, 2002
The White House
President George W. Bush
1600 Pennsylvania Av. NW
Washington, DC 20500
Dear Mr. President:
On behalf of the Lebanese-American community, the undersigned organizations wish to relay the following views relating to the official visit to the United States of the Prime Minister of Lebanon, Mr Rafiq Hariri. As we understand, the purpose of his trip is to solicit the assistance of the current US Administration in solving the economical crisis in Lebanon. It is obvious to any observer that the Lebanese financial troubles are rooted in the prevailing political environment since Syria took total control of Lebanon in 1991.
Lebanons democratic process was disrupted and altered to bring to power those who are subservient to Syrias wants. Corruption and fraud drained the treasury and sent the Lebanese economy into a spiraling downfall. The national debt, when combined by unfulfilled monetary commitments owed by the government, exceeds $30 Billion USD.
While all the plundering was going on, Lebanon was having anemic income resources. The two strongest economic sectors, services and tourism, were mainly suffering because of the climate of incertitude and insecurity prevailing in the country. Before May 2000, the Lebanese government blamed all Lebanons misfortunes on the Israeli occupation of 10% of Lebanon in the Southern border strip. After May 2000, the Lebanese Government, under imposed Syrian directives, has left the areas evacuated by Israel under the control of Hizbollah, thus allowing the situation to remain explosive and dangerous. The Banking sector saw the fleeing of capitals, and investments were stifled by the uncertain future. Obviously, tourism could not prosper either. Unfair bilateral treaties were also signed with the Syrian government to the detriment of the Lebanese agricultural and industrial sectors.
All the above were aggravated by the loss of individual freedoms and the oppression of the democratic opposition. The Syrian hegemony deprived Lebanon from its international stature and turned its government into a mini dictatorship causing its financial demise.
The only way to rescue Lebanon would be in reestablishing all the elements, which once turned Lebanon into a shining star amongst its neighbors. For this goal, Mr. Harriri should be asked to send the Lebanese Army to the Southern border with Israel. The Syrian army and the Syrian intelligence apparatus should be requested to leave Lebanon immediately. Hizbollah and other armed groups should be requested to relinquish their weapons. The Palestinian refugee camps should return to the control of the Lebanese authorities. Lebanon should declare its will to live peacefully with all its neighbors. Mr. Harriris government should guarantee individual freedoms and release all political detainees.
We urge you Mr. President to clearly raise these issues with Mr. Hariri, and to maintain a stand in favor of Lebanons independence, freedom and democracy. Once granted sovereignty and peace, we strongly believe that Lebanon will promptly recover its health and prosperity. Mr. Harriri as well as anyone sincerely trying to save Lebanon should know that this is the only efficient remedy.
Assembly for Lebanon
American Lebanese Alliance
American Maronite Union:
Lebanese Cultural Union-USA
Lebanese Information Center
World Lebanese Organization-USA