US AMBASSADOR SATTERFIELD
· Hizbollah is Terrorist despite social institutions
· Lebanese Army has to deploy in the South
· Lebanons Civil society has our attention
· Changes must take place in Syria and Lebanon
· Economic development is a condition for Peace
· We place great hopes in the Lebanese Diaspora
· Hizbollah is Terrorist despite social institutions
West Palm, Florida,
At a lunch-meeting Last week in the West Palm Beach area in Florida, a coalition of American-Lebanese organizations met with Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for the Middle East, Ambassador David Satterfield to discuss issues of mutual interest regarding American policy in Lebanon and in the Middle East. Ambassador Satterfield, who was accompanied by State Department Bureau of Public relations official David Staples, was on a two days tour in South Florida. The US official was the guest speaker at Florida Atlantic University on the Middle East as well as the host of the Arab Chamber of Commerce of the Americas in Miami.
The meeting with the Lebanese-American associations included representatives of: World Maronite Union, American Maronite Union, The Lebanese Information and Research Center, The Lebanese Cultural Union of USA, World Lebanese Organization, American Lebanese Kateab party, and Assembly for Lebanon.
Ambassador Satterfield, who served as Lebanons US ambassador for a number of years and was present at the Taif negotiations in Saudi Arabia explained the US position vis a vis a number of issues concerning Lebanon, the Peace Process, Terrorism, US interests and economic matters. Among the most important items reviewed and discussed by both parties were the following:
1) The US considers Hizbollah as a Terrorist group despite the fact that the Party has members in the Parliament and maintains social institutions. Echoing President Bush, National Security advisor Condalezza Rice and Secretary Powell, Ambassador Satterfield reiterated the US official position with regards Terrorism in general and Hizbollah in particular.
2) The US would like to see the Lebanese Army deploying in South Lebanon. Such was the initial agreement and Washington remains concerned with the situation in that area.
3) The US is concerned with Lebanons civil society. All human rights abuses are to be condemned, especially when they occur within a country, which has suffered from wars.
4) The US considers that significant changes must take place in Syria and Lebanon as well, so that relations between the two countries could stabilize and normalize.
5) The US considers that economic development is a condition for Peace in the Middle East in general and in Lebanon in particular.
6) The US places great hopes in the Lebanese Diaspora, as a conduit for recovery in Lebanon. It can play a tremendous role in the economic and political renaissance of Lebanon.
Commenting on Ambassador Satterfields explanations, the Lebanese-American activists said:
1. The Lebanese-American community endorses Presidents Bush campaign against Terrorism and wishes to see Lebanon rid of all Terrorist organizations and activities.
2. The community wishes to see Lebanon free from all foreign forces, and since the Israelis have withdrawn, wishes to se the Syrian Army departing from Lebanon according to UN resolution 520 and the Taif agreement.
3. The American Lebanese community is extremely concerned with the ongoing abuses of human rights in Lebanon and fully associates with the suffering of the civil society in Lebanon. The attendee raised the issue of Ramzi Irani, a Lebanese student leader who was kidnapped (and later assassinated).
4. The community believes that the best ground for a normal relation between Syria and Lebanon is the full withdrawal of the Syrians from Lebanon and the democratization of both countries.
5. The community supports an economic recovery in the region, but believes that radical religious ideologies oppose such recovery.
The community associates with the US State Department in its
encouragement of the Lebanese Diaspora. Lebanese around the world are in a historic
position today to assist in the renaissance and the liberation of their mother country.
At the Arab Chamber of Commerce
At the dinner offered by the Arab Chamber of Commerce (ACC) in Miami, members of the American-Lebanese delegation raised additional issues related to economy and international relations, chairman of the ACC said Arab-Americans stands by the US in the campaign against Terrorism. They want democratization in the Middle East, justice to Palestinians, security to all, and would like to see a Lebanon free from all foreign forces including the Syrian Army. Representative of American Lebanese organizations told Ambassador Satterfield that Lebanese Americans, who are the majority among Mideast Americans, would want to see their country free so that they can invest and visit. Commenting on American-Arab relations and the role of the Diaspora, Professor Walid Phares said: We all know that the Lebanese diaspora is the largest émigré community from the Middle East. But unless significant change takes place in Lebanon, it will be impossible to attract its economic and financial support to Lebanons governmental institutions. Without freedom and democracy, Lebanese émigré and expatriates will not get involved seriously. They are certainly supporting their families, and hence feeding the civil society with minimal resources. As to see a comprehensive Diaspora plan for Lebanon, it has to come in the framework of a Peace plan for Lebanon. A plan which would include the withdrawal of foreign forces, the protection of freedoms and democracy and a minimal recognition of Lebanon multiethnic and multi-religious identity.