The Guardians of the Cedars issued the following communiqué:

We would have preferred no to respond to the latest comments made by the Syrian president to the Kuwaiti daily As-Syassa, were it not for the misconceptions and factual errors contained in them and our concern that the truth be presented to the public without equivocation.

We begin by asking about the referendum mentioned by the president as the basis for his statement that the majority of the Lebanese supports the continued presence of the Syrian army in Lebanon. Dear Lord! Is this one of those famous referendums held by Arab regimes to renew their own mandate time and again, and in which the majority never falls below 99.99%? In fact the last referendum held by the toppled Iraqi regime hit the 100% mark!

And if the Syrian occupation really has such popularity in Lebanon, how does his Excellency explain the vocal demonstrations that spring up in the streets of Beirut denouncing the occupation and challenging the savage Stalinist-style repressive measures against the demonstrators?

And how does the president explain the fierce battles that were continuously fought between the Syrian army and the Lebanese Resistance in Beirut, the North, Zahleh, and the South from 1978 through 1990, and which resulted in thousands of injured, killed, and handicapped? And how does he explain his military invasion of the Baabda Palace and the crimes of summary executions against captured Lebanese army soldiers and isolated civilians? Has he forgotten that the Presidential Palace had been transformed then into the Palace of the People on which millions of Lebanese had converged from every corner of the country to declare their support for the tenant Prime Minister and their rejection of the occupation?

And what does he have to say about the untold numbers of assassinations deliberately carried out against Lebanese political, religious, and media leaders, including but not limited to: Salim Al-Lawzi, Riyad Taha, Nazem Al-Qadiri, Sheikh Hassan Khaled, Sheikh Sobhi Al-Saleh, Bashir Gemayel, and René Mouawad, for no other reason than having dared to oppose the occupation?

And if this occupation insists on discovering its popularity in Lebanon, the Syrian president has only to poll the opinions of the displaced and emigrant young Lebanese who left the country because of the occupation, or the opinions of the widows, orphans, and handicapped who are the remaining witnesses of its barbaric crimes…and let us not forget the civilian neighborhoods that were destroyed by the occupier’s bombing and shelling…. Indeed, it would not be a stretch to say that the tonnage of bombs, rockets, and other ammunition that the occupation showered over Lebanese cities and villages by far exceeds that used in its wars against Israel.

And if the president is really interested in finding out the genuine feelings of the Lebanese toward him, we can assure him that the hatred that has accumulated in the Lebanese people’s hearts over the many long years of occupation has reached unimaginable heights.

We do admit, on the other hand, that there is a faction of the Lebanese who support the occupation. Fortunately they are a handful of vain little men who have enriched Lebanon with their ignominy and treachery. Indeed they are the temple thieves and merchants of doves, the followers of Judas Iscariot who sold their country for thirty silvers. In the final analysis, the question is: How long will the exception be the rule? ? And how long will the truth be trampled in its own country? ?

Lebanon, at your service,

Abu Arz,

May 31, 2003.