Press Release



April 23, 2001

Senator Sam Brownback
Chairman, Senate SubCommittee for the Near East and South Asia
Senate Foreign Relations Committee
303 Hart senate Building
Washington, DC. 20510

Re: Lebanon

Dear Senator Brownback
As you will be meeting with Prime Minister of Lebanon, Mr. Rafiq Hariri soon, the American Maronite Union would like to draw your attention to the following matters:

1) The Syrian Army is occupying Lebanon since June 1976. It had entered Lebanon unilaterally (according to the late President Assad's speech in July 1976) before it was mandated under the Arab League as of December 1976. And despite the mandate, it clashed with the Lebanese Army and Lebanese Christian resistance between 1977 and 1982. In September of 1982, United Nations resolution 520 called on all foreign forces, including Syria, to withdraw from Lebanon. Instead, Syria recaptured the areas it had pulled out from. In 1990, its forces entered the Christian free enclave and completed the control of the Lebanese Government.

2) The Taif agreement, signed in 1989 has stipulated for Syria to withdraw by 1992. Instead, its forces remained in the country till 2001. Besides, all main Human Rights organizations, and to some degree our US State Department reports over the decade, have found Syrian forces guilty of Human Rights abuses between 1991 and 2001.

3) On another hand, the civil society in Lebanon has expressed its rejection of the Syrian occupation of Lebanon. The Patriarch of the Maronites, its Council of Bishops, the main Christian parties, a main Druse leader, as well as many Sunni and Shiite activists, have openly criticized the Syrian occupation of Lebanon and called for its withdrawal. After his visit to the one million and a half strong Lebanese American community, Patriarch Sfeir was greeted by more then two hundred thousands demonstrators. This indicates clearly, that the Lebanese populations are opposed to the presence of the Syrian forces, even though if the pro-Syrian factions, including Hizbollah, have called for the continuation of the occupation for political motives.

On these grounds dear Senator, and on behalf of the American Maronite Union and the many among the Lebanese American community, I would ask you to raise this issue with Prime Minister Hariri. The withdrawal of the Syrians from Lebanon is not only a Lebanese American consensus but in the American national interest. The US Senate has raised this issue since the early 1990s particularly with the US Senate resolution no 30 of 1992. The most recent CNN poll indicated that 94% of the Lebanese in the mother country and in the US calls for Syrian withdrawal (copy attached)

Dear Senator,
As we thank you so much for your achievements and ongoing activity on behalf of the persecuted nations and communities around the world and in the Middle East, we wish you the best for your meeting with Prime Minister Hariri