Press Release


April  25, 2001
The Honorable Nick Rahall
US House of Representatives
2307 Rayburn HOB
Washington DC20515
(202) 225-3452
(202) 225-9061 Fax

Re: Lebanon

Dear Representative Rahall

The American Maronite Union (AMU) is proud of all our representatives who are from Lebanese descent. We, as American Maronites looks upon you as American leaders who can bring the cause of our mother country to the highest arenas of the land and initiate public support to the claims of our brothers and sisters in Lebanon, particularly concerning freedom, sovereignty and independence.

As you know, the visit of our Patriarch Cardinal Nasrallah Sfeir to the United States has clearly shown the broad support our American Lebanese community has for Bkerke and for its efforts to secure freedom for Lebanon. The thousands of Lebanese Americans from the whole country, including from your state as well, have flocked the events organized in his honor and therefore supported his demands for Lebanese sovereignty. The overwhelming majority of Lebanese Americans, regardless of their religious and ethnic affiliation have endorsed the calls by the Patriarch and the declaration of September 20, 2000 by the Council of Maronite Bishops to start the redeployment of the Syrian Army from Lebanon, as a first step for their withdrawal.

Unfortunately we were concerned about the statements which were attributed to you during your recent visit to Lebanon, whereby you have accepted the maintaining of those occupation forces indefinitely and stated that they were useful for Lebanon. We all know that the Syrian Army -according to all mainstream Human Rights associations- has been responsible for large scale abuse in Lebanon since 1976 and particularly since 1990. Those forces should have evacuated Lebanon, first under UN resolution 520 of 1982, and second according to the Taif Agreement of 1989.

By endorsing and praising the presence of Syrian troops in Lebanon, you would encourage the occupation of Lebanon by Syria, a matter rejected by the overwhelming majority of Lebanese in Lebanon and around the world, including in the United States. The most recent CNN poll indicated that 94% of the Lebanese in the mother country and in the US calls for Syrian withdrawal.

On behalf of the American Maronite Union, I urge you to clarify your position with regards the Syrian occupation of Lebanon and help erasing the negative consequences left by the statements imputed to you in Lebanon.

Rest assured, that the AMU would be more then willing to assist you and your office in establishing a dialogue about this matter with the Lebanese grassroots in America, who have expressed their concerns to us about endorsing Syria's forces in Lebanon