CLAO'S LETTER TO PRESIDENT GEORGE W.BUSH

The Honorable President George W. Bush
The White House 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue,
NW Washington, D.C. 20500

April 15, 2002

Dear Mr. President,
On Wednesday you will host the Syrian-appointed Prime Minister of Lebanon, Mr. Rafik Hariri. The Prime Ministeršs financial ties with the Saudi Monarchy and his role as a puppet for the Syrian dictatorship brought him to power in Syrian-occupied Lebanon in the 1990s in a Faustian deal that, unfortunately, was endorsed by US envoys Richard Murphy and Edward Djeredjian, apologists for Syrian terror even to this day. As you and millions of Americans have now come to realize after September 11, Syria and Saudi Arabia have been two pillars of anti-Western terror in the Middle East. The former provided logistics and military support to a horde of terrorist organizations, and the latter provided the religious ideological framework and the financial backing, in a straight line leading to Sept. 11.

Since the UN-certified Israeli withdrawal in June 2000 from South Lebanon, Mr. Hariri has rejected calls by the US, the UN, and the EU, to send the Lebanese Army to the border to spread the Statešs legitimate authority to that part of the country. Instead, Mr. Hariri has taken his marching orders from Damascus to invent the Shebaa Farms pretext, and leave the border in complete chaos under the guns of the Syrian/Iranian proxy organization Hezbollah. The result has been a continued internal destabilization of Lebanon and rising tensions with Israel.

Mr. President, Mr. Hariri will ask you on Wednesday to adopt a lenient definition of terrorism that defines Hezbollah as a "Resistance" movement. Mr. Hariri will hope for your amnesia, so you forget that Hezbollah is none else but the gang of thugs who committed the October 1983 homicidal murder of 241 peacekeeping US Marines sleeping in their Beirut barracks, who twice bombed the US Embassy in Beirut, and who abducted and held in chains innocent US hostages for years, in that first wave of terrorism of which Lebanon was a victim.

The South of Lebanon is being used by Mr. Hariri to ignite a second front against Israel, and in so doing, derail Secretary Powellšs efforts at easing tensions in the region. Lebanon has suffered for far too long, Mr. President, and its suffering is the result of our acquiescence to this anomaly represented by Mr. Hariri acting not with his country's interests and peace in mind, but rather at the behest of the tyrannical regime in Syria, a country that tops the State Departmentšs list of sponsors of terrorism.

The Council of Lebanese American Organizations stood by your War on Terrorism from day one. Mr. Hariri's Minister of Justice, Nabih Berri, who is also the warlord chief of Amal, a Hezbollah sister organization, threatened us in our lives for publicly supporting you. We stood by your definition that terrorism has many faces and must be fought on all fronts: the military as well as the financial, diplomatic, and assistance to countries who seek freedom and justice from terror and oppression. The strategy of holding Lebanon and its people hostages to the Israeli-Palestinian question has been in effect for decades, but has not benefited US interests.

The argument that Syria is a factor of stability in Lebanon has proven to be a monumental strategic blunder, in addition to its moral cynicism. Syria's hegemony has increased its ability to provide protection for terror groups that never ceased to derail the US-sponsored peace process. Mr. Haririšs government has bankrupted Lebanon, forced its young people to emigrate by the tens of thousands, and has perverted Lebanonšs traditional civil liberties under a Syrian-style repressive police state. We urge you, Mr. President, to demand that Mr. Hariri, like Mr. Arafat, publicly declare in Arabic that his government renounces terrorism as a foreign policy tool, and subscribes to a civilized and negotiated peaceful settlement of all outstanding issues.

Sincerely,
The Council of Lebanese American Organizations
Joseph Hitti, Ph.D. Chairman
118 Ten Hills Road, Somerville, MA 02145
Tel/Fax 617-776-7499
E-mail: clao-ma@attbi.com

Elie Elmurr
Vice-Chairman
P. O. Box 1237, Pflugerville TX 78691
Tel. 512-251-0383
E-mail: ctala@earthlink.net