Friday, May 25, 2007

"The Welch Club" or who's Behind the Fighting in North Lebanon?

A reader led me to this very good essay by Franklin Lamb on "Counterpunch". To better understand what is going on in the camp (s), first you need to see the key elements of what is known as the "Welch Club" (nothing to do with Friday-Lunch-Club)
The Club is named for its godfather, David Welch, assistant to Secretary of State Rice who is the point man for the Bush administration and is guided by Eliot Abrams. Key Lebanese members of the Welch Club (aka: the 'Club') include: The Lebanese civil war veteran, warlord, feudalist and mercurial Walid Jumblatt of the Druze party( the Progressive Socialist Party or PSP) Another civil war veteran, warlord, terrorist (Served 11 years in prison for massacres committed against fellow Christians among others) Samir Geagea. The billionaire, Saudi Sheikh and Club president Saad Hariri leader of the Sunni Future Movement (FM).

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

General Aoun letter to HE Secretary-General of the United Nations Ban Ki-moon

Rabieh, Lebanon
March 30, 2007

HE Secretary-General of the United Nations Ban Ki-moon,
On the occasion of your visit to our country Lebanon, I would like to clarify a number of critical matters as we observed some misunderstandings in recent statements made by certain members of the international community.

For almost two years, our country has been suffering a governance crisis which primarily resulted from unfair 2005 parliamentary elections and was further augmented following a series of failures by the Siniora Government. The crisis significantly escalated subsequent to the resignation of all Shia Ministers leading to a sharp division between the opposition and the Siniora Government.

In accordance with Article 95 of the Lebanese Constitution and Paragraph J of its Preamble, all communities must be represented in order for the Government to be legitimate. The resignation of all Shia Ministers, and the failure to replace them, has rendered the Siniora Government constitutionally illegitimate and has violated the National Pact.
The Siniora Government, in addition, has violated numerous other provisions of the Lebanese Constitution including, inter alia, (i) bypassing the Presidency through ignoring Articles 49 and 52 connected with the authority and prerogatives of the President as the Head of State, (ii) failing for two consecutive years to submit Draft Budget to the Parliament as required under Article 83; hence, the country has been operating without a budget, and (iii) paralyzing the Constitutional Court stipulated in Article 19; thus, preventing it from examining appeals connected with the 2005 election violations which, if adjudicated, will change the majority in the Parliament in favor of the opposition and strip from the Siniora Government the parliamentary majority it claims and rules on its behalf.

As result of the July 2006 war and its aftermath, the failure of the Government to implement its program and any of the provisions in its Declaration as well as the breakup of electoral alliances which led in mid-2005 to the current Government, the Lebanese people lost their trust in the Siniora Government. This has been translated through massive demonstrations and sit-ins since December 1, 2006 with unprecedented numbers (over 1.5 Million Lebanese on December 10, 2006) representing opposition parties and diverse communities

Despite the illegitimacy of, and the lack of confidence by the majority of the Lebanese people in, the Siniora Government and its incapability to rule the country, it has been receiving unlimited and irrational support from the international community. Given such empowerment, the current Siniora Government is not interested in any effort toward resolving the crisis in Lebanon through dialogue. The international community appears to be taking side in an internal dispute related to democratic rules and the Lebanese Constitution, and runs the risk of shouldering a big responsibility in case the country reaches a governance vacuum or internal conflict at the end of current President term.

We urge you to support Lebanon and all of its institutions and not only the Siniora Government. We hope for greater objectivity and reconsideration of current positions which assume the crisis is only the result of external factors or dispute regarding the international tribunal. We are a key player in the opposition as we represent 1/3 of the Lebanese population according to the last election. And we are known to have no agenda connected with any foreign interests in Lebanon. In addition, we were the first to propose and support the establishment of the international tribunal. We continue to strongly believe in the possibility of its adoption in accordance with the Lebanese Constitution and in cooperation with the Security Council.

There are however many other dimensions to the current crisis. It is detrimental to be ignoring a number of priorities which are posing threats to the welfare of the Lebanese people and the security in Lebanon and the region. These include, inter alia,
• The establishment and expansion in Lebanon of fundamentalist terrorist organizations with no preventive measures on the part of the Siniora Government;
• The arming and training of previous militias and new ones, all affiliated with the governing majority, under the sight of the Siniora Government;
• The rampant corruption by the same governing elements who caused the accumulation of at least USD 40 Billion debt (or around 200% of GDP); and
• The real threat of settling the Palestinians in Lebanon which we, and the overwhelming majority of the Lebanese, oppose. There is a national consensus in Lebanon against such settlement as stipulated in the Preamble of the Lebanese Constitution.

The solution to the current crisis starts with respecting the Constitutional rules in forming Governments and in ensuring adequate proportional representation of political forces in a national unity Government. There should not be a deadlock in a democracy. Should the current illegitimate Government continue to maintain its current position, the solution would be to resort to the people through holding early parliamentary elections followed by Presidential elections and formation of a new Government.

In conclusion, I assure Your Excellency Secretary-General, of our full readiness for constant communications and coordination with the United Nations to provide further clarifications and contribute to a permanent solution to the current crisis.

Respectfully yours,

Michel Aoun, Member of Parliament
Head of the Change and Reform Parliamentary Bloc
CC: Members of the Security Council