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Aoun’s Hypocritical Independence Day Speech

Aoun’s Hypocritical Independence Day Speech

Al-Nahar, Lebanon, November 25

Anyone who listened to the speech delivered by President Michel Aoun on the occasion of Lebanon’s Independence Day would immediately realize that the intractable problems that Lebanon is experiencing today are caused by either Hizbullah or one of its allies, including President Aoun himself. This applies to the axes included in Aoun’s speech: the disruption of the government, the crisis of Lebanese-Gulf relations, and the state of the judiciary. The government’s obstruction is due to Hizbullah’s insistence to dismiss the judicial investigator in the case of the Beirut Port explosion, Tarek Bitar, from his post. Hizbullah’s problem with Bitar goes beyond the question of his ability to prosecute presidents and ministers and is directly related to a decision taken by Bitar to delve deeper into the party’s role in the crime. All proposed solutions have failed to satisfy Hizbullah to date. Nothing short of acquitting Hizbullah of any responsibility for the explosion will satisfy the party. On the second topic, Aoun knows very well that the controversial statements made by Information Minister George Kordahi on the issue of the Yemeni war and the Houthi attacks against Saudi Arabia were merely the straw that broke the camel’s back in Lebanon’s relations with the Gulf. Gulf states have long understood that Hizbullah is using the Lebanese government to harm them. Aoun suggested that a solution to the crisis could be achieved through a Lebanese-Gulf dialogue. But he’s ignoring the direct and indirect messages sent to him and other senior Lebanese officials about the issue. The current crisis is not a crisis of relations, but rather an internal Lebanese crisis. The Lebanese government cannot be negotiated with, since it has become devoid of any practical power. It is merely a puppet government of a terrorist organization that de facto controls Lebanon. On the judicial issue, Aoun spoke about the Judiciary’s failure to combat corruption. But Aoun conveniently overlooked the fact that he, himself, enables cronyism and corruption. Aoun handed over extensive political power to his son-in-law, Gebran Bassil, who has been sanctioned by the US Treasury Department, for his corruption. Bassil didn’t attempt to prove his supposed innocence and simply accepted the designation. And Aoun, who speaks highly about corruption, entrusted his son-in-law with the task of “examining” all those who were nominated for ministers in the current government. Aoun’s complaint that “40% of his term” was filled by the political vacuum doesn’t garner anyone’s sympathy. After all, Aoun turned Lebanon’s political stalemate into a political tool used for his own benefit. Aoun, in his independence speech, complained of the catastrophe that he and Hizbullah have both brought about Lebanon; a country that permanently lost its independence in favor of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps and has been hijacked by a group of ambitious politicians whose craving for power seems to have no limit. –Faris Khashan (translated by Asaf Zilberfarb)

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