Top Scoops

Book Reviews | Gordon Campbell | Scoop News | Wellington Scoop | Community Scoop | Search


Lebanon: France Moves To Incite Civil Unrest

Chiraq’s Lebanon

By Prof. Rami Zurayk

French President Jacques Chirac is set on starting a new bout of civil Rami Zuraykfighting in Lebanon. For months, his ambassador to Lebanon, Bernard Emié has been pumping steroids into the muscles of the US supported Lebanese Government. The French are conniving with the US administration to block all possible avenues for compromise between the Lebanese Government and the Opposition. This is effectively paralyzing the country and creating an environment conducive to civil strife.

Last week, while the Lebanese were commemorating the start of the 1975 war with chants of “never again”, France was submitting a strongly worded motion to the UN Security Council. The text openly referred to the Lebanese Resistance as a “militia” (a term still rejected by the Lebanese state) and called for its disarmament. It also drew explicit connections between Iran’s nuclear aspirations and the resistance to Israel. The motion is so extreme in its support of Israeli ambitions that it is being opposed by China, Russia, South Africa, Ghana, Congo, Panama, and Qatar, all currently members of the UN Security Council.

What does Chirac want? Not much: an International Tribunal empowered by the UN Security Council. The Tribunal will exact revenge for the murder of his friend and benefactor, Rafic Hariri, the Lebanese (born) Saudi magnate who was Lebanon’s prime minister for over a decade.

What’s wrong with a UN sponsored International Tribunal? A lot has been written about this supra-judiciary tool. Besides the intricacies related to national sovereignty and legal minutiae, the main issue lies in the use of the Tribunal as a political tool. The current perception of the Lebanese Opposition is that this Tribunal cannot be neutral nor objective (the UN being a surrogate of the US administration); and that its main purpose is to end resistance to US (and Israeli) hegemony in the Middle East. In simpler terms, phony International Justice will be used as the weapon to accomplish what neither diplomacy (UN resolution 1559 calling for the disarmament of the Resistance) nor violence (33 days of relentless Israeli bombing, mayhem and destruction of Lebanon in July-August 2006) could achieve. Disarming the resistance will facilitate the physical elimination of its leadership and remove the last bastion of opposition to Bush’s New Middle East.

Lebanon is a nation hopelessly divided into self-serving sects. Weakening one sect will automatically strengthen the others. Hizbullah and the Resistance represent today the Shi’a sect of Lebanon. Eliminating their leadership will automatically relegate the Shi’a back to their traditional low caste status.

For this reason, many Lebanese are very hostile to an UN-sponsored International Tribunal. For this same reason, many Lebanese want the International Tribunal. The US-supported Lebanese Government has sent a draft approval of the International Tribunal to the Security Council. To become legal, this draft has to be approved by the Lebanese Parliament and countersigned by the Lebanese President. This is where the stalemate lies.

Negotiations to find a compromise between the International Tribunal and the protection of the Lebanese Resistance from US and Israeli vindication have been going on, but very slowly. Chirac, however, is in a hurry. He wants a tribunal before the end of his term in May 2007. He has been unremittingly lobbying for the Tribunal to be approved by special UN Security Council resolution under the 7th Article of the UN Charter. This would effectively declare Lebanon a non-state, and place it under the control of the UN. This is also the best way to start a civil war. The Opposition has repeatedly warned that forcing the International Tribunal through the Security Council will lead to “chaos”, a euphemism for unbridled civil violence. But what does Chirac get out of that? After all he opposed the US sponsored invasion and destruction of Iraq, and has bragged plenty about it. Could it be that the alligator actually has a heart? That he really misses his friend Rafic Hariri? That the insurmountable loss has turned him into a political vigilante? This is the story being peddled by the Hariri-controlled media in the Arab World, with regular news items about the emotional bonds that tie the Elysée Palace with the Hariri Dynasty.

In reality, the Chirac-Hariri relationship has to be viewed from a different perspective. As soon as he leaves office in a few weeks time, Chirac will be investigated by the French judiciary on charges of corruption and undeclared personal and political “funding” during his tenure as mayor of Paris. Many of his senior aides have already received prison sentences.

It is very likely that Chirac has received “funding” from his Saudi-Lebanese billionaire friend. It is very likely that Chirac did not declare this money. Chirac needed funds. Hariri needed credibility. And Chirac has no shame when it comes to selling French credibility. A few weeks ago, he bestowed the French Honor Legion onto Saad Hariri, son of the late Rafic Hariri. Saad’s achievements in the political arena before his dad’s death are well known: he was spending his dad’s money between Riyadh, Paris, Monte Carlo and Washington. Well worthy of the honor legion.

The Hariris still need President Chirac, a powerful ally with permanent membership on the UN Security Council. Chirac may still need the Hariris, one of the biggest fortunes on earth, with tentacular connections to help him in his legal predicament. This may well be the dark side of this friendship.

In his efforts to restart the Lebanese civil war, Chirac is supported by the US and Britain. They’re happy to lead him down the path they have cleared in their Iraqi adventure, and to teach him one last lesson before he goes: never say “I told you so” when you are a corrupt politician. Lebanon could well become Chirac’s Iraq.


Rami Zurayk is a Professor of Ecosystem Management Faculty of Agricultural and Food Sciences at the American University of Beirut. You can view more of Rami Zurayk's work at


© Scoop Media

Top Scoops Headlines


Julian Assange: A Thousand Days In Belmarsh
Julian Assange has now been in the maximum-security facilities of Belmarsh prison for over 1,000 days. On the occasion of his 1,000th day of imprisonment, campaigners, supporters and kindred spirits gathered to show their support, indignation and solidarity at this political detention most foul... More>>

Binoy Kampmark: The Mauling Of Novak Djokovic
Rarely can the treatment of a grand sporting figure by officialdom have caused such consternation. Novak Djokovic, the tennis World Number One, has always had a tendency to get under skin and constitution, creating a large following of admirers and detractors. But his current treatment by Australian authorities, and his subsequent detention as an unlawful arrival despite being granted a visa to participate in the Australian Open, had the hallmarks of oppression and incompetent vulgarity... More>>

Binoy Kampmark: Voices Of Concern: Aussies For Assange’s Return

With Julian Assange now fighting the next stage of efforts to extradite him to the United States to face 18 charges, 17 of which are based on the brutal, archaic Espionage Act, some Australian politicians have found their voice. It might be said that a few have even found their conscience... More>>

Forbidden Parties: Boris Johnson’s Law On Illegal Covid Gatherings

It was meant to be time to reflect. The eager arms of a new pandemic were enfolding a society with asphyxiating, lethal effect. Public health authorities advocated various measures: social distancing, limited contact between family and friends, limited mobility. No grand booze-ups. No large parties. No bonking, except within dispensations of intimacy and various “bubble” arrangements. Certainly, no orgies... More>>

Dunne Speaks: Question Time Is Anything But
The focus placed on the first couple of Question Time exchanges between the new leader of the National Party and the Prime Minister will have seemed excessive to many but the most seasoned Parliamentary observers. Most people, especially those outside the Wellington beltway, imagine Question Time is exactly what it sounds... More>>

Gasbagging In Glasgow: COP26 And Phasing Down Coal

Words can provide sharp traps, fettering language and caging definitions. They can also speak to freedom of action and permissiveness. At COP26, that permissiveness was all the more present in the haggling ahead of what would become the Glasgow Climate Pact... More>>