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In my travels there and in meeting with the current President a number of times as I have, he has stated—and I am sure that he would do this—that the second Israeli troops withdraw from the south he would go immediately to Damascus and ask President Assad to withdraw every Syrian troop from the country of Lebanon.
Now the next question, of course, is: Would Syria do that? And the obvious answer is, no, they would not until there is a comprehensive peace and some exchange on the Golan, of the land for peace formula. Because, obviously, Lebanon is being used as a chessboard for outside powers to play their games, through their proxies in southern Lebanon, the proxies of the Syrians and Iranians, the proxies of the Israelis themselves and/or the southern Lebanese Army.
Is it your opinion—and I have noted your positive statements about the Lebanese Army with which I, of course, totally agreebut if the political scenario were such and if Israel were to withdraw from the south, is it the State Department's opinion that the Lebanese Army has the capability of regaining control of every inch of Lebanese territory and securing the southern border so that there are no cross-border attacks into Israel?
Is the Lebanese Army of that strength to be able to do that, given the political go-ahead?
Mr. WELCH. I am not certain. You describe a situation in which the conditions would be radically different than what they are today. A lot would depend on the commitment of the parties involved to the maintenance of peace.
Mr. RAHALL. The Lebanese Army under General Lahoud's guidance, haven't they reached the level where they are nonsectarian now; they are a professional organization; they are capable militarily of preventing cross-border attacks into Israel? Capable of disarming Hizbollah?
Mr. WELCH. They are considerably more capable than they have been in the past. There is work still to be done; and we would like to, obviously, support the expansion of their capabilities.
But I think I want to come back to the point I was trying to make, Mr. Rahall, and that is that it is sort of less the number of troops and their quality than the commitment of the parties to peace. If that commitment is somehow not there, then it becomes very difficult for any military to impede violations of the arrangements.
I think certainly it is the case that Israel has the most capable military in the area, and it is not able to do that presently.
Mr. RAHALL. Well, can I follow up, Mr. Chairman? I noticed the red light is on.
Chairman GILMAN. Yes, go ahead.
Mr. RAHALL. You have given positive statements in your testimony about the capabilities of the Lebanese Army. We have been helping them, have we not?
Mr. WELCH. Yes.
Mr. RAHALL. Selling them some equipment rather cheaply, excess defense articles, et cetera, which I commend our State Department for doing.
But lacking sufficient help from us, is it not human nature-in any country—to turn to its neighbors for help? In this case, as you have said, the Lebanese Government is saying that it would be premature to ask the Syrian Army, Syrian troops to withdraw now. That is probably accurate, because they feel there is no help to the Lebanese Army from other countries.
So, wouldn't it be natural for the Lebanese Army to look to other sources of help, if, as you think, it does not have sufficient resources?
Mr. WELCH. I am sure they would. However, my surmise is that they would not look to Syria to provide that assistance with respect to maintaining any arrangements they have with respect to Israel.
I think, in terms of the objective, it is clear what everyone would like, beginning with, first and foremost, the Lebanese Government and people, they want to see their Army do its job every place on their territory. Šo do we.
The conditions do not presently exist for that. There is a significant impediment, not only the presence of foreign forces but the absence of comprehensive peace arrangements. Were those peace arrangements to be negotiated and arrived at, I think very different circumstances could obtain and you would see different sorts of international support for those arrangements, including to the Lebanese Army.
Mr. Rahall. If there were a modification of the travel ban, would that not be an incentive to the Lebanese—and with our help—to try to reach accommodation with Israel on their own, whether or not the overall peace process is back on track?
Mr. WELCH. Well, the answer is easy, sir. This issue is enormously important to the Government of Lebanon. Not one day passes when we do not hear about the travel restriction from representatives of the Lebanese Government. Of course, they would like it lifted; and, of course, they would see it as a psychological boost to them.
Mr. RAHALL. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Chairman GILMAN. The gentleman's time has expired. [The prepared statement of Mr. Rahall appears in the appendix.] Chairman GILMAN. Mr. Chabot. Mr. CHABOT. I have no questions, Mr. Chairman. Thank you. Chairman GILMAN. Thank you. I want to thank our panelists for being with us this morning. There may be some additional questions that we will submit in writing. We would hope that you would respond expeditiously. I thank our panelists.
Panel No. 2 will please come to the witness table: Mr. Terry Anderson, Mr. Daniel Pipes, Mr. Tanous, Mr. Nassif.
Mr. RAHALL. Mr. Chairman, would it not be appropriate to recognize the new Lebanese ambassador who is in attendance this afternoon, Mohamad Chatah? He informed me his credentials have been presented to the White House. At this point he has been designated the Lebanese ambassador to the United States, Ambassador Chatah.
Chairman GILMAN. Thank you for noting that Mr. Chatah is with
Welcome, Mr. Ambassador. We hope you will be able to present your credentials.
We are pleased to have a distinguished panel before us.
Mr. Terry Anderson is the chairman of the Westchester Information Network in New York and develops Internet-based information systems. He also writes a syndicated newspaper column on government politics and is a nationally known speaker on these and other subjects.
Mr. Anderson is a former foreign correspondent with the Associated Press and the author of the best seller Den of Lions, an account of his 7 years as a hostage of the Shiite Muslim radicals in Lebanon.
Mr. Anderson is an adjunct professor at Columbia University's School of Journalism, and a member of the board of directors on the Committee to protect journalists, which monitors attacks on the press around the world.
Chairman GILMAN. We are pleased to have you with us this morning, Mr. Anderson. We look forward to your remarks.
I also want to welcome you as a new constituent of mine in Palisades, New York. You may give your entire testimony or summarize as you see fit, Mr. Anderson.
STATEMENT OF TERRY ANDERSON, CHAIRMAN,
WESTCHESTER INFORMATION NETWORK Mr. ANDERSON. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.
Congressmen, ladies and gentlemen, I would like to begin by thanking the Committee for inviting me to testify this morning. I remain deeply interested in Lebanon and in U.S. policy toward that country. I have to confess an interest—my wife is Lebanese—as well as considerable experience with the country.
Last August, I made a 2-week trip to Lebanon to film a documentary for CNN. That film, Return to the Lion's Den, was aired in December and January and is expected to be shown on PBS this sum
I agree with the Committee that U.S. policy on Lebanon needs to be reviewed. Much has changed there and continues to change. Many of our policies and actions with regard to Lebanon have failed to keep pace with that change.
In the overview of Committee concerns that I was given before coming here, you listed four areas for study; and I would take those areas in order in my brief comments.
Syrian domination was the first. Your overview notes that Lebanon is under Syrian domination. That is true, at least to the extent that all major political decisions are taken in consultation with officials in Damascus. It is also true that nearly all Lebanese would like that domination to end.
However, in my extensive travel, without security and not looking very much like a Lebanese, in Lebanon and in my talks with ordinary citizens and government officials, I find those same Lebanese recognize Syria's major part in ending the 17-year civil war that destroyed a large part of the country. Some people fear that, without Syrian domination, that war could break out again. No one wants a renewal of the war.
I will quote Prime Minister Rafik Hariri as well as officials from nearly every major party and ethic group in the country in reference to the Syrian withdrawal: “Not yet. It's too dangerous.”
There is much to criticize Syria for, both on its internal domestic affairs and its relations with other countries; but there is no need to punish Lebanon for Syria's many faults.
In fact, Syria interferes very little in ordinary Lebanese daily life. To say, as you note some critics do in your overview, that Syria's occupation of Lebanon has failed to promote stability or moderation and Syria has turned Lebanon into a base for terrorist activities, military provocations against Israel and even drug trafficking is untrue in large part and simplistic for the remainder. Lebanon is stable and prospering. Even its most radical groups have moved toward moderation and are fully engaged in a flawed but still democratic political process.
The once flourishing drug trade in the Bekaa Valley has been virtually wiped out with Syrian assistance. There is, surprisingly after 2 decades of war, very little crime of any sort in the country. The so-called military provocations against Israel consist of a determined fight against an armed invader and occupier of Lebanese territory, which is legitimate on any basis.
Which brings us to your next subject: Lebanon's role in the peace process.
The Lebanese I have talked to all would like to have peace with Israel. However, they have no wish to begin that process until Israel ends its occupation of southern Lebanon, what the Israelis term the security belt.
It was stated that there is no equivalency between the Syrian and Israeli military presence in Lebanon. Again, true. Ask the Lebanese. It is my impression that most agree to the Syrian presence, however reluctantly. They uniformly and vehemently oppose the Israeli occupation. Hizbollah, the Party of God, which conducts most of the attacks against Israeli troops and their Lebanese proxies, has gained widespread support and popularity, even among Christians, with this battle. The Prime Minister and Parliament approve of it. It is, as I said earlier, legitimate by any standard. To call it military provocation is to reveal a surprising bias.
In fact, it is the presence of Israeli troops in Lebanon that allows Hizbollah to remain an armed militia. The government wishes to disarm them, as they have other militias, but will not and politically cannot do so as long as they are fighting the Israeli occupation. End the occupation and Hizbollah also will be disarmed. It and its Iranian backers will then lose influence, as have the others.
While Syria does not want Lebanon to begin separate negotiations with Israel, I believe most Lebanese and certainly all the parties represented in the government agree that separate negotiations are not practical at this time.
The U.S. travel ban can be dealt with very briefly. It is outdated, unnecessary, mostly ignored and contrary to American interests. Í also happen to believe it is unconstitutional, although the State Department has never allowed it to be tested in court and, in fact, has not attempted to enforce it very strictly.
That means individuals who wish to go to Lebanon simply go, while U.S. companies are prevented from taking any real part in Lebanon's reconstruction. Billions of dollars of contracts have been let already to European and Japanese companies. Billions more will be signed in the future. We are left out.
There is no discernible danger to Americans or any other foreigners in Lebanon today. I have personally traveled all over the country, including the Bekaa Valley, Baalbeck, even into the southern border zone, without hearing of any assault on a foreigner. I would not recommend, of course, anyone going into the combat area. The rest of the country is safe, far safer than many other countries to which Americans travel without objection from the State Department. That could, of course, change at any time, but there is no real indication that it will.
Lebanon's reconstruction and U.S. aid: The rebuilding of Lebanon is an amazing and inspiring, sight, especially the downtown reconstruction project called Solidaire. Yes, there have been charges of corruption. There has always been some corruption in Lebanon, as in many other places. It seems to be of a much lesser extent than reached during the war and does not seem to be hindering progress in rebuilding.
There are other problems with the reconstruction. While the Solidaire project and some others are well planned and carefully controlled, there is rampant overbuilding in other areas, especially around Beirut, without adequate planning for infrastructure. The southern suburbs remain for the most part neglected, without adequate water, sewage or medical facilities. The few remaining Palestinian camps are being totally ignored, their residents left in poverty.
Overall, however, the country is rebuilding itself rapidly and well. Its economy is growing rapidly and in as balanced a way as can be managed.
Yes, Lebanon could use a great deal more aid. The amount contributed by the United States is welcome but minimal. Most especially, the drastic drop in American aid to the American University of Beirut is, I believe, a mistake of serious proportions.
AUB has, for a century, represented the best of American ideas, ideals and philosophy in the Middle East. It has been our most successful initiative in the region, with far more positive and long-lasting impact on Lebanon than either of our two military interventions in the country. AUB is said to have educated more Presidents and Prime Ministers than any other university in the world, educated them with American political philosophy, espoused by American teachers.
We seem to be gradually abandoning this wonderful success, just when we and Lebanon could use it the most.
If this Committee would change and improve U.S. policy toward Lebanon, I would suggest it could do so most immediately with two actions: forcefully recommend to the State Department that it lift the travel ban and restore substantial funding to the American University of Beirut.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Anderson appears in the appendix.]
Chairman GILMAN. Daniel Pipes is the editor of Middle East Quarterly and a senior lecturer at the University of Pennsylvania. He has a Ph.D. in history from Harvard University and has taught