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Naval War College. He has also served in the Departments of State and Defense.
From 1986 to 1993, Mr. Pipes was Director of the Foreign Policy Research Institute. He serves on three editorial boards belonging to the Council on Foreign Relations, and he has been a commentator on Middle East Affairs on such TV news programs as ABC World News, CBS Reports, CNN Special Events and the MacNeilLehrer News Hour.
Mr. Pipes has contributed articles for numerous periodicals on Middle East matters, in such journals as Foreign Policy, Foreign Affairs, Commentary, and the National Interest. Moreover, Mr. Pipes has written ten books on Middle East subjects, jointly authored an additional eight books with others, and edited two collections of essays.
His most recent books were published in 1996, which include Syria Beyond the Peace Process and The Hidden Hand: Middle East Fears of Conspiracy.
Chairman GILMAN. Mr. Pipes, we welcome you to our Committee. Again, please either summarize your statement or you may give it in full. Thank you. STATEMENT OF DANIEL PIPES, EDITOR, MIDDLE EAST
QUARTERLY Mr. PIPES. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I am grateful to you and Members of the Committee for this opportunity to discuss Lebanon.
I would like to focus on the dimension of this subject that I know best, namely the Syrian occupation of Lebanon. I shall say something about its background, current situation, and future prospects, then conclude with recommendations for U.S. policy.
With the collapse of the Soviet bloc, Lebanon has acquired the distinction of being the only satellite State anywhere on the globe. It is a State with all the trappings of sovereignty—a flag, an independence day, a constitution, membership in the United Nationsbut very little of its substance. Therefore, I am troubled to hear that State Department representatives speak about the Government of Lebanon as though it were a fully functioning sovereign body when, in fact, it is something like Bulgaria was in the Soviet bloc. It is a shadow of a State rather than the State itself.
The President of Syria, Mr. Hafiz al-Assad, disposes of many levers of power over Lebanon. Today, an estimated 40,000 Syrian troops enforce his will in the country. In addition, a large number of Syrian political and intelligence agencies maintain a formidable presence throughout Lebanon.
So subservient is the Lebanese Government to Damascene wishes that Lebanese politicians routinely visit the Syrian capital before making any major decision. Speaking candidly at one time, President Ilyas al-Hirawi confessed his shame that so many Lebanese traveled to Damascus to discuss their differences: “We now disagree on the appointment of a doorman and we go to Damascus to submit the problem to the brothers there.”
Lebanese officials openly acknowledge that Damascus makes all their decisions in the peace process with Israel. Now, what is curious about this occupation is that it is illegal by the Syrian Government's own light. For Damascus has on three occasions concurred with decisions made by other bodies that Syrian troops should withdraw from Lebanon.
It first agreed to this in October, 1976, as part of the RiyadhCairo accords. In September, 1982, it signed on to the Fez Declaration which committed it to start negotiations to withdraw its troops. Finally, as has been mentioned a number of times this morning, in October 1989, the Taif Accord obligated the Syrian Government to redeploy and ultimately withdraw its troops. None of these accords have been fulfilled.
The current situation reminds me of a very famous statement by Tacitus, the Roman historian. In judging the Roman conquest and occupation of Britain, he said of the Romans, “They made a desert and called it peace.” We see something similar to that in Lebanon. The Syrians have conquered Lebanon, and they have made a desert of it. It is quiet. There is not the same sort of terrorism as once existed, but it is replaced by the quiet of the desert.
The record of the last 15 years suggests to me several conclusions: First, that Syrian promises to leave Lebanon have no value and should not be sought again. Second, even were the uniformed troops to withdraw, Assad will still have enough assets in Lebanon to exert considerable control over the country. Third, the Assad Government seeks to occupy Lebanon permanently.
Not surprisingly, the overwhelming majority of the Lebanese population and not just the Christians among them-rejects the Syrian occupation. Survey research conducted some years ago suggests that a mere 3 percent of the population of Sunni Muslims favor union with Syria. Anecdotal evidence confirms this.
That Lebanese opinions so overwhelmingly reject the occupation is not surprising, but what is perhaps more surprising is that so much of the outside world, including our own executive branch, has acquiesced to the Syrian takeover. To the best of my knowledge, the White House and State Department have never condemned the occupation, preferring to see this instead as an issue to be raised in the context of the Arab-Israeli negotiations.
In contrast, this Congress is one of the very few governmental bodies in the world to condemn the occupation. You voted unanimously in July, 1993, to consider, “the Government of Syria in violation of the Taif agreement". A second, similar resolution was passed by the House in June 1995.
Now, as a government, we face a basic choice: whether to accept or to contest the Syrian domination of Lebanon.
We can work with the occupation, which means recognizing the Government of Prime Minister Rafiq al-Hariri as a real government, accepting the August, 1996, elections as legitimate and acquiescing in general to the rules established by the Syrian regime. Such a policy has the advantage of winning favor in Damascus and perhaps encouraging the rulers in that city to participate in the peace process. But it disheartens natural allies of the United States in Lebanon and abroad, and it signals to the world that, while a blatant invasion such as Saddam Hussein's into Kuwait is not acceptable, a subtle one such as Assad's into Lebanon is indeed acceptable.
The other alternative is to ignore the Government of Lebanon, to denounce the occupation and to pay little attention to all the pseudo-structures in Beirut. This has the advantage of sticking with our friends and our principles.
It, of course, raises dangers as well. But to my mind there really is no choice. The U.S. Government must stand in solidarity with the oppressed against the oppressors.
Just as we supported Estonians and Czechs through their decades of Soviet domination, even when the prospect of their independence seemed impossibly remote, so we must stand by the Lebanese people in their hour of need. Nor is this only a matter of principle. Baltic leaders, for example, all agree on the importance of the U.S. Government refusing to accept Soviet occupation. One day, I am convinced, Lebanese patriots will similarly thank us for standing with their people even as they face the seemingly invincible might of the Syrian sword.
Accordingly, I urge you to do all within your power to condemn and repulse the Syrian occupiers. Toward this end, Congress can take several steps.
First, you can use your bully pulpit by sending a direct message to the tyrants in Damascus. I particularly commend to you Representative Elliott Engel's amendment to H.R. 1986 concerning sanctions against Syria, which passed by a vote of 410 to 15 on June 10th. The Assad regime takes close note of such resolutions.
Second, you can pressure the executive branch to show some spine as, in fact, you are doing today. In 1994, for example, you took a lead position on a critical role in assuring that functionaries in the U.S. bureaucracy did not take Syria off the terrorism and narcotics lists.
Third, you can close the “national interest” loopholes that permit the executive branch to waive regulations, and which it seems to do disproportionately for Damascus. In testimony before the House Subcommittee on Crime earlier this month, it came out that, in 1996, Syria has received $226 million in U.S. exports, of which $81 million was in controlled commodities. This must not continue.
Finally, I urge you to turn away from Friends of Lebanon appeals for money and appropriate no funds for that country, on the assumption that any funds that do go there will ultimately end up in Mr. Assad's pocket.
Thank you. Chairman GILMAN. Thank you, Mr. Pipes. [The prepared statement of Mr. Pipes appears in the appendix.]
Chairman GILMAN. Our next witness is Mr. Peter Tanous, the founding chairman of the American Task Force for Lebanon, a nonprofit association of Americans of Lebanese heritage who seek to strengthen Lebanese-American relations. The ATFL has been active since 1987, and we commend Mr. Tanous for his commitment to improving these relations.
In his other activities, Mr. Tanous is president of Lynx Investment Advisory of Washington, an investment advisory firm. He has written several articles on the securities industry and has authored Investment Gurus, which was published recently by Prentice-Hall.
Mr. Tanous has long been active in promoting ties between Lebanon and the United States. In 1991, he was the recipient of the ATFL's Philip C. Habib Award for Distinguished Public Service, whose prior recipients have included Senators George Mitchell, Bob Dole, Governor John Sununu, Representative Nick Rahall, and Secretary of Health and Human Services Donna Shalala.
Chairman GILMAN. Mr. Tanous, we are pleased to have you with us today. You can either read your full statement or summarize it, whichever you see fit. STATEMENT OF PETER TANOUS, FOUNDING CHAIRMAN,
AMERICAN TASK FORCE FOR LEBANON Mr. Tanous. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and thank you especially for allowing us to testify.
I will submit my statement for the record, if I may.
I would like to direct my remarks as much to the LebaneseAmerican community as to the Committee. Since its founding in 1987, the American Task Force for Lebanon has been unequivocal in calling for the withdrawal of all non-Lebanese forces from Lebanon. But a dose of reality and pragmatism leads to the conclusion that the United States will not pressure Israel to withdraw from Lebanon.
You will recall that U.S. Security Council Resolution 425, which was supported by the United States and which calls for Israel to "withdraw forth with its forces from all Lebanese territory,” has been in existence since 1978. Nor do we expect that the United States is in a position to expel Syrian troops from Lebanon. You will recall that the United States declined to do this during the tense period from 1982 to 1984, when the United States participated in the multinational force in Lebanon.
So it seems now that the most likely way to secure a withdrawal of all non-Lebanese forces from Lebanon is through a comprehensive Middle East peace process, something the State Department has repeatedly made clear.
I do want to stress, however, that the ATFL advocates the implementation of U.S. Security Council Resolution 425 and U.S. Security Council Resolution 520, which calls for “the strict respect of the sovereignty, territorial integrity, unity and political independence of Lebanon under the sole and exclusive authority of the Government of Lebanon through the Lebanese Army throughout Lebanon.”
We also advocate the implementation of the commonly held interpretation of the Taif Accord, as well as the U.S. policy calling for the disarmament of all remaining armed factions in Lebanon. We realize the difficulty in implementing these resolutions and agreements because they are intertwined with the complexities of the peace process.
But I would like to focus the bulk of my remarks on the issue of immediate concern, which is the travel bán about which we have heard today. The ban on the use of passports may have made sense when it was imposed by Secretary of State Shultz in January 1987 but it did not make sense when Secretary of State Warren Christopher renewed it in January 1997. We sometimes lose track of time, but the last American citizen kidnapped in Lebanon was U.S. Marine Colonel William Richard Higgins on February 17, 1988, over 9 years ago.
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I should add, Mr. Chairman, that in listening to State Department Representative David Welch's prepared testimony, I thought his arguments for removing the ban were better than mine. So I thought his conclusion was rather bizarre in recommending that it stay on.
We do have firm figures of the numbers of solely U.S. passport holders visiting Lebanon in 1995 and 1996. I am not talking about Lebanese-U.S. dual nationals who enter with Lebanese passports or identity cards. This is a group that the State Department tends to dismiss somewhat inelegantly as a group of individuals who blend in with the population, so nobody notices them.
Lebanon's four diplomatic missions in the United States issued 9,990 visas to U.S. passport holders in 1996 and 12,344 visas in 1995. Surely, there were ample American targets in Lebanon if any group wanted to take any.
The new Secretary of State will complete her review of the travel ban by July 31st, when it next expires. We are told she brings an open mind to this issue. It is no secret that the Near East Affairs Bureau, the Office of Counterterrorism and the U.S. Embassy in Lebanon all recommended to Secretary Christopher in January that the travel ban be replaced by a stern travel advisory.
Recently, Mary Ryan, Assistant Secretary for Consular Affairs, was in Lebanon from June 9th to 12th. Eric Boswell, Assistant Secretary of State for Diplomatic Security, and Richard Jones, the U.S. Ambassador to Lebanon, personally inspected Beirut International Airport on May 24th.
Lebanese authorities, acting upon a recommendation from the United States, are building a new airport road which bypasses the Southern Suburbs of Beirut and which should be completed by October. By the end of August, Lebanon's national carrier, Middle East Airlines, will implement the final phase of the Sabre passenger reservations system, which would enable detection of any. one accessing passenger lists. The FAA will train three Lebanese aviation security officers in the United States in August.
Mr. Chairman, the Lebanese are cooperating and the United States cannot continue to request that Lebanon undertake costly security measures with no corresponding American action in return. This leads many, including ourselves, to conclude that the real reason for not lifting the ban is purely political. But if that isn't the case, why does the United States impose a travel ban on Lebanon and only a travel advisory on countries which are arguably far more dangerous?
Let me be clear. The ATFL is not urging an irresponsible policy on the travel ban. We are suggesting that the State Department communicate its concern about travel to Lebanon through a travel advisory, as it does for countries which do not have U.S. passport restrictions, such as Iran, North Korea, Colombia, Algeria and Bosnia-Herzegovina. Few would argue that Lebanon is today more dangerous than any of those countries.
In fact, may I respectfully request, Mr. Chairman, that you ask State Department officials, as we have often done, whether or not if a travel ban on Lebanon were not in effect today, would they impose one today, given the conditions as we know and understand them?