« ÎnapoiContinuați »
HONORABLE NICK J. RAHALL, II
JUNE 25, 1997
I am honored and grateful for the opportunity to appear with the Committee today. I commend Chairman Gilman for calling a hearing on the issues which continue to affect the land of my grandfathers.
I have traveled in and around Beirut many times during my 21 years in Congress, and twice since the end of the war in Lebanon.
Just this past April and, prior to that, in November of 1996, I met with nearly all religious leaders as well as the President of Lebanon, the President of the Chamber of Deputies, the Foreign Minister, and the Commander of the Lebanese Army. In addition, we met with the heads of the agencies overseeing reconstruction of the infrastructure in Beirut's Central District, and with U.S. Embassy personnel, numerous business leaders, lawyers families and friends.
In my view, Lebanon is greatly deserving of a STRONG commitment from the Clinton Administration concerning its future peace, security and economic development, and I have so discussed it personally with President Clinton.
As I have stated, I have been in Lebanon numerous times -- during and after its 17 years of war. All personal observations I have made and assurances that have been made to me by colleagues who also have visited Lebanon -indicate that it is safe for Americans to travel there. My son traveled to Lebanon with me in August of 1995, whose life and safety I treasure above all else, and I had no fear for his safety. And my mother will be traveling there with friends and family at the end of this summer. I am confident of their safety in doing so.
All the airline carriers serving Lebanon are booked daily. Roughly 46,000 Americans traveled to Lebanon in 1995-96, and there was no incidence of violence toward any one of them. American friends tell me how exciting their travel to one of the most historical tourism centers of the world, Lebanon, was. The only group missing out are American companies due to an outdated policy of banning travel by Americans using U.S. Passports -- a holdover since the days of hostage taking -- imposed upon American travelers more than a decade ago.
Mr. Chairman, in 1985, the travel ban was necessary because of hostage taking. That is no longer true today.
46-636 98 - 3
For example, Lebanon's national air carrier, Middle East Airlines (MEA), whose entire fleet has been Boeing since 1960, is in the market to purchase ten new aircraft with a 225 to 250 passenger configuration. Officials regard Boeing quality as excellent and MEA personnel are already trained on Boeing aircraft. Ordinarily, Boeing would have the inside track to make the sale to MEA, but it is more likely that Airbus, a French-British-German-Spanish consortium will get the contract.
As noted in a recent report in the Wall Street Journal, increasing resentment of U.S. Policy may dissuade Middle East Airlines from ordering ten new aircraft from Boeing, believed to be valued at more than a billion dollars.
I have in my office pages upon pages of documentation showing numerous multi-million dollar contracts which have gone to the French, Italian, German, South Korean, Finnish, Swedish and other competitive countries due to the travel ban.
As I have done so many times in the past, I again call for the lifting of the travel ban, and its replacement with a Travel Advisory.
Failing that, I call upon the State Department to put in place a Business Waiver that would permit American companies to send representatives to Lebanon to bid on these multi-million dollar contracts. Lebanon has announced its reconstruction plans, with a public investment of $18 billion to rebuild the country's infrastructure, and another $42 billion pledged from private investors.
We may continue to have some concern once a travel advisory or business waiver is put in place of the ban, but such concern should not be more so than we have in many other countries where there never has been, a U.S. Travel Ban.
In my opinion, if we do have safety concerns, our ability to gain leverage with Lebanon to get them to address any remaining security problems will be strengthened, not weakened, if Americans are allowed to go there.
Mr. Chairman, it is a slap in the face of Lebanon, our known ally and friend, with whom we have diplomatic ties, to find itself placed in the same category as such countries as Lybia and Iraq where the U.S. has also imposed Travel Bans and with whom we have no diplomatic ties.
Lastly, but most importantly, I strongly urge the U.S. to intervene in order to move the peace process forward once again. As we all know, this is at the top of the agenda for all leaders in the Middle East and, if Lebanon's future is to be decided during those talks, starting them up again is a step absolutely necessary toward guaranteeing the safety and territorial integrity of Lebanon.
The United States must move beyond being a witness to the signing of peace accords to being a guarantor of such agreement between Lebanon and Israel, whether it comes through a resumption of the Peace Talks, or whether the United States negotiates directly with Lebanon's government to resolve outstanding concerns.
In that context, Mr. Chairman, I have a Resolution pending before your Committee with the goal of stopping the use of Lebanon as the preferred battleground for its neighbors. My Resolution calls upon the U.S. Government -upon the President and Secretary of State -- to negotiate directly with the Lebanese Government in its efforts to bring back Lebanon's sovereignty, unity and territorial integrity. In my view, the United States need not rely exclusively upon a comprehensive peace in the region in order to remove all non-Lebanese forces from Lebanon.
I call upon both Israel and Syria to remove themselves from Lebanese soil - and demand that all non-Lebanese militia be removed immediately. If that happens, Lebanon has the political will and the military capability to guarantee security along its borders for itself and its neighbors.
The United States commends Lebanon for having held its recent elections, and for its determination to hold municipal elections for the first time since 1963. And in that context, my resolution calls upon Lebanon to respect freedom of the press, human rights, Judicial due process, political freedoms, the right of association and freedom of assembly.
Thank you Mr. Chairman for allowing me this opportunity to speak about my three major concerns regarding U.S. policy toward Lebanon. I hope that by the end of July 1997 the Travel Ban will have been lifted, that the U.S. government will make all efforts to remove armed non-Lebanese militia from the south and north of Lebanon, and that the U.S. Government will, whether the comprehensive peace talks are resumed or not, determine to negotiate directly with the Lebanese Government on its future unity, sovereignty, and territorial integrity.
Mr. Terry Anderson
The House Committee on International Relations
The Honorable Benjamin Gilman, Chairman
June 25, 1997
Statement by Terry Anderson before the House Committee on International Relations hearing on U.S. Policy Toward Lebanon, 25 June 1997
I would first like to thank the committee for inviting me to testify this morning. I remain deeply interested in Lebanon, and in U.S. policy toward this country. Last August, I made a two-week trip to Lebanon to film a one-hour documentary for CNN. The film, "Return to the Lion's Den," was aired in December and January, and is expected to be shown on PBS this summer.
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 brief overview of committee concerns I was given before coming here, you have listed four areas for study. I will take those areas in order in my comments.
Syrian domination: Your overview notes that Lebanon is under Syrian domination. This 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 this domination to end. However, in my extensive travel throughout the country, I found also that those same Lebanese, whether ordinary citizens or government officials, recognize Syria's major part in ending the 17-year civil war that destroyed a large part of the country. Some fear that without Syrian domination, that war could break out again. No one wants a renewal of the war. I quote Prime Minister Rafik Hariri and officials from nearly every major party and ethnic group in the country: "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 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 wiped out, with Syrian assistance. There is, surprisingly after two 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, legitimate on any basis. Which brings us to your next subject
Lebanon's role in the peace process: The Lebanese I talked to all wish to have peace with Israel. They have no wish to begin that process until Israel ends its occupation of southern Lebanon - what the Israelis term a "security belt." It was stated that "there is no equivalency between the Syrian and Israeli military presence in Lebanon." True. Ask the Lebanese. It's my impression that most agree to the Syrian presence, however reluctantly. They uniformly and vehemently oppose the Israeli occupation. Hezbollah, 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 Hezbollah 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 Hezbollah also will be disarmed. It, and its Iranian backers will then lose