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World Council for the Cedars Revolution

Feb 25th
Home arrow News Content arrow Blog arrow Blog Items arrow Extremism In Lebanon arrow Cedar's Revolution News Roundup w/Video - thousands march in Beirut
Cedar's Revolution News Roundup w/Video - thousands march in Beirut PDF Print E-mail
Written by Dailystar   
Monday, 15 February 2010


Five years on, Lebanon's 'Cedar Revolution' wanes

Thousands express their love for Rafik Hariri
Participants from across country Attend Valentine’s Day rally to honor assassinated premier

By Patrick Galey and Matern Boeselager
Daily Star staff
Monday, February 15, 2010

BEIRUT: The flags blocking the view at least offered some protection from the sun. On one of the hottest days of the year so far, citizens old and young waved them in their thousands; sky blue for the Future Movement, white for Lebanese Forces, livid red for March 14. The perfect weather brought partisans of Lebanon’s majority parliamentary bloc from across the country to commemorate the death of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri – five years ago to the day – and the beginning of the Independence Intifada which ended Syrian military presence after decades of overt tutelage.

For a kilometer on either side of Martyrs Square, traffic crawled as cars emblazoned with pictures of politicians and makeshift speaker systems pumped pop songs into the hot morning air.

In the square itself, huge screens erected to broadcast speeches became impromptu canopies; elderly revelers seeking respite from the heat.

For the gathered crowd of Future Movement supporters, the sense of occasion was too much to bear. “We are here because we love Rafik Hariri. He built this country and loved everyone in Lebanon,” said Jihad Chihimi, 64, his eyes welling with tears. “Before him there was only war.”

Rim Safia, 19, had made the long trip from the Bekaa to show her support for Hariri and his legacy. “Coming here is the one little thing I can do for Rafik Hariri,” she said. “I also come to show my trust in Lebanon.”

As the speeches began, the noise from the crowd began to form an incessant drone which ebbed and flowed in waves of applause, punctuated by cries of “Yalla Hariri, Yalla!”

Mariam Makfout, 20, said she had come to Downtown Beirut with her friends from Tripoli to show her support for freedom of speech in Lebanon.

“We are here to note that we are against killing in this way,” she said, in reference to the former premier’s assassination. “[Hariri] wanted prosperity for Lebanon and elected leaders.

“We want freedom of speech and it is not acceptable to kill someone because of what they wrote in a newspaper or if they said something in a certain way.”

As the political addresses continued, partisans of Premier Saad Hariri and Lebanese Forces leader head Geagea waited for their respective leaders to speak.

“It is not really a cocktail of Lebanese society here; it is mostly the Sunni community with a little bit of March 14,” said a 54-year-old taxi driver from Beirut, who gave his name as Khaled T.

“But Rafik Hariri has managed to unite Lebanon, or at least he got people to agree not to disagree. Now Saad [Hariri] is following in his father’s footsteps, but needs a Ferrari to catch up.”

As midday came around, the sea of flags continued to swell. Toddlers with painted faces, packs of teenagers with flag bandanas and elderly men and women brandishing placards – everyone on Martyrs Square Sunday displayed their political affiliation with pride.

“We need to tell everyone that we want to be free. No matter how much others pressure or threaten us, we are going to come [to Martyrs Square] every year because we want to be free,” said Fadi Mohammad, 22.

“This is a day for all of Lebanon. Politicians did not make [March 14], the people did. This movement is unique in Lebanon, it is made up of people who want to be free and that is the most important thing.”

Some used the day as an opportunity to protest a range of issues, including Hizbullah’s continued possession of arms.

“We still have much to look for, we want freedom,” said Diala Yafi, 41, after expressing her support for full Lebanese sovereignty. “We got elections, but some people find it easier to block all decisions. As long as Hizbullah has weapons of its own, we cannot govern. They hide behind their weapons.”

Others displayed a more united front. Cynthia Assad, 24, was raised in the United States but returned to Lebanon with her family to work.

“Today is important to show the rest of the world what Lebanon is,” she said. “For me it’s amazing for all these people to come together and remember the people who really fought for Lebanon.”

Despite the perfect weather, Sunday’s crowd was noticeably smaller in size compared with previous February 14 rallies.

“I think it’s normal that there are less people than the years before,” said a 29-year-old Beiruti who declined to be identified. “Every year it is a little less exciting. It is also a sign the situation in Lebanon is getting better. I hope it stays that way.”

“Even if the middle class is not here, their support is solid,” said Khaled T. “But I think they should have done this in March. This is the day of [Hariri’s] death. It should be a solemn commemoration, not a party.”

The crowd dispersed quickly after Saad Hariri finished his address and left his podium. Soon nothing was left behind but thousands of empty water bottles, discarded flags and portraits of the late Rafik Hariri.



Future TV: report on Hariri's Memorial - February 14 2010


President of the Cabinet Saad el Hariri's speech in the 14 th of February memorial - Part 1


President of the Cabinet Saad el Hariri's speech in the 14 th of February memorial - Part 2


Former Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora Speech - Part 1


Former Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora Speech - Part 2


President Gemayel's speech in the 14th of February memorial - Part 1


President Gemayel's speech in the 14th of February memorial - Part 2


Dr. Samir Geagea's speech in the 14 th of February memorial - Part 1


Dr. Samir Geagea's speech in the 14 th of February memorial - Part 2



Hariri calls for new era in relations with Syria
March 14 leaders take aim at Hizbullah’s weapons
By Elias Sakr
Daily Star staff
Monday, February 15, 2010

BEIRUT: Prime Minister Saad Hariri called Sunday for a new page in Lebanese-Syria ties away from power struggles between regional axes in order to guarantee Lebanon’s stability as thousands of Lebanese gathered in Beirut to mark the fifth anniversary of former Premier Rafik Hariri’s assassination. While the premier refrained from tackling Hizbullah’s weapons, Future Movement bloc head MP Fouad Siniora called along with Lebanese Forces chief Samir Geagea and Phalange Party leader Amin Gemayel for restricting the possession of arms and decisions of war and peace to the state’s authority.

But Progressive Socialist Party leader Walid Jumblatt, once a leading figure of the March 14 alliance, left the rally before the speeches began after he and his son Taymour, who remained till the end of the event, said a prayer in Rafik Hariri’s memory.

Earlier Sunday, Jumblatt held a meeting with Saad Hariri at the latter’s residence in Downtown Beirut after which he accompanied the premier to the Martyrs Square.

The assassination of Hariri in 2005 led to the rise of the March 14 alliance whose leaders accused Syria of being involved in the murder and pressed for the withdrawal of Syrian troops from Lebanon in accordance with UN Security Council Resolution 1559, ending 25 years of military presence.

Jumblatt withdrew from the coalition following the June 2009 elections. He then moved closer to Syria’s allies in Lebanon in an attempt to bridge the gap with President Bashar Assad after he had called in 2005 for the removal of the Syrian regime.

“My visit to Syria was part of a big window that Saudi King Abdullah bin Abdel Aziz opened … and I am keen on keeping this window open, and establishing a new era in Lebanese-Syrian relations, from one sovereign, free and independent state to another,” Hariri said.

Hariri also stressed that no compromise would take place at the expense of the Taif Accord or the Special Tribunal for Lebanon.

“There will be no room for compromise when it comes to national dignity, democratic principles, the Special Tribunal for Lebanon, the Taif Accord or parity between Christians and Muslims and Lebanon First will remain our slogan,” he said.

The premier also underlined the importance of national unity and cooperation among the Lebanese to preserve national stability and enforce the state’s authority, adding that his visit to Syria was part of larger Arab reconciliations.

“Lebanese benefit from Arab solidarity is a strategic interest since Lebanon is majorly harmed if involved in axes games, and Arab reconciliation is an opportunity not to be missed,” Hariri added.

Hariri also reiterated support for the “Lebanon First” slogan and called for solidarity against Israeli threats.

“Stability is in the interest of Lebanon First, Arab reconciliation is in the interest of Lebanon First, Solidarity against Israeli threats is in the interest of Lebanon First, rejecting causes of civil strife is in the interest of Lebanon First,” Hariri added.

Meanwhile, former President Gemayel called for restricting possession of weapons to the state’s institutions.

Gemayel also expressed support for Hariri’s openness toward Syria but demanded from Damascus a specific timeline to settle disputed issues between both countries.

“We want the best possible ties with Syria but we want at the same time Syria to be convinced of Lebanon as a sovereign state and independent country with a special political regime in the region,” Gemayel said.

“We appreciate Premier Saad Hariri’s courage as he overcame his personal wounds to the benefit of Lebanon and we ask Syria to take practical steps in return,” Gemayel added.

Gemayel also called for grabbing the opportunity during national dialogue sessions to undertake true reconciliations among the Lebanese rather than circumstantial compromises, which he said only lead to more obstruction and paralysis in the state’s institutions.

“I suggest that the national dialogue table under the sponsorship of the president and in cooperation with the premier and all national leaders be an opportunity not to only discuss the national strategy but to undertake practical reconciliation which tackles the Lebanese problem in depth,” Gemayel said.

The Phalange Party head added that Lebanon’s stability and security were those of Syria and vice versa.

Echoing Gemayel, Former Premier Siniora stressed that the March 14 alliance rejected that any side enforced its opinion through the use of force or weapons, while voicing hope that Hariri’s visit to Damascus would open a new page of understanding and cooperation in respect with both countries sovereignty.

“We are committed to promoting reforms and development based on democratic and peaceful principles and we will not accept that any side imposes its opinion upon us by force or weapons,” Siniora said, a reference to Hizbullah’s arms.

Siniora also stressed that the only resolution to Lebanon’s problems would be to spread the state’s authority over all its territories, as he rejected “control by militias and status quo powers.”

“We instigated and participated in resisting the Israeli enemy and we will remain ready to resist it united if we are aggressed but we will do our best in order to deny the Israelis an opportunity or pretext to destroy our country,” Siniora said.

Meanwhile, Geagea said weapons outside the state’s authority were a burden on the Lebanese state since arms drew foreign aggression. He also urged Lebanese leaders to refrain from dragging Lebanon “into fire in defense of regional interests or nuclear ones,” a reference to Iran’s nuclear program.

“Leaders of the other side are called to take a courageous national stance and hand their military capabilities to the Lebanese state since war and peace decisions should be taken by the Cabinet only,” Geagea said.

Geagea also stressed the alliance’s commitment to international resolutions 425, 1559, 1680 and 1701 while underlining that no compromise would take place concerning the tribunal.

He urged Sleiman and Hariri to prevent certain parties from turning the national unity Cabinet into a paralyzed government.

Commenting on Hariri’s speech later Sunday, Jumblatt said the premier’s statements were acceptable and objective but he added that he disagreed with the “Lebanon First” slogan since it contradicted his principle.

Jumblatt said he agreed with Hariri to establish special ties with Syria after its withdrawal from Lebanon, adding that he would visit Syria for the benefit of national interests and that of the Druze community, similarly to a visit he undertook following his father Kamal Jumblatt’s assassination.

Conversely, Deputy head of the Shiite Higher Council Abdel Amir Qabalan condemned turning the February 14 anniversary into an occasion to instigate civil strife among the Lebanese, while stressing that Hizbullah’s weapons would remain as long as the Zionist entity continued to exist.

Separately, US President Barack Obama expressed to Hariri his strong support and that of the American people to the Lebanese premier and people as both leaders emphasized the need to support the tribunal’s work to bring those responsible for the assassination to justice.

The tribunal was established in 2007 by the UN Security Council under Resolution 1557, which endorsed a prior agreement between Lebanon and the UN in 2006 based on Resolution 1664.

A statement issued by the white house press office stressed Obama’s continued support for Lebanon’s sovereignty and independence as the US president expressed his keenness to cooperate with Hariri to push the Mideast peace process forward.

President Obama and Premier Hariri discussed Lebanese-American bilateral ties including American support to Lebanese Armed Forces,” the statement said.

The statement added that the US was committed to the full implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 1559, 1680 and 1701, adding that the US looked forward to cooperating with Lebanon as partner in UN Security Council in the upcoming two years.



Nazik Hariri: The Lebanese will fight for justice
Monday, February 15, 2010

BEIRUT: Widow of assassinated former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, Nazik Hariri said on Sunday that the Lebanese will not let her murdered husband down, and will defend their rights, justice, freedom and sovereignty. Speaking to supporters who flocked to Beirut’s Martyrs Square, she said that political tensions in the past few years has not stopped the Lebanese from gathering on February 14 of each year in commemoration of the late former premier.

Hariri added that the Lebanese have faced challenges since her husband’s assassination in 2005, but said they were still determined to overcome obstacles and reconstruct the country.

“The Lebanese should preserve Rafik Hariri’s national legacy and work to protect a free and sovereign Lebanon that ensures justice and equality for all,” Nazik Hariri added.

On Sunday, Hariri welcomed at her residence in Paris dozens of people who visited her to commemorate the assassination of her late husband.

In comments published on Sunday, Hariri said the United Nations has established a prize bearing her husband’s name.

She told pan-Arab daily Al-Hayat that the UN has earmarked the award in honor of Hariri’s memory.

The Rafik Hariri UN-Habitat Memorial Award is a joint initiative of the Rafik Hariri Foundation and UN-Habitat that seeks to reward individuals and organizations who have followed and built upon the exemplary achievements of the late Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.

The award consists of: cash award of $ 200,000, a trophy and a certificate.

According to Nazik Hariri, the award recipients will be determined by an international jury of prominent personalities with particular knowledge and experience in the award categories and shall be presented to the winner during the World Urban Forum in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, March 22-23, 2010. – The Daily Star



Five years on, Lebanon's 'Cedar Revolution' wanes
By Agence France Presse (AFP)
Friday, February 12, 2010

Analysis by Rita Daou Agence France Presse

BEIRUT: Five years after the slaying of former Lebanese Premier Rafik Hariri, the ensuing “Cedar Revolution” that triggered the pullout of Syrian troops has lost steam and the harsh rhetoric against Damascus has been toned down. “The March 14 alliance is today a watered-down version of what it was five years ago,” Paul Salem, who heads the Beirut-based Carnegie Middle East Centre, told AFP.

“The alliance has not changed its aims, and it still has the support of a large number of Lebanese, but it is unable to implement those aims,” he said.

Hariri’s death in a massive car bomb led to the pullout of Syrian troops from the country after a 29-year presence and saw the rise of a Western- and Saudi-backed alliance that became known as the March 14 Forces, recalling the day of huge anti-Syrian protests. The demonstrations were locally referred to as the “Independence Intifada,” but were dubbed the “Cedar Revolution” by a US State Department official. 

As the country prepares to commemorate the fifth anniversary of Hariri’s death on Sunday, analysts say the event will hold a different meaning from previous years given the region’s ever-shifting politics.

They point to the recent visit to Damascus by Hariri’s son and political heir Saad, who was appointed premier following last year’s general election and who had previously accused Syria of being behind his father’s assassination.

Damascus has also broken out of its international isolation enjoying warmer ties with Washington and with Riyadh, Hariri’s main backer.

“March 14, 2005 spontaneously drew everyone together, drawing on their common anger against Syria,” political analyst and columnist Nicolas Nassif told AFP.

“The only goal of the protests to commemorate the Hariri assassination this coming Sunday is to prove that the alliance still represents the majority of the Lebanese, despite its losses,” he said.

Salem noted that the political changes taking place in the region and beyond had contributed to the weakening of Hariri’s majority alliance. “There have been a number of shifts in international and regional politics over the past two years – Syria has begun to move out of isolation, opening channels of communication [with France, Turkey and the United States], and it has moved from rivalry to reconciliation with Saudi Arabia,” Salem said.

The US administration this month also picked its first ambassador to Syria in five years amid a drive to engage a former foe in efforts to promote Arab-Israeli peace.

In Lebanon, the ruling alliance has had to soften its hardline stance against Syria as attested by Hariri’s visit to Damascus in December.

But the real tipping point came in May 2008, when deadly sectarian clashes sparked by a government crackdown on Hizbullah, which is backed by Syria and Iran, brought Lebanon close to all-out civil war.

The violence left more than 100 people dead and ended after a Qatari-brokered deal led to the election of a new president and national unity government in which Hizbullah and its allies had veto power over key decisions.

More recently, the March 14 alliance was dealt a major blow when Druze leader Walid Jumblatt, once the most vociferous critic of Syria, defected to move closer to the Hizbullah-led camp.

Nassif said that given the events of recent months, Sunday’s anniversary ceremony will essentially be a gathering of people trying to come to terms with the new political realities.

“March 14, 2010 will bring together people trying to get used to the idea that Hariri went to Damascus,” he said.


Student play in Sidon honors Late Rafik hariri 

SIDON: Students from Lebanon’s southern coastal city of Sidon remembered the life and achievements of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri in a theatrical production held all through the week to commemorate the fifth anniversary of his assassination.

Students from the Bahaaeddine Hariri School presented their work at the Hariri Educational Center in Sidon as part of several commemoration activities launched by Hariri’s sister, MP Bahia Hariri.

Each child told the story of the former premier at a certain stage of his life and wore a mask representing Hariri at that time. The story mentioned Hariri’s childhood, his youth, and his political career since the Taif Accord in 1989 and especially his years as prime minister from 1992 till 2004.

Hariri was assassinated on February 14, 2005, when a bomb targeted his car near the Saint Georges Hotel in the country’s capital. His death led to a massive political movement known as the Independence Intifada, which forced Syrian troops to withdraw from Lebanon.

The actors in the play were: Ali Khalil as Hariri the child, Qamar Antar as Hariri the young man, Mohammad Bayoumi as the successful and honest Hariri and Mohammad al-Dabet as Hariri the prime minister.

The school’s students also participated in a drawing competition to see who could best portray the late prime minister and sang patriotic songs while waving the Lebanese flag. – Mohammed Zaatari


Last Updated ( Monday, 15 February 2010 )
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