Thank you Jacques
Yesterday Charles Johnson posted this article, HARIRI MURDER WAS SYRIAN WARNING TO FRANCE, SAY COMMENTATORS: A month after it was passed, Syria strong-armed a change to Lebanon’s constitution to extend the mandate of pro-Syrian president Emile Lahoud – – the move which prompted Hariri’s resignation as prime minister
“I am convinced this attack — the most significant since the end of Lebanon’s war — was a message directed at Chirac, who was a personal friend of Rafiq Hariri,” said Antoine Sfeir, director of the Cahiers de l’Orient newsletter.
“The evidence suggests that the murder is a response to UN security council resolution 1559 voted in September at the initiative of France and the US. It was Jacques Chirac who was the real architect of the resolution,” he said.
Resolution 1559 calls for the withdrawal of Syria’s estimated 15,000 troops from Lebanon and the re-establishment of full Lebanese sovereignty.
. . .
Writing in the Liberation daily, analyst Jean-Pierre Perrin said the fact Chirac had called for an international enquiry to identify the killers “is a way of casting doubt over any Lebanese-Syrian enquiry” and showed Paris also suspects Damascus.
“Chirac is all the more furious because he did so much to get (Syrian president) Bashar el-Assad known outside his country,” Perrin said.
Going by last evening’s France2 newscast, this sounds like an accurate appraisal.
Chirac has made a very public display of his feelings. Jacques, may I remind you, is very fond of the symbolic gesture, and most particularly, of the symbolic grand gesture. He’s in his element when in front of the media.
Rafic Hariri’s family turned down the Lebanese government offer for a state funeral, and instead held a public funeral where nearly 200,000 people demonstrated against Syria. It was a massive public display of grief and anger. Most importantly, as reported in the NYT
The procession drew white turbaned Druse religious leaders, Sunni clerics, Christians and Shiites, plus thousands of women, whose presence broke with Islamic tradition that normally allows only men to take part in funeral marches.
Chirac and his wife flew in the official state airplane to Beirut. At the airport, looking sincerely distressed, he held a press conference, where he said,
“I came to tell the Lebanese people how much today, more than ever before, I feel solidarity with them and share their grief and destiny,” Chirac told reporters upon his arrival at Beirut airport accompanied by his wife, Bernadette.
“The horrendous crime from another era which claimed the life of Rafik Hariri evoked the anger of the international community,” Chirac said.
“It is a great loss for Lebanon and today’s world … Hariri embodied the democracy, sovereignty and independence of Lebanon.”
Then, bypassing any official state visit, or any visit at all to any of the current Lebanese governemnt officials, he and Mrs. Chirac held Mrs. Hariri’s hands and shared her grief. Chirac left Lebanon immediately after this personal visit.
Frequent visitors to this blog know I’m no friend of Jacques, but this one time he’s done the right thing.
For related posts on Lebanon, check out Jane’s excellent blog, Armies of Liberation.