Beirut , Lebanon
July 8, 2008
The Godfather of the 1559 Resolution
Kfarkatra - George Eid in an exclusive interview with Walid Maalouf.
Some call him the Godfather of the Resolution 1559, many remember him as the man who stood in the Face of the Syrian Delegate in the United Nations and was the advocate of Lebanon. Many Americans recognize him as the Lebanese native who was appointed by President Bush in the U.N., but the dearest Title to him is Walid Maalouf: "A Lebanese". During a discreet visit to Lebanon, iloubnan.info had an exclusive meeting with Walid Maalouf (Director of the Public diplomacy for middle eastern & MEPI affairs) who talked about the labor period post-resolution 1559 and revealed a new book to be launched in 2009.
Where was the Beginning?: The beginning was a scholarship that I received from catholic school in North Carolina and I was very much hesitant but I took the scholarship after so many trials because the embassy did not give me the Visa and I remember that the last time I went to the American Embassy I told my father that it's the last time, and either I get it or I don't. Because the first time the consular asked me: why did they give you a scholarship? Many Americans wanted a scholarship but they didn't get it. I answered you should contact the nun who sent me and find out why, I do not know.
What were your challenges in the USA as a Lebanese?: Well actually, I assimilated very nicely. Many people who have migrated to the States have assimilated very comfortably. I will tell you a few: number one is that the Lebanese emigration to the United States started in the very early 1800's , which means we are as old as the Irish and we are as old as the Italians. So we have a very long-standing community in the country, and when a Lebanese is asked to go, he is received by relative or friends there. So this is one of the reasons that facilitate the emigration of the Lebanese to the USA. Secondly, when you are a Christian and you travel to the United States, which is a free society you benefit from the freedom of belief. In fact, many of the Lebanese have become Mormon, or protestant and even many Druze became protestant. The point I want to make is that we, Muslim, Christians, and Druze, are very easy communities as long as no one intervenes in our affairs, because when they do, we become unbearable.
What do you consider as your greatest achievement?: In a nutshell, the most beautiful thing I have done, and that satisfies me, is when I stood for Lebanon in the United Nations. I felt that I am doing it for every Lebanese not for myself.
Some say that you are the Godfather of the resolution 1559 that initiated the Cedars Revolution. Can you talk to us about this stage?: The only thing I can tell you now and it is not really fair to say it at this time because I want to let history figure it out later is that 1559 was submitted and developed by the USA government under President Bush and the French government leadership. And it was submitted in a resolution to the Security Council by the French, the Americans, and the British and was voted on with a majority of 9 votes. This was a great achievement for Lebanon and not for anybody else, for every single Lebanese who wants freedom, democracy, and independence because this is a document, a deed to keep Lebanon a free nation; and on the top of that came 1680 and 1701, and the Lebanese should be proud of this achievement.
In your opinion, where did the Cedar Revolution fail and where did it succeed?: I don't believe that the Cedar revolution failed; the cedar revolution has not failed and will never fail as long as there is a Lebanese with a pump of blood saying I want a free and a Democratic Lebanon.
There are ongoing talks about Syria's possible future Role in Lebanon?: Syria will no more play any major role in the internal politics in Lebanon. I think the support of the international community for Lebanon, for the government of Lebanon, and for the independence and freedom of the Lebanese was a big message to all the regional powers that Lebanon should be an independent state. The proof is that the election of President Sleiman whom the whole world voted for him before the Lebanese parliament did. That will give you a big indication that the International Community wants to see Lebanon a free and stable state. Maybe the road is not easy ahead of us, it's a long road, but we are reaching this goal Because of the international community's commitment, and because of President Bush's personal commitment to Lebanon, to the freedom and to the liberty in the region.
Can we look at the Doha agreement as an Iranian withdrawal?: As long as you have stability and the Lebanese institutions are working correctly and the Lebanese striving economically and there is peace, and no conflict. This circle is winning and the terrorists will not have a chance, because this is against the beliefs of terrorists. The terrorists want Lebanon to be unstable, they want regional interference.
Today there is obstruction in forming the government. What is the reason of this obstruction according to you?: I have no idea who is behind this obstruction. But I hope that the delay in the Lebanese presidential elections and now the delay in forming a government for Lebanon, a government that every Lebanese is expecting, generate a situation where the people look ahead and forget about the past. But the Lebanese people need to know who is jeopardizing this? And they need to realize that they should have a new slate of new deputies, a new government with new ideas to be elected in 2009. Because the Lebanese politicians have failed; they failed in the past, and they are failing now in guaranteeing the hope and the future of the Lebanese people. It's up to the Lebanese people to see how they want to shape there politicians in the years to come.
What can you tell me about your book "How Many Time...I Told You - Reflections, Memories and Hope for Lebanon..."?: This book is an assembly of thoughts that I wrote between 1980 and 1993-1994. I wrote them as an emigrant who left Lebanon hesitantly. And I wrote them with a lot of Nostalgia. I kept the articles that I wrote in many newspapers abroad, and I promised myself to publish them in a book. On the other hand, destiny helped me and I was appointed by President Bush in the United Nations, where I faced the Syrian delegate in the U.N, and I felt then that I stood for Lebanon. So I wanted to write about this period. In this book, I transmitted what newspapers said about me, and in the last few articles, I laid down my thoughts as a Lebanese within the American Government.
Some people accuse Walid Maalouf to be more biased to America then to Lebanon what do you think about that?: I lived in the USA for 29 years, and America has given me a lot, it is not like they have given everything to me on a silver platter. I have worked hard, and George Bush found out about me from his contacts and chose to appoint me in the U.N, I am the second Lebanese born in Lebanon that was appointed by the American president. What is wrong with that? Does that mean I am no longer a Lebanese if the U.S president appointed me and I have worked for the well-being of Lebanon? Why does the Jew-American have the right to help Israel? While I am a Lebanese who lived in America just like he did and I am helping Lebanon. Don't I have the right to do it? If Syria does not like this, then I invite Syria to produce men from Syrian origins living in the USA to help Syria. But as long as they are citizens Walid Maalouf like they are doing right now, this can only mean that Walid Maalouf is powerful. But I really ask the Lebanese to read this interview, get the book, discover who Walid Maalouf really is, and find out what he did for Lebanon.
We know that you are preparing a new book to be released in 2009. What is the title of this book and what can you tell us about it?: This book is not entirely mine; I am collaborating with many writers. I do not know when exactly in 2009 it will be released. It is going to tackle the issue of the U.S policies toward Lebanon. We are trying to figure out why this policy has changed after 30 years of the United States selling off the Democracy and freedom of Lebanon to the Syrians. We are trying to figure out what happened, how it happened, and why it changed?
What is your message to the Lebanese people and the Lebanese Diaspora?: They are carrying a big responsibility on their shoulders. They have to work in a total change in 2009, bring a new leadership to the Lebanese parliament, and stop the long hands of Syria, Iran, and any other government with a long hand. Because the long hand is not by having a presence in Lebanon, the Syrians are not here today, yet they still have a hand in the internal affairs of Lebanon. They have to remove all those pro-Syrian, pro-Iranian, and pro-anything else. Everyone who is not pro-Lebanese should be removed in the coming elections of 2009.