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Talking To: Samir Geagea

Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea is on a two-week trip to the United States during which he has met senior administration officials, including Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. NOW Lebanon interviewed the senior March 14 figure at his hotel in Washington DC.

NOW Lebanon: Sources said that you have focused on the Palestinian issue during your meetings with US officials. Why?

Samir Geagea: It is because I think the Middle East will not relax without a solution for the Palestinian problem. The solution to this problem is the actual entrance to the solution of all other problems in the Middle East and that is why I focused on the Palestinian problem, this is on one hand. On the other hand, there has been a solution, to a great extent, between [former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud] Barak and [Palestinian President Yasser] Arafat in 2000. We can take this solution and add to it some missing details and therefore there will be a Palestinian state and we will be done with a problem that has been complicating all other problems.

NOW: Do you think what happens in Gaza affects the Lebanese issue?

Geagea: Of course, whatever happens, affects the Middle East at large, including Lebanon. Perhaps if what happened in Gaza never happened, the Arab summit would not be convened in Damascus. Syrians today take Gaza as an excuse and hide behind it to push Arab states to go to Damascus and a hold a summit there. And this is only one example.

NOW: You have met with foreign policy advisors of presidential candidates. Many of them suggest that a new administration should engage Syria. Your thoughts?

Geagea: Any engagement with Syria, Iran, Israel or Turkey will not affect Lebanon. Dialogue with Syria, if it ever happens… I mean trying to reach some agreement with Syria is something, and preserving Lebanon's sovereignty, independence and the freedom of its people is something else. Lebanon's sovereignty and independence has become something fundamental, a cornerstone, or a gain that we have achieved. Of course everybody can talk to everybody else, but most important is that such talk will not affect Lebanon's independence, and that is the fundamental issue for us.

NOW: You mean the March 14 Coalition does not fear an American-Syrian dialogue?

Geagea: I have an opinion and I conveyed it to American officials. In my opinion, any dialogue with Syria does not benefit anyone. Look at the history of dialogue with Syria. They reached nowhere. That is why I do not support any dialogue with Syria. This was in the past. If we talk about the future, perhaps the Americans might want to repeat this exercise… no problem as long as Lebanon is an independent issue.

NOW: But it is said that the Syrian regime plays on time and hopes that the new US administration would be more open towards it…

Geagea: The Syrian bet on a new administration is a losing one. Perhaps a new administration will talk to Syria, but it will arrive at the same results. Remember the Baker-Hamilton Report after which [House Speaker] Nancy Pelosi went to Damascus. What did it lead to? It took the Americans one visit to realize that it will go nowhere. Suppose [Senator and Presidential candidate Barack] Obama – who seeks dialogue with Syria the most – is elected. He will realize in a week or two, a month or two, that nothing can come out of dialogue. Look at [French] President [Nicolas] Sarkozy. He tried for a few weeks then his aides told him that nothing would come out of it. Why? Because the world’s stance on Lebanon has become clear now. And when this is the case, any dialogue with Syria is doomed to failure. The world’s stance is a hard-earned one, whether with the US administration or with the international community at large.

NOW: What do you think of the situation among Lebanese Christians now? Did you discuss with the administration a new electoral law?

Geagea: We only had chitchats in this regard. As for the Christians in Lebanon, change is visible everyday through union elections. In the last election at the Union of Engineers, the March 14 coalition swept 131 out of 141 seats. As for the electoral law, we think we need one that is fairer than the 1960 law, as the patriarch put it. We can go with the Fouad Boutros law or any other law. At any rate, we are still debating the issue.

NOW: Telecommunications Minister Marwan Hamadeh has recently said that March 14 would not sit idly by if no president is elected, and would either elect with a simple majority or would reinforce the role of the government. What does this mean? And would consensus candidate General Michel Sleiman agree to a simple majority election?

Geagea: No, General Sleiman does not agree to a simple majority election. In any case, we would need to amend the constitution for his election. If we decide to elect with a simple majority, we will chose a candidate from March 14. As for reinforcing the role of the government, this means that we will have some government amendments…

NOW: Does this mean you will appoint replacement Shia ministers?

Geagea: No, not necessarily so. If we introduce amendments, these will aim at compensating for the missing role of a Christian president during this time of election.

NOW: Do you think there will be a civil war in Lebanon? And is the Lebanese Forces training and arming as some accuse it of doing?

Geagea: Not at all… Our bet has been on the state, the army and the security forces and our bet has proved its worth. I don't think there will be civil war. Even our political opponents do not have the intentions to do so, except for Syria, but Syria cannot start a war on its own. I don't think Hezbollah has the intention of going to a civil war, at least until further notice.

NOW: Any news on the international tribunal?

Geagea: The international tribunal is ready and will start its proceedings soon. The judges and administrative staff have been appointed. Funding has been secured for the first year and pledges for more years have been made. I expect it to start anytime after June.

  • Jad Nelson

    Go and read Raghida Dargham in EL HAYAT, you will know sooner who will be the looser... Do not try to gamble twice on the same looser

    May 2, 2008

  • Undercover

    Sami, do you have any other arguments than telling us all the time that the "maroonis" made an alliance with Israel ?? You know what, everyhting everybody did in the civil war cannot be compared to what Hezballah caused to Lebanon since 1982, and especially since the summer war, and going through what he's doing now. Hezballah caused total destruction of Lebanon, at the time where Lebanon was still getting on his feet thanks to the "sister".. Your hezb is still destroying OUR country without any remorse. Quite the contrary, with dollars coming in boxes for the nice job...

    March 28, 2008

  • Sami

    The Lebanese AKA(Cedar)pretending to be 2 peoples.Who did the Hizeb assasinate?name one.Tell us please, what battle did he win, political or otherwise, name one please.Lebanon is alive because of its fighters not because of those who tried to ally it with Israel(ask Ameen).The fifth column never saved anyone but itself.(may b you need me to explain what a 5th column is).

    March 28, 2008

  • Sami

    Milia/Cedar, correct me please, are the maroonis stil out of the jabal refused entry to their villages by Junblat or not?Did This man ally his people with Israel or not?Was that a wise decision supported by most Maroonis?Does he have more than 4 MP,s?Didnt the LF run the election in alliance with Hizeb/Amal or not?Does Aoun have 22 MP,s or not?Iran is not a sister and Israel is an enemy, we are at war with it according to bayan wizary, but we are not at war with Iran, correct me please.Are we at war with Syria?

    March 27, 2008

  • Rabieh

    sami “this man did not win..." No the Hizeb won, by destructions and killing / assassinations side by side with syria. If this man did not win? Lebanon could have been long gone.

    March 27, 2008

  • Cedars

    Milia, you can't win with this dude sami, he knows everything!!! Keep in mind ya sami, aoun HAD 22 MP's time will tell my friend. The Lebanese knows "who forgave and forgot" syria. You lose tribunal on it's way. Your comment "The 4 MP,s that his wife recieved are a direct result of her alliance with Amal/Hizeb" YOU ARE WRONG MY FRIEND.

    March 27, 2008

  • Rabieh

    All, I just met Dr. Samir Geagea in the states, what a leader. I asked him to publish books for all lebanese to read and learn. You need to talk to Dr. Geagea to understand who he really is. on the other hands, aoun has no clue....

    March 27, 2008

  • Sami

    This man did not win any military battles for the Maroonis.He lead them into an alliance with Israel that alienated them from the rest of the Lebanese.As a result, his people are still out of their homes in Jabal.I can not see any other politicat victories brought about by his leadership.The 4 MP,s that his wife recieved are a direct result of her alliance with Amal/Hizeb.Aoun has 22, do the figures and tell us who represents the Maroonis in Lebanon.

    March 26, 2008

  • Undercover

    So Sami, for you we should forgive and forget, like some clowns want us to do, that Syria was our ennemy for 33 years, and IS STILL terrorising us through your leaders. We should forgive and forget that Syria killed our people, destroyed our land, stole our money, kidnapped our best soldiers, took Lebanon as hostage and is still doing? And Iran?? is Iran our sister too??

    March 26, 2008

  • Undercover

    Le phenicien, are you still living in the past? When Aoun came back 2005, we all thought he is the same person who made war against the Syrians, (to refresh your memory it's the same war who caused the destruction of Beirut for the 7th time, and who caused the kidnapping of his army who are still in Syrian prisons like we all know, but he and his boss are still denying). We thought he is the one who was sharply critisizing the militia Hezballah. But then he made this HUGE U turn and is the best alley to Syria now (after the elections) . Trust me, he showed his real face and people are not stupid anymore, they woke up. The results will be bad for him in the next elections..

    March 26, 2008

  • Rabieh

    The question is who is aoun? Dr. Geagea is our anti syrian christian leader who went to jail illegally during the syrian occupation. Aoun is syria's poppet. During his exile in Paris Aoun was extremely outspoken against Syria and its Lebanese allies such as Hezbollah, whom he described as tools in the hands of Syria. But after his return from exile Aoun made a complete U turn and joined the pro-Syrian alliance. This dude Aoun's ambition of becoming Lebanon's president , thinking that the road to Baabda passes thru Damascus. But guess what, Aoun's chances of replacing the pro-Syrian president Emile Lahoud are next to nil. That is why aoun and syria are causing this chaos.

    March 24, 2008

  • Rabieh

    Cut past for the losers like sami & Le phenician. During its occupation of Lebanon, in 2004 Syria forced the Lebanese parliament to extend Lahoud's term. At the time, Syria's president Bashar al-Assad threatened to destroy Lebanon if former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri would not extend Lahoud's term.‬‪ ‬‪Hariri was assassinated on February 14, 2005 in a massive explosion in downtown Beirut. Syria has been widely accused of being behind the murder.‬‪ ‬‪The Cedar Revolution erupted following Hariri's murder, and held the largest protest in Lebanon's history on March 14, urging Syria to get out of Lebanon. Under the pressure of over 1 million Lebanese citizens marching in downtown Beirut, and helped by international pressure, Syria was forced to withdraw its troops from Lebanon in April 2005, ending 29 years of occupation.‬‪ ‬‪While the Syrian troops may have left, Syrian intelligence remained in Lebanon, and its Hezbollah-led allies and aoun continue its influence, and most importantly, t

    March 24, 2008

  • Cedars

    Dr. Samir Geagea is our christian Leader, every other leader in Lebanon committed a crime at one time, aoun top them off, his army men (the alive ones) still in syrian Jails. It is aoun who made a complete U turn and joined the pro-Syrian alliance? And syrian's "yes sir" puppet. God bless Dr. Geagea. The oppositions already lost, time will tell. Tribunal is coming.

    March 24, 2008

  • Rabieh

    Sami, you did not read Milia's or my comments. You need to start reading, understanding before accusing. But, I should have known, you already made up your mind, YOUR HIZEB and YIOU KNOWS EVERYTHING. Us Lebanese who wants peace, and don't agree with syria, Irand and the hizeb working for them has no say in the matter.

    March 24, 2008

  • Sami

    Milia, Milia, i never said you were a Christian or that you didnt care about our people being killed, read again.I never said that you said that the South is not Lebanese.Are you reading from another comment?Again, the Maroonis allied themselves with Israel against us the Shia in the South, this is a fact, no one need brainwash anyone, please tell us one more time , why are all the the leaders who allied themselves with Israel happen to be Maroonis??Israel been attacking us since 47 not 33 years, Syria was invited by the Maroonis into Lebanon, against Kamal and Arafat and saved them from distinction and stayed AFTER they cooperated with Israel.

    March 22, 2008

  • le phenicien

    Who is Samir Geagea ? What does he represent ? 4 MP's elected by non christians ..!!?? Is that what the US administration calls democracy ? talking to an assassin and a murderer that was in jail not long ago ?? They have gone crazy . See you next elections , his 4 MP's will become ONE .

    March 22, 2008

  • Undercover

    Sami, I suggest you read again what I wrote. Your answer does not relate at all to what I wrote. It seems your brainwash is really taking over your objectivity! When did I say I want to live away from the South and I don't care if Lebanese innocents die? when did I say the South is not Lebanese and what made you conclude that I'm christian? You accuse Israel of creating a rift between Christians and Moslems, then how do you explain YOUR hate for Christians (specially the maronites who you always call Maroonis) ? Did you learn it from the Israelis? and what was our "sister" Syria doing for 33 years?? Let them resist from the Golan. Israel is out since 7 years!! and we want PEACE and to live EVERYWHERE in Lebanon, including the South. So wake up and be objective. And next time read carefully before you reply!

    March 21, 2008

  • Sami

    Yes Milia , you want to live, far far away from the South in Jounieh, etc.While our leaders and our children are being killed in the South.Israel does not attack and kill Christians like Rmeish, Ibil, Ain Ibil etc.This is how it created a rift between Christians ans Muslims.And you are falling for it.How is it a Coincident that all the general and leaders who allied themselves with Israel are Christians?Arzeh, there was no Hizeb prior to 1982, Israel been attacking us since 1947.Please name the 7 villages it occupied in 1947(Lebanese villages not Iranian).

    March 21, 2008

  • Undercover

    Lebanon has payed his dues to the Arab countries. Lebanon has already payed for 33 years of war, thousands of deads, 7 times destoyed land and infrastructure and we have enough!!! We payed for the palestinians, for the syrians and for the iranians. Israel is out of our country, it's time for Hezballah to overhang their weapons. If Syria and Iran and Palestine need resistence, they have their Golan, their Teheran and their own land to resist. Where were they when our people were killed, even lately in summer 2006?? Your friends the Syrians were meeting with the Israelis while Lebanon was being destroyed, while Lebanon was paying for your stupid mistake!!! Wake up dude! We have enough and we want to live. Do you have this word in your dictionary?? Or do you only believe in hate, war and human body parts???

    March 20, 2008

  • Rabieh

    sami, now that you calm down. Let's be realistic, Israel's reason always been that there is a Hizeb in the south with weapon that makes them worried all the time. All I am saying, let's not give them a reason to keep attacking us. If the Hizeb provide their weapon to the Lebanese army, and even join the Lebanese army, I don't see anything wrong with that. WE WILL WIN AS LEBANESE.But, I wonder if it is up to the Hizeb to give up their weapons !!

    March 20, 2008

  • Sami

    We have tried diplomacy for 60 years, with Israel.There are hundreds of UN resolutions calling on Israel to vacate Arab land.It refuses.We have no choice except to resist occupation as mandated by UN laws and charter.Giving up our weapons is a free service to Israel.We are not at the service of Israel.

    March 19, 2008

  • Undercover

    Arzeh, I agree 100 %. This is what actually everyone in 14th of March is demanding. But they don't "want us to live like humans" like you said. They want Lebanon to be the ONLY war zone against Israel. In the Golan there has not been even one "darbet kaff" between Isrealis and Syrians since decades. On the contrary, they are talking about the peace process since 8 years now!! And they put Lebanon on the war front. and this is why Hezballah still exisits. How long can our poor country survive among the worst neighbors once can have??

    March 19, 2008

  • Rabieh

    Excellent Milia, let's not forget that Dr. Geagea spent 11 years in jail underground. What I do not understand is the opposition cannot get over the fact that The LF is no longer a militia; they do not want to hear it. I hop the Hizeb do the same, turn to the government and give up their weapon, I bet you anything if they do that, they will be heroes in most Lebanese’s eyes....And we could start living like human in Lebanon.

    March 18, 2008

  • Undercover

    "Our bet has been on the state, the army and the security forces and our bet has proved its worth." At least, Dr. Geagea is one of the politicians who learned from their mistakes. He said it himself once that he is totally convinced that one can reach with diplomacy (and good politics) much more than with arms (refering to the Lebanese forces as ex-militia). We can only wish that other politicians would do the same too. ie. learn from their mistakes.

    March 17, 2008