Talal Salman, editor in chief of As Safir, an independent leftist newspaper, wrote on September 19:
“Never in the history of Lebanon was a president elected thanks only to pure Lebanese votes, whether these votes were controlled by political leaders or spiritual references, the most important of which is the Maronite patriarch, or even by the MPs themselves. There always were “deciding foreign votes”, with the most prominent two coming from the Arabs, with the prominent part played by Gamal Abdul-Nasser”s Egypt and then, after Egypt”s withdrawal from its Arab role, to Syria along with Saudi Arabia, but as minor partners, especially as the second vote was monopolized by the American influence in the past 50 years which also claimed control of the share of the “other Arabs”.
“The presidential candidates always calculated their chances of success based on how much they suited the “Arab share” and the “American share”. They left it to the last-minute deals to decide who gets to be the president and always accepted the result as a thing fated by God. Only once was this rule broken for exceptional reasons that can be described as an earthquake: the election of the late Bashir Gemayel as president while the Israeli army occupied most of Lebanon including its capital Beirut and with the Israeli defence minister Ariel Sharon visiting the presidential palace. Because forgetfulness is a bliss, it was possible for a large segment of the Lebanese to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the assassination of the president who was elected in a military barracks and under the protection of Israeli tanks…
“But forgetfulness can”t obliterate the shining truth that foreign occupation doesn”t make a Lebanese president and that the occupation tanks, or its embassy, are not good enough platforms for those who want to become presidents of this small republic whose political backstage is large enough for all the countries of the world to fit in. Despite the fact that there is no direct foreign occupation in Lebanon today, the American interference in the tiniest of Lebanese affairs, whether political, military, or economic, is equal in its influence to direct occupation and thus has almost pushed for the rise of a strong resistance to its presidential choice at a moment when tensions and matches of wills and interests are reaching a peak throughout the region.
“It is an irony that in Lebanon people are busy explaining what needs no explanation in the constitution and siding with factions to safeguard their presidential bid while all around us war-cries are rising into the air as the inhabitants of the region wonder about their fate especially as the atmosphere of the defeat of the occupation army in Iraq has almost eliminated the “cold logic” and the “calmness” that the leadership of a major power such as the United States should possess. Our fear is that the American president might believe that he, same as General Sharon, can impose a president on Lebanon with his brute strength and in order to fortify his rearlines, thus rendering the Lebanese double victims: victims of the wounded American megalomania and victims of the crazed race towards the collapsing throne of this state that is almost no longer a state…” –