Middle East Intelligence Bulletin
Jointly published by the United States Committee for a Free Lebanon and the Middle East Forum
  Vol. 3   No. 9 Table of Contents
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September 2001 


Intelligence Briefs: Lebanon

Aoun Willing to Testify before US Congress
Mandatory History Textbook to Be Introduced

Michel Aoun
Aoun Willing to Testify before US Congress

Two members of the House International Relations Committee, Rep. Tom Lantos (D-California) and Rep. Eliot Engel (D-New York) have reportedly proposed holding a special congressional hearing to discuss the Syrian occupation of Lebanon. Several weeks ago, Engel sent a letter to Secretary of State Colin Powell asking him to condemn the arrests last month of activists opposed to the Syrian presence [see Lebanon's Shadow Government Takes Charge in the August 2001 issue of MEIB] and call for the implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 520. The date for the proposed session has not been set. The congressmen are reportedly in favor of inviting former Prime Minister Michel Aoun to testify at the hearing.

On September 9, Aoun said that he was willing to go to Washington to testify about "Lebanese suffering" before the committee. "The US administration is reviewing its entire policy in the Middle East," he said. "If the visit to the US takes place, I'll convey the anguish of the Lebanese people under the occupation of Syria and its allies."

It is possible, however, that the US administration may block Aoun from testifying. When Aoun was invited to testify before the House International Relations Committee in June 1997, the State Department refused to issue him a visa, an unprecedented interference by the American executive branch in the legislative process.

Mandatory History Textbook to Be Introduced

The Lebanese government is preparing to introduce a comprehensive text on Lebanese history which will be required in the curriculum of all private and public schools. According to informed sources, the textbook will probably mirror textbooks currently used in many public schools, which seek to legitimize the Syrian occupation of Lebanon by portraying the 1988-1990 interim cabinet of Michel Aoun, which resisted Syria's conquest of the country, as illegitimate. The committee of the Educational Center for Research and Development (ECRD) is preparing the textbook for publication

The head of the committee, Nemer Fariha, acknowledged that there may be some resistance to the books from teachers. "The textbooks' success depends first on the teachers," said Fariha. "Will they focus on the content of the new books or will they teach what they believe is true? The ECRD cannot enter each class and check how the teacher is explaining - that is the task of the administration and the ministries."


2001 Middle East Intelligence Bulletin. All rights reserved.
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