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October 13, 1990 "The Story of the Last 48 Hours".

Nadim Freiha

Translated to English by: May Akl

Thursday October 11, early in the morning:

The sun had just risen on Baabda when alarming information began converging from different fronts. Lebanese army observation posts commanders, one after the other, started sending alarming reports: the Syrian army, in an unusual troop movement, was dispatching men and equipment towards the front.

Army intelligence service working behind enemy lines had reportedly cancelled vacation leaves of Syrian soldiers and officers and ordered of rallying at the camps. They watched the tanks slowly leave the Syrian barracks and approach the different fronts. Wrapped in clouds of dust and particles of fuel oil, the Soviet-made tanks headed to Souk El Gharb, Aley, Airoun, Dahr el Wahch, Monteverde, Kfarchima and the Beirut Southern Suburbs in a deafening racket. All day long, Syrians progressively mounted their troops to front lines separating them from the Lebanese army. Lebanon was about to witness the darkest 48 hours of its history:

At the beginning of the week, the Apostolic Nuncio in Lebanon, Monseigneur Puente, paid a visit to general Aoun to inform him of the Pope's concern about an imminent Syrian intervention and fear of bloodshed. He urged the General to avoid the battle by taking part in the Taef-emerging government or by stepping down. The General answered he could not resign in order to avoid the unavoidable.

The right to resist an occupying force was the gain of this already lost battle. A right the Lebanese resistance could eventually boast about in any later step before the international authorities in order to get the Syrians out of Lebanon. Without a front battle opposing the two armies, the Syrians would once again pretend facing a "Lebanese Civil War" they came to "solve upon the request of the Lebanese"! Taef would furthermore be imposed by arms instead of being adopted by voting. It lost then all legitimacy for lack of having gained some legality.

However, General Aoun made it clear to his speaker that, from the beginning of the Syrian army engagement in the battle and given the inequality of forces and the Israeli-American green light, he was going to demand a cease-fire and declare his defeat. In fact, it was the only means for Lebanon to keep its right and avoid a large death toll. He would thus gain politically what he would lose militarily.

At the Baabda presidential palace, information concerning a Syrian intervention coincided and became clear. The wife of a former president of the Republic reported her conversation with the British ambassador in Lebanon, "Syrians will intervene with their aviation".

More importantly, on the table of the Lebanese Army High Commandment in Chief was a copy of the minutes of the Taef-collaboration Cabinet. It gave an account of the formal demand of Syrian-hired man in charge of defense, Albert Mansour; a demand in which he proposed the intervention of the Lebanese army pilots under his and Christian Lebanese militias' command to bombard their own weapon companions in Baabda. This would suit Syria who wanted to show to the international public opinion an inter-Lebanese conflict rather than a Syrian-Lebanese conflict. This attempt failed on the spot as all pilots refused to execute such an order.

On the military level, Syria had no choice in order to eliminate Aoun but to reveal its intentions and take part in the eviction battle. All other options had failed. Indeed, the battle engaged by interposed militias did not lead to its goals (Souk el Gharb battle opposing the Army and the PSP in August 89 and the war opposing the Army and the Lebanese Forces in February 1990). Neither any other militia nor Lahoud's army, that was formed hastily and lacked motivation, had the ability to achieve such an important task.

Thursday October 11, around 11.30 am:

Syrian [beaucoup moins que] Sukhoys [beaucoup plus grand que] flew over free regions at low altitude and pass over Baabda. The appearance of Syrian fighters carried many messages:

- A political message: From now on, it was clear that the United States and Israel had authorized Syria to intervene on the ground. Never before could the Syrian aviation fly over the Lebanese territory without being hunted and brought down by Israeli aviation. The red lines suddenly became green and the tacit understanding between Israelis and Syrians about sharing Lebanon could not be more explicit.

- A military message: Flying over free regions meant locating the spots before an imminent intervention.

From then on, the dices were thrown and everything went wrong!

While military preparations were underway, Syrians, Israelis and American diplomacy undertook subversive actions in order to fool the Lebanese and some Western embassies such as France's. The latter had huge abilities to mobilize opinions and everyone remembers the arrival of some 40 French deputies to Baabda, among which Francois Leotard, in order to face the first Syrian threat a day after Hraoui's ultimatum issued on 26 November 89.

Received by the Taef government, Monseigneur Puente thus declared, "Today, I am more optimistic than ever". Uri Lubrani, Israeli activities coordinator in Lebanon declared the next day on October 12 that the red lines were still standing. A State Department official who wished to remain anonymous said that day to the AFP about the Syrians: "we certainly do not give them the green light". As for the Syrians, they remained completely silent about their mobilization. Ghazi Kanaan believed he was fooling General Aoun when he set an appointment with Pierre Raffoul , coordinator of the CBNC (Central Bureau for National Coordination), on Saturday October 13 at 6 in the morning.

However, no one in Baabda could be fooled. Intelligence service reports gave a precise inventory about the equipment and Syrian infantrymen gathered on the front. These forces had been mobilized for an operation that would take place in the next 72 hours and the Syrian aviation would intervene every time the attack faces resistance, reports indicated.

Between 8 and 10 pm, a general alert was issued. General Aoun warned DanyChamoun, president of the Lebanese Front, and other members of the Front of the dangerous situation.

Locals of free regions did not take a long time to react and began ringing church bells for mobilization. All night long, locals left their homes to join the Baabda Presidential Palace, the symbol of resistance.

Slowly, they formed a human shield against Syrian tanks. They had the faith, for a few months ago their heroic action alone had stopped at the last minute the Syrian invasion.

Meanwhile, General Aoun and his counselors were busy writing and sending letters to top international officials such as Bush, Gorbatchev, John Paul II and Francois Mitterrand. Members of the Lebanese Front made contact with foreign diplomacy representatives in Lebanon.

At night, General Aoun mingled with the demonstrators. He explained how each time Syria committed a big crime, it would commit another one much bigger to cover up the first one. He gave many examples such as the assassination of Druze leader Kamal Jumblat and the following massacres in the Chouf. He finished with a premonitory sentence "there are still two crimes Syria did not commit yet, kill me, and invade Baabda".

Friday October 12, in the morning:

The General and the Lebanese Front held a meeting at around 10 am. Members of the Front reported talks easing the tension coming from different embassies.

That morning, intensive political and diplomatic contacts continued as the crowd camped in front of the presidential palace. Nothing could damage the demonstrators' spirits, even the intensive bombardment from East-based militias. Syrian planes flew over again that morning.

Friday October 12, in the afternoon:

While General Aoun was speaking to the crowd, gunshots were heard within the confines of the palace. The bullets nearly missed their target and fatally hit Joseph Raad, a guard member.

The crowd attacked the gunman while the General's bodyguards pushed him to the ground to protect him. At this moment, everyone feared a group of terrorists might be present within the palace. The army fired gunshots in the air to part the crowds and isolate the assassin. Worried about saving the life of the assassin, the General shouts to ChamelRoukoz, an officer who rushes to subdue the gunman "Save him, save him!".

Francois Hallal was saved! He later admitted being sent by Abdallah Al Amine, based on the Syrian intelligence orders. The assassin was "recuperated" the next day by the Syrian troops and appeared during a press conference next to Abdallah Al Amine.

The General finished his speech with a confident voice but a sad face. He begged citizens to go back home for their own security. It was time for separation!

However, Aoun's government did not abandon the negotiations. It was out of question to make it bear the responsibility of breaking unilateral negotiations to justify a military intervention. At around 9 pm, he met for the last time Dr. Pierre Daccache accompanied by intelligence chiefAmerChehab. The General signed a 9-point ultimate compromise that reads as the following:

1- The lifting of the blockade

2- The recognition of Hraoui

3- The resignation of both the government of Aoun and Hoss simultaneously

4- The formation of a credible and representative National Union government negotiated by a common agreement

5- The dissolution of militias, then

6- The unification of the army

7- The abstention from nominating new deputies

8- Holding free legislative elections under international monitoring (under the aegis of the UN for example)

9- The ratification of constitutional reforms

Once signed, the document would be personally delivered by Dr.Daccache to ambassador Rene Ala who would then give it to Hraoui... who never answered!

The Syrians were not in a hurry to accept a pacific solution to the Taef problem. Aoun recognizing Hraoui did not suit them after all for the whole process should ultimately get the people's approval (according to the 8th point) before any ratification. General Aoun had once again revealed the true Syrian intentions. Taef, as it was, was nothing but a trap, some kind of a disgusting democratic package to cover the worse form of dictatorship and occupation!

The night of October 12 ended with a meeting between the General and the Lebanese Front. During this meeting, the General received from his officers a document of a rare precision: a copy of the operation order sent by the Syrian headquarters to their officers. It indicated the exact time at when the operation would start. Other night envoys conveyed the same message.

General Aoun finished his meetings and went to bed at midnight. In his mind, he had already well planned the day of October 13. As soon as the Syrian aviation would launch its missiles, he would declare himself beaten and sign a cease-fire. As already indicated to Mgr Puente, he would thus save the right for Lebanese to ask for the departure of occupation troops. The intervention of Syrian aviation being the most important proof of interference and occupation Syria could give at this moment of History. The cease-fire and the transfer of power would avoid bloodshed. It was in this context that the General, and at the great surprise of observers, did not mobilize his reserve troops on the front (elements of the 8th brigade).

As for his own fate, he had already discussed it that same evening with a priest who came to visit him [beaucoup moins que] they can kill me but I will not sign the Taef agreement [beaucoup plus grand que].

However, his family posed him problem. Baabda being a military target, he and his counselors tried to convince his wife to leave the Palace. But no reason in the world and no army could convince a woman to leave her husband! The Aoun family stayed behind the father until the end...

Saturday October 13, 6 in the morning:

On the other side of the front, a deserter General stood to attention ready to go into the occupant's wake to attack his troops. He impatiently waited for the Syrian aviation supposed to arrive at 6 am.

He waited a long time, as he did not understand yet that Lebanon lived from now on according to the Syrian time. There was a one-hour difference between Damascus and Beirut due to the shift to wintertime. He had to wait until 7 for the Syrian aviation to start its operation.

General Aoun was already standing when he heard the Syrian fighters fly over Baabda and bombard the region. In a few moments, Syrian cannons unloaded their salvo of tens of thousands of shells on the free regions. Shells coming from Kessrouan also hailed along with Syrian shells.

At 7.30: All the fronts resisted the Syrian attack. General Aoun contacted the French ambassador, a privileged witness to the events, to inform him that the 9-point rescue plan was already dead. According to plan, he considered himself beaten and asked Rene Ala to negotiate a cease-fire with relevant authorities. The General asked to meet with an official representative of Lahoud's army to transfer the power. It was out of question to have one Syrian get through the region.

The Syrians, however, had another plan in mind. Beyond Taef, they wanted to break the Lebanese army and enter to the very heart of the Defense ministry and the presidential palace to help themselves to the whole archives and documents. They would fool Rene Ala. Hraoui would, for this reason, ask the French ambassador to make sure the General was present at the French embassy at the declaration of the cease-fire. Hraoui thought that the General being present with such a witness (the ambassador) was enough to keep him from any military subterfuge and giving counter-orders.

The ambassador Ala called the General at 8 in the morning and informed him of the new conditions. He had to go to the French embassy. The General hesitated and asked for some time to think. Not having the upper hand, he decided to go to the embassy for the cease-fire even if it meant going back to the palace for the transfer of powers. He rode an armored M113 and headed to the French embassy under intensive bombing.

There he discovered the new conditions of the Hraoui-Lahoud-Mansour team: have the transfer of powers through a press release without having already signed a cease-fire!

General Aoun signed the release and even before its broadcast on the Lebanese radio, between 8.30 and 9, he asked AmerChehab (intelligence service) and Jean Farah (in charge of operations room) to execute Lahoud's orders.

At 8.30 in the morning, all fronts still resisted despite the extremely violent attacks. The Syrians had undergone great losses. Burning tanks could be seen from a long distance. Syrian losses were estimated at around 400 to 800 dead.

Although the release was read, Taef authorities returned to the fray and asked the General to read the message himself (instead of the radio broadcaster). The General recorded the power transfer message at 9: he clearly asked the military to obey the command of General Lahoud. It would later be broadcast on the Lebanese radio. General Lahoud declared the cease-fire at 9.30, almost 2 hours after General Aoun's proposal to cease fire (7.30). Many victims died in the mean time!

As of this moment, General Aoun stopped communicating with anyone. He gave back his radio equipment to the French ambassador. Taef authorities would keep him from going back to the presidential palace for the transfer of power. Meanwhile, generals AbouJamra and Maalouf arrived at the French embassy. By some miracle, there were no victims. After 2 in the afternoon, General Aoun's family was evacuated from the Syrian-occupied presidential palace to join the French embassy.

General Aoun, thus, had never gone to the French embassy to seek asylum as Taef authorities repeated. He had gone there based on the demand of the Taef authorities, as the French ambassador confirmed to the October 24, 1990 issue of L'Orient-le-jour.

Furthermore, Rene Ala had won the approval of the Taef authorities to have a helicopter move the three generals (Aoun, AbouJamra and Maalouf) that same day to Cyprus where a French-army Falcon Mystere awaited. The plane waited 48 hours on the Cypriot soil before taking off..empty! General Aoun could not leave his forced residence until a year later on August 29, 1991 through "Hortensia" operation.

Unfortunately, the story did not end at the cease-fire that was never respected. While the Lebanese army waited for General Lahoud's troops to surrender, Lahoud never came and unexpectedly the Syrian army arrived instead. The Lebanese soldiers were left to face their own fate.

Disregarding the cease-fires and the Geneva conventions, the Syrian army took to the worst ill-treatment and massacres. Between 9.30 and 2pm, more than 120 soldiers and officers and tens of civilians were executed on all fronts such as Bsous (16 executed civilians), TalletTamz (4 hanged soldiers), Dahr el Wahch (30 executed soldiers), Beit-Mery/Deir el Kalaa (2 priests, one cook and 10 soldiers executed). These massacres were executed after the soldiers had surrendered. More than 25 soldiers are still reported missing, probably imprisoned in Syrian jails for more than 14 years now.

This is how ended one of the darkest days of Lebanon's history. However, survivors have kept two promises that day in the memory of those who left this world: keep fighting for Freedom, Sovereignty and Independence because victory belongs to those who fight relentlessly and with determination. The second promise was to keep this page of our History open as long as those responsible for these crimes against humanity are still free and untried. It is the same for crimes committed between 1975 and 1990.

Christian, Muslim and Druze mothers will eventually come to terms with the fact that their children did not die because of their religion but because they were simply Lebanese.

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October 13, Our October, their mockery

By Dr Pierre Raffoul:

Our October is pride and self-confidence, theirs, subservience and crawling;

Our October is dignity and loyalty, theirs, collaboration and treason;

Our October is abundant product, theirs, destruction and ruins;

Our October is the coming Lebanon; theirs, the departing one;

Our October is martyrdom, theirs, abdication of responsibility;

Our October is heroism, theirs, cowardice and surrender;

Our October is righteousness and honesty, theirs, deceiving and lying;

Our October is a strong nation; theirs, a corrupted and crippled one;

Our October is freedom, theirs, slavery and humiliation;

Our October is determination and strong will, theirs, frustration and submission;

Our October is vigilance and virility, theirs, lethargy, apathy and sluggishness;

Our October is a struggle for liberation, theirs, a cover and disguise for the occupant.

On October 13th, 1900, the night Syria invaded Baabda Palace, "people's house"(presidential palace), all reports indicated the attack was inevitable. During the last critical hours and in face of difficult stances, General Michel Aoun was able to be himself, an outstanding leader with a solid will and deep rooted faith. He proved to be a leader whose leadership capabilities never shake because of fear and intimidation. He stood bravely and truthfully by his national stances and did not give to pressures and threats.

Last week, General Aoun, the leader, from his exile in France said: "Lebanon the sovereign and independent state was assassinated on October 13, 1990, but it is still alive in souls, conscious and hearts of all patriots. Lebanon preserved and proved its right in existence. That day it was planted again in a sacred soil watered and enriched with its martyrs' blood, heroes' sweat and its mothers' and orphanages' tears...I am sure time is getting so close for this great Lebanon to yield an abundant national crop. This is our faith, the ongoing Lebanese faith for the last 6000 years, from the Phoenix to the resurrection and eternity legend"

Long Live Lebanon

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We heard it Ten years ago

By General Fayez Karam:

In 1990, His Excellency PM, General Michel Aoun stood tall like the cedars of Lebanon and told the Lebanese people openly, simply and courageously that the "Taef Accord" is not the solution for their problems. He cautioned from dragging the nation into others expansionism ambitions, grudges and opportunistic conflicts. He also cautioned the "Taef Accord" will lead ultimately for the destruction of all governmental institutions, principles, ethical codes, the people's right in their own country and will shake badly the dignity of national affiliation.

Ten years later we hear clergymen; politicians, journalists and dignitaries repeat Aoun's cautions and focus on Lebanon's unpredictable fate under the current occupational-puppet reign. The main difference between today and ten years ago lies in the fact that Lebanon is currently in hell and that rhetoric statements and fake decries serve no purpose. All these warnings mean simply that those who utter them recognize fully the misery, pain, slavery and confusion status prevailing since 1990, but surprisingly still cajole and falter the Syrian occupier.

These decries are a delayed recognition for General Aoun's cautions in 1990,

A plain recognition the officials' have committed a horrible crime by abandoning the Lebanese right in a dignified life,

A recognition officials have abandoned the Lebanese legitimate right in a free independent nation. A nation that was founded 6000 years ago by our great grandfathers' resistance, sacrifices, faith and struggle,

A recognition collaborating officials and politicians have betrayed their people and accepted an accord that does not serve Lebanon's interests,

A recognition, Lebanese-Syrian-installed officials and leaders have abandoned the ambitions and dreams of the Lebanese and betrayed the future of the coming generations.

All these on going rhetoric cautioning stances uttered by collaborators humiliates the Lebanese patriotism and underestimates their intelligence. These mockery stances are illustrated in a popular Lebanese proverb that says: " When I am drawing, why should I worry if my cloth would become wet or not?"

Because of the "Taef Accord":

Lebanon has become an occupied country and lost its free decision making process,

Lebanon's demography was destroyed, its history eradicated and its identity forged.

Because of the "Taef Accord":

The Lebanese citizen is loosingevery thing and drawing in the occupation mud,

His money is stolen, His job is given to foreigners, forced to immigrate,

His identity sold in auctions,

His property confiscated,

His blood shed,

His dignity humiliated,

His human rights infringed on,

His freedom muffled,

His future mortgaged.

The Lebanese is a victim of his officials and leaders because the installed regime is a mask for the collaborator's thievery, treason, embezzlement and all Mafia-like activities,

The Lebanese is a victim of his regime because his fate is unknown, his future is mortgaged and his choices forged,

The Lebanese is a victim of his regime because criteria for right and wrong have been confused. Criminals are tagged as heroes and patriots as traitors,

The Lebanese are victims of their installed officials who are like robots, alienated and imprisoned in the mud of their treason.

The Lebanese are victims for their officials who made out of the oath, anthem and patriotism empty rhetoric slogans,

The Lebanese are victims of a regime whose main mandate is to cajole and flatter the occupier.

Is Lebanon witnessing a stage of peace or a stage of silence and tranquility?

Is it a stage manipulated by Syrian bothers and Israeli enemy's' coalition?

Is it a stage fully dominated by a stumbled Israel-Syrian negotiation process through which Lebanon is used by both countries as an arena for their dirty wars and maneuvers?

Are our officials and leaders waiting to take courageous patriotic stances? If so, waiting for what and till when?

Are our officials aware they are selling Lebanon, betraying its people, destroying its sovereignty and eradicating it from the Middle East map?

Beirut regime's puppet officials have abandoned Lebanon's right and legitimacy in the Middle East Peace negotiation process. They have mortgaged Lebanon's options, choices and free will in a bid to protect Syria's interests. Their decisions are merely dictated on them by Syria who appoints, reprimands, promotes, imprisons and fires them according to Syrian needs. They priorise Syria's interests blindly on those of Lebanon and with no shame.

These mercenary officials are like robots execute with no conscience exactly what their masters order them to do. All that appeals to their sick minds is the official status and the individual gains come with it. They ignore the fact that authentic leadership is honesty, integrity, devotion, loyalty, benevolence, courage and intelligence... they do not possess any of these traits.

We declare openly and loudly the current Lebanese Syrian-installed officials, politicians and dignitaries do not represent the Lebanese ambitions, hopes, aspirations or choices. They represent the Syrian occupier who installed them. Ten years after the "Taef Accord" was imposed on our country, we reiterate our patriotic stance and loudly say: We did not recognize this accord in 1989, and still we do not have any rational to change our stance. The "Taef Accord was a venomous recipe forced into our throats to kill us. We refuse to die, we refuse to surrender, we refuse to sell our country, we refuse the "Taef imposed status quo.

The only act that changes our opposing is the withdrawal of all foreign troops from our beloved country and a democratic, secular, free system in which the dignity of each and every Lebanese is honored and all freedoms guaranteed.

Long Live Free Lebanon

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Oct, 13 1990 Crimes

By General Aoun:

On October 13th every year, patriotic Lebanese get together wherever they live to solemnize the memory of Lebanon's beloved martyrs who offered their lives on the battlefield of honor. They sacrificed themselves defending their people's dignity and their country's sovereignty and independence. With the commemoration we envisage in our minds, souls and hearts, the martyrs holy faces and we sense their presence among us. With them we live the actual meaning of the event and renew our covenants and the promise to follow in their steps and to keep the liberation torch lit till Lebanon is free from of foreign troops. These troops have occupied our land, disturbed our stability, ransacked our national resources, confiscated our decision making process, made us strangers in our own country and enslaved our people. The occupation has installed a group of mercenary Lebanese politicians assigned to execute their atrocities and cover their criminal acts

Nine years have passed and the Syrian regime is still trying to erase the October 13th event from the Lebanese memory. Its devious, innovative mind lead its dictator last year on October 13th, to ratify the Lebanese constitution and appoint a puppet Lebanese President ready to hand over what is left of the country. He also frequently orchestrates circus-like events in a bid to make the Lebanese forget the crimes committed against them on October 13/1990. On that day Syrian invading troops after an official truce was declared, massacred innocent Lebanese civilians and soldiers in the towns of Bsous, Daher El-Wahesh, Daier El-Kalaa, and TeletTomrouz. Hundreds were brutally arrested as well and transferred to Syria. The whereabouts and fate of most of them is still unknown.

All the Syrian crimes against the Lebanese were not committed on the battlefield, but definitely after the truce was officially declared. All Syrian, Lebanese and international law condemns such crimes. The Lebanese-Syrian installed President at that time turned a blind eye on all these horrible crimes and did not order any kind of investigation. Instead, he paid an official visit to Damascus to honor the invaders' martyrs and laid a wrath of flowers at their military cemetery. He betrayed the Lebanese martyrs who gave their lives defending Lebanon's military oath and honor.

The Lebanese Army Commander committed the same crime when he started his leadership at the YarzieDefense Ministry headquarters. He turned a blind eye on the crime of assassinating his soldiers and shedding their blood, although. he is legally responsible for their protection and safety. This same Army commander who became the president 10 months ago is currently committing the same atrocity by turning a blind eye on kidnapping Lebanese citizens to Syria and detaining them illegally there.

It is our patriotic duty and obligation at this period of time to keep the Lebanese national memory alive, and to document all facts relevant to every event and incident. We have to remember very well that the majority of the installed officials have committed most of the crimes against the Lebanese people and their country. These puppet officials who are now in power are doing their best to forge history, hide the crimes and even deny them completely by alleging they were loses that occurred during the battles.

On this occasion we question the fact that international troops are digging graves in search of corpses buried in Bosnia and Korsovo and not providing any help to hundreds of Lebanese detainees buried alive in the notorious Nazi-like Syrian jails. We also wonder if criteria and standards for human rights differ according to a country's magnitude of interests and if they shrink or get bigger based on a country's needs and interests.

We shall remain the conscience and the eye that chases after Cain and his allies, we will keep reminding the whole world that crimes inflicted on Lebanon and the Lebanese are committed by those powers entrusted to restore security in Lebanon.

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