An open letter about the Lebanon crises to the UN’s António Guterres

Makram Rabah
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Dear Mr. António Guterres,

I am writing to you as a citizen of the occupied Republic of Lebanon, which you visited a few months ago to show solidarity with its people. Your visit, unfortunately, had the opposite effect, as it further empowered the ruling elite and Iran's hold over this once flourishing oasis of diversity.

“I am coming to Lebanon with one simple message: the United Nations stands with the people of Lebanon,” these words which you so kindly declared in Beirut have not been channeled by your various UN agencies, which have continued to provide the corrupt ruling establishment with photo opportunities, ones which they have devilishly used to disenfranchise further and suppress the many voices of dissent.

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Consequently, your busy schedule did not allow you to notice that the outgoing Head of Mission and Force Commander Major General Stefano Del Col on UNIFIL visited former Prime Minister Hassan Diab in a farewell visit. The two discussed the mission of UNIFIL. Strangely enough, news reports about this meeting were limited. A few local Lebanese media outlets offered coverage, perhaps highlighting its lack of news worthiness.

In reality, this somewhat trivial visit by the head of the UNIFIL speaks to the heart of the unconstructive role of the international community which you, Secretary-General, embody. Former PM Diab is not part of the ruling establishment, which has embezzled the Lebanese taxpayers' money either by shady dealings or unsound decisions. Still, he is also a fugitive from the law. The Special investigator issued an arrest warrant into the August 4 Beirut port explosion, a subpoena that the Lebanese security forces have yet to enforce.

The terrible port explosion, which devastation you witnessed on your last trip to Beirut, killed over 200 people and injured many more. Traumatizing thousands the blast not only destroyed my home city of Beirut, but cemented Hezbollah and Iran's hegemony and occupation.

A memorial ceremony for slain prominent Lebanese activist Lokman Slim (image), in the capital Beirut's southern suburbs, on February 11, 2021.  (File photo: AFP)
A memorial ceremony for slain prominent Lebanese activist Lokman Slim (image), in the capital Beirut's southern suburbs, on February 11, 2021. (File photo: AFP)

Earlier this month, the UN Special Coordinator for Lebanon and your representative Joanna Wronecka, stood in the garden of my slain friend and champion of free speech Lokman Slim. She said: “ his voice is missed – but the call for freedom, truth, and reform cannot be silenced.” She added that the UN would continue pushing for justice and accountability. When will this happen?

Lokman was killed by Hezbollah deep in the south of the country a few miles away from the most extensive UNIFIL base, whose troops are tasked with the full implementation of UNSCR 1701 and 1559.

Dear Secretary-General, in Lebanon, we have 18 different dictators, each representing a sect or a party, who have used corruption, violence, and poverty to subdue and condition in unison with Iran's militia Hezbollah the Lebanese into a life of degradation.

The people of Lebanon have listened to your predecessors who said the right things but never accompanied the words with actions. You have recently condemned the Russian invasion of Ukraine and have implored Russian President Vladimir Putin to give peace a chance.

Your promotion of what the UN stands for is noble. You have carried this during your time as a high commissioner for refugees and continue this as a Secretary-General. But, overall, the UN continues to fail in its moral duty to address issues in Lebanon.

Just recently, Ukraine's UN ambassador Sergiy Kyslytsya addressed his Russian counterpart Vassily Nebenzia that there is no purgatory for war criminals. They go straight to hell. As people of Lebanon and Syria, Mr. Secretary-General, we are ruled by war criminals who your visit and that of your senior staff normalize, empower, and portray as heads of state. They are war criminals who wear expensive designer suits and strive for impunity.

Much of what I express to you is what the people of Lebanon and the region yearns. These are ideals that I bestow on my students at the American University of Beirut. This beacon of education is where young men and women use their training and reading endeavors to build better futures and put war criminals in jail instead of in the public office.

I genuinely hope my letter to you did not interrupt your duties of condemning and feeling sad for actions you and members of the international community would have prevented by merely taking action.

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Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not reflect Al Arabiya English's point-of-view.
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