Lebanon: the challenges of freedom is published in France by Éditions de l’Observatoire. The opportunity to question its author, Dr Fouad Abou Nader, president of the NGO Nawraj, and to discover that the former head of the Lebanese Forces has a clear political vision for Lebanon and offers concrete solutions for its future.

Why this book?

As I explain in the introduction: “Through these lines, I would like to tell my struggle, to affirm my faith in my country, to deliver my vision of what Lebanon should be if we embark on the necessary reforms, for may our unique formula for coexistence be viable and livable ”. On the other hand, I pay tribute to my friend Jocelyne Khoueiry, our comrade from the Resistance who left us very early, especially since it was she who introduced me to Nathalie Duplan and Valérie Raulin who helped me to write this work. Without them, this book might never have been published.

Why publish it precisely now?

As you know, Lebanon is facing an unprecedented crisis. It has just suffered 3 successive cataclysms: the economic crisis – which a World Bank report places in the top 3 of the worst global crises since 1850 -, the Covid – like the rest of the world -, the explosion of the port on the 4th last august. However, I want to show that despite all these tragedies, I am optimistic for my country.

How can you say that?

First of all, because this little Lebanon is still there, in its territorial integrity, despite the alarmist forecasts of some, and while chaos has won over several countries around us. Then, his youth is dynamic, enterprising and thirsty for probity. Finally, it is enough that we decide to put in place the reforms demanded for a long time – and more specifically since October 17, 2019 – for real changes to take place in the country, ensuring its future. The population is calling for this transformation.

If it were easy to implement these reforms, would it not have already been done?

That is true. When I say “enough” I am referring to the fact that will and determination are present within a large part of the population, and in particular among the youth. But indeed, elements specific to our operating system are slowing down the execution of these reforms. I explain them in my book and try to analyze them. And I suggest ways to remedy it.

Yes because, contrary to what one might think, your book is not a work on war.

No. I am talking about the conflict of course, but with the aim of showing that the solutions that I propose for Lebanon come from the experience that I acquired on this painful occasion. These are not out of the box ideas ex nihilo . They have been applied or tested in these particular circumstances. So I know that my proposals are not abstract, but concrete, pragmatic, and achievable.

Even if this book is not a book on war, I return to some significant episodes because we cannot build the future if we ignore our past and if we do not draw conclusions from it. However, part of our youth knows very little about this dark period in our history. Of course, it no longer wants to hear about it. Nevertheless, it must know the main features, at least not to make the same mistakes as past generations.

You speak of errors, however, unlike other actors in the war who wrote their testimony, you do not mea culpa . Why ?

I have nothing to be forgiven in this war. As I said, we could have made mistakes, but we did well because we fought for a just cause, not out of hatred of anyone or for personal interests. I regret that we had to go to war – and I do not want my children or any young people in Lebanon to ever have to do it again – and I regret the divisions within the Christian camp that made us do so. to lose. But I need not be ashamed of my attitude during this conflict.

What is your fight today?

I have always fought and I continue to fight for this “Lebanon message” where eighteen communities live together and where Christians want to live in complete freedom, security, dignity and equality with all their partners. Since its creation a century ago, our State has shown flaws and weaknesses. Its formula of coexistence – a model and example for other nations – is undermined. To allow it to continue, it is essential to remove the power struggle between the different religious communities which paralyzes the country and promotes corruption.

Without going into details, what are your solutions for Lebanon?

To save the unity and sovereignty of Lebanon, we must achieve neutrality and that this neutrality be positive and permanent internationally recognized by all. It will prevent destructive interference from our neighbors. Furthermore, I advocate regionalism which will give the population the possibility of finding solutions to the most basic problems, such as health and education.

The Lebanese army as well as the other armed forces of the State must have a monopoly of arms on Lebanese territory.

On the other hand, it is imperative on the one hand to establish an electoral law consisting in the election of a single deputy per constituency and, on the other hand, to submit the bill on the independence of the judiciary to the Venice Commission so that the judicial system is genuinely free and independent of any political power. Finally, it becomes urgent to unify the personal status in the Civil Code, in order to strengthen the feeling of citizenship and to free the individual from the clerical straitjacket.

Carrying out a forensic audit and restructuring the public and private banking sector are essential to obtain funds from the IMF and those from CEDRE.

The French deputy Gwendal Rouillard, close to Jean-Yves Le Drian, wrote the afterword to your book. Why this choice ?

Coming from different political backgrounds, we wanted to show that the fate of Lebanon concerns everyone and that it is possible to overcome certain divisions to work together for a common and fundamental cause. Gwendal Rouillard, deputy of the very secular French Republic, understood well, for example, that the question of the Christians of the East is more geopolitical than religious. Indeed, the latter are the glue of Lebanon since I recall that of our 1,611 villages, very few are mixed between Sunnis, Shiites, Druze and Alawites, while Christians live with all of them. Gwendal Rouillard is involved with determination in favor of Lebanon and he made me the friendship to accept to postface my work, for which I thank him.

Editor’s note: If you live in France, you can get the book on the following websites:

https://www.editions-observatoire.com/a_paraitre

https://livre.fnac.com/a15682792/Fouad-Abou-Nader-Liban-les-defis-de-la-liberte

On the occasion of the publication, by Éditions de l’Observatoire, of his book LEBANON: THE CHALLENGES OF FREEDOM, Fouad Abou Nader will meet you in Paris, at the FOYER FRANCO-LIBANAIS on TUESDAY 15 June 2021 at 6 p.m. at 9 pm.

Presentation, signing and sale of the book at: 15-17 rue d’Ulm – 75005 Paris, in the Grand Salon of Notre-Dame du Liban Cathedral.

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