BEIRUT: Free Patriotic Movement leader Michel Aoun said Saturday that the United States was behind a decision 22 years ago this weekend to drive him out of politics.
“America asked [Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister] Saud al-Faisal to remove me after I foiled all its plans; it was at that time that preparations for the Taif Accord began,” Aoun said, addressing supporters at a Mass at Deir al-Qalaa in the Metn village of Beit Mery to mark the anniversary of his exile.
The head of the Change and Reform parliamentary bloc said that the Taif Accord, which ended Lebanon’s 1975-1990 Civil War, was accompanied by an unwritten agreement between Saudi Arabia and Syria to rule Lebanon together.
On Oct. 13, 1990, the Syrian army and Lebanese troops under the command of then-Army Commander Gen. Emile Lahoud stormed Baabda Palace, where Aoun had been residing for over two years. Aoun, who did not recognize the Taif and opposed the presence of Syrian troops in Lebanon, fled to the French Embassy.
A few months later, he traveled to France, where he lived in exile until May 2005. “This day is a day of pride, although it is mixed with sorrow for the loss of heroes who sacrificed their lives for the nation in a black era of our history,” Aoun said.
Several soldiers loyal to Aoun were killed and arrested by Syrian troops that looted the presidential palace and stormed the Defense Ministry.
Aoun said that everyone – all political groups and countries involved in Lebanon – collaborated against him and paved the way for the Oct. 13 operation after he opposed the Taif Accord because it was only signed by the Lebanese and not by other states that sponsored it.
The former general ran through the major events in Lebanon from the outbreak of its Civil War up to Oct. 13, 1990. “It is when we had to confront America after we won the cause against the Arab states, as it was the only great power in the world,” he said, explaining the U.S.’ motivation for deposing him.
Aoun promised his supporters that he would remember the hopes of those who were killed during the raid by working to move the country forward.
“We will overcome all the difficulties to improve the stature of our country, thus fulfilling the wishes of martyrs,” Aoun said.