Fighting for Freedom in Lebanon


Toni Nissi, 45, is a jovial character with a broad smile and easy manners, but his friendly disposition becomes intense when the subject of his native Lebanon arises.  He is particularly upset with the current U.S. administration, charging that “the Obama administration is selling Lebanon again to Syria.” As Secretary General of the National Council of the Cedar Revolution (NCCR), Nissi, who is in the States and recently met with high level officials at the Pentagon, is angry with those there who maintain that Lebanon has a democratically elected government and that, therefore, the Lebanese army is the legitimate recipient of arms from the U.S.  “They simply don’t understand that Hezbollah is controlling the Lebanese army,” Nissi charged.

To Nissi, the 2005 “March 14 Alliance,” which sought freedom from Syrian occupation and democracy, is now a fiction.  Everything revolved around the Saudis whose money controls Lebanon.  The rivalry between the late King Fahd and the Crown Prince and now King Abdullah colored Lebanese affairs as much as Syria did. Rafik Hariri was Fahd’s man in Lebanon while Prince Waleed bin Talal, (whose mother, Princess Muna al-Sulh, was the daughter of independent Lebanon ’s first prime minister, Riyadh al-Sulh), was Abdullah’s choice.  The Saudis funded the Sunnis in Lebanon while the Iranians funded the Shiites and Hezbollah.  As Prime Minister, the Sunni-Muslim Hariri followed Syrian orders.  In September 2004 however, when the U.N. passed Resolution 1559, Syria was compelled to withdraw its troops from Lebanon .  Hariri and the Saudis supported it, which might have been what triggered his “removal” by the Syrian regime. With the illness and subsequent death of King Fahd (in August 2005), Abdullah effectively became the ruler of Saudi Arabia.  Abdullah, according to Nissi, preferred to see his nephew Waleed bin Talal serve in Lebanon, rendering Hariri expendable.

The assassination of Rafik Hariri in Beirut on February 14, 2005, energized the Lebanese patriots to form the March 14 Alliance, made up primarily of Sunni Muslims, Armenian Christian groups and various other Christian and secular groups.  Nissi maintains that the seeds for the March 14 Alliance were planted as early as September 2000, led by a Maronite-Christian bishop at “Cornet Shiewan,” and that only after passage of U.N. Resolution 1559, did the Sunni-Muslims and Druze join the anti-Syrian “Cedar Alliance.”

Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of Hezbollah, made a speech on March 8, 2005, before a gathering of about 400,000, mostly Shiite-Muslim, Palestinians from refugee camps, and thousands of Syrian workers in Lebanon .  Nasrallah thanked Syria “for helping Lebanon for 30 years…” As a result, Sunni Mullahs and Druze along with Christians of all denominations called for the March 14, 2005 counter-demonstration that brought out the anti-Hezbollah democratic forces – over a million Lebanese – Christians and Muslims.

The aftermath of the Civil War in Lebanon had weakened the Christian grip on power in Lebanon, it was impacted by the changing demography in the country.  At its birth in 1943, the Christians in Lebanon were a clear majority.  As a result of the Civil War that began in 1975 and lasted until 1989, the Christians in particular suffered significant dislocation.

Many Lebanese Christians left for the West and failed to register as Lebanese nationals, while the Shiite and Sunni Muslim Lebanese, who departed for the Arab world and Africa , registered and are still considered citizens.  According to Nissi, 80% of the Lebanese Diaspora is composed of Christians.  Bishara Hanna, a noted Lebanese demographer, claimed in a 2009 study that 48.9% of the Lebanese population was Christian and 51.1% was Muslim.

Addressing the results of civil war, Nissi recalled the history of the Taif (Saudi Arabia) Agreement, which officially ended the civil war.  “Taif called for disbanding of all the militas with the exception of the hezbollah.  The excuse was that the latter must stay armed as a counter-weight to the South Lebanese Army that was cooperating with Israel.”

Tony Nissi is in the U.S. to gather support from the Lebanese-Christian diaspora and to strengthen the connection of Lebanese-Christians with their homeland.  He hopes to accomplish the following goals:

1. To rehabilitate the identity of the Aramaic speaking Christians.   Nissi claims that the Arab-Muslims are deliberately destroying the Aramaic identity.  Nissi has created two Aramaic culture and language NGO’S.

2. On a political level Nissi seeks to bring the Christian community’s 15 organizations in Lebanon under the National Council of the Cedar Revolution (NCCR) umbrella.

3. On a church level Nissi hopes to reverse the phenomenon of Muslims – including Saudis – buying up Christian owned land.  His Christian religious umbrella would purchase land and reserve it for Christians.

4. Nissi intends to create a Research and Development Center in Lebanon – a think tank that would provide Christians in Lebanon with a sense of identity and leadership and a connection with an American think-tank.  To accomplish this goal, Nissi states: “I believe that such a think tank in Lebanon would be able to inform and educate Lebanese in the Diaspora and the Obama administration on realities in Lebanon which are currently misunderstood.”

Nissi concluded the conversation by saying, “I am working to create an independent, democratic, secular, and pluralistic Lebanon at peace with Israel and a close friend of the USA.”

  • William Smart

    Nissi is a sectarian attempting to stir ethnic nationalism. His problem is that most remaining Lebanese Christians have now accepted the obvious, the Syrians are bad neighbours – but the bombs of Israel are a much bigger threat to life and limb The Christians have even started to recognise that the refugees and the arming of militias were entirely Israel's doing as well.

    • Stephen D.

      What "Refugees"? Just as Palistinans are claimed to be refugees IN PALISTINIAN CONTROLLED LAND! That is like having American Refugees…in America!! It is a scam to garner funds from the west through the UN and other groups under the guise of humanitarian aid. As far as "the bombs of Israel are a much bigger threat to life and limb…" How are they a threat to the Leabanese? Does Israel ahve designs on Lebanon that the world will let take place because of their weapons? Is Israel expanding their territory through land grabbing? Really?!? Does Israel use their weapons as an aggressor rather than a defender? Really?!? (See, I know how you will answer ~ I just like others to see how silly you are).

    • guest

      WHAT are you blabbing about??? you definitely are delusional or something. otherwise a syrian puppet. no one in lebanon accepts the syrian iranian rule by proxy and the polls and numbers and elections prove that, but the guns and rockets are an ongoing threat to lebanese patriots those who believe in the sovereignty of their country as a matter of principle and freedom of choice. If all lebanese were to be allowed safely back in lebanon the demographic and political picture would change unless obama remains a thorn in the side of US and western friends and allies and abandons them to their fate. the syrians have been cold ruthless occupyers and colonialists , not simply bad neighbors. boy are you in lala land whoever you really are

  • Jihad

    This scum should be put in a shit house upon his return to Lebanon

  • Lambert/Lebanon

    The Truth in 3 Easy Pieces
    art 1: Faking the Case Against Syria http://www.counterpunch.org/schuh11182005.html

    Part 2: Operation Change of Location http://www.counterpunch.org/schuh08152006.html

    Part 3: The Savador Option in Beirut http://www.counterpunch.org/schuh02082007.html

  • http://online.wsj.com/home-page AmInLebanon

    As someone who knows Mr. Nissi (I've interviewed him a number of times regarding Lebanese issues) and works in Lebanon, it is of extreme importance to state that Nissi is both independent and works closely with those in the March 14th Alliance in addition to the West. I don't believe he is saying that Lebanon hasn't democratically elected its leadership, but that the army and now the main decision makers have fallen back under the control of foreign actors, especially Syria, Iran and Saudi Arabia. Hell, the Lebanese Army was under close to 30 years of Syrian domination—of that 30, there was almost 15 years of COMPLETE Syrian domination.

    • AmInLebanon

      In a way, I think the article unfairly paints Nissi as one of these faux-independents who really just hates Saudi Arabia (read: Sunni influence) and gives only a small amount of time to addressing the far more extreme danger that Hezbollah (and their backers Syria and Iran) presents. Nothing could be further from the case considering Nissi has received quite a few threats from Hezbollah (Nasrallah himself called Nissi, "the Beirut branch of the Mossad") and was extremely active in the formation UNSCR 1559 (which essentially called on Hezbollah to disarm).

      • AmInLebanon

        I think some of the author's comments in here make him sound (just as one commenter stated) like a "sectarian" when that case isn't necessarily true. First, the holding of Christian lands (which Christian groups have historically held and inhabited since around the 8th century) is of monumental importance LEBANON as a whole, and Middle Eastern Christians as a whole—They are under a lot of pressure. While Hezbollah (a radical Shia group that is still pushing Islamist governance and war against Israel) is buying up land to link it's demographic zones in the Bekka, Jbeil, S. Beirut (al Dahiyeh) and the south (aka the Jnoob); You have other Sunni elements which are paying great sums to buy up and change the character of the Christian zones. The fact of the matter is, the Christians of Lebanon essentially created the pluralistic and democratic state that Lebanon is (or was). The preservation of the many varieties of Christians and their unique culture shouldn't be considered a mere "sectarian issue".

        • AmInLebanon

          The real fact of the matter is that Israeli bombs wouldn't fall on Lebanon if far-more hostile neighbors (Syria) were not pushing the country into conflict with Israel. If we look back into history, Israel has only reacted to provocations coming from Lebanon. For many years following the Israeli War of Independence (1948) the border was extremely quiet.

  • Lambert/Lebanon

    Who is Michael Totten?

    On the streets of Beirut, one 'grassroots' project, "Pulse of Freedom," inadvertently exposed its U.S. origins by utilizing uniquely American street theater tactics. Then in a slip, reminiscent of Baghdad's Firdos Square when US troops covered Saddam's statue with the Stars and Stripes, or when the Republic of Georgia's military band played the US national anthem instead of its own during the Rose Revolution, "Pulse of Freedom" portrayed Lebanon's national Monument of Sovereignty as the Statue of Liberty.

  • Lambert/Lebanon

    Totten, zionist agent-

    Spirit of America, the NGO that created "Pulse of Freedom" provided protesters with a billboard-sized electronic 'Freedom Clock' for 'Freedom Square' to "countdown to freedom." Spirit of America's tax deductible donations helped maintain the tent city's food, shelter and other basic necessities "so that the demonstrators can keep pressure on for political change and world attention on the struggle for Lebanese independence". Spirit of America also spawned a plethora of revolution bloggers, foremost among them Tech Central Station columnist Michael Totten whose boss was Spirit of America's founder Jim Hake.

  • Lambert/Lebanon

    A registered charity, Spirit of America exemplifies the regime change industry. Advised by US Ambassador Mark Palmer, Vice Chairman of the Board of Freedom House, and co-founder of the National Endowment for Democracy, Palmer served as speech-writer to three US Presidents and six Secretaries of State. He also helped the US government destabilize Slobodan Milosevic and Muammar Qaddafi. Capitalizing on his color revolution skills, Palmer wrote "Breaking the Real Axis of Evil: How to Oust the World's Last Dictators Without Firing a Shot."

  • Lambert/Lebanon

    Another Spirit of America governor is Lt General Mike DeLong, Deputy Commander, US Central Command, MacDill Air Force Base, Florida. DeLong manages a budget of $8.2 billion and "conceived and implemented the Global War on Terrorism, Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom." As top Deputy to former General Tommy Franks, DeLong's listed expertise at places such as the Army War College, the Department of Defense and the Amphibious Warfare School included Artillery, military intelligence, coup détats, supporting democracy. DeLong in his autobiography Inside Centcom alleged "Syria had been shipping military supplies, including night vision goggles to Iraq." The New York Times and Washington Post later revealed that these data had been fabricated "smoking gun" evidence. Charles Duelfer of the UN Iraq Survey Group also confirmed that WMD charges had been "exaggerated" by now-US Ambassador to the UN, John Bolton, when he was Under-Secretary for Arms Control in 2002.