Suleiman's speech to army graduates, in which he exonerated Syrian intelligence from arming Fatah al-Islam, was met with silence in Lebanese political circles. Mustapha Alloush, an MP in Hairi parliamentary bloc, broke the silence in an interview with Now Lebanon, revealing that the army commander called Bashar Assad-- something that was not reported in the media.
Alloush criticized Suleiman's assertion that Fatah al-Islam was neither supported by Syrian intelligence nor the Lebanese government. He said linking the terrorist group to the government does not need a denial, especially not by the army which acted on an order from the government.
Alloush said that Fatah al-Islam's link to al-Qaeda was never denied by the government. "Here I ask the army commander, who sent Shaker al-Absi to Lebanon, and how did the pro-Syrian Fatah Intifada hand over its positions to Fatah al-Islam without a fight?"
Alloush revealed – and I could not find this in any online version of Suleiman's speech—that the army commander said he contacted Bashar Assad. Alloush does not explain the context of the call, so I will assume that it was to inquire about the connection between Syrian intelligence and the Fatah al-Islam group. Note that it has been reported before that Suleiman sent pro-Syrian Islamist Fathi Yakan to Syria during the army's negotiations with the Fatah al-Islam terrorists.
Alloush said he didn't understand how the army commander could contact another state's president without going through his government first. "If true," Alloush said, it would be "strange and undemocratic".
Alloush added that Suleiman should quit delivering advice to politicians as his post is not political. 'Whether he resigns or not is up to him,… but he has to assume his responsibilities as long as the political authority in the country has charged him with these responsibilities. He should not say that he is staying in his position. There is a tradition in Lebanon that army commanders change with the president, and… I think this must continue".
It seems that March 14 is increasingly uncomfortable with Suleiman's entry into the political scene. Suleiman's visit to the Patriarch last week was given a lot of interpretations. One is that he's eyeing the presidency, until it emerged today that he wouldn't mind becoming an interim prime minister.
Finally, Suleiman has complained about the nature of military aid the army has received, saying it was mostly promises and ammunition. "It's as if they are telling us to die first and support will come later, we are currently looking for sources to acquire weapons".
Considering that most of this allegedly useless aid came from the US, I don't think Suleiman's exoneration of Syrian intelligence will encourage the Americans to send him more weapons. Especially not when he's aspiring to become another Michel Aoun, minus a "liberation war".
Excerpt from Alloush's interview with Now Lebanon follows:
واضاف علوش: "قائد الجيش قال انه اتصل بالرئيس السوري بشار الاسد، وانا لست افهم ايضاً كيف يتصل موظف من الفئة الاولى بدولة اخرى حتى لو كان قائداً للجيش برئيس دولة ثانية دون الرجوع الى حكومته، هذه مسألة مستغربة وخارجة عن الاطار الديمقراطي ولا اعتقد انها اذا كانت صحيحة في موقعها. السؤال يجب ان يوجه مباشرة الى السلطات السورية لماذا تم اطلاق العبسي مع انه مطلوب بجريمة اغتيال في الاردن؟ ولماذا تم توجيهه بعيد القرار 1559 الى لبنان لمواجهة تداعياته كما صرح العبسي نفسه الى صحيفة "الحياة"؟ الكل يعرف ان السجون السورية لا تطلق بسهولة المعتقلين لديها".
وعلّق علوش على تمني قائد الجيش ان يلهم الله الحكمة لزعماء هذا الوطن المعذب، فقال: "لا اظن ان الموقع الذي يشغله العماد سليمان له اي دور سياسي ليوجه هكذا رسائل، ولكن على كل الاحوال نحن موافقون على هذا التوجه ونتمنى على كل الموظفين والمسؤولين الاخذ به".
علوش اكد ان "قرار استقالة العماد سليمان او عدمه يعود له، وطالما صرح بذلك سراً او علناً وتمّ تناقله في وسائل الاعلام، فان هذه المسألة تصبح مؤكدة. ويجب ان يتحمل المسؤوليات طالما ان السلطة السياسية في البلد قد حملته هذه المسؤوليات. ويجب الا يقول العماد سليمان انني باق. على كل هناك تقليد متبع في لبنان وهو تغيير قائد الجيش مع تغيير رئيس الجمهورية - الا في حالات نادرة - وانا اعتقد ان هذا الامر يجب ان يستمر".