Michel Suleiman’s ‘Accomplishments’ in Print

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Lebanese President Michel Suleiman chairs his country's delegation during the Arab summit in Doha, Qatar, Monday, March 30, 2009.(Photo: AP - Amr Nabil).

By: Mouhamad Wehbe

Published Thursday, January 16, 2014

It’s going to be a happy ending for Lebanese President Michel Suleiman. A book on the president’s first-term accomplishments will soon be released – though it might take time for the book’s publishers to find such accomplishments. The project is certain to bring in profits; the cost of a double-sided advertisement runs as high as $25,000.

At the end of last summer, a number of private-sector institutions received a letter from a London-based publishing house, Brooklands News Media, announcing its publication of A Five-Year Anniversary Celebration of Leadership, a book on Lebanese President Michel Suleiman.

The letter stated: “Since President Suleiman assumed office, development has become the focus of his work. He issued a range of infrastructure, economic, social, educational, and health projects, all of them producing a process of great change that has left a positive impact on Lebanese territory.” The book’s goal is “to celebrate the president’s exceptional accomplishments and explore the future of the Lebanese republic.”

The British company will publish 10,000 copies of this special publication, with advertising rates ranging from $16,500 for a full-page color ad and $24,760 for a two-sided color ad.

The company included an excerpt of the book, including its introduction, which includes the English text alongside Suleiman’s picture.

The introduction states: “Lack of contrary opinion indicates that, since its independence in 1943, the Lebanese republic has enjoyed a level of prosperity based on its position as a regional hub of finance and commerce although punctuated by periods of political turmoil. Today, President Suleiman is keen on securing political and economic stability and a key global role for Lebanon.”

The introduction explains that Suleiman “was elected on May 25, 2008 as the 12th president of the republic but the first president after the Cedar Revolution of 2005 that led to the end of a 30-year rule by a foreign army ... On the local and global level, President Suleiman is viewed as a unifying figure for Lebanon. This special publication celebrates his assumption of a position of leadership in the first five years, which saw his firm direction to stabilize the social, economic, and political situation.”

The introduction points out that several world officials “have honorably recognized the president’s accomplishments. Senegal granted him the Grande Croix de l'Ordre National du Lion du Senegal in 2013, and he received a similar medal from the Ivory Coast in 2012, in addition to a number of medals from Greece, Austria, Brazil, Spain, France, Italy, Saudi Arabia, and Bahrain …”

At the end of the introduction, Suleiman is quoted as saying: “Lebanon is a country with a mission, the meeting place of many civilizations and a haven for pluralism. I seek to implement administrative, political, economic, and security reforms that will enable us to retrieve the country’s pioneering role in the international arena.”

It is interesting, however, that the publication situated the president’s election in the context of the Cedar Revolution, suggesting that one of his accomplishments is his political affiliation with this revolution. Some of the institutions that received this letter pointed out that the president’s accomplishments are disputed. After all, Suleiman’s term has been marked by political and security instability.

For example, a cabinet vacuum was a recurring theme of his term. The cabinets of Saad Hariri and Najib Mikati were only formed after months of delay and did not accomplish much except the financing the Special Tribunal for Lebanon. And the cabinet of Prime Minister-designate Tammam Salam has yet to be formed.

Suleiman’s term surely did not ease the sharp political differences among the Lebanese, instead being marked by a failure to agree on an electoral law. Furthermore, parliament’s decision to extend its own term represented a major constitutional breach. It was also under Suleiman’s watch that Lebanon entered the age of suicide bombers. Last but not least, the president set a precedent when he ended a speech addressed to the Lebanese people with the phrase “long live the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.”

Many in the private sector who received the publication asked, “What economic or social accomplishment is this special publication going to detail?” Has the project of universal health coverage been accomplished? Did he pass the social security draft law? Did investments in Lebanon’s oil sector begin? Did the dam projects begin? Did Lebanon invest in the electricity and communication sectors? What achievements, besides receiving medals, will this special publication address?

This article is an edited translation from the Arabic Edition.

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