A Letter to the Son
A year after and the road is still blocked
The green "Normandy"
Your father did not die because he was a Sunni, a billionaire and a friend to the powerful of this world. Your father died because he was a true Lebanese.
Your father was a machine of a man whose life was filled with good deeds and great achievements but also with controversial economic and business decisions.
He was a doer and a positive force in Lebanon's politics and compared to the present leaders, he was great.
Lebanon was like the "Normandy" mountain of rubbish when your father became Prime Minister. Today the greenest grass in Beirut is to be found there and it will soon become a public garden.
You could never be your father, because he was born poor while you were brought up in one of the richest families in the world.
I hope that you do not think that because the Presidents of France and the US are receiving you that you are a leader. Do not forget that they are receiving you because you are your father's son.
Your father has become an icon. You have been chosen to represent this legend. You have a lot of good will both locally and internationally, do not waste it.
Your father had said, according to an interview published for the first time a few weeks ago in Al Hayat newspaper, that spent US$150 million per year. $30 million of which were for personal use and the rest went to "help people" or, as I have understood, went to boost his political influence.
I do not think that you can spend these sums or even a fraction of them, because of several factors, the most important one being that your father knew that he could always win back the millions.
Your father also knew how to win people by a simple gesture, a few simple words or a large smile. His charisma was natural. Your father commanded respect because he achieved more than many in Lebanon. This respect has flowed onto you. And to keep it you will have to find your own way.
Your father was a good man, a giving man who sometimes, due to political or financial circumstances, used dirty tricks to get to his goals. He was a peaceful man who personally never hurt anyone physically or financially, but some people profited greatly from his friendship and trust at the expense of transparency and clean government.
Your father was not a warlord like Walid Jumblat, Nabih Berri, Michel Aoun, Hassan Nasrallah and Samir Geagea. He started off as a sectarian leader with national aspirations and ended as a true Lebanese leader. He died a Lebanese hero.
His death brought about the independence of Lebanon.
He surely "educated [more than 30,000 pupils], built [Solidere, roads, communications etc.] and liberated" but his policies left Lebanon with a debt of US$36 billion.
The Syrian hegemony and the whole Lebanese political and military establishment certainly caused this debt, but Rafic Hariri's credibility and impatience to rebuild Lebanon facilitated the operation.
However, he was the only one who really tried to salvage Lebanon's financial straits with the Paris donor conferences. He worked hard to boost Lebanon's economy again but the same sectarian and military establishment he helped enrich stood in his way.
He was killed because of Lebanon. Because of his dream.
Therefore I urge you Saad not to kill his dream of a great Lebanon. Follow your father's path of economic development.
Surround yourself with intelligent advisors such as the late Basel Fleihan and hold on to PM Fouad Seniora. Sycophants, vultures and yes-men are dangerous and can make you fail. Get rid of them.
Get people who think, work and achieve. Not people who talk hate, are lazy and make you spend useless sums of money.
Be noble, charitable and polite because you were raised by a Lebanese martyr and impose these virtues on all the Members of Parliament, journalists, allies and friends who claim to be on your side.
Do not let your instincts for revenge and glory guide you. Study your father's achievements, understand him but do not copy him and try to accomplish his vision of Lebanon your own way.
Remember that when your father took over there were more than 300,000 victims in Lebanon. Revenge was out of the question, and his message was all about unity and wealth creation.
Lebanon has a chance to begin anew. 4 million Lebanese cannot dwell one more day on the past. Lead the way and start by a symbolic gesture: open the road where your father was killed. Let the traffic flow. Let Lebanon rise.