At the suggestion and direct support of Dr. Hitti, whom I consider by now to be a trustworthy friend, I went to Cyprus to meet Abu Arz (Etienne Saqre). Abu Arz is a living legend. As with any legend he is also controversial. I read all that I could about him before meeting him, but what I expected was much different from what I experienced. The conclusion of most of my readings was that Abu Arz is an extremist Christian military leader who fell into the state’s disgrace for having a relationship with Israel. Nothing could be further from the truth. I found a man who deeply cares and misses his country and wishes to be allowed to go back.
Abu Arz did what others did. When all refused to help Lebanon, Israel did not. In the interview he explains the circumstances as to why he and other Christian leaders started their partnership with Israel. Those who condemn him should look at the bigger picture. Israel was Lebanon’s last chance when the West and the East chose to look the other way. Abu Arz is part of Lebanon’s recent history and people should pay attention to what he is saying.
It is not that he holds the absolute truth (who does?), but he was part of what happened since the 1970s and he personally knows today’s leaders. Maybe this is the reason why he is still condemned to years in prison and death while others who were his friends and allies enjoy high-ranking positions.
Regardless of his views or the ideology of the Guardians of Cedars, people owe him respect for trying his best to defend his homeland. Others in his shoes would have run away as fast as possible or would have sided with the winners. Actually, some did just that.