JOHN AKOURI NEWSBLOG

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Location: Birmingham, MI, United States

Councilman John Akouri, former Washington, DC Press Secretary & Capitol Hill Advisor, is President & CEO of the Lebanese American Chamber of Commerce.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Speech by John Akouri at the Opening Ceremonies of the 4th Annual St. Peter's Maronite Catholic Church Summer Festival in Windsor, Canada

Good Evening ladies and gentlemen, distinguished Consul of Lebanon, the Honorable Bachir Tawk, special guests, religious clergy, fellow parishioners, and dear friends. Thank you so much for that warm welcome and generous applause. What a great and enthusiastic crowd I see before me on this stage and I know the youth cannot wait to get this party started. I cannot think of a better place to celebrate my birthday or with any other group of people than right here with all of you tonight. I am truly grateful for your invitation to celebrate and launch the opening ceremonies of our community's annual festival and I bring you greetings from America. My friends, I have only been attending Mass here at St. Peter's since the start of this year. In that short time, you have made me feel very welcome and as a part of the family and for that I thank you. But I want you to know, that back in Michigan we have three Maronite Churches, a Mission and the Order in Ann Arbor - some of whom are here tonight. People ask me all the time why I travel so far and to another country to hear Mass on Sundays. I tell them for one reason and one reason only: I come to St. Peter's for our Pastor Monsignor Joseph Salame. He is a priest of peace, understanding, unity, principal and vision. He is beyond reproach, a man of God, and one of the finest priests I have ever known. He is a diamond in a field of zirconium. His leadership is an example by which all others could and should follow. Monsignor, tonight I thank you for welcoming me and my family into your home, your parish, your community and most especially your heart. Again, I thank you all for your kindness and I wish you another successful festival. Good Night and God Bless.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

St. Peter's Maronite 4th Annual Festival Photos




LA Times Editorial: LOSING LEBANON

As lawmakers, peacekeepers die, Syria looks to regain its grip on the country. Where is the West?
June 28, 2007
WHILE THE hapless West stands by, a Syrian campaign to retake Lebanon is unfolding as crudely as the plot of Agatha Christie's "And Then There Were None."
One by one, three anti-Syrian members of the Lebanese parliament have been murdered, reducing the majority of independent Prime Minister Fouad Siniora to a slim six seats. President Emile Lahoud, a puppet of Syria, and the pro-Syrian speaker, Nabih Berri, refuse to allow elections to be held to replace them. But that's perhaps a moot point, as Berri hasn't allowed the parliament to meet at all since last summer. The parliament should have elected a new president in 2004, but under Syrian threat, then-Prime Minister Rafik Hariri — in whose subsequent murder Damascus is also implicated — extended Lahoud's term three more years. Now the parliament must elect a new president by September, and Damascus and its allies rightly fear that the current body will not anoint another Syrian lapdog. There can be no benign interpretation of the latest assassinations.
In 2004, the U.N. Security Council resolved that Lebanon should hold free and fair elections "devised without foreign interference or influence." That promise has not been kept. Now the Cedar Revolution, which forced Syria to end its military occupation of Lebanon, is unraveling. U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice met with Siniora on Tuesday in Paris, but where is the U.S. or U.N. plan for free Lebanese elections? If the Lebanese parliament cannot meet in Beirut without the fear of Hezbollah- or Syrian-inspired violence, and if the United Nations cannot guarantee its safety, then let the parliament sit in exile — perhaps in New York.
The international community ought to have been jolted out of its passivity by the car-bombing last week that killed six U.N. peacekeepers — three Spaniards and three Colombians — in southern Lebanon. Syria condemned the bombing, but it was widely interpreted as yet another warning to the United Nations not to proceed with the tribunal looking into the Hariri assassination if it does not wish to see Lebanon further destabilized. Syrian President Bashar Assad has signaled that keeping the tribunal from indicting senior Syrians is a critical, perhaps even existential, priority. Although this page has endorsed engagement with Syria, there can be no compromise on the work of the tribunal, which is as vital as any war crimes tribunal. And there can be no retreat from Lebanon's right to sovereignty.
Damascus certainly has an interest in seeing a friendly government come to power in Beirut. Stopping the violence and allowing elections to proceed is a better way to achieve that goal.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Akouri Meets with Turkish Diplomats; Discusses Lebanon, Turkey Relations

WORLD - Lebanese American Chamber of Commerce Chairman & CEO John Akouri met with recently appointed Turkish Consul General in Chicago, the Honorable U. Kenan Ipek. The meeting was arranged under the auspices of Ms. Nurten Ural, Honorary Consul General of the Republic of Turkey in Michigan and Didem Seyhoglu, President of the Turkish American Cultural Association of Michigan (TACAM). Akouri discussed with the Diplomats the issue of Lebanon, Turkey relations and the current situation in the Middle East. Media representatives and European Diplomats were present at an evening reception at the scenic home of Ms. Ural. Earlier in the day, Ipek attended a panel discussion hosted by TACAM where he was the distinguished key note speaker. He reviewed political issues as they relate to Turkey and welcomed two other speakers - Mr. Gunay Evinch, president elect of Assembly of Turkish American Associations and Mr. Lincoln McCurdy, Turkish Coalition USA Political Action Committee Treasurer.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

General Motors Chief Economist Mustafa Mohatarem Headlines Lebanese American Chamber of Commerce Second Quarterly Networking Event



TROY, MICHIGAN/USA - Over 200 business, diplomatic and civic leaders gathered at The Mediterranean Room of the Lebanese Grill Banquet Centre last night to attend the Lebanese American Chamber of Commerce Second Quarterly Networking Event. The business mixer and briefing featured special guest, G. Mustafa Mohatarem, who delivered a Global Automotive Forecast. Dr. Mohatarem has been Chief Economist of General Motors since March 1995. As such, he serves on GM's Public Policy Center and its European advisory and corporate risk management committees. The economics team he heads assesses worldwide economic developments and provides advice on economic policy and competitive issues. As head of GM's trade team, Mohatarem was GM's lead contact with government during the Uruguay Round of the GATT negotiations as well as during negotiations for the U.S.-Canada Free Trade Agreement and for NAFTA. Mohatarem first joined GM in 1982 as an economist in its Detroit office. He earned an MBA and a doctorate degree in economics from the University of Chicago.

Monday, June 18, 2007

A Salute to the Lebanese Army

Friday, June 15, 2007

Syria Must Answer for Its Murders in Lebanon

Standing Up to Killers
By Hussain Abdul-Hussain
Washington Post Editorial
BEIRUT - A bomb in Beirut yesterday killed Walid Eido, a member of the Lebanese parliament, and his son, Khaled, one of the smartest, sweetest and most delightful friends I have ever had.
I should wait for the results of an investigation into the explosion to learn who killed Khaled and his dad. But I will not wait. I am tired of the murders in Lebanon. I accuse the Syrian regime, headed by President Bashar al-Assad, of killing Khaled. As a friend of the family, I want to press charges against Assad and his Syrian and Lebanese associates. Enough is enough with the Syrian regime and its Lebanese puppets.

Walid Eido was a member of the anti-Syrian parliamentary majority. Before his untimely death, the majority bloc comprised 69 of the legislature's 128 members. Now, the majority's margin has been narrowed to five, and there is no reason to believe that Syria will not go after these people and kill them, one after another, until it forces the government to collapse.
For the past few months Eido had been the target of a demonizing campaign by Syria's foremost ally, Hezbollah. Similar Hezbollah campaigns against other anti-Syrian lawmakers preceded their assassinations. Hezbollah has been a supportive partner to Syria, often thanking the Assad regime for what it has "offered" my country. In truth, Hezbollah has sold out Lebanon's national interests to the regional autocrats of Syria and Iran.
Hezbollah might not have started the streak of assassinations of anti-Syrian Lebanese politicians that began with the killing of former prime minister Rafiq al-Hariri in February 2005, but the militant group has certainly been complicit with the criminal Syrian regime.
Since Hariri's murder, we in Lebanon have seen the best of our politicians and journalists murdered, one after another. Before Khaled's death, I had already lost one of my most inspirational friends, journalist Samir Kassir. He was murdered by a car bomb on June 2, 2005. Gebran Tueni, who had been my boss at the Arabic daily An Nahar, was killed that December, also by a car bomb.
With each murder, we Lebanese have swallowed our anger and fought hard for an international tribunal, which the U.N. Security Council approved last month. We hoped the tribunal would deter the Syrian regime and its Lebanese puppets from further killings. Yet a murderer is a murderer, with or without a tribunal, and the killings don't stop.
As I write these words, I understand that I am risking my personal safety. Speaking out could jeopardize my security during visits home. But I owe it to Samir, Gebran and now Khaled to write this. I want to tell the Syrian regime and its Lebanese cronies that the Lebanese are willing to fight for their freedom despite the heavy cost.

And while I'm at it, I have some words for our Syrian brethren living under the tyranny of the Damascus regime: Stand up for your rights and say no to dictatorship. Tyrants might kill some Lebanese politicians and throw other Syrian human rights activists in jail, but they cannot kill all of the Lebanese or imprison all Syrians.
We shall prevail. We shall prevail for Kamal Jumblatt, Rene Moawad, Rafiq Hariri, Samir Kassir, George Hawi, Gebran Tueni, Pierre Gemayel and all other Lebanese killed at the hands of the Assad regime. We shall stand up for the Syrian freedom lovers Anwar and Akram al-Bunni, Aref Dalila, Riad Seif, Mamoun Homsi and Kamal Labwani, among others, no matter how ruthless and ugly the Syrian dictatorship can get.
There will come a day when Lebanon is free and Syria democratic.
The writer, a media analyst, is a former reporter for the Daily Star of Lebanon.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Bush Links Syria to Eido Assassination

"I strongly condemn today's assassination
The United States will continue to stand up for Lebanon."
Statement by the President of the United States
I strongly condemn today's assassination of Lebanese Member of Parliament Walid Eido, who was murdered along with his son, two bodyguards, and a number of others.
There has been a clear pattern of assassinations and attempted assassinations in Lebanon since October 2004. Those working for a sovereign and democratic Lebanon have always been the ones targeted. The victims have always been those who sought an end to Syrian President Asad's interference in Lebanon's internal affairs.
The United States will continue to stand up for Lebanon, its people, and its legitimate government as they face these attacks. The Special Tribunal for Lebanon must be allowed to do its work, so that those behind the assassination of former Prime Minister Hariri and related crimes can be brought to justice. The assault on Lebanese state institutions by terrorists and armed extremists, cross-border arms trafficking, and efforts by the regimes in Damascus and Tehran to foment instability in Lebanon must stop now.
We ask for the international community to support the Lebanese government as it investigates this latest assault on its democracy. The perpetrators of these political assassinations must be brought to justice, and we all have an obligation to help the Government of Lebanon identify, investigate, and prosecute these killers.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

ST. PETER'S MARONITE FESTIVAL

JOHN AKOURI ONLINE NEWSROOM 'We will confront this mortal danger to all humanity. We will not tire, or rest, until the war on terror is won.' -- PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH Add to end of above"line without paranthesis when wanting to loop sound (( loop="-1">