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Monday, March 14, 2005

Lebanon Opposition Answers Hezbollah


Hundreds of thousands of anti-Syrian protesters flooded central Beirut on Monday in what witnesses said was Lebanon's biggest demonstration since former Prime Minister Rafik al-Hariri's killing exactly a month ago. Flag-waving crowds from across Lebanon packed the capital's Martyrs' Square, near Hariri's grave, and swamped nearby areas to demand an international inquiry into his death, the sacking of Syrian-backed security chiefs and a total Syrian pullout. In contrast to previous anti-Syrian protests since a bomb blast killed Hariri on Feb. 14, many Sunni Muslims joined Druze and Christians in taking to the streets. Hariri was a Sunni. 'We demand to know who killed Rafik al-Hariri,' said Mustapha Mrad, a Sunni demonstrator carrying a Lebanese flag with a Hariri badge pinned to his jacket. Organizers said a million people had joined the protest. No independent estimate was available, but witnesses said the rally looked even bigger than last week's pro-Syrian demonstration organized by Hizbollah and attended by hundreds of thousands.
Hezbollah and Syria tried to cow the opposition with a huge peaceful demonstration last week. Obviously that has failed. This will force them to either brutally repress (an unattractive option with western eyes focues on Lebanon and George Bush in the White House) or acquiesce to a total Syrian pullout and probably a democratic Lebanon. A third option of Hezbollah focused (and Syrian backed) low level civil war in a Syrian free Lebanon remains a possibility. However, that would be a huge risk for Hezbollah to take. My bet is that they (or at least a substantial faction of them) will chose to become involved in the political process of a new democratic Lebanon. update: Fine? Why fine? has some additional comments and a great picture of this demonstration.


Blogger Greg said...

Hi Dave,
I don't know whether you've heard the (other) good news: The EU has finally agreed to brand Hizbollah a "terrorist organization". I'd say it's about time, considering Kach, a militant Jewish group received the honorary label, besides being banned from the Knesset(mind you, there are "Palestinian" parties in the Israeli parliament known to have been close friends of Arafat) some years ago both by the the U.S. and the EU. Not that I support these thugs who happen to be Jewish, it's just that European pornolitics(did I just coin that:) make me want to puke!

Also, I feel that an independent Lebanon could not only tip the scales in Israel's favor; it could bring about major changes in Syria and that would be great.

3/14/2005 12:20:00 PM  

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