In Tuesday's L'Orient Le Jour, Lebanon's French-language daily, journalist Nagib Aoun offers a rhetorical overthrow of Syria's Baathist regime (click on "Clignotants au rouge"). The ideas now rampant in Beirut, he writes, are on their way to Damascus, too. If you think that the American supporters of the Iraq war have been sounding a triumphalist note, then listen to what some of the Mideast's own hopeful voices are saying.
Bashar Assad is widely perceived in Lebanon to be playing for time. In his concluding paragraph, Aoun writes that "No matter what the explanations, excuses and justifications that Syria is coming up with [to delay withdrawal], there is one overwhelming reality that it can no longer ignore nor fathom: All around Syria, even in a still-unstable Iraq, taboos have fallen, tongues have been untied, democracy is finding its just place. Freedom -- sanctified and repeatedly emphasized in Martyrs' Square as in all the world -- is knocking forcefully on the doors of Damascus. It is now being distinctly heard there and increasingly solicited. A Lebanon-ized Syria? What an incredible but just historical revenge [that would be]."
The reference to freedom being "increasingly solicited" in Damascus is presumably to recent public calls by some Syrian intellectuals for a full withdrawal from Lebanon. Some of Syria's own liberals regard the nation as having sunk into a state of political apathy under Baathist brutality. Nevertheless, this reaction by Hazem Saghieh in Al-Hayat considered the statements by Syrian activists notable not only for for their courage, but because "Their solidarity was for the first time free of the familiar Arab nationalist and resistance style of rhetoric. It was a pure solidarity expressed by the intellectuals of a country towards the intellectuals and the people of another." (The Al-Hayat article soon gets bogged down in its Marxist trappings, but never mind.) In any event, writer Aoun is obviously looking ahead as he contemplates history's revenge.