Lebanon Occupies Syria

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.

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    I've read that Hizballah is planning a pro-Syrian protest today. How much support do they have among Lebanon's Shia, who someone recently noted have meen mostly absent from the recent anti-Syrian protests?

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    Is that like one of those woodchuck questions?

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    "I've read that Hizballah is planning a pro-Syrian protest today"

    In Charles's world this demonstration never took place.

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    I guess this is the part where we find out how deep the neo-conservative hawks' commitment to democracy actually goes.

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    So if huge crowds at a pro-Syrian protest blame Bush's influence for the recent anti-Syrian protests and subsequent beginnings of Syrian withdrawl, does that mean the neo-cons were right?

    And for those watching this area for longer than the past month or so, how common and how dangerous was public pro-Syrian sentiment previously?

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    Correlation does not equal cause, nor does synchronicity. These pro syrian protests are just as likely to be in response to the tsunami or somebody sneezing as they are recent anti syrian protests.

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    According to this AP story ( http://apnews1.iwon.com//article/20050308/D88MS4G82.html?PG=home&SEC=news ), "nearly 500,000" pro-Hezbollah demonstrators showed up at the Tuesday rally compared to an estimated 70,000 on Monday for the largest anti-Syrian rally yet held. Anti-Syrian groups claim that the Hezbollah demonstrators were bussed in, but: (a) unless more than 400,000 of them were bussed in, it's still a bigger rally, and (b) Hezbollah's members and supporters live mostly in the south of the country, so they'd have to be bussed to Beirut anyway to have a nice photo-op rally.

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    I give Bush a lot of credit for co-sponsoring the UN resolution with the French. It's taken a while, but the administration seems to have made soem progress in learning how geopolitics works.

    No resolution, no worldwide attention, no Syrian military pullout. Bush's use of diplomacy, broad coalitions, the legitimacy of the UN, and the rejection of military means are almost Kerry-esque in their intelligence, competance, and effectiveness (so far) at advancing our values without bloodshed.

  • R C Dean||

    Wow, joe, way to slam your boy Kerry. You and I will agree on something yet

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    Uh, yeah, what a slam, to point out that a strategy based on his foreign policy prescriptions appears to be working.

    Do you think Rice and Villepin were faxing drafts back and forth, RC, or using email?

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    I'm just trying to keep in mind that any positive developments coming out of the Middle East at this time are (1) entirely coincidental; (2) ultimately meaningless; and (3) inevitable all along.

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    Maybe it you tried a little less, you'd be able to keep up with the actual thread.

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    Sorry, er... And it would have been even better if Kerry were president!

    (Caught up now.)

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    "I give Bush a lot of credit for co-sponsoring the UN resolution with the French. It's taken a while, but the administration seems to have made soem progress in learning how geopolitics works"

    And how. If only the UN had resolved something about Iraq, it would have been fixed years ago. UN proclamations in the absence of credible military threats have a stellar record, and it takes a genius like John Kerry to see it.

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    It will be interesting to see how the neocons reach when the next round of Palestinian elections take place. Hamas will certainly do very well, as will Al Aqsa.

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    So if huge crowds at a pro-Syrian protest blame Bush's influence for the recent anti-Syrian protests and subsequent beginnings of Syrian withdrawl, does that mean the neo-cons were right?


    Well given that they (and the majority of the Shia in Lebanon) seemed to think that Israel organized the assasination of Hariri, you would have to accept that as well ..

    Anti-Syrian feeling had existed in Lebanon for a while, and it increased after the games last year by Syria with the constitution. The Harriri assasination lit the spark. The Bush administration's pressure on Syria and the Iraqi elections certainly emboldened the demonstrators, as did the Ukranian revolution. Also, Saudi pressure probably contributed as well (hariri was also a Saudi citizen). So its multiple factors involved with the 2 most important being external, but the Bush pressure also being importat.

    People who blame Bush (rightly so) for the instabilitty and increased terrorist activity resulting from Iraq should also praise him for positive impacts from the Iraq war.

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