Saying "No" to Syria

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Lebanon may rank very low in the preoccupations of most Reason readers (perhaps as Ukraine once did), but things are going on there, or here, that are well worth a stare. Yesterday, a broad multi-religious opposition front was formally established in Beirut, its main purposes being to demand a return of Lebanese sovereignty in the face of Syrian hegemony over the country; but also to challenge the leadership of the Lebanese president, Emile Lahoud, whose mandate was extended under Syrian pressure three months ago. Lahoud is heavily reliant on intelligence goons for his authority.

A leading light of the opposition front is the Druze leader Walid Jumblatt, who was once a close Syrian ally, but who has since become highly critical of Syria's ways in Lebanon (partly, no doubt, because a close friend and politician was almost killed in a car-bomb attack in which Syrian officials are widely believed to have played a role–an attack that was really a warning to Jumblatt). In recent days, before the front was established, Jumblatt was contacted by Syria's powerful intelligence chief in Lebanon to persuade him to pull out of the effort. He persisted, however, and yesterday said: "I won't have a dialogue with Syria through a security officer."

Last weekend, the authorities, as a warning, removed Jumblatt's state-provided security detail from his Beirut home (he's entitled to one as a former minister), and yesterday someone threw a stick of dynamite at one of the offices of his political party. Amusingly, a Jumblatt rival tried to pretend the dynamite was aimed at him. Subtle.

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  1. Michael Young always puts out high-quality posts, and nobody ever comments. Probably because they have nothing useful to say.

    Well, I have nothing useful to say about Lebannon, but that didn’t stop me.

    Nice post, Mr. Young.

  2. joe,

    Well yeah, I guess if there was a pro-Syria faction here at Hit n’ Run things might be different. 🙂

    Young,

    Are the efforts of France and the U.S. making Syria budge at all regarding Lebanon?

  3. Important news indeed.
    I’d be curious about the answer to Gary’s question above as well. If the neocon’s goals are actually creating a democratic base in the middle east, I’ve always thought that Lebanon would be a much more logical choice than Iraq. Unless you work for Texaco.

  4. DavePotts,

    I think Texaco is now part of Royal Dutch Shell (also, all the Texaco stations that I frequent have switched to Shell stations – they are far brighter at night that’s for sure).

  5. I wonder why Mr. Young ignores Lebanese pro-Syrian rallies such as the one that took place a few weeks ago? Or is it only important development when it is anti-Syria?

  6. a,

    Well, there are historical cleavages between Lebanon and Syria that the French tried to tear apart during their short period of colonial rule (a little over two decades) and I am sure that we are still seeing the results of that policy (and whatever distance was created between the two regions during the centuries of rule under the Ottomans). It does however smee clear to me that the situation there has to be finalized in some way; either Lebanon becomes a wholly independent state (and not a semi-colony of Syria) or becomes a fully-fledged part of Syria. And that choice seems to require some sort of “popular sovereignty” solution (without the repeat of the bloody disaster that followed this solution when it was impelemented in the 19th century U.S. to solve the slavery issue).

  7. Between calling Wolfowitz a “microbe” and this, Jumblatt is truly the last free man, the Morton Downey Jr. of international politics.

  8. Syria’s occupation of Lebanon is certainly a pressing issue when contrasted with the much bigger, longer military occupation of Palestine. Arab-bashing is sure popular in Bush’s Amerika.

  9. Jew-bashing and Israel-bashing are sure popular among so-called “history buffs.”

  10. Arab-bashing is sure popular in Bush’s Amerika.

    Hmmm, geee, I could swear that many Lebanese would consider themselves Arabs. And ‘AmeriKKKa’ has 3 K’s dammit!!!

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