Day By Day

Monday, March 14, 2005

Lebanese Protest Update

Mickey Kaus on the transformation of the Middle East:

[I]t certainly does seem like the Arab world is blowing through the dialectic of history with impressive speed. The shift from feudalism to capitalism used to take three centuries; now it takes a week and a half!
OK he's exaggerating, but he does have some interesting things to say. Check him out here.

Also, check out NRO's the Corner here. Walid Phares is blogging from the Lebanese opposition protests. Great pictures too.! Must See stuff.

Turkey's Andalou News Agency estimates the demonstration at more than two million people. Impressive, if true. That's more than half the total population of Lebanon. See here.

Hizbollah is staging counter-demonstrations, much smaller than the opposition protests, though.

NewZealand's TVNZ reports:
Hundreds of thousands of people turned out for a Hizbollah rally against the United States, even as a UN envoy met the Lebanese president to press demands for a Syrian pullout.

Washington, leading the calls for Syria to withdraw its forces from the country, said it welcomed promises by Damascus to do so but wanted to see deeds and not just words.

Many placards at Hizbollah's demonstration in the southern town of Nabatiyeh said "No to foreign intervention", but were aimed at the United States and Israel, not Syria.

"America out!" yelled supporters of the Syrian-backed Shi'ite Muslim group, mocking the chants of "Syria out" at opposition demonstrations in recent weeks.
Read the whole thing here.

Naharnet, meanwhile, reports on the opposition demonstrations which have been going on around the clock.
Lebanon's national opposition front is staging a massive show of force at Rafik Hariri's graveside in downtown Beirut Monday amid outspoken charges that President Lahoud's Syrian-backed regime was behind the billionaire ex-premier's assassination.

Endless bus convoys were pouring into the capital from all over Lebanon to take part in the mid-afternoon sit-in at the Martyrs Square, waving a sea of Lebanese national flags and chanting 'Truth, Sovereignty and Independence.'

Bussed protestors from the Christian heartland north of Beirut complained that army checkpoints were purposely slowing the drive to Beirut by insisting on frisking each traveler bodily. They said many had switched to boats and were heading by sea to Beirut beaches.

Thousands of opposition activists from all political and sectarian shades of Lebanon's spectrum spent the night at a make-shift metropolis of blue tents erected just across the street from Hariri's grave at the courtyard of Al Amin Mosque and in cars and buses parked nearby.

They maintained a nightlong candle light vigil at the grave and drew with burning candles the word 'Truth' in Arabic and English, which Hariri's sister, Bahia, said it means "we want the full truth about who conspired, planned and executed the assassination."

Roaring chants rang out from the crowds at midmorning, demanding that State Prosecutor Adnan Addoum and commanders of all six major security and intelligence departments of the country be sacked for allowing Hariri's assassination to happen exactly one month ago."

This is a demand we shall keep alive in non-strop graveside sits-in," said Hariri's parliament bloc member Walid Ido. "The secret services have become a death machine, a death mill toiling without letup."
Round the clock candlelight vigils, Christians storming Beirut's beaches, massive demonstrations and counter-demonstrations. Exciting stuff. Read the whole thing here.

The model, of course, is Ukraine. The outcome might be far less satisfactory. All depends on what Assad and Hizbollah are willing to do to short-circuit the opposition.

Keep tuned.

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