did have one unintended benefit: It created, for the first time, a functional identity for Lebanon.
The word that captures this is lubnaniyun, which came into common usage in the weeks of joint Christian-Muslim mass protest preceding Syria's withdrawal. Literally, it is the plural form of lubnani--"Lebanese." In spirit, it's akin to America's e pluribus unum--out of many, one.
What is remarkable is that what began as an alliance of convenience between Christians, Sunnis and Druze to expel Syria has not only survived Syria's departure, but has deepened into an alliance of shared convictions.
The potential problem, of course, is Hizbullah, the Shiite "Party of God." It refuses to disarm, is controlled by Iran, and dreams of creating in Lebanon an Islamic state. Yet Stephens finds non-Muslim Lebanese to be quite nonchalant about the threat from Hizbullah. They have confidence in the power of lubnaniyun.
[P]erhaps the apparent nonchalance of most Lebanese is warranted. Wherever I go here, the impression is of a people intent on making up for lost time, and determined never again to be dragged down by extremism. It is these Lebanese, one senses, and not Hezbollah, who are making the country anew, and who are doing so, at long last, in the absence of fear.
Let us certainly hope so.
Read it here.
Much has been accomplished in Lebanon, but there is a hard road ahead and lubnaniyun can't patch over the rough spots completely.
Kirk Sowell over at Window on the Arab World notes that,
Al-Hayat reports on the "collapse" of the Auon-Jumblatt-Hariri alliance, as well as France's doubts that Syria has removed its intelligence operatives from Lebanon.
This is serious stuff. General Michel Auon returned from exile to cheering crowds a few weeks back and obviously is bidding for control of the opposition coalition; Walid Jumblatt, representing the Druze, took a leaderhip role early in the revolution and obviously sees himself continuing in that role. Meanwhile Saad al-Hariri, the son of slain former Premier, Rafiq Hariri is making his bid for leadership. What a mess!
But Yalibnan reports that Hizbullah's leaders are beginning to sound more and more like politicians and less like militant revolutionaries. Read it here.
The report that Syrian intelligence is still operating in Lebanon is particularly ominous. But..., but..., didn't the UN assure us that Syria had completely withdrawn its intelligence operatives? And if the UN certifies something, it surely must be so..., musn't it?