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Lebanon: Strange, Wonderful Goings-On

In the week following the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, some strange and wonderful things are happening in Lebanon. Freedom, perhaps, is on the march in Lebanon.


David Ignatius, writing in The Washington Post, examines "Beirut's Berlin Wall":

"The leader of this Lebanese intifada is Walid Jumblatt, the patriarch of the Druze Muslim community and, until recently, a man who accommodated Syria's occupation. But something snapped for Jumblatt last year, when the Syrians overruled the Lebanese constitution and forced the reelection of their front man in Lebanon, President Emile Lahoud. The old slogans about Arab nationalism turned to ashes in Jumblatt's mouth, and he and Hariri openly began to defy Damascus....

'It's strange for me to say it, but this process of change has started because of the American invasion of Iraq,' explains Jumblatt. 'I was cynical about Iraq. But when I saw the Iraqi people voting three weeks ago, 8 million of them, it was the start of a new Arab world.' Jumblatt says this spark of democratic revolt is spreading. 'The Syrian people, the Egyptian people, all say that something is changing. The Berlin Wall has fallen. We can see it.'"

Daniel Pipes notes:

"For the first time in three decades, Lebanon now seems within reach of regaining its independence. 'I don't see how Syria can stay now,' observes Lebanon's former president, Amin Gemayel.

The reassertion of Lebanon's independence will fittingly reward an unsung steadfastness. The Lebanese may have once squandered their sovereignty, starting with the Syrian invasion of 1976 and culminating in the nearly complete occupation of 1990, but they showed dignity and bravery under occupation. Against the odds, they asserted a civil society, kept alive the hope of freedom, and retained a sense of patriotism.

Lebanon's independence will also serve as a large nail in the coffin of the brutal, failed, and unloved Assad dynasty. If things go right, Syria's liberation should follow on Lebanon's.

Thus can a mere traffic accident influence history."

In the New York Post, Amir Taheri explains that "People Power Hits Lebanon":

"'This is the start of Lebanon's second war of independence,' says parliamentarian Marwan Hamade. 'We are determined that Hariri's tragic death be transformed into the rebirth of our nation.'

Those who have wondered where next the flame of freedom may rise in the Middle East have their answer. After free and fair elections in Iraq, it is now the turn of Lebanon to break the shackles of tyranny and take the path of democracy....

Free elections in Lebanon, after free elections in the Palestinian Authority and Iraq, will speed up the dismantling of other despotic regimes in the Middle East, thus bringing this vital region into the mainstream of post-Cold War global politics. Whether anyone likes it or not, regime-change must remain the name of the game in the region until people-based governments are established wherever this is not already the case.

Regime-change, however, need not be pursued solely through military means (although this must not be discarded). In countries where internal mechanisms for peaceful change exist, the task facing the major democracies is to help trigger them into action.

Today, Lebanon is one such case. Any failure to seize the moment would amount to a betrayal of the democratic aspirations of the Lebanese people."

We are now seeing the beginnings of freedom in Lebanon; the Middle East is changing before our very eyes. These strange and wonderful happenings must be savored, for, while the flame of liberty is spreading, it has determined enemies. The march to a free and democratic Middle East has only just begun.

The Captain's Quarters blog has more:

"...the only way to achieve victory over terrorists is to deprive them of state sponsorship from the kleptocracts and mullahcrats in Southwest Asia and North Africa. The only way to get that is to topple the tyrants and push for self-determination and freely elected governments, and it only takes one or two examples in the region before everyone there starts wondering when their turn will come.

Lebanon may soon stop wondering, and that will be a day of rejoicing."

Posted by Will Franklin · 23 February 2005 11:35 AM


Iran is next. Just watch. Their population is even younger than Lebanon's. We may not have to bomb Iran if their young people take to the streets. What a great day!!!

Posted by: jtc at February 28, 2005 03:46 PM

Agreed. Which is why Seymour Hersch and so many others are wrong about predicting an invasion of Iran.

Posted by: Will Franklin at February 28, 2005 06:41 PM