Thursday, March 10, 2005

previous entry | main | next entry | TrackBack (0)

There are going to be more protests in Lebanon

That's not a particularly powerful prediction given this Voice of America story:

Lebanon's President Emile Lahoud has renamed pro-Syrian Omar Karami as prime minister, just two weeks after he resigned the post following massive opposition protests against Syrian influence in Lebanese politics.

The decision Thursday, came after Mr. Lahoud held consultations with parliamentary deputies. The parliament, where Syria's allies have a majority, overwhelmingly advised in favor of reappointing Mr. Karami.

Mr. Karami, a pro-Syrian Sunni Muslim politician, immediately called for a national unity government and urged the opposition to join, saying it is the only way out of Lebanon's crisis.

The opposition, which did not present a candidate, has been demanding a full Syrian withdrawal from the country.

Jenny Booth reports in the London Times that the opposition has already rejected joining a unity government.

The Beirut Daily Star's Nada Bakri has the reaction from protestors. They're pretty mixed. Here's one example:

Boutros Fadel, 41, from the Lebanese National Liberal Party (LNLP) and who has been camping out at Martyrs' Square for over a week, said: "We oppose Karami's reappointment as he is part of the pro-Syrian regime. However, he won't and can't affect our will and determination to free Lebanon from the Syrians."

He added: "Karami resigned to calm protesters down, like giving them a morphine injection. It won't work and the cure to the virus which entered Lebanon in 1976 is UN Resolution 1559."


posted by Dan on 03.10.05 at 11:38 AM


If this is only a temporary government till the next elections and if Syria genuinely moves the bulk of its troops out (2 big ifs) , this is not that big a deal. After all, some government is probably needed for the interim.

If on the other hand, this is a sign that Syria wants to re-consolidate its position, this could be a sign of serious trouble.

My prediction: Syria will strike some deal with the interim puppet government, move the bulk of its troops and intelligence agents out, and remove as many as possible from the way of Lebanese to avoid offending them. it will not move all troops out, and it will definitely not move all intelligence agents out. The puppet government will spin this as a major victory for Lebanon and try and ride it to electoral success.

posted by: erg on 03.10.05 at 11:38 AM [permalink]

The reappointment of Karami is important, not because the pro-Syrian voted him back in office, but because to do so, they must have assessed that it was political safe to do so.

Along with the government-organized demonstrations in Syria, both could be signs of the hardliners winning the day inside Assad's circle.

All of the events above, along with the Hezbollah demonstration indicate that the original momentum on the protesters' side seems to have been stopped and the tide turned the other way.

Which in turn deals a serious blow to the grand narrative of Bush's plan working.

posted by: Nick Kaufman on 03.10.05 at 11:38 AM [permalink]

There may be more protests, but the Syrians (or their allies) are getting smarter at the uses of rent-a-crowds.

See this Beiruit Daily Star article.

Nick. The pressure on Syria is helpful, even if the Cedar revolution does not succeed. And the hits Hezbollah is going to be taking to its legitimacy each time they take one for Syria may have irreversable long-term effects.

And remember, Al Jazeera has been broadcasting all this to the Arab world. The effects of that are hard to measure.

posted by: Appalled Moderate on 03.10.05 at 11:38 AM [permalink]

Lets hope they arent as clever with Rent-A-Voters. That could be a real disaster.

posted by: Mark Buehner on 03.10.05 at 11:38 AM [permalink]

The governments of the 2 most powerful Arab countries: Saudia Arabia and Egypt, want Syria out, so thats a great deal of pressure. Joel Klein said last night that a high ranking Saudi official told him that they actually threatened to stoke Sunni fundamentalists against Assad if he didn't move. in Syria, the Alawaite minority rules over a Sunni majority and the Muslim Brotherhood is still fairly powerful so it would be Assad's worst nightmare for that to happen. [ The US would not be too pleased either]

As for voting, the gerrymandered system in Lebanon practically guarantees that the Shia (the most pro-Syrian and anti-Israeli group) will be underrepresented in Parliament while the Maronites will do well.

posted by: erg on 03.10.05 at 11:38 AM [permalink]

... they must have assessed that it was political safe to do so.

Whether that assessment was actually correct remains to be seen. Bodies bussed in from Syria and Pali refugee camps to jump up and down in the street do not a trend make.

posted by: Achillea on 03.10.05 at 11:38 AM [permalink]

Bodies bussed in from Syria and Pali refugee camps to jump up and down in the street do not a trend make.

Nor do broad statements without facts to back them up. There is no evidence of significant busing from Syria (let alone Palestinian refugee camps) and there is other evidence that the Shia tend to distrust Israel much more than Syria.

posted by: josh on 03.10.05 at 11:38 AM [permalink]

Post a Comment:


Email Address:



Remember your info?