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Lebanon on the Brink

Posted on Dec 11, 2006
Beirut demonstrations

Hezbollah has threatened an escalation in its campaign against Lebanese Prime Minister Fuad Saniora unless he resigns.  Hundreds of thousands of Hezbollah supporters took to the streets on Sunday, but Christian and Sunni leaders appear unlikely to bow to the pressure.

McClatchy Newspapers via Common Dreams:

BEIRUT, Lebanon - Hundreds of thousands of demonstrators piled into downtown Beirut Sunday, demanding that the U.S.-backed government step down immediately or face an escalation in a siege on the prime minister’s headquarters being coordinated by the Shiite Muslim Hezbollah militia.

While accounts vary of what the heightened tactics could consist of - a government worker’s strike and a storming of the headquarters have both been mentioned - it’s clear that the nation is headed toward a breaking point. Hezbollah and its allies have been camped in the center of the capital for more than a week, demanding that Sunni Prime Minister Fuad Saniora and his Cabinet step down.

The implications are profound for U.S. efforts to counter Syrian and Iranian influence in the Middle East.

The Bush administration counts the massive “Cedar Revolution” protests that expelled Syrian forces from Lebanon last year as a key victory for pro-western democracy. But now, as U.S. forces in Iraq and Afghanistan face significant setbacks, it is Syrian and Iranian ally Hezbollah that is filling the streets of Beirut and calling for revolution.

Speaking in front of the crowd on Sunday, Hezbollah’s second in command, Naim Qassim, said in a message to Saniora: “Have a press conference tonight or tomorrow to tell the Lebanese people that you are resigning. ... If you resign today, it would be a positive step, but if you don’t it will be negative for the future” of Lebanon.

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By Herman Schmidt, December 12, 2006 at 5:49 am Link to this comment
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Reading about Lebanon, you see a spillover from what is happening in Iraq and it is a shame. A shame that America and Europe don’t try to defuse Lebanon and only not make the situation worse by taking sides. Reading the article, it is couched in good guys versus bad guys, and the issues are nowhere to be found. Nowhere to be found is an expression of interest by those outside Lebanon to mediate. It is hard to suppress the anger for our own President, who has done nothing to bring Iran and Syria into the discussions, or to seek to warn the sides that it will not support either in inflicting violence against the other. If it is about democracy at all, it is about the unequal voices in a Lebanese Government stacked to overrepresent the Christian minority. Let us hope the Lebanese themselves will come to understand how outside forces have played to grievances, and encouraged civil war to promote their own shoddy agendas. There was some hope of that when Israel ravaged their country and the Lebanese people came together. But it faded all too quickly, aided by those outside Lebanon and unprincipled politicians within.

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