More on Lebanon and Syrias crisis

A continuation of yesterdays thread… which now has 7 Updates. Please read them all!

I just came across this article at the Daily Star (a Lebanese newspaper)

It’s very very interesting, some things I was not aware of:

Unlike the U.S., France is not seeking Assad’s overthrow, only the reform of his government. Chirac has something of a personal axe to grind. He strongly supported Assad when he came to power in 2000 – favoring him with a state visit to Paris and pleading Syria’s cause with other European capitals – but he has been bitterly disappointed by his performance ever since, and in particular his failure to carry out promised economic and political reforms. Chirac strongly objected to Syria’s move last year to force the Lebanese to amend their constitution so as to extend the mandate of the pro-Syrian President Emile Lahoud. And he has now been outraged and sickened by the murder of his close friend Hariri.

Udpated 3 times

And more:

More than 200 Syrian intellectuals, including leading opposition figures, have themselves called for a withdrawal of the Syrian Army from Lebanon in order to put relations between the two countries on a healthier basis.

Please read the whole thing.

It still seems unclear how this will all pan out. While I believe the Lebanese people will be successful in having an fair election, the real proof of change will be whether Syria withdraws its’ intelligence services from the halls of Lebanese power. That is the real test.

It will be an interesting time…


Abu Aardvark talks about the effect of the Arab Satellite stations beeming all of these events, in Iraq, Cairo and Beirut back to the “regular Arab”.

Part of it is a long term process: al Jazeera, and to a lesser extent to the other satellite stations, have been eviscerating the legitimacy of the Arab status quo for years. The al Jazeera talk shows are full to overflowing with critics of almost every Arab regime and of the entire Arab system more generally. Hardly a week has gone by in the last five years without a guest on some popular al Jazeera program denouncing some Arab leader as an authoritarian despot, or demanding greater democracy, or complaining about Arab backwardness. While the immediate effect of any individual program might only be to provoke a diplomatic crisis (Jordan getting pissy with Qatar when Asa’ad AbuKhalil criticizes King Hussein, for example) or to get people riled up – the sensationalism factor – the cumulative impact has been to create a vast public sense of frustration with the politically stagnant status quo and the expectation of something more.

Interesting point. Would we be seeing these changes if there weren’t Arab Satellite networks like Al Jazeera able to voice opinions against the establishment? Probably not.

Update 2:

Another point of view from the Druze Muslim Leader in Lebanon that I was alerted to at LT-Smashs’ blog.

It’s strange for me to say it, but this process of change has started because of the American invasion of Iraq. 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. The Syrian people, the Egyptian people, all say that something is changing. The Berlin Wall has fallen. We can see it.”

Update 3:

Because I know Juan Cole is a favourite one to hate among the right in the blogosphere, I thought it might be valuable to quote this reaction to his latest article from the comments thread at the latest post at Back-To-Iraq

thank you for the link to Juan Cole’s article. It is very accurate, myself being from that region and having friends and relatives who are Lebanese, I was totally amazed by the historic accuracy of the article.

So while Juan is notoriously biased and it shows in everything he writes, if you try to look past his implied nastiness and look at only the facts, he is very knowledgeable. And thus, a good source of information no matter what your opinion on the issues.

Update 3

The Washington Monthly has a great analysis on the causes of the events in Lebanon. He too brings up Arab Satellite TV as having a major role to play in spreading democracy even though they, especially Al Jazeera, are often criticized and even demonised for being mouthpieces for terrorists.

5 replies on “More on Lebanon and Syrias crisis”

  1. I think you forgot a link:

    As Walid Jumblatt, Druze Muslim leader in Lebanon and certified hater of America, said, “It’s strange for me to say it, but this process of change has started because of the American invasion of Iraq. 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. The Syrian people, the Egyptian people, all say that something is changing. The Berlin Wall has fallen. We can see it.”

    Just in case you missed it in the other post below.

  2. Can We please remember that France has stood for two wildly divergent streams of thought, the Chirac current that holds that Frnace is a world power and should exercise a traditional role in helping to dominate the world through French cultural domination and force of arms where that can be done safely; and the current that is the product of the enlightenment, Voltaire, Diderot and later Hugo, Zola and Camus who, amongst others, tended to decry the use of force and the domination of one group by another in all circumstances. Like Bush, Chriac is a master of saying one thing and doing another, of denaturing and debasing language while he transforms a fairly advanced social democracy into a freemarket haven for the MEDEF and other big business groups. That Chirac and Hariri were close doesn’t speak well for Hariri or for certain factions of the opposition in Lebanon, and anything that Chirac might say about Assad is a little like the pot calling the kettle black. France’s role in West Africa of late has been less than that of a helping hand (protecting French commercial interests) and it is deplorable that the French continue to be major contributors to the destruction of democracy in Haiti, as well as at home. Heck, and I’m a francophile…

  3. Actually you quoted it in this post in an update but I had already provided the link.

    I’ve been listening to all sides of the spectrum on this issue of who and what influenced these events in Lebanon. Even European leaders and journalists who despise Bush as much as you do are making statements conceding that American action is at the root of these changes although, as in Ukraine, Georgia and now Lebanon, it is an indirect influence. No, don’t have any links – just comments I’ve heard on the news. Have done no real research. (So much to do and so little time!)

    Many site the internet as a major element in all this in it’s role in sharing information and exchanges of discussion regarding political philosophies. However, it is beyond common sense to state that people in Lebanon, Ukraine and Georgia were not inspired by the hope of democracy developing nearby in the ME and most dramatically in Iraq since January 30th.

    Since we’ve been told by the left since mid-2003 that the ME is incapable of democracy, these are indeed riviting and very satisfying developments in that region. As you say, we don’t know where it’s all going for sure and we not certain that this cascade of events will end as it did in Eastern Europe 15 years or so ago, we have great hope and faith that repressive regimes such as Syrian and Iranian will not be allowed to thwart the cause of democracy.

    I have said all along that those who claim that the Arabs and other Islamists are incapable of wanting and living under democractic governments are nothing more than at best, US haters and at worst racists although I’m sure that would be most emphatically denied by such pro-ponents of the status-quo.

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