Monday, February 28, 2005

Syria's Proxies Crumble

When the protests against Syrian control of Lebanon began, I wasn't sure how serious the protesters were—or how willing the Syrians would be to forcibly crush the dissidents. Finally getting a chance to see some footage of the protests on television convinced me: this rebellion has all the signs of the real deal. Even more convincing is the speed with which Syria's Lebanese puppets are giving up power.

The passage that best captures the sense of the past week's events is this one, from Atlas Shrugged: "He felt as if, after a journey of years through a landscape of devastation, past the ruins of great factories, the wrecks of powerful engines, the bodies of invincible men, he had come upon the despoiler, expecting to find a giant—and had found a rat eager to scurry for cover at the first sound of a human step."

"Lebanese Government Resigns Amid Mass Opposition Protests," AP via New York Times, 2/28/05

"With shouts of 'Syria out!,' more than 25,000 flag-waving protesters massed outside Parliament on Monday in a dramatic display of defiance that forced the resignation of Lebanon's prime minister and Cabinet two weeks after the assassination of an opposition leader.... 'It is the first victory, but it will not be the last,' opposition leader and former information minister Ghazi al-Areedh told the crowd in a scene broadcast live around the Arab world.... Syrian President Bashar Assad said in a newspaper interview published Monday that he would not withdraw troops from Lebanon until Damascus had guarantees and there was overall 'peace' in the region. Syrian intelligence agents also are present through much of the country and could be used to crack down on the opposition movement.... 'Today the government fell. Tomorrow, it's the one huddled in Anjar,' opposition leader Elias Atallah told the crowd to cheers, referring to the Syrian intelligence chief based in the eastern Lebanese town of Anjar. He said the opposition will continue its actions until all demands are met.... Interior Minister Suleiman Franjieh had banned all protests Monday on grounds of 'supreme national interests.' The security forces cordoned off Martyr's Square early in the morning, but they made no serious effort to disperse the demonstrators, many of whom had slept in the square. Some soldiers and police even sympathized with the protesters and were seen advising newcomers on how to evade the cordon."