Realignment

The big story of the past few days is that Lebannon is undergoing some kind of political phase transition, precipitated by the assassination of a popular ex-prime minister, and apparently culminating in a sort of mini-revolution that has brought down the government and stands a fair chance of finally kicking out the Syrians.

Frankly, there's not a great deal I can say about what's going on there that isn't more effectively reported elsewhere. I do, however, follow these things pretty closely (seeing as it's going down not a couple hundred kilometers north of here), so I can summarize while pointing out some of the more useful sources of information.

I would encourage anyone new to the story to read this timeline in the Beirut Daily Star to catch up on things.

A couple of weeks ago, a popular billionaire who also happens to be the Lebannese ex-Prime Minister turned opposition was killed in a car bombing. The crime was pretty quickly blamed on Syria by both the Lebannese and the world at large, even though there are reasonable indications that the Syrians had nothing to do with it. At this point, that no longer matters too much. What began as a call for an honest investigation snowballed with astonishing speed into a mass movement. Just take a look at the photos!

What Juan Cole has dubbed the Video Clip Revolution is directed against the Syrian-supported ruling party, and by extenstion against the Syrian occupation itself. It's clear this has been coming for a while, although it would seem the Republican agitators are already trying to give Bush the credit. Don't believe a word of it. Dr. Cole has the definitive summary of the historical context here.

What's happened so far is already quite a triumph for the people of Lebannon, but there are signs that they might succeed in dislodging the nearly 30-year-old Syrian occupation as well. Which would be very cool, and a win-win for everyone involved. So far, though, the Western media coverage has been pretty perfunctory, with marginally substantive material only appearing now that a government has fallen. (The coverage in Israel isn't superb, either, despite the potentially interesting consequences here.)

As for the question that's already (and inevitably) popping up, no, the Palestinians couldn't pull off something like this. The Palestinian populace for the most part can't physically reach any of the centers of Israeli government, which is where such a protest would ideally focus -- they'd never be allowed through the checkpoints. And anyway, Orange Revolutions don't work in the face of a military perfectly willing to gun down protesters en masse.

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This page contains a single entry by Milligan published on March 1, 2005 8:20 PM.

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