Surprised to see the Lebanese population rising up against Syria in the wake of the Hariri murder? You shouldn't be - it's cause and effect, as David Ignatius notes as he continues his tour of the region:
- "Enough!" That's one of the simple slogans you see scrawled on the walls around Rafiq Hariri's grave site here. And it sums up the movement for political change that has suddenly coalesced in Lebanon and is slowly gathering force elsewhere in the Arab world.
...."It is the beginning of a new Arab revolution," argues Samir Franjieh, one of the organizers of the opposition. "It's the first time a whole Arab society is seeking change — Christians and Muslims, men and women, rich and poor."
The leader of this Lebanese intifada is Walid Jumblatt, the patriarch of the Druze Muslim community and, until recently, a man who accommodated Syria's occupation. But something snapped for Jumblatt last year, when the Syrians overruled the Lebanese constitution and forced the reelection of their front man in Lebanon, President Emile Lahoud. The old slogans about Arab nationalism turned to ashes in Jumblatt's mouth, and he and Hariri openly began to defy Damascus.
...."It's strange for me to say it, but this process of change has started because of the American invasion of Iraq," explains Jumblatt. "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." Jumblatt says this spark of democratic revolt is spreading. "The Syrian people, the Egyptian people, all say that something is changing. The Berlin Wall has fallen. We can see it." [Washington Post]
And hey, look at this:
- Beleaguered Lebanese Prime Minister Omar Karameh said he was ready to quit in the face of intense pressure to end Syrian domination of his country and find the killers of ex-premier Rafiq Hariri.
Karameh spoke as US President George W. Bush kept up the heat, repeating a joint demand he and French President Jacques Chirac made earlier this week for Syria to withdraw its troops immediately.