Lebanese Government Resigns

10s of thousands are protesting in the streets. They are Muslim and Christian alike.

The Pro-Syrian Lebanese government has resigned, even though they would have defeated a non-confidence vote. (BBC, ADBOI)

Is this going to be the “Cedar Revolution“?

Udpated 7 times

The past few days events have been very interesting in Lebanon.

It is clear that the Lebanese people want change. They don’t want to be puppets of the Syrian government anymore. They have seen the that the Public Will can have on sitting governments. First in Georgia, then in Ukraine. It only takes a catalyst, like the murder of a prominent reformer in Hariri, to get the ball rolling.

Even more encouraging is that the Lebanese Army and police is respecting the protests while at the same time maintaining their orders from the government. They are protecting law and order. They should be commended for their forsight.

One thing I am, well, not really “worried” about, but simply expecting… is the Bush Administration taking this as another “sign” that their “initiative” to bring “freedom” to the Middle East is working.

I believe that to be a pile of crap… I’d love to hear some reporters ask that question to the protesters in Beirut.

Q: “Hey, are you doing this because of the example of democracy and freedom you see in Iraq?”

A: “WTF are you talking about?”

I fully expect there to be people trying to take credit for this uprising… that’s sad.

I have heard interviews on the radio with some protesters and it seems the Lebanese have seen the success, not in Iraq, but in Ukraine. Of *peaceful* transition and change in ones own country.

I believe they will be successful. Syria will have no choice but to withdraw and the Lebanese people will have elections in the spring to elect a government that works for them, rather than Syria.

Update:

Found a good Lebanese blog here.
They also have a link to another blogger in Lebanon blogging about the protests in Beirut as they happen!

Update 2

On the issue of my not giving the US credit for this?

We’re not talking about why Syria is backing out. We’re talking about why the Lebanese people have taken to the streets.
I want to hear a Lebanese protester say that they are doing this because of the USs’ policy in Iraq first before I believe it.

You’re telling me that without the example set by the Ukraine and the assassination of Hariri, the Lebanese would be doing the exact same thing? Personally, while possible, I don’t think its’ likely. Humans are imitators… it works in the fashion industry, it works in the stock market… we all do it.

I will give the US credit when I see hard evidence… either from the People doing the protesting, or from the governments resigning. Credit due to proximity to Iraq doesn’t cut it for me.

There are examples where I’d accept that recent US influence and actions has brought change…
Libya giving up WMD is an obvious one.
Hosni Mubarraks recent allowance of an election in Egypt
The recent municipal elections in Saudi Arabia.

Those all happened because those governments recognize their future is limited if they don’t do something, in Lebanon though change is happening because of an assassination and a feeling among the people that what happenned in Ukraine can happen there as well.

I am very happy with todays events. I *do* think that the past few months have been very very good ones and could lead to lasting change for the better in the Middle East. However, I do not believe for a second that the US should be getting all the credit… unless of course they killed Arafat and Hariri?

As with many things in history.. the stars have aligned… when it rains it pours… the snowball is rolling… you know the cliches. Things are happening all over the world, from Georgia and Ukraine to Lebanon and Palestine and Iraq.

I think we could see the same in Iran within a few weeks or months. Again, if the change is initiated by the Iranian government, then I would suspect pressure from the EU/US as being the driving force… but I don’t see the Mullahs bending to an outside government. Change will come from inside in Iran, and that change will be influenced the most by the success of similar examples of popular revolt in Lebanon and Ukraine. Irans’ population has been hankering for real change for many years, far before the Iraq war. Indeed, they elected their current President on the idea that he was a reformer, unfortunately he has let them down. So now, I think it will be up to the Iranian people themselves.

Update 3: I’ve asked Freelance journalist Chris Albrighton (of Back to Iraq 3.0) about what he’s heard from the streets of Beirut. And he says:

The friends I talk to who are actually out on the street all opposed the Iraq war and don’t give a shit about Iraq democracy. They want democracy for themselves, and they’re ready to take it themselves.

Update 4: Please listen to Peter Armstrongs CBC report, it’s on the right bar. There is a Real Audio stream of his report on reactions from Lebanese Canadians.

Update 5:
Some further proof that history, not Bushs’ “Dominoes” theory, led to todays events.
I know the source is going to make the most hardline of you roll your eyes… so I’ll give you the quote first, let you digest it fully, then give you the link.:

The Syrians made a big mistake in growing attached to Gen. Emile Lahoud, their favorite Lebanese president. When his 6-year term was about to expire last fall, the Syrians intervened to have the Lebanese constitution amended to allow him to remain for another 3 years. Across the board, the Lebanese public was angered and appalled at this foreign tinkering with their constitution.

Rafiq al-Hariri resigned over the constitutional change. He was replaced as prime minister by another Sunni, Omar Karami of Tripoli in northern Lebanon.

The assassination of Rafiq al-Hariri, the popular multi-billionnaire Sunni prime minister (1992-1998 and 2000-2004), angered a broad swathe of the Sunni community, convincing them it was time for the Syrians to go. Despite the lack of any real evidence for the identity of the assassin, the Lebanese public fixed on the Syrians as the most likely culprit. The Sunnis, the Druze and the Maronites have seldom agreed in history. The last time they all did, it was about the need to end the French Mandate, which they made happen in 1943. This cross-confessional unity helps explain how the crowds managed to precipitate the downfall of the government of PM Omar Karami.

For an extended history of Lebanons’ politics and how this has all come to pass, please read this.

Update 6:
I’ve been asking around the blogosphere trying to get some firsthand accounts of whether the Lebanese people see yesterdays events as a direct consequence of the Iraq adventure and Bushs’ foreign policy.

Here is one quote that I think sounds most plausible as being from the majority of Lebanese:

Being Lebanese, and actually in Lebanon, I feel that I have the right to bolster some rumors, and diffuse others. Lebanon is already a democracy, however, weakened by the civil war, Syria had a strong foothold, and was dominating most political aspects of government. This move to kick Syria out is old, however, it was strengthened by the US and French support of recent months.

The Lebanese are different from the rest of the people of the region. Be it from a sense of education, culture, technology, etc…

It is true that Lebanese generally regard the US amicably (apart from Hizballah, but that is not really a lebanese body)… In all cases, yesterday was a good day, the people spoke, and their voice was heard.

This from “Tempest” at Across the Bay

Update 7

The Lebanese newspaper The Daily Star has a timeline of the events after Hariris’ assassination leading to yesterdays resignation of the government.

9 thoughts on “Lebanese Government Resigns”

  1. Oh Puhleese. Syria isn’t affected by US foreign policy in the ME? They know their favorite terrorist groups are about to get nailed for the assignation of the Lebonese ex PM. They JUST turned over Saddam’s brother and 40 other known terrorists who had been harbored in Syria for the last 2 years. They are busted and they are not willing to go to war again over Lebonon. You look silly, Chris, always finding no credit for US foreign policy in any clamor for self-rule or resistance to tyranny in the ME or anywhere else for that matter. The American influence in all this budding change is HUGE. Even some of the Euros are getting it. We’re not going to go to war again in the ME. We won’t have to. Democracy is on the march. Wake up.

    Next you’ll be telling us that the collapse of the Eastern Bloc communist rule (like falling dominoes) just prior to the collapse of the USSR was all a coincendence.

  2. If you don’t think Syria’s action or in action is affecting the days events in Lebanon, you’re wearing blinders. Anyway, you seem to be convinced that coincidence is the major factor in events taking place in recent days and months but the truth is common sense tells us that people are heartened and emboldened by what they see going on in other nations and regions. That’s what we are seeing in the Ukraine, Georgia, Iran, Egypt and now Lebanon.

    You’ll probably not get the hard evidence you claim is necessary to believe that what happened beginning with the recent Iraqi election is now having it’s impact in the ME as a whole but that’s okay. Common sense will prevail in the minds of most of us (and even naysayers ultimately) 😉

  3. Man…open your eyes. Are you really so naive as to believe that what is happening all over the Middle East because of U.S. policy has no effect on the situation in Lebanon. That really is choosing blindness. Sickening.

    Even what happened in Kiev was influenced by the U.S. and it’s policies. We have been supporting the opposition there for years. So when you say that maybe it’s in reliance on what happened in Kiev, you are literally saying that it is thanks to U.S. policy. Let’s remember that Russian policy favored the corrupt status quo there, but that Bush came out very strongly in support of the will of the people.

    These things all have an effect. The government resigned…they saw the writing on the wall as well. You really believe they aren’t thinking about the U.S. and Israel, and our policies and movements in the region. That is the very definition of denial.

  4. “Anyway, you seem to be convinced that coincidence is the major factor…”

    Please re-read what I said Jane… this action is by no means coincidence. It is taking place because of the assassination of Hariri and the example set by the Ukranians, who followed the example of the Georgians before them… I take issue not with the progression of events but rather the automatic back slapping of the US Administration thinking its’ all they’re good deeds.

    That’s the part that’s crap. In these instances, Iraq is the coincidence Jane, not the protests themselves. Change like this happens over many many years.

    In each instance, there was a catalyst. In Ukraine it was the failed election, in Lebanon it was the assassination, in Palestine it was the death of Arafat… hopefully something happens in Iran to jar the citizens there to action so that they can follow in the footsteps

  5. On the Mark:

    I’m just stating what I believe is the reasons that the Lebanese people give for this uprising.

    And I believe that overwhelmingly they’d say it has NOTHING to do with Iraq and Bushs’ policy to “bring freedom and democracy”.

    I will endeavour to find out what Lebanese people are saying… and if they say they’re doing this because of the example set in Iraq, then I will stand corrected.

    Or does the opinion of the people actually doing the hard work not count?

  6. Heheh… and I’d say you’re hopelessly hyper-American on this issue.

    All I want to hear from the likes of FoxNews and the rest is a little humility, an admission that maybe, just maybe, the Lebanese people are doing this because of 15 years of occupation, the assassination of a prominent reformer, and the *non-violent* example.

    Of course the US and French pressure on the Syrians has played a role, but I believe the People of Lebanon deserve most of the credit for taking the initiative.

  7. 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.”

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-dyn/A45575-2005Feb22

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