Monday, March 14, 2005

Not Going Away

After the Syrians sent Hezbollah and a bunch of Syrian illegal immigrants into the streets in a show of strength and support that dwarfed the earlier anti-Syrian protests, it looked a little rough for the pro-independence side in Leganon.

But then the pro-independence side mobilized perhaps twice as many Druze, Sunnis, and Christians for another demonstration against the Syrians:

The rally, perhaps the biggest anti-government demonstration ever staged in the Arab world, was the opposition's bid to regain momentum after two serious blows: the reinstatement of the pro-Syrian prime minister and a huge rally last week by the Shiite group Hezbollah.

Protesters — some bused in from across Lebanon — jammed Martyrs' Square and spilled into nearby streets. They chanted, sang and shouted in a mix of the Arabic accents of the country's regions, demanding Syrian troops depart and that their government be purged of Damascus' influence.

The Syrians would be more than happy to start and win a civil war if their proxies the Shia Hezbollah will go the distance. I'd mentioned that the pro-independence side needs to split away a number of the Shias in order to deny the Syrians a solid proxy. Appealing to the Shias to avoid doing Assad's dirty work in Lebanon while Assad kills Iraqi Shias should be possible, I think.

So this bit is encouraging:

The turnout was broader than earlier opposition protests, with more Sunni Muslims in particular joining the Christians and Druse who have formed the bulk of past anti-Syrian rallies. Even some Shiites joined in.

Who breaks and who shoots first? It could go either way. I wonder if Damascus can gain the support of a major player and break our line of backers.

Oh, and this bit from another article is quite interesting regarding Syria itself:

"If the pressure grows and the Americans begin to hint at regime change, some here may be tempted to think they are the substitute the United States is looking for," George Jabour, a member of Syria's parliament and an eminent political scientist, said from Damascus.
Don't the opponents of doing anything except issuing apologies for things we didn't even do tell us that if the big bad Americans say they want something then that something is automatically "tainted" by association with us?

Apparently not. I'm still not optimistic that the guys with the guns and willingness to kill are going to lose this round, but the pro-freedom side doesn't seem too ashamed to take American encouragement. Darned shame we alienated the Arab world by liberating Iraq. Darned shame.

The thirst for freedom is not going away.