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March 14, 2005
Lebanon Answers Hezbollah In One Voice: Freedom!

beirut1.jpg beirut2.jpg

In response to the massive, organized rally by Hezbollah last week that had significant Syrian support, the Lebanese have flocked to Martyrs Square again today in the hundreds of thousands, according to Reuters, demanding an end to Syrian occupation. Unlike the Hezbollah protests for continued foreign domination, today's demonstration crosses sectarian lines:

Hundreds of thousands of people rallied in central Beirut on Monday in the largest anti-Syrian protest in Lebanon since the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik al-Hariri exactly a month ago. ...

Unlike previous anti-Syrian opposition protests since a bomb blast killed Hariri on Feb. 14, many Sunni Muslims joined Druze and Christians in taking to the streets. Hariri was a Sunni.

The opposition rally came a day after huge crowds turned out in the south for a anti-U.S. demonstration organized by Lebanon's Shi'ite Muslim Hizbollah group, an ally of Syria.

Westerners worried that the massive show by Hezbollah would intimidate the democrats in Lebanon, and in fact it appeared initially to stun them. In the momentary respite, Assad got Omar Karami back in charge of the Lebanese government through the efforts of pro-Syrian president Emile Lahoud. Even with Syrian troops streaming eastward, it looked like Assad had reversed momentum.

Now, however, it looks like the democrats have more strength than ever, so much so that the Lebanese collaborationists have asked both sides to stop holding street demonstrations and use Parliament to make their demands known. They may have miscalculated by putting Karami back in charge. It tipped their hand, showing their loyalty to Damascus over Beirut, and the protestors in the streets tell them that without Damascus, their days in power are numbered.

The Syrians are leaving. So will Lahoud, Karami, and the rest of Assad's toadies. The only question is when, and if Lebanon continues to rise up for its independence, that question will get answered soon.

UPDATE and BUMP: Added photographs.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at March 14, 2005 12:00 PM

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