February 28, 2005

Beirut is Feeling Pretty Kiev-y

A friend of B.D. sends this E-mail in from Beirut:

On Friday evening I headed down to the mosque where Hariri and his body guards are buried. A mosque still under construction, the outside protective walls of the site are covered with urban graffiti, people writing condolences and messages for freedom, truth and independence. At the grave site itself, the earth is still fresh over the coffins, and has become home to shrines, covered in flowers, images of christianity, verses of the koran, all of it alight with burning red and white candles. Throughout the evening and during the following day people have been streaming through paying their respects. At the foot of the mosque is the Place des Martyres, a Statue erected by the French. Since the 15th of February, the day after the assassination, a steady number of Lebanese have been setting up tents around the statue and now expanding outward in the square. Essentially a political squat, inhabited by activists making up the faces of the 8 anti-syrian coalition parties have congregated in a similar way to those involved in the Orange Revolution which just took place in the Ukraine. About 100 people and although far from being as impressive in number as of what took place in Kiev, a friend pointed out: "Come on, the Lebanese camping? This isn't nothing". And political activist Tracy, who has been spending all her free time down there explained since the attack explained: "Yeah, this is really a big step for people, a big step". The campers all agreed that while down there, no one would put up political party flags but rather they would rally behing the Lebanese flag as a symbol of unity. The big step Tracy refered to was about how the result of Hariri's death has permitted for a real public display of discontent. Although Lebanese press is noted for being the freeist in the Arab world, each publication is still under the constraints of self-censorship, unable to outwardly discuss the Syrian presence and the impact it has had on decision making in Lebanon. For the first time, since 1989, when the last big anti-Syrian protest took place, people of all ages, socio-economic and religious backgrounds are finding the strength to display their frustration with the impact of the Syrian presence. On Saturday evening, a human chain was organized with maybe 10 to 20 thousand people standing from Place des Martyrs down the site where the blast took place. I overheard people speaking, one lady saying to her friend: "I don't what will come of this, but it is important to be here". Another and more prominent figure I ran into, Ziad Doueiri, a filmmaker who directed West Beirut about the war, and more recently, Lila dit ca, explained to me that " I never go to demonstrations, but that this time I feel like I can't miss this, I just really need to be here". As people lined up, there seemed to be just as many soldiers along the way. A presence heavily armed, stood by quietly in the background. They were noticeable, but far from agitated looking. One officer turned to me and said: "It is all good as long as it stays under control." Persisting to find out what he thought, he said: "You know, Hariri was a big loss, so I think this is good". So far the government is condoning population's ability to act on its democratic right, yet things may start changing. Tomorrow, Monday, there is a mass strike organized, and the city will close down. Along with it has been planned another big rally. Half a million of protesters are expected. Rumor has it that throughout the past week, the government has sent out a rallying word to pro-Syrian factions to show up in support of the government and Syrian presence. If this is reality, the events could be a little more difficult to control, maybe something the Ministry of Interior might have realized. This evening, Philip surfing the internet spotted a message from the Ministry of Interior. It has set out a decree that there should be no protesting in any way tomorrow. The only thought is that the decree might have come in with incredibly short notice, and considering the momentum of the population, it would seem hard to dissuade so many of a breath of free expression for all sides of the equations. [ed. note: spelling corrected from original]

As I've said, exciting times.

Posted by Gregory at February 28, 2005 03:37 AM | TrackBack (40)

What if we could peek into Assad's head? When he okayed the orders to blow up Hariri, was he thinking "Archduke Ferdinand." The bullet shot that started WW1? Americans aren't Europeans. Let me guess, here, that Assad's days are now numbered. He can have his troops LEAVE all of Lebanon in a hurry. Or there's going to be a rout. How, you ask? The first soldier of his that fires on the first civilian in Beirut, will discover "that shot" that not only starts what Assad thought would be "his picnic." It will come at him with America's strength AND Israel's RESOLVE. He may think he has a well armed army. But all they do is terrify unarmed citizens. Wait. The American Marines have patience. Our own revolution started with the order: DON'T SHOOT UNTIL YOU SEE THE WHITE'S OF THEIR EYES.

Want a prediction? Everything topples because it's been eaten away from the inside. Just the way termites undermine the heath of structures. And, even Hollywood can't come to the rescue, now.

Know why? OT. I read an interesting piece about Sarandon's movie "DEAD MAN, WALKING." Hollywood tried to use it to vanquish the death penalty. And, at the end of the movie, where the killer meets his end through justice. And, the law. Many in the audiences rose and applauded.

Perhaps, Assad, the UN, Putin, Chirac, Hollywood, and others, have no noses? So they can't smell the stench Hitler and his minions carry with them? Imagine, not being able to smell the death cult's poison? Up ahead, more than just the statue of a dictator falls. (Do I have regrets? Among the few, I want to know what strings got pulled that put Jimmy Carter's name, being that he's the worst president we ever had in history, onto a submarine carrying American sailors? What's with the Navy? Are they trying to prove they had the strength to bring down Nixon? You know, Woodward WAS connected to NAVAL INTELLIGENCE. And, while this is way off topic, we never did get to learn the truth.)

If our housecleaning is good enough, ahead, we may learn a lot more about our own failures in politics. And, just who the people were who underwrote such hatred for American citizens. It's not a question of holding my breath. It's just a matter of time, now.

Posted by: Carol Herman at February 28, 2005 05:48 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

What was the Navy thinking? It's pretty simple. The only ex-nuke submariner ever to become president gets his own nuclear submarine named after him eventually. Maybe fitting that he gets his name on a one-off that is overpriced and already somewhat obselete.

-a former submariner

Posted by: tom cuddihy at February 28, 2005 06:36 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

OT: Carter gets a nuke sub named after him as the ultimate bitch-slap. rickover blackballed him, knew he was unfit to command a nuke sub, so the navy is giving him the appropraite finger. it isnt like the USS Ronald Reagan, an aircraft carrier, which is the ne plus ultra of force.

Posted by: Rob Mandel at February 28, 2005 07:00 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

OT Supporting Evidence: "Jimmy" is part of it's official name.

Can you imagine CVN-76 having "Ronnie" painted on it?

Pity the poor SOBs that have to serve on the 23.

Anyrate, the USN's naming conventions have gotten out of control. Seawolf, Connie and Jimmy? - What was so hard about Sealion and Seadragon?

Posted by: Tommy G at February 28, 2005 07:36 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Well when they name an attack sub after Jimmy, they HAVE to make a special bunny insignia for the crew - wouldn't that be appropriate? Remember Jimmy's swamp hare attack?

Posted by: Joshua Scholar at February 28, 2005 08:24 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Maybe it is all part of the "we hide with pride" that the submariners practice.

Posted by: Jason at February 28, 2005 09:51 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

OT: Carter's got a sub. waaa.

Posted by: blowme at March 1, 2005 02:57 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink
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