Monday, February 28, 2005

The Cedar Revolution Is Winning

UPDATE 03/05/2005
Thanks to the reader who corrected my typo error. I used the word cidar, when meaning cedar. Probably this study is valid :-)

ORIGINAL POST 02/28/2005
I wanted to keep the previous post up a bit longer. But, my fingers started aching after I heard the new developments in Lebanon:

With shouts of "Syria out!," more than 25,000 flag-waving protesters massed outside Parliament on Monday in a dramatic display of defiance that forced the resignation of Lebanon's prime minister and Cabinet two weeks after the assassination of an opposition leader.

Cheering broke out among the demonstrators in Martyrs' Square when they heard Prime Minister Omar Karami's announcement on loudspeakers that the government was stepping down. Throughout the day, protesters handed out red roses to soldiers and police.

"It is the first victory, but it will not be the last," opposition leader and former information minister Ghazi al-Areedh told the crowd in a scene broadcast live around the Arab world.


This is a happy day for the Lebanese people. Enough of being controlled by others. I congratulate the Lebenese people around the world on this victory. This is a historic day.

I grew up in the Middle East. During the Lebanese civil war, I was obsessed with following its news. I read everything I could find about Lebanon to understand why that beautiful country turned into a war zone. I discussed it daily with my Lebanese friends at the university. I read "Beirut Nightmares" by Ghada Samman, where she took the readers into a journey inside a city torn down by bombs. I still couldn't understand enough.

I didn't understand how much Syria controls that country until I had the chance to experience it personally. In 1995, I had to stop by Beirut Airport for a few hours on my way to Sydney. That's when I understood the heavy Syrian presence in the cedar country.

The passengers, like myself, had to spend transit time at the airport. We were escorted by Syrian soldiers into a bus that took us to another terminal. Our passports were taken from us. We were told the passports will be returned before our next flight. They assigned a Lebanese employee to take care of me -- Thank God. His mission was to make sure I didn't leave the small area designated for transit passengers. The Lebanese employee was so kind. He made sure all was well with me.

When we got the chance to have a small chat away from the eyes of the Syrian soldiers, he told me in a whispered voice how pissed he was of the whole situation at the airport and everywhere in Lebanon. He couldn't stand to see his country controlled by the Syrian army. I was counting every minute until they announced the boarding call for my flight to Sydney. Still no passport. I was getting really nervous until the Lebanese employee came rushing and handed me my precious passport.

What shocked me the most at the airport was the pictures of Syrian political figures on the walls. It got me confused at the time as I wasn't sure if I was in Lebanon or Syria.

To the Syrian people who are reading this post, please know that I'm not against you. I'm against the presence of your troops in Lebanon. I'm against your government. It hasn't done much to stop the import of terrorists into Iraq. Yes, the Syrian government showed its good will yesterday by handing over Saddam's half-brother. But you and I know that move came after the mounting pressure on Syria from the American government. Don't let your government drag you into a war with any country. It's time for the people of the Middle East to stand up and question the actions of their governments.

Talking about Syria, check this new blog from Syria.

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