Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.

What a difference a year makes...

by jandsm Sun Jul 23rd, 2006 at 09:32:43 AM EST

In 2005 the world welcomed the peaceful so called Cedar Revolution. In response to the killing of former Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri, the Lebanese political opposition and the Lebanese people took to the streets and after protests in which millions participated, drove the Syrian troops out of Lebanon.

It was hailed as a new start for the middle east. And even at such a difficult moment, as the Lebanon prepares for a full force ground invasion of her Southern territory, one should take a moment to remember these moments because the dynamics that led to the democratization of Lebanon may still be the best hope for a lasting peace in the Middle East.

All images from Cedarrevolution.net

On March 14, 2005 more than a million people gathered in Beirut calling for a withdrawel of Syria from Lebanon and a new democratically elected government: some images:

These people walked into the streets demonstrated also against Hezbollah which organoized demonstrations in order to keep Syria in. I believe the Lebanese from all generations that took to the streets deserve the greatest respect from people in Western democracies. I personally hoped that a well developing Lebanon would in a medium-term perspective be a positive example for the rest of the region.

Now, bombs are falling and the infra-structure of much of the country is destroyed. The Israeli air-raids destroy more than a decade of reconstruction. For the rest of the ecomomic development, it may take years to recover. For a country basing its hopes on tourism and the establishment of a financial center in Beirut, the current war is a disaster.

Israel criticized the inability of the Lebanse state to control the Hezbollah. But, one should also take into account that Israel itself has not been able to destroy the Hezbollah during the long era of Israeli occupation - even though it had much more resources than the current Lebanese government has. Still, Israel has a right to defend its territory and to protect its citizens. But a democratic state like Israel should be always respond careful, measured and in a proportianate way. Destroying the Lighthouses of Beirut is in my view not proportionate.

My fear is, Israel has no clearly defined goal or an exit strategy. "Destroying Hezbollah" doesn't work with air-raids or a ground intervention. It is like the Iraqi insurgency: There are no clear targets. There is no place to go and conquer and than declare victory.

The Lebanese and the Israelis sitting in their shelters, being afraid, the newly traumatized children all of them would have deserved better. It is a tragedy that the two democracies in the middle east are now effectively at war.  

The German government is working hard to secure the release of the Israeli hostages [LINK] and the German Foreign minister Frank Walter Steinmeier will go to the region even before Condi Rice does. Maybe the release of the hostage can be a first step towards a ceasefire.

A last remark. It is very hot in Germany right now and a great summer. I can't stop thinking about the warm summers of 1914 and 1939. Because after summers like these, we usually end up in a world war.

Cross-posted at Dailykos

These people walked into the streets demonstrated also against Hezbollah which organoized demonstrations in order to keep Syria in.

Well, they didn't explicitely call for Syria to remain, it was officially one against the re-emergence of the civil war (note that support for the Cedar Revolution varied strongly across sectarian lines), and let's also mention that their protest rivalled that of the Cedar Revolutionaries (and was held at the same place):

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Sat Jul 22nd, 2006 at 12:04:25 PM EST
And by the way, welcome bac, jandsm...you've been missed. Excellent article too!

"Once in awhile we get shown the light, in the strangest of places, if we look at it right" - Hunter/Garcia
by whataboutbob on Sat Jul 22nd, 2006 at 05:36:15 PM EST

Go to: [ European Tribune Homepage : Top of page : Top of comments ]