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02 December 2006

Riad ُُُEl-Solh Square

Hundreds of thousands of protesters gathered yesterday near Mr Siniora's office in Riad Solh Square, in Beirut, calling for the Lebanese government to step down. The tension between Hezbollah et. al. and the current government started a while ago, when Hezbollah's allies asked for a greater role in the government, followed by the resignation of Hezbollah, and Amal ministers, then came the assassination of Pierre Gemayel, who belongs to March the 14th movement, that is forming the majority of the current government, whose death and funeral were used by the government which played the role of the victim and got more sympathy in order to prevent Hezbollah protesters from getting down to the streets asking in order to force the government to resign. The government succeeded in delaying Hozbollah's allies peaceful protests, but it seems that such move was irreversible, and yesterday was the day.

Actually, I have some questions in mind that I want to share with you here. Is it Hezbollah's right to make such move? Come on, this government was elected by the Lebanese majority, and forcing it to resign, by a group of protesters, is really against democracy. I'll try to put myself in Hezbollah's shoes and figure out what is in their minds. Before the last Lebanese-Israeli conflict, Hezbollah used to rely on their military power, they never had a political majority in any government, though the Shiits are a demographic majority in Lebanon. The Lebanese Shiits never knew how to play the political game as well. The Lebanese constitution didn't give them enough power compared to their numbers, but they also failed to become a non-silent majority. If you have a look at the Lebanese media, you'll find most of the writers, journalists, and even actors and singers are Maronites or Sunnis. Even the Lebanese blogosphere is not far away from this. The birth of Hezbollah in the eighties was the only right move they did in their lifetime, however Hezbollah continued to count on its military power, and never cared about having a political power beside it. Then came the Lebanese-Israeli conflict, and the UN 1701 resolution, backed by the current Lebanese government and many other Arab and western governments, that limited Hezbollah's military power. So, they woke up and realized that they have to get themselves involved in the political game that they missed for ages. And for me this is why they decided to have allies such as Al Tayyar of General Oun, AmaL Movement, and Suleiman Franjieh, and this is why they asked for greater share in the government and finally they were forced to get down to the streets and used the silent majority they have as well their allies supporters in order to form a custom government where they can have greater role in.

On the other hand, the Siniora's governemt failed in dealing with the Lebanese-Israeli conflict, and this failure leads to an unjust resolution such as that one the UN made after the war. The government also failed in re-building what was destroyed during the war. In fact they failed in dealing with the war itself as well as the post-war situation. So the question is, isn't it the people's right to ask a government to resign after such failures? But, I think such call of resignation is supposed to be made in the parliament and not in the streets, right? I know, we are not used to this here in our region, and governments last either they fail or succeed. It's just our presidents/kings who have the right to force governments to either resign or stay. Anyway, may be it's me who is not used to democracy, so I'd like to know the opinion of those readers who live in democratic countries. Is it the protesters right or not to get down to the street calling for their government resignation when it fails?

One final note, sure you have noticed how some Arab leaders dealt with the current situation in Lebanon, and leaders of countries such as Saudia and Egypt backed the current Lebanese government against the protesters. First of all, it's an internal Lebanese affair, so they do not have the right to interfere with it. But also, I think that most of the Arab government are staying in their positions against their peoples will, so they are sure not happy to see something like this in a neighbor country, as it may happen to have similar protests some day in their own countries.

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  1. the Shiites were always there ya Tarek you forgot Amal ,you forgot the Lebanese Consitution which implies that the head of the assembly would be a shiite ,plus you forgot other important Shiite figures like for example Haifaa Wahaby and Amal Hegazy
    anyway seriously
    there is other important point we always forget and all cabinets were guilty with pleasure in it , there is no development at all for the south ,not because of Hezbollah ,but because the gov'ts and because no one cares about the south ,I remember I saw many programs about this and that's why Hezbollah made a huge popularity , a charity and service in the first place creating a popularity base to give you more power
    anyway I believe if they succeeded then we will see something new in the Arab world

  2. Is it their constitutional, and therefore legal, right? Yes, it is. If a majority is a majority, then i do not see anything wrong listening to a demonstration that has more than 10% of the whole population in it. Imagine 7 to 10 million Egyptians are having a sit in to make a demand--in this case early elections. Would it not be wise that the majority contains their demand as have early elections?

    Mind you, elections in Lebanon are sectarian, and both the opposition and the majority want to change the law.

  3. @Zeinobia, come on Zeinab, have a look on the Lebanese Blogosphere, can you see any Shiit voiuces in the Lebanese TV channels and newspapers other the Al Manar TV, and NBN. Most of the people I know here believe that most the Lebanese are Maronites. Also, I don't think the head of the parliament has similar power to that of the Prime Minister and the President.

    @Amr, forgive my ignorance, but I didn't get your point.