February 23, 2005


Syria elite seeks Lebanon pullout (Nicholas Blanford, 2/24/05, Times of London)

ABOUT 140 Syrian intellectuals and human rights activists yesterday published an open letter urging Damascus to withdraw its estimated 14,000 troops from Lebanon to avoid further international censure.

The letter, addressed to the Lebanese opposition, said: “We support your demand for the withdrawal of the Syrian Army from Lebanon and in correcting the Syrian-Lebanese relationship.”

Syria deals harshly with political dissent. The intellectuals who signed the letter criticising their Government risk being jailed. [...]

Michel Kilo, a Syrian human rights activist and one of the letter’s signatories, said Syria had to change its policies towards Lebanon. “You have the international community against Syria. The Lebanese are no longer with Syria. The Syrians are feeling scared and isolated,” he told The Times.

More than 100 Syrian journalists rallied in Damascus yesterday to denounce the Hariri murder. The rally “reflects the sadness of the man in the street in Syria after the misfortune which has struck our two brotherly countries”, Saber Falhout, head of the Syrian General Union of Journalists, said.

As Walid Jumblatt put it:
"It's strange for me to say it, but this process of change has started because of the American invasion of Iraq," explains Jumblatt. "I was cynical about Iraq. But when I saw the Iraqi people voting three weeks ago, 8 million of them, it was the start of a new Arab world." Jumblatt says this spark of democratic revolt is spreading. "The Syrian people, the Egyptian people, all say that something is changing. The Berlin Wall has fallen. We can see it."

Posted by Orrin Judd at February 23, 2005 6:16 PM

Uh "Syria elite"? Doesn't the article only mention "intellectuals and human rights activists"?

Posted by: Annoying Old Guy at February 23, 2005 11:00 PM

Interesting to see Jumblatt get on the USA bandwagon. This can make life tougher for Hezbollah.

Posted by: Bart at February 24, 2005 6:59 AM

Well, the Syrians whacked his father (and participated solemnly in the funeral). They can whack him too.

Which was the point of the Hariri hit, though it seems to have backfired, big time, at least for now.

Not that Jumblatt is by any means the same threat as was Hariri.

Still, a threat is a threat (especially to already paranoid thugs who don't want to see their cash cow disappear in the night), and if Bush gets distracted, should all the fuss die down---especially since there are all these experts so eager to claim that Assad could not possibly have been responsible for the Hariri hit---Jumblatt should really watch his back.

Posted by: Barry Meislin at February 24, 2005 8:14 AM

Well, here's another article saying that Lebanon's business leaders plan to have a symbolic strike next Monday in order to protest and to have the pro-Syrian government resign.

Posted by: John Thacker at February 24, 2005 9:51 AM

Are the Lebanese so pitiful that they cannot put some car bombs in Damascus?

Posted by: jim hamlen at February 24, 2005 10:42 AM