March 3, 2005


Lebanon: future shock for Arab leaders?: Which Middle East ruler can sleep easily when public fears are dispelled by velvet or orange revolutions? (Dennis Ross, 3/04/05, CS Monitor)

Something significant is happening within Lebanon that has implications not just for Syria but for authoritarian regimes throughout the Middle East. When people lose their fear of such regimes, these regimes have very little to sustain them. Some - Mr. Jumblatt included - say that Iraq's elections inspired the Lebanese, who saw that Iraqis would not give in to fear. But it isn't just the "Iraq effect." It is Palestinian elections and the paradox, as Arab commentators observe, that only where there is external occupation are Arab peoples gaining a voice in shaping their future. Does it take occupation, they ask, to empower Arab individuals?

Empowerment is taking place elsewhere, and there is little doubt that the "Orange Revolution" in Ukraine appears to have had a profound effect on the psychology of the Lebanese as well. Note how the Lebanese have borrowed from Kiev's example by creating a tent city at the site of the assassination and refusing to leave until the government resigns and the Syrians withdraw. Ukrainians captured the world's imagination not with violence but with their collective stand against the authorities. The Lebanese, having also lost their fear, are now making their own statement.

Posted by Orrin Judd at March 3, 2005 4:44 PM
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