March 7, 2005


Syrian Ally Urges Protests (Megan K. Stack, March 7, 2005, LA Times)

The powerful Syria-backed group Hezbollah on Sunday urged its followers to take to the streets in a massive protest against "foreign interference," abandoning its conciliatory tone during recent weeks of political unrest.

Hezbollah's demonstration, planned for Tuesday, could serve as a counterpunch to ongoing anti-Syria street protests that toppled Lebanon's government and forced Damascus to agree to recall its soldiers.

The group's call to supporters is a sign that the party feels threatened by a Syrian withdrawal. The same U.N. resolution that calls for the retreat of Syrian troops also demands that Lebanon's militias disarm, and Hezbollah opposes laying down its weapons.

A few days ago, Hezbollah officials declared that they could bring 500,000 people into the streets, but said they were refraining from mobilizing their followers because they feared inflaming tensions. Hezbollah's leader, Sheik Hassan Nasrallah, urged dialogue among the Lebanese factions and met with an envoy from opposition leader Walid Jumblatt.

You won't turn out folks who want Syria to stay, but you will get Shi'a demanding new power-sharing arrangements in a country where they have a plurality, if not a majority, but have historically been treated like second-class citizens.

Posted by Orrin Judd at March 7, 2005 7:03 AM
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