Saturday, March 5, 2005

Lebanon Protests Backed by rich

Bassem Chit - March 5th, 2005

The US has hailed the resignation of the Lebanese government as part of a democratic wave sweeping the world. What they are calling the “cedar revolution”—modelled on the “orange revolution” in the Ukraine and the “rose revolution” in Georgia — is less a revolution and more a medium sized demonstration of the supporters of the opposition, which is mainly made up of right wing parties.

Most of these parties have participated in ruling Lebanon since the end of the war.

All these parties had militias during the civil war, all took part in sectarian massacres and terrorism. All the parties have, at some point, co-operated in eroding Lebanon’s democracy.

They have all supported the rule of the security services, both Lebanese and Syrian, and have voted for harsh neo-liberal policies that have seen rises in poverty and unemployment, and cuts in pensions and health provisions.

One of the demands of the opposition is independence for Lebanon, yet they are happy to support the policies that allow the US to dominate the region—most of them do not object to the presence of 150,000 US troops in Iraq.

The main opposition leader, Walid Jumblatt, supports the US and France meddling in Lebanon. The US ambassador to Lebanon, Jeffrey Feltman, was active in helping to coordinate the opposition.

Feltman’s previous post was as the head of the Coalition Provisional Authority in the Irbil province in Iraq. The US is using the political crisis in Lebanon to put pressure on Syria — next on its target list for regime change.

The demonstration in central Beirut—there were no other protests around the country — was more like a business sponsored event.

The 12,000 demonstrators were a fraction of the 100,000 who attended former prime minster Rafiq Hariri’s funeral. The mainstream media supplied a giant screen for them to watch the parliamentary debate that led to the government’s resignation. The tents and public toilets were sponsored by the powerful Hariri family and Solidere, the company that owns most of the downtown area.

The demonstrators even sang the theme tune to one of the main television stations. As Lebanon heads to the polls in May, the opposition will take part in the carve-up of ministries and government jobs. They have already suspended the “cedar revolution” and instructed their supporters to return home. Meanwhile the real problems faced by ordinary people will be ignored.

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