Friday, December 01, 2006


Beirut Tense

This just in from Beirut:

Greetings from tense Beirut on the eve of the first

mass demonstration to bring down the Lebanese

government since the assassination of the Christian,

anti-Syrian Industry Minister.

More than a million Muslim, Hezbollah, and

pro-Syrian demonstrators will attempt to bring

the city to a halt tomorrow at dawn. Their stated goal

is to bring down the current gov't because they feel

it is not legitimate. The details of how the Lebenase

gov't's power and positions are divided up between

the various factions are wa-aaay too complicated to

go into here.

Already the streets are filling with young kids,

bedrolls under arms, heading to and fro, a few

carloads of kids, waving Hezbollah flags are

driving around honking their horns.

But they are avoiding the heavily militarized

areas around downtown and the gov't offices.

"Security Forces Tighten Grip on Beirut" is

the banner headline of today's Daily Star, the

English daily here. The President has vowed to

stay in town to "prevent civil war."

Remember, this is Beirut, a city that suffered

15 long years of "crisis."

Folks are clearly worried. Soldiers are much less

friendly today, than previously. They are less

likely to respond with a "Bon Jour" than a wave

of the rifle to move your ass along.

The PM has ordered the Lebanese Army to remain

"nuetral" in keeping order tomorrow. Everyone

is worried about a repeat of the crisis years...
or indeed, another civil war will break out. 

Tonight Beirut is a city full of worried
and anxious people...

Well, perhaps not everyone! In a "It could only

happen in Beirut"
scenario, the
8th Annual Beirut

, yes Marathon!, is also scheduled for

tomorrow morningas well. The organizers had to clear
the event with all the various factions. Note that it is scheduled 
to take place on a day in which the city is crawling with armored 
personnel carriers, tanks, thousands of soldiers and police, a 
million screaming Hezbollah supporters.

They have repeatedly said the demonstrations will

be peaceful. There's not much else thay can say.

Meanwhile, high overhead, IDF state of the art satellite

surveillance takes it all in.

YET -- It's Christmas shopping season here in the

Christian section of the city, with nice Christmas

lights and decos going up everywhere. You can

buy a Christmas tree!

And the clubs, the legendary nightclubs of the

"Paris of the Middle East" are still packed

with gorgeous young folks. We are going to a

private party at "The Basement" tonight.

Let's hope the both the demos and the marathon,
uhm, both run smoothly tomorrow.

jim & the WMDB


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