Friday, December 01, 2006
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.
and anxious people...
Tonight Beirut is a city full of worried
Well, perhaps not everyone! In a "It could only
happen in Beirut" scenario, the 8th Annual Beirut
Marathon, 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