Monday, February 28, 2005

With the Cedar Revolution's demonstration well under way, Caveman in Beirut notes the LBC Television's crowed estimate had approached 200,000 by arund 2:00 PM there. Everything seems peaceful even while the speeches have been strident and extremely direct.

Parliment has gone into debate and everyone is on the list to speak with no time limit. It could be days before they come to the no-confience vote. A one-day general strike was called by business leaders in support of the demonstration and the demonstration was planned to coincide with the vote expected. It will be interesting to see how the people respond to this change tomorrow and what activites will occur to keep the pressure on. In the Daily Star the demonstration was described as a sit-in, giving the impression it will last as long as necessay, like the vow of the 'tent city people'. Will there be a second day of demonstrations, will the tent city absorb a growing number of participants. I haven't seen specific announcements from any opposition.

To keep this momentum building, it seems the demonstration ought to evolve either into a 24/7 speakathon or a protest themed carnival type atmosphere just to hold the attention of the participants, the authoities and the world via the MSM. In either case, the support structures for such a continued mass gathering will need to grow.

It is likely the Syrians will not decide on much until a few things happen. First is whether this outpouring of popular protest continues on such a massive scale. So far, Damascus's announcment of withdrawal but without a timeline (hint to the MSM ask Damascus for their 'exit strategy') can be seen as a way to sap strength, cool protest, and deflate desire with the intention of never acting on their announcement. The other is the no-confidence vote which, being prolonged, can be to Syria's advantage if played to drag out decisions and hope for the resistance to flag.

In this respect, it was good in this case to have Satterfield go to Lebanon and stoke the fire for specifics and action by Syria. It is good to see Jumblatt demand a timetable. Heavy pressure from both the inside, with the people of Lebanon, and outside, with announcements (and even rumors like this) will guarantee Syria's exit.

In my view, Lebanon has shown today that they already have democracy. The question is can they expand it.

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