Lebanese reject U.S. intervention
Huge Beirut rally rebuffs ‘Gucci revolution’
Published Mar 9, 2005 2:41 PM
The Lebanese people converged on Beirut from
all the poor areas of the country on March 6 in a massive anti-imperialist,
anti-Zionist showing. They gave a resounding rebuff to efforts by the Bush
administration to isolate Syria, attack Hezbollah and set the stage for
expanding its war for “regime change” in the Middle East to
Organizers said 1 million demonstrated. Even the most moderate
estimate by the big business press was half a million. Overhead panning of the
demonstration by video cameras showing it overflowing Riyadh Solh Square in
central Beirut for as far as the eye could see in all directions. The
demonstration was close to one quarter of the entire population of Lebanon,
which is estimated at 4.4 million.
A demonstration of similar proportion
in the U.S. would be in the range of 50 to 60 million.
Two giant cranes
held banners saying "Thanks to Syria" and "No to foreign interference." The
demonstration was an answer to the demands by the Bush administration and its
allies and stooges that Syria remove its troops from Lebanon and that Hezbollah
Reuters of March 8, referring to a speech by Hezbollah
leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah, reported that "Nasrallah said no one in Lebanon
feared the United States, whose troops left Beirut in 1984"--a few months after
a car bombing which killed 241 Marines at their headquarters in Beirut. "We have
defeated them in the past and if they come again we will defeat them again," he
is reported to have said.
Placards at the rally, according to the AP, said
"Syria & Lebanon brothers forever," "America is the source of terrorism,"
"All our disasters are from America," and "No to American-Zionist intervention,
yes to Lebanese-Syrian brotherhood."
Nasrallah answered the Bush
administration, which has been trying to get rid of the present Lebanese
government, claiming it is a puppet of Syria. Pointing to the crowd in the
square he said: "I ask our partners in the country or those looking at us from
abroad: Are these hundreds of thousands of people puppets? Is all this crowd
agents for the Syrians and intelligence agencies?" ( AP, March 8)
Hezbollah a national liberation movement
Hezbollah is a mass
organization of the Shiite population, which is the poorest sector of Lebanese
society and was traditionally excluded and discriminated against. It provides
social services, has members in parliament and maintains it own armed force of
Organized in 1984 out of scattered groups of resistance to Israeli
occupiers, it created an armed organization of national resistance which fought
the Israeli occupation of southern Lebanon and finally drove them out in 2000.
For this it is revered, not only in Lebanon but throughout the Arab world.
It is the largest, most organized and disciplined political force in
Lebanon and is popularly regarded as a national liberation organization,
essential to holding the Zionist occupiers at bay. It has been labeled a
"terrorist organization" by the U.S. government, which has demanded that it be
Syria has supported Hezbollah as well as other organizations
fighting for the liberation of Palestine and against the Israeli occupation.
Syria sent troops to Lebanon in 1976 at the request of the Lebanese government
to separate combatants in a civil war. It became part of an Arab Deterrent Force
authorized at Arab summit meetings in that year.
The civil war, fomented
by French and U.S. imperialism and Tel Aviv, lasted until 1989, when it was
settled under the protection of Syrian troops. A national accord was created
called the Taif Accord of 1989.
The current Bush administration, in league
with French imperialism and with the support of the feudo-capitalist oil
monarchy of Saudi Arabia and compliant capitalist regime of Hosni Mubarak in
Egypt, launched an all-out offensive to attack and isolate Syria after the
assassination of the former prime minister of Lebanon, Rafik al-Hariri, in
February. The U.S. and the reactionary forces in Lebanon tried to frame up Syria
for the killing and took the political initiative to demand the withdrawal of
Syrian forces from Lebanon.
A 'Gucci Revolution'
capitalist media had made a cause célèbre out of earlier
demonstrations in Martyrs' Square that were organized on the model of the
pro-imperialist demonstra tions in Serbia, Georgia and the Ukraine and dubbed
the "Cedar Revolution."
Those demonstrations, tiny by comparison to the
one called by Hezbollah, had such an obviously reactionary class and political
character that they were an embarrassment, even to the capitalist media covering
For example, the BBC news of March 3 said that the "Cedar
Revolution" was being referred to as a "mini-Ukraine." They described it as
follows: "Some people here are jokingly calling the phenomenon 'the Gucci
revolution'--not because they are dismissive of the demonstrations, but because
so many of those waving the Lebanese flag on the street are really unlikely
"There are girls in tight skirts and high heels, carrying
expensive leather bags, as well as men in business suits or trendy tennis
"And in one unforgettable scene an elderly lady, her hair all done
up, was demonstrating alongside her Sri Lankan domestic helper, telling her to
wave the flag and teaching her the Arabic words of the slogans....
what has been fascinating to observe is how Lebanon's middle and upper classes
have been woken from their usual lethargy by the assassination of
A Reuters dispatch of March 8 was in a similar vein. Reporting on
one of the tent camps in Martyrs' Square of the forces echoing imperialism's
demand for Syrian withdrawal, it was described as "a home from home where
protesters, most of them westernized, middle-class students, study, eat, drink,
sleep and even work on their laptops." They were being given tents, blankets and
mineral water by "foreign organizations."
These foreign organizations are
well known in Ukraine and other places where certain NGOs provide a cover for
These reactionary forces have respon ded to the
anti-Syria, anti-Hezbollah offensive launched by the occupying butchers of Iraq
in Washington and former colonialists in Paris who once ruled Lebanon and Syria.
Their social base lies mainly in the Maronite Christian and Druze
political forces. These forces were described by Fadi Agha, the foreign policy
adviser to Lebanese President Emil Lahoud, in an interview: "I would add that
many of the leaders of the so-called Cedar Revolution (a term coined in
Washington) are those who took Lebanon to 17 years of civil strife. ... These
are the same warlords, sectarian barons and opportunists who led us once before
to ruin." (CounterPunch, March 5/6)
Three elections, three
In an outrageously arrogant statement, U.S. President
George W. Bush has demanded that "All Syrian military forces and intelligence
personnel must withdraw before the Lebanese elections [in May--F.G.] for those
elections to be free and fair." (Reuters, March 8)
But a million people
have given the lie to Bush by voting with their feet in Riyadh Solh Square. They
made it clear they are against U.S. imperialist attempts to divide the Syrian
and Lebanese people and set the stage for either a civil war in Lebanon, the
overthrow of the Syrian government, or both.
The hypocrisy of Bush to
demand an end to foreign forces in order to have "free and fair elections" is
beyond measure. The U.S. has just engineered an election in Iraq under the guns
of 150,000 troops, after killing over 100,000 Iraqi civilians, jailing and
killing resistance fighters in the thousands, and running the country from U.S.
military headquarters and the U.S. Embassy.
Last year Washington
stage-managed an election in Afghanistan after bombing the country mercilessly,
sending in occupation forces and rounding up German and other NATO imperialist
powers to occupy the capital and surrounding regions. The elections in the West
Bank and Gaza were carried out with the guns of the Israeli military in the
background, armed to the teeth by the Pentagon.
Three elections under
three occupations by imperialist oppressors--and Bush wishes to ignore them.
Whatever the problems with the Syrian military presence in Lebanon, Syria is not
an imperialist oppressor garnering super-profits from Lebanon. Whatever national
advantages Syria gains from being in Lebanon, it also functions as a defender of
Hezbollah and the national liberation forces in the country and as a barrier to
aggression by the Israeli settler state. That is what the Bush administration is
In fact, the Bush administration's demand for withdrawal of
Syrian troops under the terms of UN resolution 1559, passed in September 2004,
is part of Washington's design to disarm Hezbollah, thus diminishing the
resistance to a U.S. intervention in the region and opening up the door for
renewed Israeli aggression against Lebanon.
Bush has not mentioned one
word about the occupation of Syria's Golan Heights by Israel, territory taken by
conquest in the 1967 war of aggression against Egypt and Syria, which Washington
supported. Bush has not said one word about enforcing the piles of UN
resolutions condemning the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and
Syrian withdrawal and national sovereignty
Washington has suddenly focused its attention on and become a determined
advocate of UN resolution 1559. That is because this resolution is a toned-down
replica of the Syrian Accountability and Lebanese Sovereignty Restoration Act of
2003, in which the U.S. Congress demanded not only that Syria remove its troops
from Lebanon, but that Hezbollah and all organizations waging the armed struggle
for Palestinian liberation and against Israeli aggression be disarmed. Severe
sanctions were applied to Syria by Washington under this act.
watered-down form, resolution 1559 calls for both Syrian withdrawal and the
disarming of Hezbollah. According to the Reuters dispatch, "Nasrallah said he
had no problem with a Syrian pullout under the 1989 Taif Accord that ended
Lebanon's 1975-90 civil war, but would have no truck with a UN resolution
adopted September that called for a Syrian withdrawal and militia
The Taif Accord is an agreement between the two governments
and calls for eventual Syrian withdrawal of troops to be negotiated between
them. The mass demonstration in Beirut was called in front of UN offices there
to make the point that Lebanon is fighting for its sovereignty and any
withdrawal must be under an agreement signed by the Lebanese government with
Syria and not at the command and under the terms dictated by Washington, Tel
Aviv (silently), Paris or other European imperialists.
It also makes
clear that Hezbollah will not accept any UN-mandated disarmament. Hezbollah is
repeatedly described as a terrorist militia. It is nether terrorist nor a
militia. It is an armed national liberation movement dedicated to fighting
imperialism and Zionism.
The Bush administration is trying to overturn the
Lebanese government and get it to sign a separate peace with Israel, setting the
stage for "regime change" in Syria. But the mass demonstration in Beirut against
U.S.-French-Israeli interference under the guise of the UN resolution shows that
Washington has made the same monumental miscalculation in Lebanon that it made
in Iraq. It totally discounted the role of the anti-colonial masses and their
determination and capacity for resistance.
Bush was deceived by momentary
political victories in getting his imperialist junior partner in France to
collaborate and getting the collaboration of bourgeois elements in Iraq, Egypt
and Saudi Arabia. But that was the upper crust of society in the Middle East,
which has a material class interest in collaborating. Now the lower stratum of
society has spoken in Lebanon, just as it is speaking the language of resistance
in Iraq and Palestine. Bush and the Pentagon are courting an expanded disaster
in the Syrian-Lebanon region if they mistake governments for the masses.
The anti-war movement should add the slogans of "U.S. hands off Syria"
and "Hands off Lebanon" to its demand to end the occupations in Iraq and
Palestine. That is the only way to safeguard the interests of the oppressed and
the workers in the Middle East and right here at home.
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