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Rev: Dec 2005
Rafik Hariri was assassinated and then the trouble began--double trouble in fact, but gilded with optimism by the Western press.

First, strong support for the Cedar Revolution that aims for Syrian withdrawal appeared, then an even stronger demonstration by the Shii's favoring Syria's continued presence. Stronger by a factor of seven.

Syria stepped in originally because of the many years of Lebanese civil war involving 17 religious sects and other factions. Syria came in with US blessing and disarmed the warring factions. But do we really expect that previous devisiveness will really go away? Middle Eastern history says it won't.

Historically, the Cedar Revolution has little chance for bringing lasting peace in a troubled land. It sprang from a small Christian minority in a Muslim land. What the religious makeup of Lebanon is, is anyone's guess. There has been no national census in over 70 years, simply because the Sunni to Shia ratio is an explosive subject. If there is hope for this fractured land with its delicate and weak governance it will be that no one wants a return of the civil war. Lebanon's infrastructure is in near ruin; it lacks charismatic leaders; has a national debt of $40 Billion with no savior or oil fields for bail-out. The national constitution leaves many disenfranchised. And 300,000 Palestinians live in refugee camps without any status at all. A spark could reset both the clock and history.

Yet, this is a time of opportunity. Trevor Mostyn of Prospect, quotes a liberal Shia film maker: Dont be fooled into thinking that everyone hates the Americans for trying to impose democracy and good governance on this region. The Americans may be selfish and clumsy but what we really detest is our own corrupt and cruel regimes. We want to move forward.

Let us hope they can.


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