Tuesday, March 08, 2005
Is Lebanon walking into another nightmare?
|By Robert Fisk in Beirut|
Lebanon confronts a nightmare today. As the Syrian army begins its withdrawal from the country this morning, after mounting pressure from President George Bush - whose anger at the Syrians has been provoked by the insurgency against American troops in Iraq - there are growing signs that the Syrian retreat is reopening the sectarian divisions of the 1975-1990 Lebanese civil war.
The first Syrian units are expected to cross the Lebanese-Syrian border at Masnaa before midday and their military redeployment should be completed by Wednesday.
To the outside world, this may seem a victory devoutly to be wished: just two weeks after the murder of the former prime minister Rafik Hariri - a prominent opponent of the Syrian presence in Lebanon - the army of Damascus is pulling out of the country it has dominated for 29 long years. At last, free elections might be held in Lebanon, further proof that - thanks to Mr Bush - democracy is breaking out across the Arab world. Iraq held elections, Saudi Arabia held local elections, President Hosni Mubarak promises a contended election for the presidency of Egypt. So why shouldn't Lebanon be happy?
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