Across the Bay

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Get the Dogs Out!

Rally Take a look at this post by Chuck Freund at Reason's Hit and Run. I'll paste it whole for convenience:

    "Remove Your Dogs from Beirut"

    "Hundreds of thousands of people" -- Sunnis, Shiites, Druze, Christians -- turned out for the funeral of Rafiq Hariri Wednesday. They walked behind his coffin (and the coffins of his bodyguards) for two miles, shouting insults at Syrian president Bashar Assad, whom they blame (with apparently good reason) for Hariri's murder, and chanting, among other things, "remove your dogs from Beirut."

    Those "dogs" include not only some 14,000 Syrian soldiers in Lebanon, along with thousands of intelligence operatives; they also include the puppets that run Lebanon's government at the behest of Damascus. Members of that government were barred from the funeral by the Hariri family, which openly regards them as at least complicit in the murder. Lebanon's interior minister was forced to explain to the press Tuesday that he had not paid a condolence visit to the Hariri family because they told him "they could not guarantee my security." Indeed, they told him to stay away.

    Lebanon's leaders have every reason to treat the family's wishes with care. As LBC reported Wednesday, if the family chooses to punish the government by withdrawing its vast sums of money from Lebanon's banks, the currency could collapse. As things stand, the economy is expected to suffer as investors wait to see what will happen next.

    Unlike local leaders, French President Jacques Chirac, a personal friend of the late prime minister, appeared at the graveside to mourn with the family. He arrived in Beirut as a private citizen, met at the airport only by Hariri's sons. "I am with the Lebanese people," Chirac told reporters, "in their quest for democracy and sovereignty." It was ambiguous whether he wanted his remarks to have come from a family friend, or from the president of France.

    However, the local press spent much more time covering the statements of the official U.S. mourner, State's William Burns, who repeatedly demanded that Syria withdraw its troops, that the Hariri murder be investigated credibly, and that the country's spring parliamentary elections be honest.