Sunday, March 20, 2005

Waiting for the other shoe to drop

It's been a long few weeks. It seems as if there is a stalemate now. Each side is entrenched in its own propaganda and agenda. Neither seems willing to move. While it is true that the Syrian troops are moving East. They aren't going east enough to satisfy most Lebanese. They aren't going across the border for the most part. And the president is still a Syrian puppet.

Finally the Lebanese have come out of the closet, so to speak, and are standing up publically to voice their opinions about Syria. This rebirth of democracy, I've been told it is a rebirth and not a birth, is really difficult. The opposition party has a stated list of demands that they want enacted before they will come to the table for talks. The pro-Syrian President E. Lahoud has, I believe, returned the demands. Heels are being dug in. Now with the second car bombing who knows.

One person here has said this is the way to get division going in the country. He may be right. That could be the way to war. Let's hope not. Some idiot kids in the street right by my window just shot of a round of firecrackers, just as I typed the word war. Man, I jumped a mile.

Then there's the question of Hizbollah. Here it is more like an armed political party. Many MPs are from the Hizbollah. Seems like there could be a way for Hizbollah and the Lebanese army to merge, thus making Hizbollah seem more legitimate in international eyes. I know America has a hard-on about Hizbollah. But living here under the Syrial control and the threat of Israeli invasion gives new meaning to protection. Yes, Hizbollah has acted with Syrians. Now they will have to choose - Syrian control or become truly Lebanese (as they are by birth).

It's a little more tense now than for the first four weeks after Hariri's murder. It's a wonder there hasn't been more violence. Humdallah! Thank God!

Next weekend is the Christian Easter here, too, and we will have Fri/Mon off school. We've worked 2 Sat. now to make up part of the 7 lost days. Two more to go in April. While I enjoy vacation, and the weather is nice, I would prefer to work and make up the other days. But no one asked me. I will go to Beirut for a few of the days and come back up to Aley on Easter. Monday, if the weather is nice, maybe I'll go to the beach. I'll have to schedule a driver and they don't like taking us around on days off.

Monday, March 07, 2005

Don't Believe Everything You Read and See on TV

This has been a time of great turmoil for the people of Lebanon. You probably know from tv that there have been nightly demonstrations by the opposition party, mostly young people demonstrating. It was thought to be a good thing when the government resigned but as of yet there is no interim government. The pro-Syrian president, Emile Lahoud, refused to resign and has continued to refuse to resign. He is the one who has gone to Syria today to talk with Syrian President Assad about withdrawal of Syrian forces from Lebanon. Let's see. How can we add two and two and get four with these two, one in the hip pocket of the other. My papers say that troop withdrawal will begin today. I'll believe it when I see it. There are Syrian troops all around the outskirts of Aley. I rarely see them unless I am out for a walk.

Tomorrow there is to be a pro-Syrian demonstration in Beirut. In a democracy, as we know it, all sides get to say their piece. Lebanon has been under the thumb of Syria so long, they don't remember how to be a democracy. There is the threat of violence now. The opposition doesn't want to hear what the pro-Syrians have to say. My guess is that the opposite is true too.

The Lebanese, while wanting Syria to get out, also need to maintain working relations with them. It's sort of like when your relatives come for a visit and don't know when to go home. Syria has been here about 30 years. They were needed at the time but now it's time for them to go home. Just as with your relatives, you'll still talk to them and maintain a relationship; so, too, Lebanon needs to be on good footing with Syria to protect their peace and do business. It's sticky.

It's also very complicated, on both sides. Then there's Israel to the south. Syria is still at war with them. They like the access through the south of Lebanon. And it goes on and on.

Because of all the days we've missed school due to this political upheaval and 3 days to snow (well, not Michigan's idea of snow), we now have to make up 5 of the 7 days. YUCK!!!!! So this week we work on Teacher Appreciation Day usually a fun holiday full of presents and flowers for the teachers, plus the day off. AND we work on Saturday this week and next and the first two Sat of April. Bummer!!!
Boo! Hiss!

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Quiet Monday results in no government

From what I could tell from the TV Monday, all went peacefully. Thousands broke the army's barriers and went to demonstrate on Martyr's Square anyway. A civilized debate seemed to take place in Parliament. In the evening CNN International said that the government had resigned. All but pro-Syrian President Emile Lahoud. I don't know how the new gov't will be formed but will be able to get more detailed news from the papers today. If we have school, then hopefully Wael will be here and I can get his first-hand account of the proceedings yesterday.