OpinionMeister

Sunday, April 24, 2005

Last of Syrian Forces Out of Lebanon

The Washington Times reports that the Syrian government claims that the last of its military and intelligence forces will be out of Lebanon today. Link.
The last Syrian troops will leave Lebanon today after 29 years, a senior Lebanese military officer said, the result of fierce domestic and international outrage after the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.
The announcement was made as the largest number of Syrian troops to leave Lebanon at one time vacated at least 10 positions in the northern part of the Bekaa Valley in eastern Lebanon last night. [...]

He did not elaborate, but it appeared that the withdrawal would include the Anjar base in eastern Lebanon occupied by Syria's chief of military intelligence in Lebanon, Maj. Gen. Rustom Ghazale.
The same officer had said last week that Gen. Ghazale would evacuate Anjar by Tuesday. The withdrawal of Syrian intelligence officers along with the military has been a key demand of the Lebanese opposition.
Mr. Hariri's son, meanwhile, said he will run in Lebanon's general election scheduled to take place by the end of May.

Let's hope that the Syrians are telling the truth and the whole truth. Colonial rule is hard to maintain once the vast majority of the people want you out. The murder of the senior Hariri brought about just such a situation. 29 years ago, the Syrians promised a short occupation just to restore order, following the Lebanese civil war and the Israeli invasion and withdrawal. This is shorter than many government "temporary programs," but it is still way too long. Before the civil war, started by the PLO occupiers of the south of the country, Lebanon had the only representative government in the Arab world. It now has a shot at restoring its democratic status, and perhaps Beirut can someday regain its reputation as the "Paris of the East."

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