Momentum for Hezbollah

December 2, 2006

Hezbollah has spoken. Actually, its supporters have. And they refuse to be silenced until the government resigns.

For over two days now, the opposition to the current government in Lebanon has assembled in the hundreds of thousands in Lebanon’s capital Beirut. The protesters want the resignation of Prime Minister Siniora’s government. The PM has said he won’t back down to what he calls a coup attempt.

The current action goes to show how much support Hezbollah has gained after this summer’s 34-day war with Israel, a war in which the Lebanese government took a neutral position. It is this neutrality which has cost the government popularity and has made it so easy for Hezbollah to mobilize popular support. Whether the demonstration is successful in unseating the government or not, the damage has already been done: the Western-backed government has failed in regaining the trust of its population. After all, Siniora and his ministers had over three months — since the August 14 ceasefire with Israel — to regain support it lost over the war. It also had a PR advantage with the murder of Pierre Gemayel; without evidence, Hezbollah and Syria have been accused of the murder. The government even had the postponement of the Hezbollah demonstration (because of the Gemayel assassination which took place a day before Hezbollah originally planned its action). And still, Siniora’s government is in a position of disadvantage today. Eight hundred thousand protesters out of a population of under four million is not minor, considering that those are the protesters that were able to make it to Beirut.

Siniora must now make the right decision for his country as well as his government. Whether the West likes it or not, Hezbollah has influence in Lebanon and the ongoing Hezbollah-led demonstration has far-outweighed the pro-government rally held following Gemayel’s assassination.

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