Thursday, February 24, 2005

WALID JUMBLATT - Start of a new Arab world?

The world is picking up on David Ignatius's Washington Post column from yesterday. I first heard it from Brit Hume Fox News' Special Report last night.

Ignatius quotes Walid Jumblatt ...

"It's strange for me to say it, but this process of change has started because of the American invasion of Iraq. I was cynical about Iraq. But when I saw the Iraqi people voting three weeks ago, 8 million of them, it was the start of a new Arab world." Jumblatt says this spark of democratic revolt is spreading. "The Syrian people, the Egyptian people, all say that something is changing. The Berlin Wall has fallen. We can see it."

However exciting this is, we must be cautious with our enthusiasm. As Charles Krauthammer so precisely warned, "Hasad could order his army to put a stop to this in the streets of Beirut." (My paraphrase of CK's comments on Special Report's panel discussion 23 February)

For those who don't know Jumblatt, he is the powerful and influential warlord-leader of Lebanon's Druze Muslims and has traditionally sided with Syria. But the quote above, if reliable, indicates he may have changed his allegiances and opened the door to expelling the Syrian occupiers and allowing democratic reforms.

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