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Mark Mackinnon's Counter-Excerpt

posted by dru Geography: Middle East Lebanon Topics: summer war, Hezbollah, Globe and Mail, media

January 18, 2007

Mark Mackinnon's Counter-Excerpt

Mark Mackinnon sent in the highlighted article excerpt in response to the ongoing discussion about Mark MacKinnon's coverage in Lebanon.

For his remarks, read the discussion.

* * *

From "Hezbollah protestors rally against government," by Mark MacKinnon.

Published in The Globe and Mail on Dec. 2, 2006.

The demonstrators accused the government, which has supported international calls for Hezbollah to surrender its weapons, of being run by the U.S. embassy. "Down with Feltman's government!" was a popular chant, referring to Jeffery Feltman, the U.S. ambassador.

With Mr. Siniora promising not to give in to what he has described as a coup d'etat, the Grand Serail offices were ringed by hundreds of loyal special forces troops. Several light tanks and armoured personnel carriers were visible inside the perimeter.

"I wish that the Prime Minister and his ministers were among us today, not hiding behind barbed wire and army armoured carriers. He who has his people behind him does not need barbed wire," General Michel Aoun, a Christian leader who sided with Hezbollah after falling out with the pro-Western forces, told a cheering crowd.

While Mr. Siniora and his allies control a majority in parliament, recent opinion polls suggest Hezbollah and Gen. Aoun would combine to win more seats than the government in a snap election.

The alliance between the two forces made for some unusual scenes at yesterday's protests. Shia women wearing black abayas chanted their allegiance to God and Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah, while, nearby, Christian women wearing tight orange tops chatted on mobile phones.

There were no reports of violence during the protest, which Mr. Nasrallah had promised would be peaceful. But fears that street demonstrations could lead to violence between pro- and anti-government groups remained high.

Mustafa Hamade, a doctor and Hezbollah supporter who was helping co-ordinate the demonstrations yesterday, said the siege of the Grand Serail was only the first step in the opposition's plan. If Mr. Siniora didn't soon resign, he said, Hezbollah and its allies would launch a civil disobedience campaign, followed by the seizing of Beirut's port and airport.

"The last step is Lebanon will burn. We won't let there be an American project in Lebanon, even if we have to burn Lebanon," Dr. Hamade said, sporting a white ball cap and issuing instructions to the young men around him. "We don't want to start at this step because we want to give [the government] a choice."

The standoff between Mr. Siniora and Mr. Nasrallah has been portrayed as a proxy battle between the United States -- which cited the victory of moderate pro-Western forces in elections last year as proof that its efforts to democratize the Middle East were succeeding -- and Syria and Iran, the sponsors of Hezbollah.

Much of the bitterness stems from the month-long war this summer between Hezbollah and Israel. Hezbollah and its allies accuse the government of doing little to support it during the conflict, which left 1,100 Lebanese dead, while the government blames the militia for having recklessly taken the country into war.

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