International

Jumblatt: Iraq is the start of a new Arab world

I asked rhetorically in a recent post:

Is it possible that the massive and angry public response to the murder of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri– accompanied by demands for Syria’s Baathist dictatorship to end its de facto occupation of Lebanon– was encouraged in part by the end of the other Baathist dictatorship in the region, and its replacement with a fledgling democracy?

We were informed by one commenter that the answer to my question was “two letters long – the fist is ‘N’ the second is ‘o’.”

Now comes news of a remarkable conversation David Ignatius of The Washington Post had with Walid Jumblatt, a leader of Lebanon’s Druze community.

Jumblatt dresses like an ex-hippie, in jeans and loafers, but he maintains the exquisite manners of a Lebanese aristocrat. Over the years, I’ve often heard him denouncing the United States and Israel [that’s putting it mildly], but these days, in the aftermath of Hariri’s death, he’s sounding almost like a neoconservative. He says he’s determined to defy the Syrians until their troops leave Lebanon and the Lahoud government is replaced.

“It’s strange for me to say it, but this process of change has started because of the American invasion of Iraq,” explains Jumblatt. “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.”

Something is beginning to happen.

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