December 01, 2006

Beirut Sighs With Relief

Beirut sighs with relief. You can almost feel a breeze coming through. The pressure cooker has let off steam. For now at least, who knows what will happen next, now that the government is besieged in its own offices. Sounds a little medieval, besieging one another. I had expected an angrier crowd, but they were happy, as usual.
A government besieged

I had some reservations going there, I must admit. Nothing more unglamorous than getting trampled by a crowd, don’t your think? But the atmosphere was good. Or as good as it gets, I suppose.
Today’s demonstration was pretty successful in many ways. Apart from the fact that I sold 550 words to the paper. A huge number of people showed up. The BBC spoke initially of ‘thousands’ and CNN had ‘200,000’ on the screen, but by my estimates there were way more than that. It is difficult to estimate, because they were so spread, over both bridges all the way up to Ashrafiya, under the bridges, part of Martyr’s Square, the parking in front of the Buddha bar, the UN park (with trampled flowers I am afraid), so I don’t know how many, but hundreds of thousands at least. Successful also because no fights broke out, something everyone had been dreading for the past weeks.
The guys with the white caps are part of Hezbollah's crowd-control department;
known for their lack of humor.

Hezbollah’s crowd-control guys are impressive. You could almost consider them handsome if it weren’t for the fact that these guys just don’t have a darn sense of humor, unlike other Lebanese. They were all over the place, little white caps, plastic earpieces; the whole works.
A couple of guys from Ouzai had this big drum with them, and one was carrying a sombrero, and they were dancing and cavorting around, but the Hezbollah guys didn’t like that one bit. When you ask Mr. crowd-control how many of them are there, or what they are doing, or how things are going, you get the same answer; “I’m sorry, I cannot talk.” Without one friggin’ smile.

Of course, for the Hariri camp, this was not so successful. Hezbollah seems to be able to gather a bigger crowd. I am not saying that this implies they are the majority, but their supporters are simply more willing to get into that bus, and spend the day in a packed square.
I guess this is what scares most people about Hezbollah; you’ve got Iran right at your doorsteps.

Quite a lot of Aoun guys as well. I don’t see how the girls with hip-hugging pants hanging so low they defy gravity, can feel comfortable in a crowd with so many hungry eyes. This is a personal issue. When going to these types of demonstrations, I usually dress up like a virtual nun, and still you get the stares, and the guys who want to chat you up.

I have some more pictures, but blogger has decided that it's had enough for tonight. It'll have to wait.


vrai14mars said...

Do you think they want to bring down the government so the next war they start will be without question all of Lebanon's? ALDAOULA EL MOUQAWIMA! YES!

Anonymous said...

I wish I could have been there. But it was a pleasure reading your entry. Thanx. I also admire your unbiased storytelling.

Anonymous said...

Best part was about the "The infamous Hezbollah crowd-control people". :)