The pro-Syrian government has resigned in Lebanon because of pressure put on them by people in the newly renamed "Freedom Square".
From Al Jazeera:
Lebanon's Prime Minister Umar Karami has said the whole government is to resign, with opposition figures calling for popular protests to continue until Syrian troops leave the country.
Karami told parliament in Beirut on Monday: "Out of concern that the government does not become an obstacle to the good of the country, I announce the resignation of the government I had the honour to lead."
The announcement was greeted with laud applause in the national assembly, where the opposition was seeking a vote of no confidence to bring down the government.
The battle is long, and this is the first step, this is the battle for freedom, sovereignty and independence," opposition MP Ghattas Khouri said.
Tens of thousands of demonstrators gathered at the nearby Martyrs' Square, amid a sea of red and white Lebanese flags, broke into singing the national anthem on hearing the news.
Earlier Lebanon's parliament opened a session to vote on a no-confidence motion over the assassination al-Hariri after protesters defied a ban to demonstrate against Syrian troops.
Banks, schools and businesses closed on Monday, following an opposition call for a general strike to coincide with the debate.
Parliamentary sources said with a clear majority of pro-Syrian deputies in the 128-member chamber, the government of Prime Minister Umar Karami was set to win the no-confidence vote.
The session on Monday was called by opposition figures who had blamed Syria and loyalists for the 14 February killing of al-Hariri in Beirut.
Earlier, thousands of demonstrators continued a sit-in at Martyrs' Square in the heart of Beirut despite a ban on protests that came into effect at 5am Beirut time (0300 GMT).
Opposition demonstrators sang the national anthem and waved Lebanese flags as leading opposition figure Akram Shuhaib addressed the crowd.
This is only a first step but it's an important step in the movement toward freedom in Lebanon. Of course, this will be portrayed as a victory instigated by Bush and CO. It simply is not the case, though. And you could not tell anybody in Lebanon that Bush is the reason this has happened. There's been a slow build-up during the past year of a true, unified, and formidable opposition. The rhetoric of politcians in Lebanon have been very explosive as of lately and people felt like something like this was going to happen. And remember Syria basically propped up Lahoud their puppet a year ago when Hariri resigned. Lebanese free-will should have been exercised long long ago. The most important thing is that it is shining brightly now.
I am very proud today. If you'd like to read some Lebanese blogs, please go here
This is a historic day for Lebanon instigated by the Lebanese alone--not Bush CO.
Amendment to my sentiment:
I must amend this diary because it is very true what Angry Arab has just posted about the current situation...and I failed to mention it. He is raining on my parade a bit, but it's important to keep the following in mind. Yes, this movement might be deliberately hijacked by right-wing groups inside Lebanon. And yes, the sectarian quality of Lebanese politics could quickly rise to the surface at not even a moment's notice. I truly hope things do not spin out of control.
Here's Angry Arab:
I am speaking daily to Lebanon, and many are aghast at the attempt by the right-wing factions and defeated militias from the war years to hijack the movement. That is why Jumblat had insisted as of late on raising only the Lebanese flag (not my Hummus flag--see below); because many Sunnis and Hariri supporters were furious last week when the flags of Lebanese Forces, `Awn people, and the Jumblat Druze sectarian party (that falsely calls itself "progressive and "socialist") dominated the crowds, and only a few pictures of Hariri were displayed. The true sectarian composition of the crowd became too obvious. You have to maintain the myth of "united Lebanon," of course. Now, they are requiring the crowds to only display the Lebanese flags and pictures of Hariri. And why did Karami resign but not the head of Syrian intelligence in Lebanon? He is far more responsible, directly or indirectly, through negligence or worse. The Syrian government cannot have it both ways: it cannot justify its presence in Lebanon on the basis of providing Lebanon with peace and security, while failing to provide security to the major political figure who received threats, and one from Rustum Ghazalah (head of Syrian intelligence) himself according to many accounts I heard or read. But emotions are at an all time high. I was today quoted here as saying: "``The government had to stand down without a doubt to at least acknowledge their failure to protect someone of regional and international stature (Hariri), but to tender their resignation in the climate of Lebanon today may very likely escalate things,'' said As'ad AbuKhalil, a Lebanese political science professor at California State University-Stanislaus. ``This won't be Ukraine of 2004, but maybe Lebanon of 1975,'' he said, referring to the days when Lebanon was wracked by constitutional crises and political disputes." Once this quotation made its way on Yahoo and the Guardian, I received an avalanche of angry messages on my voice mail, and a few angry emails. One of them said: "So if you have something positive to say about the independence uprising, then say it otherwise keep your opinion to yourself and don't spread fears into the American public opinion." This is the real Lebanon that is hidden behind the crowds and the flag waving. These are the ones who are ostensibly supporting "democracy" and "independence" in Lebanon, but would not hesitate to silence critics, or to call for the restoration of colonial rule, as the star of this opposition, Walid Jumblat, has called for. This same Jumblat was key in constructing the very system that perpetuated Syrian political control of Lebanon. But you are supposed to erase your memory, if you want to follow and enjoy dirty Lebanese politics
Please go here
for his entire post. If this revolution is to be succesful, the youth of Lebanon need to have the final word. I believe in the youth of Lebanon more than anybody else. If their voice isn't counted properly, it's very true that we could be seeing 1975 all over again.
So let's hope and pray.
UPDATE 2: It's important to find a balance between skepticism and the freedom to hope for the future. And I think people need to be cautious to oooadopt Abu Khaleel's stance. So, I'm still hopeful...and nobody could convice me otherwise any more.