Following days of protests by predominantly Christians and Druze for Syria to pull out of Lebanon (their demands backed by the US and Israel), thousands of mostly Shi’ite demonstrators led by Hezbollah rallied in Beirut March 8 in support of Syria. The pro-Syria rally dwarfed those of the anti-Syria opposition. The following day, Parliament voted to return to power pro-Syrian Prime Minister Omar Karami, who had resigned a week earlier in response to protests. In an analysis for Mediamonitors, Israeli leftist commentator Uri Avnery warns that using the Lebanon issue against Syria could ultimately mean civil war in both countries:
>If the Americans succeed, with our discreet help, in breaking the ruling
>Syrian dictatorship, there is no assurance at all that it will be replaced by
>"freedom" and "democracy".
>Syria is almost as splintered as Lebanon. There is a strong Druze community
>in the south, a rebellious Kurdish community in the north, an Alawite
>community (to which the Assad family belongs) in the west. The Sunni majority
>is traditionally divided between Damascus in the south and Aleppo in the
>north. The people have resigned themselves to the Assad dictatorship out of
>fear of what may happen if the regime collapses.
>It is not likely that a full-scale civil war will break out there. But a
>prolonged situation of total chaos is quite likely. Sharon would be happy,
>though I am not sure that it would be good for Israel.