Demonstrators in downtown Beirut are under severe police repression. Dozens have been injured and at least 90 of the protesters have been arrested so far, but the count is likely to grow in the next hours. The sweeping protest of Lebanese youth, which took the name of the “You Stink” movement, started on August 22.

The enforced negotiations between Israel and the PLO in Camp David are hiding a deep economic crisis in the whole of the Middle East. Since the birth of Israel in 1948, this state could only maintain itself politically, economically, and militarily, by courtesy of a never ending flow of military and economic aid from the US.

 

Four months after it was formed and two weeks after the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafiq al-Hariri the pro-Syrian government of Omar Karami has resigned. The right-wing opposition that brought down the pro-Syrian government headed by Karami is focused on the removal of the Syrian troops from Lebanon.

The recent Arab summit (May 22-23) ended with Tunisian President Zain al-Abidin bin announcing that the Arab leaders had adopted a 13-point programme that is to be applied to their countries. Its aim is to promote "political reform". The same plan will be presented to the G8 summit next month, no doubt for their approval.

The Arab leaders say they are determined to pursue and intensify the process of political, economic, social and educational reforms. Why have they suddenly discovered the need for such reforms? We can only understand this if we start from what is happening among the Arab masses. There is a growing radicalisation, which is the product of several factors. The first is the worsening economic scenario, with high levels of unemployment and falling living standards. In the middle of this we have the imperialist intervention in Iraq which has served to focus the attention of the masses.

The dramatic events that have unfolded in the recent period in Lebanon have hidden a very important development. As Hezbollah moved into West Beirut they successfully cut across a general strike over wages that was planned for the same day. As the workers were coming together to fight for their common interests, Hezbollah pushed its own agenda, thereby heightening ethnic tension.

Hezbollah went into Beirut and came out again once the government had backed off on its plans to dismantle its communications network. Although powerful, the Hezbollah leaders are only interested in maintaining their share of power. They are not interested, and are incapable of, solving the real problems facing the masses.

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