Syrian troops are continuing to pull back to eastern Lebanon. However, political developments in Beirut suggest this does not mean Damascus’s influence on its neighbour will necessarily decline. Buoyed by pro-Syrian protests, the Lebanese President is expected to name a Syria-friendly Prime Minister after talks with members of parliament.
Meanwhile foreign countries are keeping up the pressure for a full Syrian withdrawal in line with a United Nations resolution.
UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan said: “The resolution requires them to withdraw. The resolution is clear that there should be full withdrawal and I am sending my envoy there to sit with them and discuss full and complete withdrawal.”
That is not what protesters had in mind when they massed on central Beirut in their hundreds of thousands on Tuesday.
Called by the Hizbollah militant group, it was the first major show of support for Syria since the killing of Lebanon’s former premier Rafik al-Hariri last month. Hizbollah’s leader, Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah, has appealed to the Lebanese opposition to join a national unity government and reject foreign calls for the Syrians to leave and for his militia to disarm.