A Blog by the Editor of The Middle East Journal

Putting Middle Eastern Events in Cultural and Historical Context

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

The Mood in Damascus After the Lebanese Vote

The dean of Syria bloggers, Josh Landis, has been visiting Syria and his Syrian in-laws lately and reports on the mood in Damascus in the wake of the March 14 victory in Lebanon: Syrians Silent and Disappointed but Ready to Put Lebanon Behind Them. Heart of the matter:
The fairly resounding loss for Hizbullah and Aoun comes as a shock to many Syrians, who having been following the polls in Lebanon carefully. They are in the dumps. This morning I received my first calls from friends to tell me the “bad news.” I have spoken to many reporters since, including to the charming and resourceful Anita McNaught from al-Jazeera International, who has been covering Syria. They are having a hard time of it getting a Syrian story. Syrian officials are not going on air about the elections on the wise assumption that it is better to stay out of the mix. Syrian officials have been silent on Lebanon for weeks, unlike Americans - an irony that must really tick them off given how insistent American officials have been about the need for smooth elections untainted by foreign meddling.

There is considerable teeth gnashing and dratting going on. For the ordinary Syrian, the excitement is largely about the drama that is Lebanon. As one young man said to a friend yesterday. The Lebanese love drama too much. But of course, Syrians are captivated by it as well. The Lebanese are masters of the sound bite and political pose. Without much politics taking place in Syria, it is all too easy to get one’s political fix by watching the Lebanese parliament. As one Syria reporter confessed, “We all know the Lebanese politicians much better than our own.”

Read the whole thing.

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