tuque /tūk/ n Canadian English, var. toque [19th c. Canadian French, from the French toque, from the Basque tauka] 1 A close-fitting knitted cap, often with a long tapering end or tassel or pompom. 2 fig Something quintessentially Canadian.
souq /sūk/ n from the Arabic سوق var. souk 1 An open-air marketplace. 2 fig A central meeting place for the circulation of news and ideas.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Syria to open embassy in Beirut, BBQ planned for opening night

Syria's recent presidential decree that it will open up an embassy in Beirut is kind of like the arsonist who burned down your house then inviting himself over for a barbecue afterward.

[That's Syria's decreer, President Bashar al-Assad, pictured.]

Some analysts see it as a sign that al-Assad is growing moderate, and that he's willing to live and let Lebanon live, per se.

For those of you just joining the Syrian-Lebanese political mini-series, here's a quick recap of previous episodes:

Syria invaded Lebanon in 1976 to help save Lebanon from itself and its bloody civil war and simultaneous war against the PLO and the Israeli invasion and the American intervention and... well, it was a mess.

Syria's military occupation of Lebanon, backed by 27,000 Syrian troops on Lebanese soil, lasted from 1976 until 2005. It ended not coincidentally just after the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik al-Hariri - seen by many as the one man who could keep Lebanon's fractious political society from imploding on itself - which most people blamed on Syria.

After the death of al-Hariri and the departure of Syrian forces came a string of other assassinations in Lebanon:
  • anti-Syria journalist Samir Qassir (June 2005);
  • George Hawi, a Lebanese communist and anti-Syria activist (June 2005);
  • Gibran Tueni, the publisher of the major newspaper An-Nahar, often critical of Syria (December 2005);
  • Abu Hamza, an Islamic Jihad leader (May 2006);
  • Pierre Gemayel, anti-Syria parliamentarian and son of former Lebanese President Amin Gemayel (November 2006);
  • Walid Eido, anti-Syria MP (June 2007);
  • Antoine Ghanem, anti-Syria MP (September 2007);
  • Wissam Eid, a police captain leading the investigation of the assassination of Rafik al-Hariri (January 2008).
With the exception of Abu Hamza, who was almost certainly killed by the Israelis, the rest of this body count lies with Syria's clandestine guns, which haven't yet been found smoking.

So, with Syria inviting itself over to Lebanon once again, the Tuque Souq wonders: Are bygones really bygones, or will the new Syrian embassy in Beirut re-ignite the fire?

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