Despite the fact that the new prime minister of Lebanon, billionaire businessman Najib Mikati, is a Sunni Muslim, it is the Lebanese Sunnis out protesting his appointment in Beirut and northern Lebanon today. The reason, of course, is that Mikati is backed by Hezbollah, the radical Shiite group sponsored by Iran. (The Obama administration today threatened that control of Lebanon by Hezbollah—a State Department-acknowledged terrorist group—could affect bilateral relations.) Though Mikati is presenting himself as a neutral, consensus pick, Sunnis see him for the Hezbollah pawn that he, um, pretty much undoubtedly is. “If Iran wants to fight us then we have no choice but al-Qaeda and Osama Bin Laden,” said one angry Sunni Lebanese citizen. Gulp.
That’s Israel’s northern border. On its southern border, Egypt today is experiencing unprecedented pro-democratic protests against President Hosni Mubarak, whose “emergency rule” is in its fourth decade. The thousands who flooded a central Cairo square seem to have been inspired by Tunisia’s Jasmine Revolution, to which the United States just essentially lent its imprimatur. The New Yorker’s Website has a great dispatch, and contributing editor Jeff Goldberg posts the following video, with the headline: “This Is Not Something That Usually Happens in Egypt.” Indeed.
Lebanese Sunnis Stage Angry Protests as Hezbollah-Backed Candidate Is Appointed PM [WP]
Clinton Warns Hezbollah-Backed Government May Alter U.S. Ties With Lebanon [Haaretz]
Broad Protests Across Egypt Focus Fury on Mubarak [NYT]
Key Diplomat Says U.S. Approves of Tunisia Revolt [LAT]
Letter from Cairo: Anger and Silence [News Desk]