Syrian intelligence agents have begun leaving Lebanon, ending a 30-year presence in the city.
It has also begun pulling its troops back to the eastern Bakaa valley following weeks of demonstrations from both pro- and anti-Syrian protesters and growing international pressure for the troops to withdraw.
On Monday almost one million people gathered in Beirut for an opposition rally, marking one month since the assassination of popular former Lebanese prime minister, Rafik Hariri, which many Lebanese blame on Syria.
What should Syria's next move be? Will the continuing protests threaten national unity in Lebanon? Are you a pro-or anti-Syrian supporter and what are your views? Have you attended any of the protests? Send us your comments and experiences.
The following comments reflect the balance of opinion we have received so far:
I grew up in the middle of the Civil War in Lebanon and just have to say that this day has been a long time coming. All my life my family has always talked about the day Syria would leave, and they never have. Hopefully they will now.
Ali Ghaddar, Missoula, MT/Sidon, Lebanon
I on the verge of tears, I am so happy for the Lebanese people. The Syrians have dominated their independence for too long!
Neville Prinsloo, UK
Syria will not withdraw because of this prostitution called opposition. Syria will withdraw because of intense US pressure.
J. Karouni, Ottawa Canada
I think it is short-sighted and naive of the Lebanese to demand the withdrawal of Syrian troops. Will they hold their protests when Israel and the US are running their country?
As a pro-Syrian Lebanese citizen I have reservations concerning the sudden Syrian withdrawal from Lebanon. Effective or not, the Syrians have fostered a series of institutions that the Lebanese administration has relied upon - can they be replaced quickly enough?
Hisham, Concord NC, USA
People seem to have forgotten that Lebanon used to be a peaceful, prosperous, multicultural country where people went on holiday. But the Syrians backed certain anti-Israel terror groups and helped turn Lebanon into "terror central". It also provoked Israel to invade Lebanon and support opposition groups in order to stop the continual rocket attacks launched from southern Lebanon. Syria is not a force for peace or stabilisation. It is a prime cause of the troubles from the start. In the mean time, Syria's secret police try to suppress the opposition.
Michael, California, USA
This is a great day for Lebanon and also the first step in a long and complex process of achieving true self-determination. To all those posters praising Bush and his policies... As many people have already pointed out, the Lebanese people didn't just wake up thinking of freedom a few days ago. We've always felt oppressed; however until two weeks ago most people were too scared to act on it. After the dramatic events from two weeks ago, people were emboldened; and seeing the international pressure on Syria decided to take advantage of the situation to make a push for freedom.
Jade, Pennsylvania, USA
This is a first step towards a free and democratic Lebanon. The most important think to do now is to form a neutral government that will organize free elections the coming spring.
I am Lebanese. I am a free Lebanese. I am Greek Orthodox in my religion and Arab in my blood but I am Lebanese in my citizenship and all Lebanese should be fighting to liberate Lebanon from foreign domination. There is no reason for Lebanon to be a colony of Persia and Syria. A new government that is Lebanese and looks out for Lebanon and all the Arabs too will help to resolve the problem. I am not anti-Syrian or pro-Syrian. I am pro-Lebanon.
Emile, Beirut, Lebanon
It's a very complicated situation. Whilst a lot of people want the Syrians to leave, it's imperative we don't return to the civil war. When the Syrians occupied Lebanon, they managed to control a desperate situation. However, this was a long time ago and I think Lebanon deserves another chance to see how it can manage on its own.
James Edelman, London UK
I am moved by the protests in Beirut, but I will be amazed when those people will ask their country, Lebanon, to stop differentiating people on the basis of their religion. If we can't even get a civil marriage in Lebanon, how are we going to witness 17 different religious communities living parallel lives in an area that is a fourth of that of Slovenia?
Oscar Lima, Brighton, UK
For the past 30 years Syria as a government and through its agents in Lebanon have been benefiting enormously from Lebanon. Millions of dollars have been directed to Syria. For the Syrians I believe, leaving Lebanon will not be an easy decision to make. It will greatly affect their economy. However under all the pressure from the Lebanese people and the opposition the Syrians would be so wise and mature if they decided to leave Lebanon as soon as possible.
Rami K Riman, St George's, Grenada (Lebanese)
This is the biggest news of people power in the Middle East ever recorded in history. for the first time people in the Arab world stood up for occupation and revolts without bloodshed and armed struggle. This I hope will be the new revolution to be adopted by our brothers in Palestine, instead of listening for years about the Arab governments' empty promises in helping them with their struggle for liberation.
Adel, Halifax Canada
What we are now witnessing in Lebanon is democracy in action. A week ago a Hezbollah sponsored pro-Syrian rally drew 100,000 people, this week a pro-Lebanon rally drew 800,000. While this is a very crude and inaccurate way to gauge a populace's will, I think it is very apparent what that will is Lebanese independence. Power to the majority, not the terrorist organisations and tyrants, that's democracy. This is what Bush was betting on when he invaded Iraq and this is just the beginning.
Marshall Travis, Spokane, USA
Bush states that Hezbollah should lay down their arms to "prove they are not terrorists". Let America lay down its arms then and show the world that they "are not terrorists". This is like the fox telling the hens they do not need claws and beaks.
Roger Lafontaine, Ottawa, Canada
To all who are against foreign US troops being in Iraq I would ask why are you in favour of foreign Syrian troops being in Lebanon? Lebanon is its own country, with its own form of government. The majority of Lebanese clearly want the Syrians out. Syria should leave Lebanon alone and worry about their own people and their own country.
Frederick, Boston, USA
George Bush said yesterday that free and fair elections cannot be held in Lebanon with the presence of a foreign occupational power and so Syrian troops should pull out before the election. Sounds familiar, doesn't it? Does this man know the meaning of "double standards"? Evidently not.
Oliver, Lancashire, UK
Syria should stay. The global imbalance resulting from US advances in the Middle East needs to remain balanced.
Tony, Scottsdale AZ, USA
As a Lebanese American I was overjoyed to hear that the Syrians have begun their withdrawal. I have watched over the last years as its influence has become much more evident in Lebanese political affairs. However, I was sickened to hear of the pro-Syrian demonstrations. I am so tired of the Lebanese who are blind to what they are doing to the country. The war has been over for 15 years, it's time for the Syrians to let the Lebanese run their own country so as to never let the deaths of good leaders like the late prime minister to happen in the future.
Nick Abraham, Seattle, United States
For the time being, Syria should withdraw from Lebanon and be very diplomatic in how to handle the situation. It is in Syria's interest to maintain the huge Lebanese support it received on March 8 which is when Lebanon really spoke.
Fouad, Houston, Texas. USA
If it is true that when Syria leaves Lebanon it will leave behind a security vacuum and fractions between the Lebanese, what were they then doing in Lebanon all this time? Weren't they supposed to help us rebuild our institutions, including the army? We are fed up of all these lies. Leave us alone in peace.
Aman Doughan, Valencia, Spain
If Lebanon cannot manage their own affairs, how can one expect that the militias located in its south will not provoke its neighbours and bring the region to more chaos? As an Israeli I hope that the Lebanese will adopt democracy and take responsibility for their own future. If this happens (and I believe the last weeks events prove it), I believe it will be possible to build a better future for all.
I wonder why thousands of buses packed with people crossed the Syrian/Lebanese border towards Beirut on the 8 March. Could it be that they suddenly realised that Lebanon is a great place to go for a holiday? I wonder. Sadly maybe nobody told them that there was a large demonstration going on in Beirut in support of their army's presence in Lebanon on that same day. What a coincidence.
Roland, London, UK
Syrian presence in Lebanon is a bilateral mater between Lebanon and Syria. I don't understand why the West, especially US and Israel, is taking so much interest in this issue. Americans should ask themselves if their presence is justified in Saudi Arabia and other Middle East countries. The Lebanese government and people should see if it is in their interest to keep Syrian forces on their land or not. After a long civil war and Israeli occupation, Lebanon doesn't seem to have enough resources and expertise to maintain their own security force. They should reduce Syrian presence and eventually should take control of their security. A hasty Syrian withdrawal could be counter-productive and may result in another civil war.
Amir Saghir, Toronto, Canada
Hezbollah is so very revered in Lebanon it should not worry about the election process. Syria should withdraw all military and covert personnel and let's see where the chips fall in a free election. Will Hezbollah, with its hundreds of thousands of demonstrators in the streets, win? Let's find out... unless neither Syria nor Hezbollah have the guts. Let all the people of Lebanon decide whose pictures they want to parade about.
Michael Chittum, San Francisco, USA
It is not in the hands of pro-Syrian prime minister Omar Karami and his group to show the truth behind Hariri's assassination. Only a small, neutral and transitional government will take Lebanon to a new phase toward independence, peace and democracy. It's better for Syria to pull out its intelligence services with its military troops, leaving them behind will only complicate matters for its own existent regime. The Syrian street is starting to move. Protests must continue as the only present means for freedom of speech and democracy. In the end justice must prevail.
Rim el Khalil, Beirut, Lebanon
We need a breed of new politicians in Lebanon, the same families who were ruling Lebanon before and after the war are always submitting to the winner of the events and they have learned to play their cards well. When you hear these politicians or when you talk to them they have nothing to offer. Hariri knew the price of each person because of his link with the Saudis and Syria knew very well how to control each of these politicians. We need a change of leadership in the Middle East, leaders who have more of an international and up-to-date way of thinking, leaders of less artificial manners and up bringing, leaders who are not self-centred.
Why has the Western media not mentioned that those taking part in the 'Cedar Revolution' are mainly kids, all under 30 who think it is a rock concert or something. Any recent visitor to Beirut will realise that there is no revolution taking place. The Syrians should be thanked for bringing peace to Lebanon. Speak with any Lebanese and they will tell you that Syria has sacrificed a lot to protect and safeguard the very fabric of Lebanese society. The anti-Syrian demonstrations are being orchestrated by outsiders. Syrian presence is absolutely vital in Lebanon as it keeps all factions in its place including the mighty Hezbollah. If there are democratic elections in Lebanon then Hezbollah will be the largest party.
A complete withdrawal of the Syrian military will not solve Lebanon's problems. Most of Lebanon's issues are caused by corruption within the government itself. Government officials are after their own special interests - which are power and money - and they do not care about their country. These government officials are backed by Syrian power and money and they control the country in the way Syria wants. Syria will remain in Lebanon for a long time, whether it is in the form of troops, imported goods, or financially supported politicians. I love my country, but unfortunately, I had to leave the corruption and move to Canada in order to get a good education. If I had the chance, I would go back to Lebanon and protest with my Lebanese brothers and sisters.
Hadi, Ontario, Canada
As much as we may like to see Syria out of Lebanon, I fear that an immediate withdrawal will only lead to more civil war. It is apparent that more progress needs to be made to stabilise Lebanon. Perhaps instead of finger-pointing, Western nations and the UN should push Syria to work with them to help strengthen Lebanon.
Tim, New Jersey
It amazes me when we hear so much about the opposition and the UN resolution. Everyone's dream nowadays is for Syria to get out but somehow they only concentrate on the Syrian army and intelligence. The UN resolution clearly states "all foreign" forces and intelligence should leave Lebanon, including CIA, Arab and Israeli intelligence agencies.
Ahmad, Cambridge, UK
As Lebanon is the only democratic Arab country it will let its people (Muslims and Christians) decide its own future.
Joe Kaddoum, Beirut, Lebanon
In unprecedented scenes never before seen on Lebanon, we are witnessing a change in both the younger and older generations of Lebanon. We are seeing a trust and unity of all religious factions that has come after 15 years of repression by its much larger and more powerful neighbour. This is a unity that has never been seen before in this volatile country. The biggest danger now is time. The danger being if a full and complete withdrawal by Syria is not forthcoming, the cracks in the unity will start to show caused by frustration and delay. The people of Lebanon need their sovereignty and freedom now. br />Chris, London, UK
I wish from all my heart to be in this beyond-all-expectation demonstration of peace and goodwill of my Lebanese citizens, who are writing the future history of a new and independent Lebanon.
Selim Sayah, Lausanne, Switzerland
Enough occupation, enough tyranny, enough humiliation, enough tutelage, enough killing, enough slaughtering. It is a clear Lebanese message addressed to the Syrian regime. Syria has made promises since 1992 and they remain unfulfilled. We want a withdrawal not redeployment; we want the restitution of Lebanon's independence. The Arab willingness to help Lebanon is also obvious, so is the Lebanese unity that finally emerged to the surface. The intifada for independence will continue to the very end, whatever the price may be. These are realities that Syria can no longer deny.
Nisrine Abou Chacra, Toronto, Canada
To Adam from Canada: you are correct. The USA is going to do everything in its power to destabilise the region. Stability (the support of tyranny in the name of "peace") is a thing of the past. The "fuse" of democracy has been lit. Yet once again, so many of you are on the wrong side of history.
Jeffrey Aragon, Denver, USA
The Syrian army came to Lebanon at the request of the Lebanese and was instrumental in ending the civil war that raged for 15 years. The enemies of Lebanon are trying to disarm Hezbollah to implement the US and Israeli hegemony of the Middle East but they will fail. Notwithstanding the opposition that many Lebanese have for Syria's continued presence in Lebanon, most Lebanese are united in supporting the Lebanese resistance and in maintaining strong brotherly relations with Syria.
Khaled Mouammar, Richmond Hill, Canada
Syria is an occupying force and today (14 March 2005) Lebanon has spoken with one voice demanding freedom and independence. The message was: Syria out, Freedom in. Lebanon does not need babysitting from Syria. Syria should worry about its own problems and mind its own business (like the Golan Heights for example). It was obvious in today's protests that the majority of Lebanese are anti-Syrian presence in Lebanon. 1 million + in a country of 3.5 million is monumental. It would like having 100 million people marching to Washington in the US.
Fadi, LA, USA
The time has come for Lebanon to no longer be the battlefield for Syria and Israel. Both should pull back within their own borders and leave the people of Lebanon to decide their own destiny in a peaceful manner. Syria is doing its part. Hey Israel, now it is your turn.
Bernie, Denver, USA
I shared in the protest today with my husband and 4 children, the youngest being 6 years old. This is just to tell you how eager we are to show the whole world that all the Lebanese want their freedom, and are fully united about it. We insist on a full Syrian withdrawal at once. There is no way we can have free elections with them being in power.
Ferial, Beirut, Lebanon
I teach World History on the Navajo Indian Reservation. As far as I'm concerned, Syria wants to gobble up Lebanon. They want to make Lebanon a staging ground against Israeli interests in the region. It is time they move out of this neutral country along with other infiltrated countries.
Mark L. Marquez, Farmington, NM, USA
The pro- and anti- protests going on in Lebanon may appear a spectacle in the eyes of the viewers, but something dangerous is brewing. We are watching political rallies, but also a show of division and sentiments which may overflow and overwhelm the country if these demonstrations are not controlled. This is a crisis. The playing events, though peaceful at the moment, may disintegrate to chaos.
The opposition, a group of warlords, is not clear about their demands. They want democracy yet they refuse to let go of sectarian privileges. In a true democracy, the president should not be Maronite, the prime minister a Sunni, etc. The only way they can convince me of their "future" plans is if they propose a non-sectarian political system.
Sabra, Beirut, Lebanon
Am I pro-Syrian or anti-Syrian? I am pro-Lebanese and if you are pro-Syrian, then you are anti-Lebanese, or simply a traitor and a hindrance to Lebanon's freedom and independence from a murderous Syrian regime.
Marc Scorsazie, Michigan, USA
Notice there is presently little public discussion about who actually killed Hariri. You see all the international political and media attention is focused on the issue of Syria withdrawing from Lebanon for past few weeks. It seems like the question of who killed Hariri has dropped off the public spectrum. This looks very fuzzy to me and suggests that higher powers are at play here. We must wonder who the architects of this scenario may be. Certainly Syria and Hezbollah have gained nothing from the assassination and I'm not convinced it was some little terrorist group which no one ever heard of that bears responsibility either.
I cannot believe some of the comments I am reading. Anyone who suggests that the anti-Syrian demonstrations are orchestrated by the West is unfortunately mistaken. The pro-Syrian demonstration is the one that has been organised. The evidence is very well apparent. The Lebanese president decided to speak at this rally, Hezbollah decided to have the rally after Syria and Lahoud met and agreed upon a so-called withdrawal agenda. I have many relatives in Lebanon and the majority of them are with the opposition, but are still scared and intimidated to show it. If it was truly a free state, everyone would be able to demonstrate their true feelings.
Ruby, Ottawa, Canada
Some well-heeled, Gucci-clad demonstrators speak out against Syria and we call it democracy and freedom. Then a huge number of people demonstrating in favour of Syria and all of a sudden it's going to cause internal problems. One things for sure - we're very consistent at being inconsistent. This is an issue between the Lebanese and the Syrians and America of all countries should stay out of it and concentrate on being defeated in Iraq.
Bilal Patel, London, UK
I hope the Lebanese people can maintain unity, otherwise they will be taken advantage of. What is frightening is the hostility of the opposition. Frankly, it has no basis. Today, however, most people know this history and are aware of American motives throughout world.
Ali, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada
Left alone, Lebanese people, my people, have always been united and live as one, no matter what anyone says. We are all brothers, we have always been brothers. The civil war that broke out had no grounds. It was merely triggered by outside parties who - and I say this with shame - played the Lebanese people for so long staging these conflicts between their lines. We, the Lebanese people are more than capable of ruling the land with freedom and democracy, like we always did. Syria will withdraw, but the rest is up to us and I hope that we, the Lebanese, learned from our past mistakes. It's make it, or break it time. It's high time we show the world what we are capable of, just let us be.
Toufic Mady, Beirut, Lebanon
The simplicity of the issue "yes or no" pull out of Syrian troops is absurd. We deal here with complex problems, complex situations. There is no need for "fast food"-solutions.
Marc, Queretaro, Mexico
When you land in a country's airport and you see the portrait of another country's leader, call me crazy, but something is not right. Syria played a vital role in ending the civil war and get thanks for that, but why are they still there after having signed agreements to leave, beginning in 1992? Syrian promises seem to be worthless.
Every country should stand on its own feet. If Syria has occupied Lebanon for 30 years helping to stabilise it, either they haven't done a very good job or they have ulterior motives.
Mike Sparks, United States
If you haven't lived in Lebanon, you know nothing about the Syrian regime. Without the intense pressure from the current US administration, the protesters would have either been arrested or shot as happened in previous anti-Syrian protests. We all know if one joked about the Syrians, one would have Syrian intelligence at their doorsteps threatening them. What did Syria do other than add conflicts to the Lebanese in order to justify their presence in Lebanon? Syrians are taking the big share of our income to their country leaving Lebanon in further debts. There is no doubt in my mind that if it weren't for President Bush, the number of anti-Syrian protesters would not have grown so much due to fear from Syrian army.
Jenna (Lebanese-Canadian), Canada
We might expect that Syrian covert actions are likely to continue to shape Lebanese politics, as the Syrians are so deeply entrenched and appear to lack adequate challengers. Whereas Syria appears to have an effective covert presence and has less need of its troops in Lebanon than might seem to be the case, Syria's opponents do not appear to have adequate means to ferret out and oppose Syrian covert aggressions. This might be simply because the liberation of Lebanon from Syrian manipulations was never considered a primary objective of Middle East policy.
John Holmes, Canada
It is amusing to me to read how "black and white" people are about this issue. I say, let them work it out for themselves. Don't forget, Syrian armed forces came there, and are presently in Lebanon to help keep peace. These pro-Syrian supporters seem to remember this fact, why is the rest of the world having such trouble? It's an insult to treat them like foreign invaders, as my own US Government recently has.
Joshua V, La Mirada, California, USA
Don't be fooled by the pro-Syrian "Lebanese" protesters. There are 400,000 Palestinians and over a million Syrian workers living in Lebanon. It is fair to assume that these two groups were strong participants in the protest today, along with the Hezbollah backers who are Lebanese but well-known clients of the Syrian state.
Jamil, New York, USA
What crisis. Until the death of Rafik Hariri the Lebanese had been enjoying many years of peace and stability thanks not to a small part by Mr Hariri and the Syrians. The "crisis" was orchestrated by America and Israel aided by their media for there own ends. With a clear demonstration of how the majority feel and the return of the prime minister, the level-headed Lebanese seem to have everything under control. Sorry guys your coup is over, this is democracy in action. With elections in May there seems little more that the Americans do for the time being to destroy these brave peoples lives.
Russell Nicholls, Caracas, Venezuela
Syria was instrumental in starting and fuelling the last civil war in Lebanon. Later on it misrepresented itself as a peacekeeper and now it wants to stay in Lebanon forever. Enough is enough with Syrian hypocrisy, they need to get out of Lebanon right away.
Emil Peterscu, Cluj-Napoca, Romania
I survived the Lebanese war, and during that time, I met as many nationalities in the war as I am reading in this forum. Most of the intelligence services on earth used to act and are still acting on the soil of this country. I never understood the reason, since it used to be the smallest republic on earth. Anyway, I am proud to belong to that country, and to my Arabic culture, whatever Mr Bush, or whoever, thinks about it. Besides a small accent, my nearest cousins who really care for us, are, and will always still the Syrians.
Tamer Abou Bakra, Exiled
First of all, I want to say that I, for the last three weeks or so, participated in the protests against Syrian occupation of Lebanon. And what you hear in television about the unity of the Lebanese people is real, in these protests you can see Christian and Muslim united under the Lebanese and for a single cause: The Liberty and independence of Lebanon, and also to demand the Truth about who killed Hariri.
Don't be very surprised about the pro-Syrian rallies, we all expected that around 300,000 will participate. This protest only shows you the popularity of Hezbollah in the Shia community and its organizational skills. You must know that they are very popular in the Southern Suburbs of Beirut. They prepared for days for this protests, they urged their supporters from many parts in Lebanon like the South or North Bekaa to join them, they also used 600 tourist buses to transport protesters and also hundreds of taxi drivers who collected people from different villages, their television (al-Manar) was diffusing calls to protests for many days, they called for schools and shops to close in the regions under their influence. This Protest wasn't representative of the majority of the Lebanese people.
Lebanon is a mixture of different religions and political backgrounds, so differences are normal, as is the case in any democratic country. Unity is at risk when you have foreign powers (like Syria in this case) instigating trouble and pushing its supporters to create problems and violence. If you listen to all the leaders in Lebanon now, be it Opposition or Hezbollah, they all call for unity and peaceful expression of opinion. That is good. The risk is still though in the activities of the Syrian "intelligence" agents.
Robert, Toronto, Canada
The US is trying once again to destabilise the region so it can remake it to suit its geo-political goals. This means that no matter the cost and suffering of the local people, they are determined to create upheaval. The theory of the US neo-Cons is that it is better to have suffering in the Middle East and chaos rather than have any region or group of people stabilise and gather up a consensus of what to do.
Adam Mateyko, Canada
I think this question should be reversed. "How will Syria resolve Lebanon crisis?" Once Syria "fully" departs the territory the Lebanon public shall decide their own course of action! Given a fair chance they might find a bit of peace and development?
Paul, Gainesville, FL, USA
So who is really the true voice of the Lebanese people, the hundreds of thousands who have been protesting today, or the tens of thousands who have been protesting for the last few weeks? Maybe those previous "opposition" rallies were just that, rallies of the opposition - those who represent a minority of the people's will.
Jun, New York, USA
Since Karami is the only choice and since this is part of the political system that Lebanon has, yes Karami must be given another chance and try to save the country from going into serious crisis. Otherwise, Lebanon needs to adopt new constitution that allows a new, fresh, young and well-educated breed into the political system that should be based on Qualifications only.
Fouad, Houston, Texas, USA
I believe they will sort their own internal problem as long as no other countries interfere in their affairs. The US, UK and European countries should mind their own business. As the Americans and Europeans do not like any one to interfere in their internal affairs, the same applies to Middle East countries.
Wasim Raja, UK
The web has been spun. The Syrian and Lebanese fabric is intertwined, like it or not. The Hezbollah demonstration dwarfed the opposition's. Right or wrong, it is a voice to be reckoned with. The West suddenly took notice. When invading a country big or small, beware the consequences.
Michael, Los Angeles, CA, USA
I think the Lebanese are at a point where no-one wants to revisit the past. They can work things out with minimal outside interference. I am concerned that outsiders are trying to move things along at a pace that may foment some strife. It all seems so hypocritical, to put so much pressure on Syria while none is put on Israel to withdraw from the Palestinian Territories, Turkey to withdraw from Northern Cyprus and the Bush administration can invade anyone they like whenever they want. Syria leaving Lebanon may be a good thing but these diplomatic double standards can hardly be justified.
Rey, Spartanburg, SC, USA
We can give as much credit to the US for pushing the Syrian pull back and thank Syria for getting Lebanon through the tough times but let's face it, Syria has outstayed their welcome. The real credit goes to Mr. Hariri whose unfortunate and untimely death has awoken the Lebanese people and made them question any foreign occupation in their homeland.
Rima Hyder, Chicago, USA
Syria is not a occupier like the US, but a protector, protecting Lebanese interests.
Vamshi, Bangalore, India
How is it possible that any Lebanese leader with a small degree of independent thinking gets killed and the killers never identified? How is it possible that Lebanon is on the verge of bankruptcy due to corruption and mismanagement? How is it possible for people to compare the stage-managed pro-Syrian demonstration, in which whole communities were forced to attend with the spontaneous and whole-hearted commitment of those who would like a free and democratic Lebanon? The international community should recognise Syria for what it is - an oppressive and corrupt regime furthering its own interests. They should leave and look after peace and democracy in their own country!
I have lived and worked in the Middle East for 25 years and people in the West do not appreciate the difference in culture between the two areas. We saw a relatively small demonstration in Beirut against the Syrian involvement and a much larger group of people of over one million in favour of the Syrian supported government. In Aleppo today there was a huge demonstration which many of my Arab and Armenian-Christian friends took part. In the UK and USA there were millions of protesters against the war in Iraq and yet the governments still went to war. I say the large majority of the of the people of Lebanon and Syria are happy with the status quo when remembering the civil war, the invasion of Iraq and the destruction of Palestinian territories by USA-backed Israel.
Graham Jubb, Aleppo, Syria
The magnitude of protests freaked out the government in Lebanon, but the withdrawal of Syrian troops is greatly to Israel's benefit as it finds its northern border with one less problem to deal with, on the other hand all this could lead to another civil war in Lebanon which might wipe out any hope of that country's recovering economy.
Jo, LA, US
Demonstrations and counter demonstrations. Isn't that what happened in 1958 and in 1975 prior to the first and second Lebanese civil wars? Can Lebanon survive a third civil war in less than 50 years? Only time will tell. There is a fact which nobody can deny. Lebanon is a fractured country and on the brink of a new civil strife. Only level-headed Lebanese will prevent the disintegration of their country.
Mike, Cleveland, Ohio, USA
Lebanon has such political, economic, social, military, regional, religious complications that people who have studied it for decades are still unable to grasp its roots. Having said that, it would be mere conjectures to read too much into these demonstrations. Let's wait and see for the next couple of weeks.
Bhawan, Washington DC
Yes, Lebanese stability is under threat, not by the Syrian presence, but by the interference of the West who want "one world". A world cast in their image that listens to the voices of twenty five thousand idealistic students and ignores the demands of one hundred thousand demonstrators who don't agree with the Western view.
Nigel Darwent, Trinidad and Tobago
Syria should act in a responsible manner and leave the future of Lebanon in the hands of the people. This will likely also advance the chance of making peace with Israel. Does Syria want peace?
A Cady, Ottawa, Canada
I have never lived in the Middle East, but I do however have a dear friend who fled Lebanon with their family. She was just a girl at the time. Brute force and violence are always signs of "bullies" wanting to have their own way, for their own cowardly reasons. I am more impressed with the thousands who want Syria out than hearing about hundred of thousands wanting to keep the status quo.
Clifford Wynn, Sarasota, Fl USA
Syria is a repugnant regime, yet even I admit they were instrumental in keeping Lebanon peaceful. I would like to see the despotic regime of Syria stop its meddling in the affairs of Lebanon, but Lebanon must first evolve from its dependence on the stability given by Syria.
Tom Myrter, Philadelphia, USA
I feel that so many people reflect upon this problem a question of occupation. Syria has been in Lebanon for many reasons and in many insistences has led to stabilising domestic issues of foreign influence. I honestly believe that Lebanon should and will in the future be able mitigate sectarian violence without the help of Syria. But it should not have to replace Syrian presence with American or UN forces. This is not an issue of democracy and the Bush administration should stop playing the same tune, seeing as how Iraq has become such a failure in its foreign policy. This is an issue of complicated resolution in a part of the world griped by sectarian violence.
Kiran Chiba, Philadelphia, USA
If anyone truly knows Lebanon, its divisions are so clearly defined and plain to see. The Christians are clumped together in their areas, as are the Shia like that and so are the Sunnis and the Druze. The past 10 to 15 years have proven that these various denominations can live and co-exist in one land if left alone. Now we see the US, France, Syria and Israel beating the drums of division by mobilising their various proxies in Lebanon. The huge demonstrations against these interferences are a sign of holds sway in Lebanon and how they feel about what's going on. Hands off Lebanon, please.
Ehab, Detroit, USA
I'm glad that the majority of the Lebanese, quiet for 3 weeks have finally said that they are against what the US is trying to do in Lebanon. Some say 500,000 protested on Tuesday, some say one million. Whatever the real number is, I think that's pretty impressive from a country with a population of four million.
Haisam Harib, Sydney, Australia
I am a young Lebanese man who had lived in the country all my life until six months ago when I moved to the US to study. Syria has to get out of Lebanon in order for the Lebanese people to have freedom and dignity. We have heard these promises before and we are still waiting for them to be met. US involvement in the crisis is needed because the Syrian government does not respect the Lebanese people's wishes and we need a stronger ally to help us. 15 years have passed since the civil war and we still have no freedom or self-rule. Is it too much to ask for a capable people to rule itself?
Jad, Washington, DC
Syrian withdrawal in a vacuum is a recipe for disaster. The enlightened democracies in the West fail to realise that without an alternate international body to fill the gap left by the Syrians, the losing party in the election would resort back to violence.
Sajid Khan, Tampa, USA
Lebanese unity is not under threat - it has never been. Even during the years of the war, civilians of all communities helped each other. I lived in a building where I had Sunnis, Shiites, Druzes as neighbours and we always helped each other and we're still neighbours. When there was a lack of bread, gasoline or any other stuff, the one who could find some would buy a lot and share with his neighbours. It's the militias which were fighting each other and we hated them all. Our unity still holds, The Syrians are the ones who provoke dissension in order to remain in Lebanon to keep 'the peace' as they say. They are the core of all our problems and they should leave the country completely but we Lebanese hope that their hatred will not destroy our country before they leave us in peace.
Sylvia, Beirut, Lebanon
Lebanese people cannot manage their own affairs, so the Syrians are there to help them. The troublemakers who were at the first demonstration will be dealt with firmly but fairly if they try to start a new civil war. The US just wants death and destruction in the entire Middle East.
I wonder if the US is just looking for a reason to invade Syria. Western influence is only for the benefit of their own, they don't care what the Lebanese or Syrians future will be. I hope one day the world will understand this hypocrisy of western powers and I hope that it's not too late.
Manzar Khan, Toronto, Canada
All Lebanese have the right to their own opinions. All groups or organisation should reframe from condemning the other for their ideology. As for Syria withdrawal, it should move to leave Lebanon completely and there should also be time allotted to see this happens.
Occupation is the only threat to unity that we know.
Rowland Ogundu, Port Harcourt, Nigeria
Syria should leave, Hezbollah should disarm and the Lebanese people (no matter what religion they are) should unite┐ one army, one government, one people, one country - Lebanon!
Walid, DC, US
There is too much foreign influence in Lebanese politics. Syria's presence was agreed on in Taif simply to ensure stability, while the UN resolution demands an immediate Syrian pullout: This alone is a cause for instability. The West cannot impose its ideas of 'democracy' and 'freedom' in a country that has yet to experience its own form of government.
Syria does need to get out of Lebanon, but not now and definitely not this way and America is interfering in something that's already complicated, only increasing Lebanon's problems. The majority has spoken on Tuesday: the Lebanese people would rather be occupied by Syria than America, at least we know what the Syrian occupation is like. American values and ideas are alien here, it would only be another Iraq.
Sara, Beirut, Lebanon
I am writing to express my shame at the hundreds of thousands of pro-Syria supporters. How can somebody be Lebanese and be supportive of any foreign presence in Lebanon. Where is their pride?
Ali, Tulsa, Oklahoma, United States
I don't think that the last demonstration organized by pro-Syrians will cause internal problems in Lebanon because the majority of the participants was not Lebanese but Syrians. Second, I think that the West must maintain pressure on Syria.
A Bitar, Nantes France
The hypocrisy is just too much. Israel has occupied Palestine since 1948, occupied Lebanon since 1982, and the Golan Heights since 1967. Why did it not come under any pressure to withdraw? And now, the United States an occupier of Afghanistan and Iraq is ordering Syria to withdraw from Lebanon. Hypocrisy!
Fadi Z, Dubai, UAE
A Syrian military withdrawal will not mean the end of Syrian economic and political influence. Lebanon needs Syria because it is its natural ally. I think that a referendum should be held in Lebanon, its result might be surprising not only for Lebanese but also to many Europeans.
Isn't it hypocritical for the United States to demand such an immediate withdrawal when they are also an occupational force with no immediate plans of their own to remove their forces from Iraq? To just have the Syrians leave without a measured transition of departure is just taking a gamble that civil war won't break out again. To put it in another perspective, there hasn't been the same level of violence in Lebanon with the Syrians as there is with the US and their occupation of Iraqis.
C Roberts, Canada
I am a Lebanese physician. I am not surprised that Syria, which had the power to occupy Lebanon for almost 30 years, can organise a demonstration with thousands of protesters. But one should remember that the rest (three millions)are with the opposition. I know that the other three million who didn't demonstrate against Syria were so afraid to do so, including my brothers, my cousins and my friends.
Hanna Hinn, Oklahoma City, USA
Perhaps with some diplomatic skill an end could be found that enabled Assad more power to reform and the troops to leave Syria, but Bush's need to turn this in to a domestic political bashing of liberals in the United States has produced what we saw Tuesday: A massive demonstration of support for the US's enemies in Lebanon. A return of civil war is now a real possibility.
Take one million Syrian workers currently in Lebanon, plus the so-called pro-Syria supporters, plus the thousands of Syrians who could have easily entered Lebanon for the protest, plus the ease of movement they have been granted unlike the opposition protesters, this could add up to the huge turnout we've seen yesterday. I am Lebanese and like so many of my fellow country men and women, all I want is peace and freedom. Enough is enough.
Georges, Milan, Italy
This was hardly a mere "rival demonstration". There were more than a million participants, nearly a third of the country's entire population. What this protest demonstrates is that if the Syrian question were put to a "democratic" vote today, the result would have to be an official request that the Syrians stay in Lebanon. It also demonstrates that Lebanese unity is a myth.
John Rodenbeck, Brousses, France
I believe that despite the undoubted down-side of their occupation, Syria actually acts as a "stabilising force" in Lebanon. If Syria does bow to American and wider pressure to leave Syria, then I would expect some level of violence to be rekindled in Lebanon, possibly a full-blown civil war within a matter of months. Then what happens? Does Israel return as another stabilising force, or worse, would a US lead stabilising force move in, thus uniting all factions in the country, once again, against the West? Either way, a recipe for disaster.
Andrew Taylor, Nottingham, UK
The anti-Syrian Lebanese demonstrators are gushed over by the Western media and portrayed as expressing the democratic will of Lebanon. Strangely, these media have far less space available for the far larger pro-Syrian demonstration. Once again the story has been set up the way US imperialism wants it and inconvenient facts must now be neglected by "our" sycophantic public opinion factories.
Brendan Tuohy, Te Whanganui-a-Tara, Aotearoa
We are living a historic event and I hope that the outcome will be positive. A Syrian withdrawal is a must for our country. We have had enough and we now need to manage the country on our own, build democracy and hope that we will be an example for the region.
Maya, Beirut, Lebanon
Syria can pull out of Lebanon the day after the US pulls out of Iraq. To me it's a clear case of the kettle calling the pot black. The arrogance of my country continues to disgust me!
J C Prescott, USA
A bit crowded. There is too much foreign interference in Lebanese affairs and it will certainly complicate the crisis instead of resolving it.
Inkyu Noh, South Korea
We have to be careful, this is a highly volatile region and close to Europe, so it requires cautious monitoring by the EU and Britain.
Robert Brozewicz, Greenock, UK
I see the presence of Syrian military very much like the presence of US army in Iraq. Either both should stay and make a truly democratic governments, or both of them should get out of the foreign soil and let the people make their own decisions.
Sumeet Gandhi, Los Angeles, US
I am a Canadian of Lebanese origin and while I am glad to see the Syrian troops leave Lebanon, I am in no way anti-Syrian. They have sacrificed lives for the benefit of Lebanon's stability. They should be applauded.
Mohamad, Toronto, Canada
I think that Syria should rethink its plan of staying in Lebanon. With the people of Iraqi defying Zarqawi and his followers in Iraq, democracy is slowly developing in the Arab world. I don't see the importance of Syrian presence in Lebanon anymore. They need to leave and let the people of Lebanon be free from the presence of a foreign army!
Emmanuel Kortie, Minnesota, USA
The road to peace in the region seems to go through Damascus. I wish Bush would show Syria more respect because its pan-Arab philosophy and forces under Baathist control have been able to deliver and maintain relative peace in the tense multicultural region for a long time. I hope Syria uses its strategic position to foster trade and peace between a much more Shia-friendly Iraq to the east and a much more peace-hungry world to the West. If Syria began using some of its military resources to improve east-west roads as a sign of its intentions and recognition of its new opportunity it might do much to reduce tensions in the region.
Dale Lanan, Longmont, Colorado USA
Everybody knows that the demonstrations today are orchestrated by Syria. I just can't accept that some Lebanese have more loyalty to Assad than the Lebanese flag. It's a disgrace.
Farid, Miami, USA
The US and Lebanon are paying the price of leaving Lebanon for years under the Israeli, Iranian and Syrian influence. It's time that the US and the world align themselves with the Lebanese people through protecting Lebanon's economic stability and putting pressure on Israel, Iran and Syria to stop meddling.
Rajeh Rajeh, Ottawa, Canada
The Syrian presence has provided years of stability for Lebanon. For Bush to call for the Syrian military to evacuate Lebanon is laughable. These anti-Syrian protests are being encouraged and orchestrated by the American government and others. Lebanon has come a long way since the 1970s but the potential for sectarian violence still remains. Syria should maintain a military presence in Lebanon to ensure the peace.
Whitney, Springfield, USA
Syria's presence in Lebanon is illegitimate. The UN and the world should put more pressure on the government in Syria to withdraw. The Lebanese should also help pressure Syria more to withdraw. I think there can't be democratic elections in May with the Syrians still in Lebanon. And also, the Syrian presence is probably the last obstacle in the path of Lebanon's recovery.
Chris, Bucharest, Romania
I'm just a cynical old European and while there are clearly ripples of activity, I'm not holding my breath waiting for the emergence of representative democracy in the Middle East. That the Bush administration is latching onto these events as a vindication of its clumsy strategies is political chicanery of the highest order. Those with a memory longer than two years will know that the Syrians have helped to stabilise Lebanon in the wake of a disastrous civil war. If it is time for them to leave they should withdraw in a orderly fashion, allowing the Lebanese security forces time to establish control. The US preference for a humiliating retreat seems only likely to create a power vacuum to filled by the usual warlords, bandits and chancers, happy to establish their own local gun law. Rather like Iraq, in fact.
David, UK (Netherlands)
A Syrian presence in Lebanon has helped to create a more stable environment in Lebanon and keep warring factions in check. However, Syria needs to withdraw and let Lebanon act as a fully sovereign state. The withdrawal should be phased and the plan well communicated. A power vacuum in Lebanon is worse then Syrian control and should be avoided. Legitimate elections may prevent a problem. I think we all need to remember that Lebanon is the place where suicide bombers first carried out their deeds. Messing with delicate power balances should not be done without ensuring that the consequences can be managed.
Jonathan Gill, Derby, UK
The West should literally "back off" and allow Lebanon and Syria to resolve their own matters peacefully amongst themselves and at their own pace.
Esra Karatash Alpay, Istanbul, Turkey
Hooray for the Syrians as much as for the Lebanese. The Syrians should discard trying to become a regional power and instead focus on reforming their wretched economic and political systems which, driven by corruption and failed despotic policies, have made them into one of the Middle East's poorest countries. Lebanon will be free from direct foreign interference for the first since the late 1960s and we have learnt that the only way to achieve prosperity is by living together and focus on creating wealth, something they excel at around the globe.
Faris Aoun, Kuwait City
This is ridiculous. Leaving any country with no government or military is sure to spark internal instability, let alone one which has already experienced a civil war in recent memory. No good can come of this withdrawal and all of the Bush supporters posting their opinions here are surprisingly blind to this fact.
Gurbeer Singh Gill, Calgary, Canada
This is a matter for Syria and Lebanon to work out between themselves, and if they can't work out an agreement that will satisfy the people of Lebanon, then they can ask for help. Until they ask for help, the rest of us should mind our own business.
Drew M, Washington DC, USA
It's amazing to see the deep interest shown by USA in this matter. I wished they should have shown such interest in the Israel troop's pullout. This world would have been a much better place then. These unjust and biased US policies invite more hatred and anger. Hope the American people understand soon what their government is doing.
Shahnawaz Khan, Bangalore, India
I think the Syrian troops should withdraw from Lebanon. It is, however, hypocritical of the United States to call for an end of the Syrian military presence in Lebanon before May elections while in the same time occupying Iraq and praising the Palestinian elections that have been organized under the Israeli occupation!
Youssef, Montreal, Canada
To those who say civil war will erupt if Syria leaves. Look around you, unity is present in the voices demanding that they leave! The Lebanese have woken up and spoken with clear dignity that they are ready to own their future. All of us should be cheering them on, helping, and hoping for only the best for them. Syria has to grow up and get out. They are no longer welcome.
Are the Syrians out of Lebanon? (And Bekaa is Lebanon). Has Hezbollah been disarmed? If the answers to those two questions is no then no, Syria has not gone far enough.
Inna Tysoe, Sacramento, CA, USA
Syria has been and will continue to promote internal conflict to justify its presence in Lebanon. According to locals, bus loads have been arriving from Syria over the past two days to be present for the pro-Syrian protest. UN should be present and oversee elections, as well as replace Syrian troops/secret service. Syria hasn't and never will believe in Lebanon as a separate state...
Anthony Youssef, Australia
Of course Syria should pull out of Lebanon completely. When I visited Lebanon in 1990 I understood the humiliation of being stopped at road-blocks by a foreign army of occupation. The question is why it has taken so long. Quite simply because Syria was an ally of the US against Saddam Hussein in 1990. Now Saddam has gone, the US doesn't need Syria any more.
James Brannan, The Hague, Netherlands
The UK position on Lebanon in the midst of this escalation should also be examined. The US has been consistent in its opposition to Syrian presence in Lebanon, an important piece in the Mid-East jigsaw designed to accelerate Israel/US ambitions. But the UK had nothing to say on Syrian presence in Lebanon until Hariri's assassination provided Bush with opportunity to make his push.
This Syrian troop withdrawal has everything to do with US politicking and not much to do with the welfare of the Lebanese. Does anyone, including the Lebanese themselves, believe that they will be free of outside ' control' be it by Syria, Israel or the US?
Kwok, Sydney, Australia
From BBCArabic.com: Why is there a popular and official Syrian refusal to leave Lebanon? Would any Syrian citizen tolerate being stopped by a Lebanese army roadblock and asked for his or her identity papers? All we are asking for is our independence and the freedom to take decisions without the interference of others, be they Arab brothers or not. Our relationship with the people of Syria is a historic one, but this relationship should not be contingent on the presence of Syrian soldiers in Lebanon.
From BBCArabic.com: Of course, Syria did make mistakes in Lebanon and we are now paying the price for these, as well as for the stubborn 'pan-Arab' positions adopted by the Syrian government and for our silence over the dictatorship in Syria. All of this, however, does not mean that those elements in Lebanon which took part in the civil war in that country have become overnight defenders of freedom and democracy of which they know nothing. What I admired in President Assad's speech was his acknowledgement that mistakes have been made. It is incumbent upon the Lebanese to acknowledge that they too have made mistakes.
Bassam Wadi'a, Syria
From BBCArabic.com: Syria can no longer mess around with international decisions and resolutions as Saddam Hussein was able to do in the recent past, even though the Syrian regime is a past master at procrastination and at playing with words. The fact is that the international community now has a few issues of importance to deal with and is focusing on these. The Syrian leadership is fully aware of the immense dangers facing it. I am sure there is more to come out of Syria.
Jamil Ibrahim, Abu Dhabi, UAE
From BBCArabic.com: Let's wait and see. Personally, I do not trust the Syrian regime. We Iraqis know the Baathists well and know how they prevaricate and misrepresent. The Syrian withdrawal from Lebanon must be comprehensive, that is to say not a single Syrian solider should remain on Lebanese soil. The withdrawal should also include the Syrian security and intelligence apparatus in Lebanon. This withdrawal must also mean that any Syrian interference in Lebanese affairs is ended. Lebanon is for the Lebanese.
Mohamed Kfaji, Babylon, Iraq
All the Lebanese, like myself, who have tasted and lived the civil war are frightened that it might start again at any moment nooow. It only needs a spark/wild bullet... Gradual pullout of Syrian forces would give us some peace of mind. Hasty and fast withdrawal causes us much concern.
Vartan, London, UK
With all respect to the US and Europe's concerns in regard to freedom and liberty, the real question still is what they want exactly from Lebanon and Syria. I have my doubts, the point in resolution 1559 is how they want to disarm Hezbollah. We never hate USA or Europe, but we are fed up with two-faced morals and double standards. I do not know how Bush and Blair can convince the Arab world that they do care about them in the time we see them taking care of their dogs and cats more than any human on this earth. Finally we do not believe in your freedom and liberty, show us real liberty not dead bodies.
Why does the Bush regime insist on trying to force other countries into humiliation. They would receive a lot more global respect and willingness to co-operate if they used diplomacy to allow space for others like Iran and Syria to back down whilst maintaining their honour. It must be remembered that Syrian forces first entered Lebanon to calm a country in total chaos that was a serious threat to it's neighbours. Syrian forces have kept the peace in Lebanon for many years. Israeli forces in Palestine and US forces in Iraq and Afghanistan have so far failed to emulate this control.
Nigel, Fujisawa, Japan
I am astounded at how the pro-Syrian Lebanese politicians are willing to sacrifice Lebanon on the altar of their own personal ambitions and the ambitions of an oppressive occupier. This is disgraceful. These people should withdraw from Lebanon alongside the Syrian Army, because they have caused nothing but pain and suffering as long as they have been in power. President Lahoud, you should read history and learn what fate awaits every puppet ruler who betrays his people.
T Taouk, Sydney, Australia
The Syrian declaration to withdraw its troops from Lebanon is a step forward. However, the most important withdrawal is going to be the Syrian intelligence which is the real power that governs Lebanon politically. The Lebanese government that resigned was just a picture. I have nothing against the Syrian troops, but with the intelligence. I want peace not war with Syria. Also, I don't want Israel to take this opportunity to put its demands of peace talks with Lebanon, because the Shabaa Farms issue is still not resolved.
Raffi, Dora, Lebanon
Here we go again. Something happens, the ex-prime minister is killed (no one knows yet by whom) and the US is on about foreign troops in a Middle Eastern country and waving the "freedom flag" once again. It's amazing how the Bush administration think that by saying something often enough and loud enough, that the world will think that it's true. Lebanon is a complex country with many diverse cultures. Syria was asked to help quell the domestic turmoil, which it did. A hasty withdrawal would not be in the best interest of Lebanon necessarily. But a political vacuum might allow a US sponsored movement to take hold, furthering American hegemony.
Kai-Man, Oakland, USA
Moving to the Bekaa valley is not a withdrawal. Syria should withdraw completely as soon as possible to show good faith.
Brigitte Khayat, Cairo, Egypt
The real question for Syria is the rising tide of democracy in the Middle-Eastern region. What we have now is a fledgling pseudo-monarchy; and the real intention of Washington is to get rid of the Assad dynasty. And from the look of things, with substantial claims of Syria as a beehive for terrorists, it is only a matter of time before Damascus is dealt with. Bashar Assad understands this much, but there is only so much that he can do before Washington's tide sweeps him under the rug of history and, perhaps, for the good of the raging Middle-Eastern democracy revolution.
Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr, Bronx, New York, USA
Regardless of whether the Syrian presence in Lebanon is seen as either occupation or protection the matter raises some alarming concerns. Will a Syrian withdrawal create a power vacuum? If so, in a volatile region such as the Middle East, can Lebanon remain stable and be able to secure itself without some other outside force seeking to fill Syria's shoes? Some new "liberator" who insists on defending the Lebanese people from say, the Syrians perhaps? If this were then to happen, could such an outside force then use Lebanon in pursuit of bigger fish to fry? Either way, it could well mean checkmate for Syria.
David Kersten, Singapore
I must honestly say that I am not a supporter Bush, my President; yet, I can't deny that his unilateral hard-handed approach to "freedom" and "democracy" has born fruit. One only needs to see the amazing events in Ukraine, where my ancestors come from, and Lebanon, Bolivia, Egypt, Libya, and even Saudi Arabia. Of course Iraq was a mistake, but tyranny seems being yielding to popular sentiments. I'm not one to tout the greatness of America, I'm not that patriotic; yet, those that want for the decline of the United States must also realize that with the decline of America comes the decline of the West, Europe included.
Sean Brophy, PA, USA
Syria should withdraw from Lebanon and leave any consequences to the UN. Whether a withdrawal is the smart thing to do is another matter. Lebanon has a complex mix of cultures and religions. One would hope that they do not want to repeat the mistakes of the past. Whoever killed Mr. Hariri is probably getting the desired result and it does not appear that the Syrians are happy about their predicament.
I believe Syria should give Lebanon the right to enjoy true democracy by letting the Lebanese decide their own politics.
Ali Mohamed, Lebanon
I am an American Lebanese, I did grew up and lived during the civil war and I lost a brother, an Officer in the Lebanese Army and friend during the civil war. Pull back with an exist strategy by the Lebanese Army and the Syrian is a disaster. The Syrian army was not occupier, and they have done an honourable job to provide stability, protected the innocent, and made Lebanon a safe place to the Lebanese people. The Lebanese people should be thankful to the courageous young Syrian army who sacrificed their life in order keep Lebanon united.
Mohamad Sleiman, Huntsville, AL
Syria should withdraw forces gradually and according to an agreed timetable with the government of Lebanon to allow the Lebanese army to steadily take control. Will the international community and the Security Council then turn to other countries in the region who are occupiers of other countries' territories and show similar resolve that international security council resolutions be implemented immediately?
Hamdi Qenawi, Cairo, Egypt
I think the Lebanese should take a vote. If a majority want Syria to withdraw, it should withdraw - but gradually, so a Lebanese government can take its place piece by piece. The last thing the Middle East needs is another power vacuum created by a hastily dismantled government, from which an extremist, Islamic state will have the opportunity to emerge.
Brian Keltner, Colorado, USA
Leave Lebanon as soon as possible. Why all the irrelevant comparison regarding the Golan Heights and Iraq. Isn't it crystal clear that the root cause of problems in the Middle East are dictators like Assad? Give democracy a chance.
Reuven, Beit Shemesh, Israel
My question is: are the Lebanese authorities prepared to provide for their own security? Should there be a phased influx of UN Peacekeepers until such a time as an elected government is put in place by the Lebanese people? I applaud President Bashar al-Assad for making what could be an unpopular decision in his own country. The rest will be up to all of the Lebanese factions. Without a common enemy, the Syrian occupying forces, let's hope that the different cultures don't turn on each other as has happened in the past. That is what started this whole situation to begin with.
Doug Fisher, Asheville, USA
To compare Syria's occupation of Lebanon to the US occupation of Iraq is missing the point completely. Yes,, Lebanon is not experiencing the kind of violence that is common in Iraq, but that may be because Syria is directing its terrorism efforts elsewhere. The big difference in these two occupations is that the US has provided Iraq with an election that truly reflected the will of it people and given it a chance to create its own constitution. Syria has done nothing of the kind.
Andrea, NY, USA
30 years of settlers in the Golan Heights and Northern Cyprus. Both illegal, yet nothing seems to change. Syria should work with Lebanon and find a solution to leave over a set period of time. This would allow for confidence to be withheld in Lebanon, now facing fear over the assassination on a great leader. Turkey too, should respect international law and stop occupying an EU country.
Mark Harris, Wales
Just reminding myself of events of 1990 when President Bush Senior gave Syrians carte blanche and they were able to effectively stop the civil war lasting 15 years in exchange for their support against Saddam's Iraq. Now the brave son Bush Junior demands what Syrians are gradually doing for years - withdrawal from Lebanon. When Israel withdraws from Golan Heights, Mr Bush?
Petr, Prague, Czech Republic
I never ever thought that the day will come when all Lebanese, Christians, Muslims, Druze and others ethnics would unite together in one voice and say to Syria enough is enough. When I see Lebanese on international television protesting, it makes me proud to say it is time for me to come home.
They say soldiers are a bunch of men whose job is to fix the mistakes of politicians. Mr Hariri was a politician that was trying to fix the mistakes of our nation. May you rest in peace.
Abou Zouz, New York, Vermont, USA (Lebanese)
Do what America tells them to do, or face the same fate as the Taleban and Hussein. When will the world learn that freedom will no longer stand for dictators? The decades of the oppressors and dictators are over. It is time for men to be free.
Michael S Nowak, Pittsburgh, PA, USA
Syria should do the simple thing: hold elections and allow people to decide their own government. Isn't that a basic right for everyone everywhere?
Sami Haddad, Beirut, Lebanon
I am Lebanese and when I saw in the news that the majority of the protestors where students and from the younger generation, representing all the religions we have in Lebanon but uniting against one cause, I felt an immense sense of pride and was very humbled. We have seen so much bloodshed, my people know that and they stood together and made the right decision for the good of the country!
I am with them every step of the way! Hariri must be proud of us right now. I think that Syria knows what it is getting into and if it decides to stay in Lebanon and not withdraw its troops other countries may get involved. The Lebanese opposition has given Syria an honourable chance at retreating and that's how the Middle East works. Syria will go. It's only a matter of months and more pressure from the public.
Halla el-Ahmed, London, England
The logical answer is that Syria should stay put in Lebanon to face the constant threat both countries face from their common enemy Israel. Remember, Israel still illegally occupies Syrian Golan Heights and the West Bank and Gaza strip against all international laws.
Israel itself occupied Lebanon for twenty years without any fuss from the Americans and the Europeans. However, under the current skewed world order and pressure from the friends of Israel, Syria should use wisdom and withdraw from Lebanon to save its people from similar fate to that of the Iraqis.
Nizam Yagoub, Saudi Arabia
The Arabs should form a united front to keep foreign interference like the US at bay. This is an Arab issue and should be solved by Arabs. No single outcome is more important than Arab sovereignty. Arab unity. Countries outside the Arab world are only trying to further their interests in our world.
Syria and Lebanon should insist on solving this issue within the Arab world. We should have learnt from the outcome of the liberation of Kuwait. The untold huge damage and death toll is far too high to contemplate allowing this problem to become international. I call on all Arabs to unite and treasure Arab lives and freedom.
Ahmad Hmoud, Amman, Jordan
Make no mistake about it: the US position was a subliminal factor in emboldening the Lebanese to act as they did. The US is breathing heavily over Syria's neck, and Syria is feeling the heat. The whole word is watching now. The Lebanese, left on their own do not need to take a cue from anyone; they will build a strong and lasting united Lebanon for the future.
I don't think that Syria is more dangerous than the USA and Israel.
Mahah, Damascus, Syria
It is quite amazing how the media are building up Syria to be a country that oppresses its people and how the majority of its younger generation want to leave for Western countries. I hope the media understand the consequences of such misleading perceptions. Iraq was invaded purely on misleading and misrepresented thoughts about what the Iraqi people want. I am starting to seriously question the BBC's integrity.
Khaled Arikat, London
Syria has spent 20 years in Lebanon suppressing the aspirations of the Lebanese people while supporting Palestinian terrorists and making Lebanon a target for Israeli retaliation. Syrian troops should be replaced immediately by UN peacekeepers who can assure an orderly transition to an elected Lebanese government without outside interference. Otherwise, isn't Lebanon just another province of Syria?
Michael, California, USA
I wonder if the Lebanese people in this forum who say "Bush had nothing to do with it," would be bravely defying Syria if there were not 150,000 American troops in Iraq and Saddam was still in power. Syria is in Bush's crosshairs and they know it. Hariri was a hero. But without America on Syria's borders, I do not think the Lebanese would have risen up like this. The credit of course goes to the Lebanese people. But to claim Bush had nothing to do with it seems bitter and hollow.
John Willard, Atlanta, Georgia USA
I am Syrian, and I am so glad and happy that the Lebanese are so united. I've always supported their cause, because I believe that there is no need for Syrian presence. Instead we should support our Lebanese neighbours, because their strong economy would be to our advantage. I wish them all the best. America jumped fast, making itself look like as if it had something to do with all that. Wrong. Lebanon does not anyone to command it or lead it.
Mahmoud Khobieh, Damascus, Syria
It is time for the Syrians to pull out of Lebanon. The Syrian government has been speaking to and for Lebanon with a forked tongue for long enough. The Lebanese have earned their right to be free and regain their democracy. The hope is that one day soon the Syrian people will demand that they live in a progressive and democratic state.
Rabi, Sydney, Australia