A Changed Psychology in the Middle East

(Times-UK) Editorial - The funeral of Rafik Hariri united Lebanese of every faith and sect - in Beirut, more than 200,000 mourners followed his cortege to the mosque in a procession joined by Sunni clerics, Christians, Shia, and Druse. This event could mark the beginning of a massive popular repudiation of meddling by Damascus. Few Lebanese believe that Syria was innocent, fewer still that it could not have prevented this assassination. In Lebanon, as in Iraq, terrorism's grip on politics is loosening. Israelis and Palestinians can draw encouragement from these signs of a shift in the regional psychology. Sharon knows that Abbas cannot overhaul the corrupt and disorganized Palestinian police and security forces overnight, and has tacitly accepted that the Palestinian leader is compelled to bargain with rejectionist forces that he cannot yet control. Israeli gestures this past week - the return of the remains of Palestinian militants, announcements of prisoner releases, and reopened border crossings - are all aimed at giving him results to show for engagement.

2005-02-18 00:00:00

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