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Lebanese Pleased with UN Resolution on Syria

01 November 2005

Syria bristled after the U.N. Security Council ordered Damascus to cooperate with its investigation into the slaying of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik al Hariri.  But in Beirut, the majority of Lebanese seem to be pleased with the outcome.

Politics was at center of conversation in Beirut, where almost everyone had an opinion about Monday's U.N. Security Council resolution, ordering Syria to cooperate with the probe into the slaying of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik al-Hariri.

A majority of Lebanese appeared to be pleased by the decision, while many Syrians seemed defiant.

Mahmoud, a silver-haired man who works in a pizza-shop, insisted that he and most Lebanese,  "support the United Nations until it uncovers who killed Mr. Hariri."

Another Lebanese man, calling himself Jayson, said he supported the U.N. inquiry, but was against sanctions on Syria.

"If really they killed Mr. Hariri, they must be punished, but it is not good to punish all of Syria for two or three people," he explained.

Across the board, the Lebanese press lauded the U.N. resolution ordering Syria to cooperate with German Prosecutor Detlev Mehlis, who is investigating the February explosion.

Beirut's Daily Star newspaper wrote: "Final chance for Damascus to read the writing on the wall."

The daily al Mustaqbal, which is owned by the Hariri family, wrote: "the world speaks with one voice: Justice for Rafik al Hariri."

Meanwhile, many Syrians sounded much different about the implications of the U.N. resolution.

Anis, a 20-something Syrian who works at a shish-kebab market in Beirut, says the United Nations is being manipulated by the United States.
"The United Nations is being pressured by the Americans, the fate of Arab countries should be decided only by Arabs, not by the United States or Britain," he said.

Another Syrian man, who gave his name as Tamam, said the United Nations would not stop pressuring Syria, until it "creates a civil war like that in Iraq."

The Syrian government's response to the resolution was somewhat more muted, with the government daily ath-Thawra writing that Syria has "resolved to cooperate, despite "tough times."

Syria's President Bashar al Assad sounded more defiant, calling for an Arab summit to "support Syria against the U.N. resolution."

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