Beirut, George Khoury, Lebanon Bulletin, March 17, 1999

As the Lebanese regime cracks down on student protests in East Beirut, the anti-Syrian movement seems to escalate in strengh and political support. After the two days of arrests by the security forces and protests by anti-Syrian students, East Beirut's campuses are going on strike to "send a massive signal to the Lebanese people and the international community that the Syrian occupation is not an accepted fact in the country." Responding to a call by the student organization of the (mostly Aounist) "National Current," several campuses in the Christian sector are heading towards strikes and sit in movements as of tomorrow. According to the security sources, the Lebanese regime fears an all out intifada in the universities against its repressive policies. But the government, after having received instructions from the Syrian services, is planning on cracking down on the students. The main base for the "intifada" seems to be Saint Joseph (Jesuite) University with its multiple campuses. But schools and number of departments at the American University as well as in Kasleek, BUC, and other colleges have joined the movement. The popular Lebanese State University will see its campuses in the Christian sector joining as well. The strike, which was triggered by a massive campaign of arrest following the distribution of anti-Syrian tract last week, is now endorsed and supported by the main groups of the Christian opposition. In Paris, the office of General Michel Aoun issued a communique in support of the movement, followed by all Aounist factions inside the country and in the diaspora. In New York the World Lebanese Organization (WLO) issued several releases in support and called for a parallel activity abroad. In Jezzine, the Lebanese Front office declared its full support to the movement as well. In East Beirut number of underground factions released communiques of support and called on their followers to join. The "Council of Command" of the Lebanese Forces, a faction opposed to the Taif agreenent and the Syrian occupation said "all Lebanese Forces students must rally the movement and struggle against the regime. We should call for the liberation of all political prisoners not only the arrested students," said the communique. Also from the underground the Christian Social-Democratic Party (CSDP) issued a call to his members and supporters to join and take the intifada to a national level." Similar statements were published by the General Union of Lebanese Workers (close from the CSDP), the Middle East Christian Committee (Lebanese branch), and the "Christian Students Committee."