Protestors and security forces clash in Riad al-Solh Square. (The Daily Star/Hasan Shaaban)
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Called together by the "You Stink" campaign, which began with the narrow aim to resolve the national garbage crisis, thousands of demonstrators faced down menacing security forces in Downtown Beirut Saturday and Sunday nights and proudly shouted, "The people want the fall of the regime!" The demand has left the political establishment bewildered, not because they believe they are doing a good job – Prime Minister Tammam Salam's angry speech Sunday morning would have disabused any politician of that notion – but because they cannot possibly imagine an alternative. In Lebanon, the demand is far broader.By the end of the violent Saturday night, You Stink organizers were calling on social media for some articulate demands: new parliamentary elections, the Cabinet's resignation and trials for officers who used disproportionate force against demonstrators.The question, then, is whether the political current can crystallize as a formidable opposition movement in coming elections.Or the movement could return to its original demands, to set milestones for change.
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