LEBANON WANTS TO BE ALONE
EPORTS received this week from a special correspondent in the Lebanon confirm the view stated in our columns last week that the Lebanese troubles are domestic.
The Lebanon is, in effect, what Spain was in 1936 at the beginning of the Civil War: a country where interfering people from the outside hurry to give aid to its warring sections.
In Spain Russians, French and British rushed in to help the " Government " against the Nazis and Italians supporting General Franco.
In the Lebanon Russians and , Nasser's Arab Republic aid the I Lebanese rebels who dislike the President and desire a change in constitution. The United States in particular see possible trouble, and send arms and ships to help the Government. And just like in Spain, local inhabitants want to be left alone to iron out their difficulties.
But while maintaining their independence, the Lebanese, half of whom are Christians (the majority of Christians are Maronite Catholics), are fervent supporters of the movement, growing more noticeable every day in the Near East, demanding the acceptance of the Arab world, Christian and Moslem, as a modern fact dominating the whole scene.
In the rugged and beautiful mountains of the Lebanon, where half a million people live, there is pride of Arab race. Indeed. says our correspondent. "the Lebanon played a most important r6le in the founding of the Arab League. Arab political refugees from other Arab countries have always found it a useful place to escape to. It is the summer resort of Arabian Sheikhs, as well as of Western tourists".
All Arabs are at home in the Lebanon. But the Lebanese remain as always "a tough and pugnacious people. and down to the smallest child they are impossible to impose upon".
Our correspondent gives the background to the present trouble. "The Lebanese constitution", he states, "says that no President may be elected a second time, A new one is due to be elected this year, Kamil Shamotin having finished his seven-year term of office.
"After the elections of last year, certain supporters of Shamoun, mostly Maronite Catholics, backed by Magid Arslan, who heads one of the two Druee factions, proposed that the constitution be amended so as to permit Shamonn's return to power.
"Fierce opposition to the move came from Moslems who are admirers of President Nasser of Egypt, and from the Cat Rohe Maronite Patriarch, Mgr. Meoushy".
The President is constitutionally a Maronite Catholic. A change in constitution. which the Opposition demand, might mean that a nonCa tholic could become President. The Moslems might desire this.
This could mean. in the words of our correspondent, "a confessional struggle".
He met the Queen
Anthony Times, aged 15, head boy of St. Winifrid's Secondary School, Crawley New Town, was one of two children chosen to present gifts to the Queen on behalf of all the schoolchildren, as she left the town, accompanied by the Duke of Edinburgh, after a four hour visit on Monday. The gilts included an illustrated book on Sussex made by the pupils of Notre Dame High School.