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Who Won Lebanon, And What Now?
Who Won Lebanon, And What Now?
Claims of U.S. influence in Lebanon’s elections last Sunday, including from Syria’s Al-Baath daily newspaper, point to Secretary Clinton and Vice President Biden’s pre-election visits as having impacted a March 14 victory. Moreover, theories are abound that President Obama’s speech in Cairo last week inspired the Lebanese to reject Hezbollah. Indeed, Thomas Friedman at the New York Times suggests that the March 14 victory and the Lebanese rebuff of Hezbollah and Iran is a win for Obama
Saturday, June 13,2009 04:10
by Blake pomed.org

Claims of U.S. influence in Lebanon’s elections last Sunday, including from Syria’s Al-Baath daily newspaper, point to Secretary Clinton and Vice President Biden’s pre-election visits as having impacted a March 14 victory. Moreover, theories are abound that President Obama’s speech in Cairo last week inspired the Lebanese to reject Hezbollah. Indeed, Thomas Friedman at the New York Times suggests that the March 14 victory and the Lebanese rebuff of Hezbollah and Iran is a win for Obama.

 

At FP, however, Hani Sabra and Willis Sparks reject that any “Obama Effect” was in play in Lebanon. Rather, they reveal that the internal dynamics of the elections leave little room for surprise at the results. They argue, “March 14 candidates did not campaign on a pro-U.S. platform…These elections were decided by Christians, and some of them still voted for the opposition. In other words, last weekend’s elections in Lebanon were not a referendum on the tone and credibility of U.S. outreach to the Middle East…”

 

Shiite sheikh Mohammaed Hassan al-Amin was quoted in al-Arabiya where he praised the elections as proof that sectarian violence and external influence in Lebanon are a thing of the past, “[t]he Lebanese voted for their sovereign, unified nation that is no longer subordinate to any local or external power. They proved that they pledge allegiance to Lebanon before anything else.”

 

As the new government takes shape, Elias Muhanna at World Politics Review provides a comprehensive view of the elections’ outcomes. He highlights the challenges that face the new prime minister and incoming parliament, paramount among them is whether Hezbollah will retain its cabinet level veto power. Moreover, Muhanna points to other domestic factors–including public debt, infrastructure, public schooling and the need for structural reform as salient issues facing the new government.

 

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