Hezbollah After Lebanon's Election: Down But Hardly Out - Mercedes-Benz Forum

LinkBack Thread Tools Display Modes
post #1 of 1 (permalink) Old 06-10-2009, 03:50 PM Thread Starter
CH4S Artist
Teutone's Avatar
Date registered: Sep 2004
Vehicle: 1985 500SEC, 1991 190E 2.6.
Location: Los Angeles / Hannover Germany
Posts: 33,436
Mentioned: 11 Post(s)
Quoted: 937 Post(s)
Lifetime Premium Member
(Thread Starter)
Hezbollah After Lebanon's Election: Down But Hardly Out

Hizballah After Lebanon's Election: Down But Hardly Out -- Printout -- TIME

Wednesday, Jun. 10, 2009
Hezbollah After Lebanon's Election: Down But Hardly Out
By Andrew Lee Butters / Beirut

The temptation to make too much of Hizballah's failure to unseat Lebanon's Western-backed government in Sunday's election is obvious. For past three years, the Shi'ite Islamist movement has been on a roll, withstanding an Israeli invasion, then paralyzing the U.S.-backed government, eventually humiliating its militias in a street confrontation, in the process winning veto power over cabinet decisions. Many had feared that the election would see the Iran-backed movement lead an opposition coalition to victory. Instead, voters on Sunday affirmed the status quo, prompting some observers to claim that the region's political tide had turned against Iran and its "rejectionist" allies.

One Israeli official claimed that "Hizballah was punished for the [2006] war," while New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman announced, "President Barack Obama defeated President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran" in Lebanon's vote. Yet these are somewhat far-fetched claims for an election that was decided by Christian swing voters — and that affirmed the raw sectarianism of Lebanese politics. (See pictures of last year's street showdown between Hizballah and pro-government forces)

Sectarianism is the organizing principle of Lebanese democracy, because the constitution allocates a fixed number of seats in parliament to each religious group — on the basis of a formula derived from the population statistics in 1936. (The slicing of the political pie no longer matches the demographic reality: Christians, for example, are allocated half of the seats in parliament, but probably comprise little more than a third of the population; Shi'ites are allocated 20% of the seats but their share of the population is closer to double that proportion.)

In Sunday's vote, as expected, Shi'ite Muslims overwhelmingly backed Hizballah, while Sunni Muslims overwhelmingly supported the Saudi-backed Sunni party that leads the ruling coalition. The high turnout of Sunni voters, however, was not a response to Obama's outreach, as some have claimed, but rather a desire to avenge the defeat of Sunni militias by Hizballah militants in the streets of Beirut last spring.

The election was more of a referendum less on President Obama than on Michel Aoun, the former general and leader of Lebanon's largest Christian bloc. Hizballah's prospects of winning the election rested largely on the ability of its Christian ally, Aoun, to win enough seats to give the opposition coalition a majority. Since the last election in 2005, Christian voters had been split between the mainline pro-Western parties and the followers of Aoun, who had calculated that his community's best interests — and his own — lay in throwing in their lot with the rising tide of Shi'a Islam. Aoun's own party still finished with the largest single bloc of Christian seats, but his allies in the community did badly. Many Christians remain culturally wary of the turban-and-chador set, and have not forgiven Hizballah for using force on fellow Lebanese last spring. Days before the election, the patriarch of Lebanon's main Christian sect called on Christians to unite against encroaching Iranian influence.

Although he had a limited imact on the outcome of Lebanon's election, President Obama could still reap benefits from it. For one thing, it avoids the embarrassment of the Administration having to cut aid to the most democratic country in the Arab world, as it would likely have done if its voters had chosen the opposition. The result also removes one of Israel's reasons for changing the subject from Obama's demand that it freeze settlements. In the days before the poll, an Israeli official had warned that Israel would consider Lebanon a "terror state" if Hizballah won. Since the vote, Israeli officials have said they may return control of the occupied border town of Ghajar to the Lebanese as a sign of goodwill to the ruling coalition.

To imagine the election as signaling the demise of Hizballah, however, would be a mistake. While accepting the results of the poll, the opposition pointed out that it had, in fact, received the majority of the actual votes cast. And Hizballah still maintains one of the world's most formidable guerrilla forces, which it has no intention of disarming).

The Lebanese government is unlikely, in fact, to make any real effort to curb Hizballah's military power, despite a U.N. Security Council resolution requiring its disarmament. The two sides will probably reach a compromise that allows the opposition to veto major cabinet decisions as long as they have the approval of the country's president, Michael Sulieman, widely regarded as a genuinely neutral figure. That may be less than Hizballah wanted when it took to the barricades three years ago, but almost everyone in Lebanon wants to move on. More importantly, so do Iran and Syria and the U.S., and as long as the Middle East's major power players are inclined towards dialogue, all should remain quiet on the Lebanese front.
Teutone is offline  
Sponsored Links

  Mercedes-Benz Forum > General Mercedes-Benz Forums > Off-Topic

Quick Reply

Register Now

In order to be able to post messages on the Mercedes-Benz Forum forums, you must first register.
Please enter your desired user name, your email address and other required details in the form below.

User Name:
Please enter a password for your user account. Note that passwords are case-sensitive.


Confirm Password:
Email Address
Please enter a valid email address for yourself.

Email Address:


  • Currently Active Users Viewing This Thread: 1 (0 members and 1 guests)
    Thread Tools
    Show Printable Version Show Printable Version
    Email this Page Email this Page
    Display Modes
    Linear Mode Linear Mode

    Similar Threads
    Topic Author Forum Replies Last Post
    Washington ... never will make a deal Syria that "sells out" Lebanon's interests. mlfun Off-Topic 8 04-26-2009 10:01 PM
    The Hezbollah is a Nazi Party WeVonBraun Off-Topic 35 01-02-2007 06:58 PM
    George Galloway Interview re. Hezbollah Teutone Off-Topic 47 09-03-2006 12:56 AM
    UN Helped Hezbollah? 430 Off-Topic 72 08-29-2006 02:43 PM
    hezbollah mzsmbs Off-Topic 22 07-30-2006 02:25 PM

    Posting Rules  
    You may post new threads
    You may post replies
    You may not post attachments
    You may not edit your posts

    BB code is On
    Smilies are On
    [IMG] code is On
    HTML code is Off
    Trackbacks are On
    Pingbacks are On
    Refbacks are On


    Title goes here

    video goes here
    description goes here. Read Full Story
    For the best viewing experience please update your browser to Google Chrome