Lebanon After The Elections

Al-Itihad, UAE, May 13

Lebanon is a completely different place than it was just a few weeks ago. Two major storms have swept across the country, the first revolving around the recent parliamentary elections. In this respect, Hizbullah and Amal, together with the Christian Free Patriotic Movement, managed to garner over 65 of the 128 seats in parliament, thereby securing a majority for the Shiite bloc. Hundreds of Hizbullah activists took to the streets to celebrate their victory, while Prime Minister Saad Hariri grappled to explain his party’s loss. Hizbullah is likely to play a major role in forming the next government and naming the future prime minister. The party can now easily sideline Hariri without appearing to attack the Sunni bloc. The recent marches of Hizbullah gunmen in the streets of Beirut are a stark reminder of the power that this party now possesses. The second originated from Washington, when U.S. President Donald Trump announced the American withdrawal from the Iranian nuclear deal. The United States is no longer a guarantor of stability in our region. Whereas the previous power equation dictated that Russia would tame Iran’s aggression while America would rein in Israel’s military action in Syria, this is no longer the case. With the nuclear deal breached, Israel and Iran appear headed towards a direct confrontation, which could drag the entire region—including Lebanon—into a free-fall. When the war between Israel and Lebanon broke out in 2006, Lebanon was in much better shape; the Lebanese government enjoyed strong support and stability, the Europeans and Americans did everything they could to end the hostilities as quickly as possible and UN peacekeeping forces proved effective. Today, however, Lebanon is controlled by Hizbullah, which is viewed by the majority of world leaders as a terrorist organization. If Lebanon finds itself pulled into a war with Israel, none of its allies will come to its help, as they have in the past. We thus face a dangerous future that could forever impact the fate of Lebanon. Hariri’s foremost priority should, therefore, be the formation of a steady coalition that ensures the security and stability of Lebanon in the months to come. –Ridwan al-Sayed

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