Lebanon: An overwhelming victory for Hezbollah, Assad and Iran

08 May, 2018, 01:50 | Author: Edward Snyder

Despite the losses in the first parliamentary election since 2009, the result positions Hariri as the frontrunner to form the next government as the leader with the biggest bloc in parliament.

Iran-backed Hezbollah, Amal Movement and allies made big gains in Lebanon's parliamentary elections held on Sunday, May 6, the local media said in its initial reports.

Hezbollah, which was founded in the 1980s to fight against Israel, has been branded a terrorist group by the US.

"The make-up of the new legislative chamber represents a guarantee and a great strength to protect this strategic choice and to protect the golden equation - the army, the people and the resistance", Nasrallah said. Saudi Arabia strongly influenced the Future Movement bloc in 2009, but has recently switched focus to other regional issues like those in Yemen, where yet another Iranian proxy conflict is taking place with the Iranian-backed Houthis.

Everyone has been waiting to see how the past nine years, and all the security and political developments in Lebanon and the region, have affected Lebanese parties - and what the elections would be like.

Preliminary unofficial results show Hezbollah and its political allies have won more than half of the seats.

Such a result would cement Hezbollah's role in the Lebanese government as the strongest political power in the country.

The prime minister also said that the worldwide community should look at the results of Lebanon's election in a "very positive way".

The official results were due to be announced late on Monday.

As many as 800,000 voters under the age of 30 were expected to cast ballots for the first time.

Several Western countries, including the USA, have designated Hezbollah's military wing or the entire organisation as a terrorist group.

What Hariri did achieve was a tiny breakthrough in the Baalbak-Hermel district in the northern Bekka, a traditional Hezbollah stronghold, where he managed to wrestle the Muslim seat from Hezbollah's control, along with the Christian seat, which went to his ally Samir Gagegea of the Lebanese Forces (LF), an all-Maronite party affiliated with Hariri's Future Movement.

One of the main changes in this election is a complex voting system that introduces a degree of proportional representation which has allowed smaller parties to contend.

The next political phase in the country begins with the election of a parliament speaker, and then the naming of a president responsible for the formation of the government.

Among the Christians, the right-wing Lebanese Forces party did particularly well, appearing to nearly double its number of seats from eight to 15.

If confirmed, the preliminary results could put at risk billions of dollars in U.S. military help to Lebanon, as well as global aid and loans the country needs to revive its stagnant economy.

Hezbollah-backed winners include Jamil al-Sayyed, a retired general and former Lebanese intelligence chief who is a close friend of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, according to the unofficial results.

Aoun said the preferential vote was necessary as voters would likely prefer some candidates on the list to others.

The preliminary results show at least one candidate from a civil society list - journalist Paula Yaacoubian - won a seat in the capital Beirut, an area traditionally monopolized by established political parties.

Lebanon should have held a parliamentary election in 2013 but MPs instead voted to extend their own term because leaders could not agree on a new parliamentary election law.

Hariri said confusion over the new electoral process was behind the poor turnout.

"The problem with this election: a lot of people didn't understand it", he said when asked about the turnout.



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