Lebanon’s parliamentary elections yesterday delivered a strong blow to Hezbollah and its Iranian-Shiite patrons by granting the pro-Western March 14 coalition, consisting of Sunni, Druze, and Christian Lebanese, 71 seats out of a total of 128 seats in parliament. Granted, these returns had been predicted by local observers, and really all that was ensured by the victory was the political status quo—March 14 forces gained only one seat and will continue to share power with Hezbollah, which still controls 58 seats. And yet it’s undoubtedly encouraging that one of the most prominent and influential Islamist groups in the Middle East has been set back.
Journalists are already speculating that President Obama’s Cairo speech, addressed to all Muslims, is due for some of the credit. But that’s unlikely. For one thing, yesterday’s contest was waged in the predominantly Christian districts of Lebanon, where a violent, sharia-minded party of God has never had much appeal. And Hezbollah has used its authority to alienate those who may have once been sympathetic to it. It has repeatedly exercised a so-called “blocking minority,” or veto, as a member of the country’s Fouad Siniora-led unity government, a power that’s like a filibuster on steroids. And last year Hezbollah waged a mini-civil war in Beirut that completely shut down the government and prompted international fears of a bloody coup. No one requires a reaffirming pronouncement from a U.S. president to see that democratic jihadists are masters of their own misfortune.
March 14 Coalition Retains Majority After Parliamentary Elections [The Daily Star]