It's no secret every Tom, Dick and Hussein in the Arab/Persian world has an eye on Lebanon right now--they are about to have a monumental election that could shift the balance in the Middle East! To be frank: the Saudi's want to keep their assets secure; the Syrian's want to keep their leverage in the country just in case old Bashar wants to make a deal with the West; And the Iranian's want to make sure that their protégé, Hezbollah, will continue to grow and cement its spot in the Lebanese political sphere. There's a lot at stake.
But if you haven't been following the up and coming June 7, Lebanese election, here is a quick review. To oversimplify, there are two different coalitions contending for votes. The first is dubbed the March 8 coalition and its major actors are Hezbollah and Christian dominated Free Patriotic Movement. The second is called the March 14 coalition; basically the current pro-Western government in Beirut. (There are many smaller parties and constituencies that will be key in swinging this election, but this is the general framework. And click here for a better review.)
Now lets get to that darn question all you Casbah guerrilla' have been asking about: WHAT IN GOD'S NAME WILL HAPPEN IF MARCH 8 WINS!?! Here are a few popular responses I've stumbled across:
Reader-funded foreign correspondent Michael J. Totten says:
"Here's the reason I would vote against March 8, though, if I were Lebanese. If war breaks out again between Hezbollah and Israel, the Lebanese government itself would be considered a military target. Nowhere in Lebanon would be safe. This is what worries me more than anything else. A March 8 victory might blow up the entire country. But it also might not. Maybe things would pretty much proceed as normal. It's hard to say. Perhaps we'll find out."
Popular Lebanese commentator Jim Ramsey Khoury says:
"A March 8 government would give the US government justification to ignore Lebanon and leave it at the mercy of the Israelis. That said, March 14 isn’t a much better choice for election. I’d much rather vote for new candidates who represent themselves rather than a side like M8 or M14."
Joe M., AKA a random guy who commented on Qifa Nabki's blog says:
The opposite is also true. The more Hizbullah is empowered, the less possible it is for Israel to strike all of Lebanon. Because, for instance, it is politically harder for the international community to defend Israel when it is attacking all of Lebanon rather than simply targeting Hizbullah. When Hizbullah is out of power, the world is less likely to restrain Israel because Israel can claim to be attacking only Hizbullah (even though they are bombing everyone anyway, as we have seen). Also, if Hizbullah is in a majority government, that does not mean that other factions have no say or no roll. And attacking Lebanon is not in Israel’s interests anyway, because it will simply alienate more of the Lebanese people, whether Hizbullah’s in government or not. When Lebanon is being bombed wholesale, I doubt the people being hit will be saying “oh, that bomb is what i deserve because Hizbullah won in the parliamentary election…”
There's a few different opinion out there eh? If you ask me, Totten hit a home run when he said "Maybe things would pretty much proceed as normal. It's hard to say. Perhaps we'll find out."
Perhaps we will. And keep checking The Casbah for updates on the Lebanese Election as I will be blogging from Beirut in the aftermath.