The Return of Hariri
If the headlines weren't dominated by the French rejection of the EU draft constitution and the massive counterinsurgency sweep in Baghdad, the Lebanese elections would top the news.
Saad Hariri, the son of the dead former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, has swept parliamentary elections in the capital Beirut, according to official results announced today. The elections were the country’s first to be held largely free of Syrian domination. Riding a sympathy vote, candidates led by Hariri won all 19 seats in the Beirut polls. The election is seen as a tribute to the leader whose February assassination triggered international anger and street protests that ultimately drove the Syrian army out of Lebanon.
In a divided country like Lebanon, where power is shared out between ethno-religious groups, Hariri's victory does not mean that one Lebanese faction has achieved a clear ascendancy over the other, especially with the low voter turnout, but the one clear loser was Syria. Across the Bay links to an interview with a Syrian writer who argues that Assad regime in Damascus is now doomed. However that may be, it is safe to say that Syria is under pressure on two fronts, three if internal politics is considered. Lebanon, Syria itself and Iraq.