The Obama administration has undoubtedly breathed a sigh of relief after the pro-western coalition won yesterdayâ€™s parliamentary vote in Lebanon. After the presidentâ€™s big speech about improving relationships between America and the Mid-East, a Hezbollah win in Lebanon would have been seen by many as a strong rebuke to Obama.
Of course, calling the election an Obama win might be overstating the matter:
Obama’s outreach did not appear to have resonated with the electorate as much as a last-minute appeal from head of the influential Maronite Catholic Church. Cardinal Nasrallah Sfeir warned voters on the eve of the election of what he called an attempt to change Lebanon’s character and its Arab identity, a clear reference to Hezbollah and its Persian backer, Iran.
The makeup of the Lebanese parliament will remain largely unchanged from the outgoing legislature, meaning itâ€™s unlikely the political situation in Lebanon will dramatically change. In fact, tensions may increase as the ruling coalition has vowed not to give the Hezbollah led coalition veto power over major government decisions â€“ a power they previously negotiated after nearly provoking a civil war.
Weâ€™ll see what the future holds. At least for now, Obamaâ€™s hope for a better relationship with the Mid-East remains viable.