OPED42 Lebanese Elections

Am I the only person completely unable to figure out what is going on in the Lebanese elections based on the simplistic reporting in the U.S. media (television and newspapers) and declarations by U.S. politicians? From these you would believe that there are two clearly-defined blocs - the "pro-Syrian" faction and the "democratic" opposition. The reality is much messier... multiple groups vie for power, creating and shedding alliances at a dizzying pace. For example, (as of this writing) the Maronites appear to have split into at least three main groups, the "Gemayel" group allying itself with Saad Hariri (son of the assassinated Rafiq Hariri), the "Geagea" group allying itself with their old enemies the Druze, and the group 'belonging' to ex-general Michel Aoun (recently returned from 15 years of Syrian-imposed exile in Paris) allying itself with the pro-Syrian Emile Lahoud! Some 'known knowns' and 'known unknowns':

As a result of the above factors many of the seats are not in doubt, given that the candidates are unopposed. Of the 19 seats up for grabs in the Beirut region, 9 fell into this category. That was one factor that lead to a poor 28% voter turnout in the May 29th elections, which were swept by Saad Hariri's candidates.

A 'known unknown' is what the final outcome of the elections will be, and what they mean to the future of Lebanon. We can only wish them luck and hope that the country does not descend back into violence and bloodshed. And, hopefully, the U.S. media and politicians will do their homework and provide us with information that enlightens us re what is really going on in an immensely complicated part of the world.

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© SNi 06/04/05