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Entries in Michel Suleiman (1)


Lebanon and Iran Elections: It's All About (The) US

Related Post: Lebanon’s Elections - From Global “Showdown” to Local Reality

lebanon-flagiran-flag11This piece started as an update on our main analysis of the results of Lebanon's elections, but with the US and British media's misreading, simplifications, and exaggerations spreading like kudzu, a separate entry is needed.

For Michael Slackman of The New York Times, it's not just a question of Washington shaping the Lebanese outcome: "Political analysts...attribute it in part to President Obama’s campaign of outreach to the Arab and Muslim world." You can slap the Obama model on top of any election to get the right result: "Lebanon’s election could be a harbinger of Friday’s presidential race in Iran, where a hard-line anti-American president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, may be losing ground to his main moderate challenger, Mir Hussein Moussavi."

Simon Tisdall, normally a shrewd observer of international affairs, trots out the same simplicities in The Guardian of London: "It's possible that watching Iranians will be encouraged in their turn to go out and vote for reformist, west-friendly candidates in Friday's presidential election. Lebanon may be just the beginning of the 'Obama effect'."

Juan Cole has posted a more thoughtful assessment, even as he opens with the reductionist and sensationalist declaration, "President Obama's hopes for progress on the Arab-Israeli peace process would have been sunk if Hezbollah had won the Lebanese elections." And Howard Schneider of The Washington Post, although premature in his anointing of Saad Hariri as Lebanon's next and primary leader (setting aside not only President Suleiman but also presuming that Hariri will be chosen as PM), sets out "the choice...between a showdown with his supporters, a showdown with Hezbollah or -- the more likely outcome -- a continued stalemate over the very issues voters hoped they were addressing in Sunday's balloting".

But if there is to be a simplification, in light of the internal political issues that follow the election, I would like it to come from Robert Fisk in The Independent of London:
What stands out internationally is that the Lebanese still believe in parliamentary democracy and President Obama, so soon after his Cairo lecture, will recognise that this tiny country still believes in free speech and free elections. Another victory for Lebanon, in other words, beneath the swords of its neighbours.