From IsraelNN.com, Sivan 15, 5769, 07 June 09, by Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu:
Polls are giving a coalition of Hizbullah and pro-Syrian parties a 50-50 chance of winning Sunday’s Lebanese parliamentary elections, raising the possibility that Israel will face Iranian influence in the government on its northern border, in addition to Hamas in Gaza.
Hizbullah currently is a minority in the Lebanese Cabinet but has managed to force its way into the government to gain enough Cabinet representation to block major legislation. A victory by the Hizbullah alliance would be a stiff blow to the United States, whose policy of promoting democracy in the Palestinian Authority has already backfired with the Hamas victory in legislative elections four years ago. Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter will monitor the vote in Lebanon as he did in the PA.
Anti-Syrian political leaders have warned that a pro-Syrian victory will open the door for Iran to use Lebanon as a tool against Israel and would strengthen the Iranian-Syrian-Hamas alliance.
The Obama government has told Lebanese voters that a victory for pro-Syrian forces would endanger American aid, which has amounted to $1 billion since 2006.
Hizbullah is fielding only 11 candidates in the 128-seat legislature, but its influence is far greater, especially in southern Lebanon where it is a de facto state through its social and education support for residents, mostly Shiite Muslims.
Its alliance with Syria has enabled it to stockpile rockets and missiles far beyond the number it possessed before its Second Lebanon War against Israel in 2006.
The pro-Western coalition is headed by Saad Hariri, a Sunni Muslim whose father Rafiq, a former prime minister, was assassinated in a bloody suicide bombing four years ago. Syria has been accused of being behind the attack, but a recent United Nations report has fingered Hizbullah as being responsible.
Two of Hariri’s major coalition partners are Walid Jumblatt, head of the Druze sect, and the Phalange party, a right-wing Christian group headed by Amin Gemayel.
Hizbullah’s coalition partners include Michel Aoun, head of the Largest Christian bloc in the legislature, and Nabih Berri, leader of the Shiite Amal faction and the speaker of the parliament.