Arab press reaction to Lebanon vote

The Arab press has reacted differently to the Lebanese election results, though most newspapers agree the next government faces huge economic and sectarian problems.

    The first elections since Syria's withdrawal has sparked debate

    A comment article in Lebanon's al-Anwar struck a critical tone on Monday, suggesting that those who held power in the country and those who were elected to parliament are not one and the same.

    "The powers which have emerged in the new parliament following the elections are very much similar to the UN Security Council," wrote columnist Rauf Shahuri.

    "There are those who enjoy honorary membership while just three have the veto vote ... [Opposition candidate] General Michel Aoun, Saad al-Hariri and [Hizb Allah chief] Hasan Nasr Allah."

    However, Lebanon's al-Nahar took a more moderate view, observing that the election had not exacerbated sectarian divisions.

    Columnist Ghasan Tuwayni wrote that "although the election battle took a sectarian approach, it did not lead to what many Lebanese people feared, that is, a return to civil war".

    View from Tehran

    Iranian newspapers, such as Ettelaat, also welcomed the overall election results - particularly in the south.

    "They show that support for the Islamic resistance movement [Hizb Allah] is strong and the Lebanese nation is determined to continue its fight against the Zionist regime [Israel]."

    Iran's official news agency IRNA also praised the Lebanese parliament for extending Emile Lahoud's presidency, quoting Ayat Allah Khamenei as saying Washington had previously criticised the president for his support of Islamic resistance.

    But Syrian newspapers focused more on prominent Lebanese politicians who had criticised the election results.

    Foreign interference

    Damascus-based al-Thawra led with the election criticisms of former prime minister Dr Salim al-Has, who said foreign interference had ruined any chance of a free or fair vote.

    "Although the election battle took a sectarian approach, it did not lead to what many Lebanese people feared, that is, a return to civil war"

    Columnist Ghasan Tuwayni,
    Lebanon's al-Nahar newspaper

    It quoted the former prime minister as saying that the extent of US and French interference had even forced Lahoud to push for a new law to make sure all candidates had equal access to the media and clear documentation about campaign funding.

    "Without doubt, foreign involvement from Washington and Paris has decided the election result.

    "If these elections were not held under flagrant international intervention into Lebanese affairs, then I don't know how else they could be described," he added.

    International Arab media

    In stark contrast, the international Arab newspaper al-Quds published a column by Elias al-Khoury who concluded that Aoun's defeat meant Syria might retain its power over Beirut.

    "It has cleared the way for Lahoud to keep the presidency and for the Syrian authorities to wield power through clone-copy Lebanese intelligence agencies", al-Khoury wrote.

    The political commentator then poses some pertinent questions about Lebanon's future, asking whether Sunday's result could lead the country to become a genuine independent and democratic nation.

    Only, he says, if Lebanon can end its "independence intifada" and/or dismantle the country's security apparatus.

    SOURCE: Aljazeera


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