Syria Looms Large in Lebanon’s Political Battle

Iran, Saudis Both Keen to See Their Allies Retain Power

Syria has long been the 800 lb. gorilla in the Lebanese politics, and with elections looming in the near future that is true now more than ever, with the Syria question at the center of the political divide, and the ongoing civil war provoking yet more foreign involvement in the Lebanon vote.

The split is between the Hezbollah-dominated March 8 bloc, the outgoing government, and the March 14 bloc of Saad Hariri, whose last government fell in early 2011. The two sides are always exceedingly close in votes, with a few seats usually the difference in which bloc forms the government.

The Hariri bloc has long disliked the Assad government, while Hezbollah-backed fighters are in Syria fighting with Assad, fearing a Sunni-dominated Syria would shift the balance of power in the region against them.

Whatever happens with Assad, however, both Iran and Saudi Arabia are determined to keep their respective allies in a good position. Since the razor-thin margin could be decided more by electoral law than actual vote, the lobbying has kept the new election law from even being passed yet, delaying the elections for now.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.