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Iran-Backed Hezbollah Gains Tighter Control Over Lebanon Through "Decisive" Election Victory

Iran-Backed Hezbollah Gains Tighter Control Over Lebanon Through

"The State of Israel will not differentiate between the sovereign State of Lebanon and Hezbollah, and will view Lebanon as responsible for any action from within its territory", Naftali Bennett, the education minister in Israel's conservative coalition government, wrote on Twitter on Monday.

Hezbollah had put its full weight behind the Baalbak-Hermel elections, which were handled personally by Hasan Nasrallah, who warned of direct Saudi money trying to buy off voters on Sunday, especially after Saudi Arabia's ambassador to Lebanon, Walid al-Boukhari, visited the district in late March.

Following the conclusion of a 15-year civil war in 1989, the Taif Accord requires that Lebanon's president is a Maronite Christian, its prime minister a Sunni Muslim, and parliament's speaker a Shia Muslim.

Hezbollah has provided the regime of Syrian President Bashar Al Assad with thousands of fighters since 2011, preserving his position in Damascus after seven bloody years of civil war. They campaigned on firebrand Lebanese Christian nationalism, saying that they were opposed to the arms of Hezbollah, noting that arms ought to be only in the hands of the state, and were highly critical of Hezbollah's intervention in the Syrian conflict, saying it had attracted ISIS and other jihadi groups into the country.

The unofficial tally in the first parliamentary elections in nine years indicated sharp losses for Western-backed Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri.

As part of Lebanon's political system, seats in parliament are divided between the country's 18 officially recognised sects.

The self-confessed atheist running for a Christian seat and her supporters cried foul play, with hundreds of protesters convening outside the interior ministry calling for transparency.

It does not give Hezbollah overall power though.

He says he will continue to work closely with President Michel Aoun, who is allied with a rival bloc led by the militant Hezbollah.

The tiny state of Lebanon, which is half the size of Wales, finds itself in the middle of a regional battle between Iran and its arch foe, Saudi Arabia.




These figures had disappeared from the political scene following the withdrawal of Syrian troops from Lebanon in 2005 but, after Hezbollah and Iran advanced in Syria, they reappeared and now have seats in parliament.

Therefore, the Hezbollah and Amal Shiite parties, in alliance with the Free Patriotic Movement, may secure over 60 parliament seats, which will be considered the majority.

Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri announced on Monday that his Mustaqbal Movement won 21 seats at parliament in Sunday's parliamentary elections.

The new rules are seen as unlikely to undermine the long-entrenched political elite, a group that includes local dynasties and former warlords.

As many as 800,000 voters under the age of 30 were expected to cast ballots for the first time.

The Lebanese government reported voter turnout at 49 percent, down from 54 percent the last time legislative elections were held in 2009.

Imad Risk, general manager of the Isticharia Strategic & Communication Studies in Beirut, told Xinhua that whoever wins or loses in this election, Lebanon has set a good example not only for own domestic politics but also for the region.

The anti-Hezbollah Christian party Lebanese Forces also appears to have done well in the election, with indications that they have nearly doubled their MPs from eight to 15.

The Lebanon vote is to be followed on May 12 by an Iraqi election that is also set to underline Iran's reach, with one of three pro-Tehran Shi'ite leaders set to become prime minister.

But some other voters were sceptical the election signalled an improvement in Lebanon's political climate. That, along with the new electoral law, injected some unpredictability to the process.

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