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A Win For Democracy

June 9, 2009

IBD  8 June 09

Mideast: Hezbollah learns that power doesn’t always come from the barrel of a gun, as the beleaguered Lebanese rise up and say that, for now, ballots still rule.

Our worst fears were not realized in Sunday’s parliamentary elections as the Lebanese people turned out in surprising numbers to say their capital is in Beirut and not Tehran. The Iranian-backed and financed Hezbollah (Party of God) was surprised and defeated by a turnout of 55%, the largest since the end of Lebanon’s 1975-91 civil war. Democracy lives to fight another day.

(our comments- God?= The Ancient Moon God of Arabia)

For a while, it seemed this election would go the way of Germany in 1933 and bring tyranny to power. Hezbollah would fulfill its dream of an Islamic Republic confronting Israel on the north, and Iran would have a satellite on the Mediterranean.

With the ruling March 14 coalition assured late Sunday night of 69 to 70 seats in the 128-seat parliament, word came from the opposition. “We’ve lost the election,” a senior opposition leader told Reuters. “We accept the result as the will of the people.”

“This is a big day in the history of democratic Lebanon,” said Saad Hariri, leader of the pro-Western coalition and son of slain former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. “Congratulations to you, congratulations to freedom, congratulations to democracy.”

The March 14 coalition takes its name from the date of the Cedar Revolution that followed the murder of Hariri’s father in February 2005, linked by a U.N. investigation to Syria and its operatives. The revolution helped oust the Syrian army after decades of occupation and exploitation of Lebanon.

Opposing the March 14 coalition was a group led by Hezbollah and the Free Patriotic Movement of former army chief Michel Aoun, who had switched his allegiance to Syria and Iran.

If Hezbollah had prevailed, it’s likely the government would have ceased Lebanon’s cooperation with the U.N. investigation.

Following the Syrian exodus, a series of pro-Western and/or anti-Syrian Lebanese politicians and journalists were assassinated. Among them was Industry Minister Pierre Gemayel, son of former (and possible future) President Amin Gemayel, who himself was assassinated in November 2006.

Greeting well-wishers outside a polling station northeast of Beirut was Nadim Gemayel, a March 14 candidate and son of Bashir Gemayel, who was assassinated in September 1982, days before being sworn in as president of Lebanon.

After the Syrians left, Hezbollah took over, provoking a war against Israel and then using its carefully crafted image as defender of Lebanon to proceed to what can only be called a slow-motion coup. Hezbollah said that if victorious, it would have worked to build a “culture of resistance” to the West and define Lebanon’s enemies as Israel and the U.S.

On Sunday, the Lebanese showed they were fed up with being used as human shields in an international dispute not of their making. The people of the oldest democracy in the Middle East, a multicultural democracy, said they wanted their country back.

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