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Hezbollah’s Opponents Filling Power Vacuum

With Lebanon waiting for the prime minister-designate to form a government and Hezbollah engaged in the Syrian civil war, Beirut's political factions are maneuvering for position, writes Elie Hajj.
Lebanese flags placed by anti-government protesters are seen on barbed wire securing the area in front of the government palace in downtown Beirut October 25, 2012. The party capital of the Arab world, Beirut is a freewheeling city where Gulf Arabs, expatriates and Lebanese emigres fly in to enjoy its luxury hotels. But under the veneer of modernity lie sectarian demons coiled to strike. The car-bomb assassination last Friday of intelligence chief Wissam al-Hassan - an attack almost universally blamed on Sy
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It seems the forces aligned against Hezbollah rushed to denounce the words of its leader, Hassan Nasrallah, after his televised speech on April 30. Looking a little deeper, they then developed worries that prompted former minister Mohammed Shatah, adviser to former prime minister Saad Hariri, to ask who among the Shiite community could extend a hand to the rest of the Lebanese people for a meeting on common ground. Such worries are surfacing as alienation among the Lebanese appears to be on the rise, preventing a new government from being formed and delaying parliamentary elections, with no hope of holding them even after a six-month postponement.

Speaking to Al-Monitor before Nasrallah's speech, Shatah predicted that the Hezbollah leader would reduce the impact of his organization's intervention in the Syrian conflict and engagement in battle on the side of the Bashar al-Assad regime. His prediction was incorrect. Opponents of Hezbollah and Iran are now convinced that the Islamic republic, which sees itself as the protector of Muslim and Christian minorities in the region, is trying to consolidate its bases in Iraq, Syria and Lebanon.

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