Political tensions are running high in Lebanon ahead of the anticipated legislative elections in May. The excessive and precarious pandering to voters seems to be the prelude to a post-election realignment of the political system.
Last time an election was held in Lebanon was in 2009, and the Middle East was different back then. The Syrian regime was still the major power broker in Lebanese politics, and Iranian-backed Hezbollah had just dealt in May 2008 a military blow to the Saudi-backed Future Movement. After heavily investing in the 2009 elections, Riyadh re-engaged Damascus to contain the growing Iranian influence in Lebanon. However, the United States put a brake on the Saudi-Syrian rapprochement, which resulted in the ousting of Saad Hariri’s first Cabinet in January 2011. Two months later, the Syrian uprising began in March 2011.