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Geopolitics

Has Lebanese Politics Finally Freed Itself Of Iran's Influence?

Lebanon's recent elections have shrunk the legislative block led by national power-brokers Hezbollah. But will a precarious new majority be able to rid the government of the long shadow of Tehran?

Photo of supporters of pro-Iranian Hezbollah

Supporters of pro-Iranian Hezbollah sit in a street decorated with picture of the party chief Hassan Nasrallah

Ahmad Ra'fat

-Analysis-

The results of parliamentary elections in Lebanon, have put an end to the majority block led by Hezbollah, the paramilitary group concocted by the Islamic Republic of Iran. Hezbollah and its Christian allies, the Free Patriotic Movement, led by President Michel Aoun, lost their 71 seats and will now have 62 (of a total 128 seats).


One of the big winners were the Lebanese Forces, the anti-Hezbollah Christian party, led by the former warlord Samir Geagea. Certain important Christian or Druze personalities backed by Hezbollah even lost seats.

Weakened Iranian influence in Lebanon

Hezbollah's downfall is a major defeat for Iran, which may also fail to put one of its friends as president in elections scheduled in October. It seems unlikely Aoun's successor will be another Christian friendly to the Islamic Republic, and he (or she) may well be a Christian from the opposition. That will constitute a second step after these elections in curbing the Islamic Republic's influence in Lebanon.

But the next parliament faces uncertainty, firstly in its bid to forge a working majority. There are 12 independent deputies (when only five or six were expected to win seats) known for their past criticisms of the entire political system.

As former protest leaders, they invited the Lebanese to vote their way out of their many problems. These deputies will have a crucial role in forging the 65-seat majority for one or another of the big groups.

Photo of a Lebanese woman casting her vote during the 2022 Lebanese parliamentary election

A Lebanese woman casts her vote at a polling station during the 2022 Lebanese parliamentary election

Marwan Naamani/dpa/Zuma

A government without Hezbollah

The first sign of their intentions will be in the election of the parliamentary speaker, which according to set rules, must be a Shia Muslim. Since 1992, the head of the Amal party beholden to Tehran, Nabih Berri, has held the post.

Will the independents side with the Christian Party's Geagea to prevent his reelection? Will they also vote with it to form the first government in years without a member of Hezbollah?

Still, adopting an independent path could take this parliament the way of Iraq's legislature, where Iran-backed forces lost their majority but have still managed to paralyze the Iraqi political system to prevent a president or government working without their approval. Indeed, many observers in Lebanon and Iraq believe that stability in their countries first needs a basic change in Iran and while there is an Islamic Republic in charge, no regional country will be at peace.

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FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War

Kharkiv Revisited: Inside Russia's New Assault On The "Hero City" Of Ukraine

The nation's second-largest city, Kharkiv was quiet for weeks after Ukrainian forces took control. But now it is again under attack as Russia pushes to capture the city that's considered the "gateway" to Ukraine. Die Welt reports from the frontline.

Damages due to Russian shelling in Kharkiv, Ukraine

Alfred Hackensberger

KHARKIV — "Come, I want to show you something," Denys Vezenych says, opening the door of his dental office.

The 40-year-old begins to tell the story in the waiting room: "It was April 16 when the Russian artillery shell hit. The windowpanes were broken, the walls had holes everywhere and the roof was destroyed. But I renovated everything."

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The repairs cost him several thousand euros. "You have to think positively, because life goes on," he explains with a smile. But this attitude is not so present generally in Saltivka, a neighborhood in northeastern Kharkiv. The dental practice may be like new, but the rest of this area in the northeastern Ukrainian city is completely destroyed.

The Russian army has done a great job in its three-month offensive on Ukraine's second largest metropolis. Countless flats have been burned out, the facades of houses have been shot to pieces, entire shopping centers have been bombed. Debris still lie in the streets everywhere.

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