Pro-Western Supporters Win Lebanon Elections

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JERUSALEM -- Pro-Western supporters won Lebanon's national elections on Sunday. Some observers described the vote as a showdown between American and Iranian influence in the Middle East.

In the pivotal election, pro-Western forces captured the majority of seats in Lebanon's parliament.  Their supporters took to the streets and celebrated. 

"With God's will this is a glorious day. The 7th of June is a glorious day for us. It is not the day for Hassan Nasrallah," a Beruit resident said. 

Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of the Iranian-backed group Hezbollah, said he would abide by the results of the election. 

One estimate projected the pro-Western group -- called the March 14th Coalition -- won 67 seats in the 128 parliament, while the Hezbollah-backed coalition won 52 seats. 

"There are no winners or losers in this election. The only winner here is democracy and the even bigger victory is for Lebanon," said Saad al-Hariri, Majority Government Coalition leader.

Voters turned out in huge numbers for the election, since many Lebanese felt the fate of their nation was in the balance. 

Though Lebanon is a small country, it often serves as a bellwether for the Middle East. Its elections can resonate beyond its borders. 

While their elections are intensely local, Lebanon has long been a battleground between regional and global forces. That's why both Washington and Tehran were intensely interested in the results. 

Israeli officials also watched the results closely. While they don't expect any major conflict on their northern border following the elections, they're prepared for the possibility for minor provocations.

The foreign ministry said it would hold the Lebanese government responsible for any attacks on Israel from its territory. 

The results proved a blow for Iran's ambitions in the Middle East, but Hezbollah still maintains a significant influence within the Lebanese government.  

Lebanon's election comes just a few days before the next major vote in the Middle East, the Iranian elections for president later this week. 

 

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