The past few days witnessed a blow, the first of its kind in 17 years, directed by Lebanese voters to Hezbollah and its allies, who sided with the party's opponents, led by the Lebanese Forces, as indicated by the final official results of the parliamentary elections.

While some argued that the results were the beginning of the end of Hezbollah’s hegemony over Lebanese politics, others claimed that the Lebanese Fund was no longer that important to the militarily most powerful party in Lebanon, which had become part of the map of regional power in a way that it would be difficult to be dislodged by an electoral defeat that easily.

What are the consequences of that electoral defeat for Hezbollah at home?

Are you forcing him to change his plans and priorities?

Hezbollah loses the fund

For the first time since 2005, the year in which the Lebanese Hezbollah consolidated its influence within the corridors of Lebanese politics, despite its designation as a terrorist organization by many countries, led by the United States, a new political scene is taking shape in Lebanon without majorities in Parliament. God and his allies) won enough seats to form a government, and the veterans of May 14th (Walid Jumblatt, Samir Geagea and the remnants of the Future Movement, which officially boycotted the elections) also have a majority, in light of the crowding of adults by the new faces that resulted from the protests two years ago and won 13 seats .

Although Hezbollah and the Amal movement maintained the 27 Shiite seats in parliament, the elections gave the party's opponents 62 seats in return for the party and its allies getting fewer than 46 seats.

Despite the complex role of the Lebanese Hezbollah inside Lebanon and its acquisition of great appreciation since 2006, at the height of the party’s popularity as a result of its standing in the face of the Israeli invasion, the emergence of the party as an explicit proxy for Iran over the past ten years and the expansion of its regional activities opened the door to the erosion of its popularity at home, especially in light of The inability of the Lebanese government loyal to him to provide most of the basic services in the country, which fell into the grip of one of the worst economic crises in its history.

Therefore, it is not clear what Hezbollah will do after the Lebanese voter punished it for being preoccupied with the outside and ignoring the needs of the inside, especially with the possibility that the regional parties opposed to it, led by Saudi Arabia, will try to lead a new Lebanese alliance that saves the Lebanese economy and limits the party’s influence.

In the end, Hezbollah paid the price for its policies, then, and lost political control of the parliament in Lebanon, and can no longer impose a suitable president and government for it. Accordingly, the Lebanese academic and political analyst Walid Fakhreddine expects that the party and its ally the Free Patriotic Movement will work for the sake of Finding a deal that would save them some face by using the weapon of obstruction, as he explained in his speech to “

Maidan

”: “The weapon of obstruction means that the President of the Republic may not call for consultations to name the prime minister, and he does not accept these consultations without the previous agreement on the form of the government and the name of the president. Next Republic.

Hizbullah and the Iranian alliance... There is no separation

Iran clearly attended during the recent parliamentary elections, as it occupied several dialogues in the midst of the electoral political debate, and many Lebanese believe that the Iranian presence through Hezbollah plays a key role in the crises they suffer from, and that their severe economic crisis is a tax imposed by regional and international parties as a result of the alignment The growing relationship with Iran, and of course its main agent, Hezbollah.

This strong relationship between the party and its sponsors in Tehran arose with the establishment of the party in 1982, just three years after the outbreak of the Islamic revolution in Iran.

The party, which was excluded from the Taif Agreement of 1989 (which provided for the demobilization of other sectarian militias in Lebanon), entered politics for the first time officially by electing eight of its members in 1992, with ministers from the party being appointed in successive Lebanese ministries.

Simultaneously, the party took advantage of its role in "resisting" Israel and its government position, and quickly became the main Iranian ally in Lebanon, as well as in the region.

Therefore, it seems that the desire of the Lebanese to solve the country’s crises and obtain aid and assistance to get out of their economic problems is a closely related issue to the Iranian influence in Lebanon. Finally, it leads us towards Hezbollah, when we talk about borders or sovereignty, any real investigation of border control and state sovereignty is necessarily something that harms Hezbollah, which freely uses Lebanon’s borders or dominates the military force in the country.The party will try to absorb this moral and political defeat that it has expressed The results of the elections and their containment by playing on the contradictions in the front facing him, there are differences between the blocs that won seats in parliament, especially with regard to their position on disarming Hezbollah, which is pivotal for the party.

In his speech to

Meydan

, Al-Amin adds that “due to the strong ideological link that links the party with Iran, it will not be easy to change its behavior, especially as regional indicators do not predict the party’s loss of any of the battles that it entered on the front line in, such as Yemen, Syria and Iraq. The only key may be an agreement between Iran and the Western powers in Vienna, and then things will develop in a direction that makes Iran itself willing to reach regional settlements that lead to influencing Hezbollah’s policies, so that Iran reduces its security and military presence, even a little, and the unsatisfactory behaviors of its allies. than in the West.

For his part, Walid Fakhreddine said that Hezbollah is a key partner in the Iranian Revolutionary Guards' regional map, which makes the impact of the election results on the party limited, as it is a battle and a round in which it lost seats in the Lebanese Parliament, but it did not lose its established regional military positions, nor its alliances that keep it. Despite the growing discontent of the Lebanese, Fakhreddine also believes that Hezbollah's retreat may become part of Iran's international accommodations at the Vienna table.

This point - in addition to the clear desire of the Lebanese to solve their economic crises - may push Iran alone to modify its equation in Lebanon - voluntarily, of course - to allow the economy to recover and the passage of a new international agreement, but without losing the central role of Hezbollah's weapons in Lebanon and Syria.

And what about Washington?

“To counter the malign influence of Hezbollah, and to ensure that Lebanese leaders support this government and take concrete decisions, there must be steps to address the many challenges Lebanon faces.” With these words, the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee commented last October on the new US sanctions. To combat corruption of Lebanese personalities, in an attempt to urge the Biden administration to issue additional sanctions to confront the party.

For many years, Hezbollah, the Iranian-backed paramilitary organization, was the main opponent of the United States in Lebanon, where Washington focused its policies to counter its influence by providing humanitarian support and, most importantly, funding the Lebanese armed forces, which have so far been unable to play the desired role internally. and regionally.

The first motive for Washington's conflict with Hezbollah is still the threat that the party poses to its Israeli ally, while the second place comes to the party's relations with Iran and the party's political and military interventions in the region in opposition to the role of the US and its allies in Yemen and Iraq.

Although Washington's fears of the party are not directly related to the internal Lebanese situation, the economic crisis and its repercussions cast a shadow on Washington's hopes in Lebanon.

Going back, it can be said that the party's weapon that appeared in order to fight Israel and was aimed at the Lebanese people in 2007, then at Syria, Yemen and Iraq after 2011, no longer satisfies the Lebanese.

Despite the silence of the Lebanese public opinion regarding the party's role, the people quickly broke their silence in 2019 when enough was enough and went out in violent protests against the ruling class, including Hezbollah.

In the previous developments, the international community saw nothing but weaknesses for Hezbollah and its grip was increasing, followed by international optimism that the international economic punishment on Iran would further reduce the party’s funding sources, which worked to compensate for Iranian money smuggling the Captagon drug from Syria, smuggling goods and withdrawing revenues From the coffers of the Lebanese government, and other policies to generate funds to finance its complex military machine, ignoring in the meantime its internal role and its economic base in the ranks of the Shiite community, some of whose members went out during the 2019 protests to object to the party’s policies in a precedent that rarely occurs.

Vienna and the Iranian equation

Shiite resentment of the party provided American policymakers with some opportunities here. While the Trump administration took steps against the party such as depriving it of funding by exerting pressure on Iran and going after the party's business and institutional financiers, the Biden administration, in turn, focused more on the new nuclear negotiations, which With it, the new democratic administration appeared, far from the flexibility of the Obama administration, with a greater desire to link the new agreement to reducing the Iranian military footprint on the map of the Middle East.

If we look a little at the political conditions inside the countries in which Hezbollah has intervened, we will find that they have become unstable recently, and in a short period may lead to the erosion of the party's military and political gains there.

In Iraq, after the Iraqi elections that resulted in the rise of Al-Kazemi, the government in Baghdad became less comfortable with the Shiite militias, and more willing to form a real regular force that would control the situation in isolation from Tehran.

In Syria, despite the relative stability in favor of Assad and his allies, the now complex Russian situation in Ukraine may affect the map sooner or later, especially the increasing failures of the Russians in the Ukrainian arena and the severe sanctions against Russia and its allies.

For his part, Fakhr El-Din believes that Hezbollah today is not ready to enter a war with Israel, but can only enter into skirmishes, as it seeks settlement more than it seeks conflict, especially with Iran's interest in the course of its international negotiations.

It remains to say that the party is able to use the remainder of Michel Aoun's presidency, and perhaps even beyond if it takes the path of disrupting the election of a president of the republic, as happened in the past elections, and then takes the country to a complete void instead of succumbing to a new political defeat. .

Fakhr El-Din adds: "Moving the fronts in occupied Palestine on the Lebanese border is matters that I do not think are in the general interest of Hezbollah today, which requires trying to seize the Lebanese card and waiting for the outcome of the negotiations in Vienna with the developments of the Russian-Ukrainian war."

With regard to supporting the Palestinian factions and the confrontation with Israel, which is the eternal source of his popularity that he can theoretically ignite at any time, especially in light of the ignition of the Palestinian arena in the past two years, Ali al-Amin believes that there can be some effect.

However, the Iranian dimension limits the degree to which the party will be allowed to disturb the negotiations through a confrontation with Israel, especially since Iran already has independent relations with some active Palestinian factions that do not necessarily need Hezbollah, and also no longer desires to dilute Hezbollah’s regional role in battles. New.

In the end, it can be said that despite the positive change accompanying the results of these elections, the political arena in Lebanon remains deeply contested beyond its borders, and it is unlikely in the near future that sufficient new political consensus or a strong enough alliance will emerge to carry out the necessary major reforms.

The naming of the prime minister and the formation of the government may not bear fruit easily months before now, especially while waiting for the important presidential elections that must take place before the end of next October.

Nevertheless, the elections in the end give us hope that change is possible in the coming years, and that the movement that shook Lebanon two years ago, and produced 13 parliamentarians on its behalf, may produce a new political generation that brings with it more radical solutions to Lebanon’s dilemmas.

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