Lebanon’s elections saw Hariri suffer losses with Hezbollah making gains. A consensus among analysts indicates that Hezbollah is the de facto winner of the elections and is now in a much stronger position to exert influence over Lebanon’s domestic and foreign policy.
Below are some of the key dynamics to be aware of as the negotiations over a new government take place:
- Hezbollah, de facto winner of the elections, did not nominate Hariri for PM. This suggests a move away from the established balance of power. However, Hezbollah did not nominate another alternative candidate, suggesting a cautious approach by the group towards exerting their newfound political power.
- Hezbollah is believed to be tentatively seeking to promote a Sunni Prime Minister from among their allies but fear a backlash. They will likely monitor the situation. If the backlash is strong, they are prepared to settle for the beleaguered Hariri as PM.
- Hariri is still seeking to form coalition. Willing to concede some key ministries to Hezbollah.
- Hariri significantly weakened not just politically, but financially following collapse of construction business in Saudi Arabia caused in part by Mohamed Bin Salman’s rise and subsequent re-orientation of Saudi Arabia’s business landscape and ‘nationalisation’ of some private sector companies.
- Overall balance of power unlikely to change. Hezbollah will see their dominance as too much of an unnecessary provocation and, like in the past, will be prepared to cede ministries it is entitled to for the sake of relative peace and breathing space.
- There are suggestions in Washington that the US should review assistance to Lebanese army and apply greater pressure in order to protect the “balance of power” and prevent it skewing heavily in favour of Hezbollah.