Obama Effect Drove Lebanon Allies to Victory
Hezbollah defeat bodes well for Iranian election this Friday
By Jason Farago,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 9, 2009 7:18 AM CDT
Lebanese girls with pictures on their T-shirts of pro-Western elected candidate Nadim Gemayel celebrate their victory in Beirut's Christian sector of Ashrafieh, Monday, June 8, 2009.   (AP Photo/Nasser Nasser)
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(Newser) – Voters in Lebanon had many reasons for backing American allies over a Hezbollah-led coalition in Sunday's bellwether elections, but political analysts say that Barack Obama's efforts to reach out to the Muslim world played a significant role in the outcome. For the first time in years, being linked to Washington was seen as a benefit rather than a hindrance. As Michael Slackman of the New York Times writes, the Lebanon vote may foreshadow another key election: the Iranian presidential vote this Friday.

The Obama administration is talking to Iran and Syria, which back Hezbollah, making it harder for the party to demonize the US. And while many internal factors in Lebanon's sectarian political system shaped the election's outcome, the White House—and particularly Joe Biden, who visited Beirut in the last days of the race—may have been decisive. "Evidently the majority of the Lebanese have resolved their minds," said one professor. "They don’t want confrontation, they want peace."