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Securing the Saudi Vote in Lebanon

Jun 10, 2016 | 09:02 GMT
Securing the Saudi Vote in Lebanon
Saudi Arabia and Iran have jockeyed for influence for some time in Lebanon, whose failure to select a president makes it particularly vulnerable to exploitation. The rise of Ashraf Rifi (pictured) may give Riyadh the edge.
(JOSEPH EID/AFP/Getty Images)

Lebanon has been in a state of upheaval for years. Since former President Michel Suleiman left office in 2014, the country's two main political blocs have failed dozens of times to agree on a suitable successor. The Sunni-dominated March 14 Alliance, backed by Saudi Arabia, and the Shiite-dominated March 8 Alliance, backed by Iran, remain at loggerheads over the country's future leader. Throughout the negotiations, Hezbollah, a powerful force in the March 8 Alliance, has been a particular sticking point, renouncing any candidate but its own, Michel Aoun. Saudi Arabia and Iran, meanwhile, are using their influence to ensure that Lebanon's next president represents their interests. As increasingly hard-line leaders within the March 14 Alliance take a tough stance on Hezbollah, Lebanon's political scene is perhaps more polarized than ever....

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