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Hezbollah seizing Lebanon govt control

[ 2011-01-26 13:12]     字号 [] [] []  
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Iranian ally Hezbollah has moved to the brink of controlling Lebanon's next government, setting off angry protests and drawing warnings from the US that its support could be in jeopardy.

Nearly two weeks after bringing down Lebanon's Western-backed government, the Shiite militant group - considered a terrorist organization by the US - secured support in parliament on Monday to name its own candidate for the next prime minister. The feat caps Hezbollah's steady rise over decades from resistance force against Israel to Lebanon's most powerful military and political power.

Protests erupted quickly in areas populated by Hezbollah's Sunni rivals, who declared a "day of rage" on Tuesday to express their rejection of what they called "Persian tutelage" over Lebanon - a reference to Hezbollah's Iranian patrons.

Hezbollah's candidate, billionaire businessman Najib Mikati, was set to clinch the nomination after Hezbollah and its allies lined up the needed backing of at least 65 of the 128 parliament members as voting began on Monday.

Hezbollah's Western-backed opponents maintain having an Iranian proxy in control of Lebanon's government would be disastrous and lead to international isolation. The United States, which has poured in $720 million in military aid since 2006, has tried to move Lebanon firmly into a Western sphere and end the influence of Hezbollah, Syria and Iran.

State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley warned on Monday that continuing US support for Lebanon would be "problematic" if Hezbollah takes a dominant role in government, though he declined to say what the US would do if Hezbollah's candidate becomes prime minister.

A Hezbollah-led government would also raise tensions with Israel, which fought a devastating 34-day war against the Shiite militants in 2006 that left 1,200 Lebanese and 160 Israelis dead.

Hezbollah briefly took control of Beirut's streets two years later in sectarian clashes that killed 81 people, angering many who accused the militants of breaking a promise to never use its arsenal against the Lebanese.


(中国日报网英语点津 Helen 编辑)

Hezbollah seizing Lebanon govt control

About the broadcaster:

Hezbollah seizing Lebanon govt control

Lee Hannon is Chief Editor at China Daily with 15-years experience in print and broadcast journalism. Born in England, Lee has traveled extensively around the world as a journalist including four years as a senior editor in Los Angeles. He now lives in Beijing and is happy to move to China and join the China Daily team.