Lebanon, Islamofascism and Democracy

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Byline: THE WASHINGTON TIMES

As Lebanese voters went to the polls yesterday in the final round of their elections, local and international news organizations were focused on the short-term political outcome - an issue that should be of somewhat peripheral interest to U.S. policymakers as they assess the Lebanese elections in relation to the war against Islamofascism.

Whether the alliance headed by Saad Hariri, son of assassinated former Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri, and Druze leader Walid Jumblatt, captures the 21 seats necessary to reach the magic number of 65, enough votes to gain a majority in that country's 128-member parliament, is undoubtedly important to the people of Lebanon as they attempt to build a free, independent state after 29 years of military occupation by Syria.

But Mr. Hariri's political future is less important to Americans (and in the long run less important to Lebanese who wish to live in freedom) than the answers to the following questions: First, will there be a working majority in parliament for enforcement of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1559, which would require Hezbollah, one of the world's most deadly terrorist organizations and the only armed militia remaining from the 1975-1990 Lebanon Civil War, to disarm?

Second, will Syrian President Bashar Assad and his security services be able continue to interfere in Lebanese domestic affairs?

Right now there are deeply troubling signs for the future on both questions.

The Bush administration is sharply critical of Syria's continuing efforts to interfere in Lebanon following the departure of its army in April. Washington charges that Damascus has developed a hit list targeting Lebanese political leaders, and that Syrian intelligence operatives have been filtering back into the country. …