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Thursday, June 11, 2009

Fear of Iran, Obama's words swayed Lebanon vote

BEIRUT – Fears of a hard-line Iran helped swing Christian voters from the militant Shiite group Hezbollah and deliver election victory to a pro-Western coalition in Lebanon. President Barack Obama's outreach to Muslims lingered in voters' minds, too.
Now the question is whether similar factors will sway Iran's own elections Friday for the presidency, considered too close to call between incumbent Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and a self-styled reformist challenger.
Lebanon and Iran are different in key ways, with voters in Lebanon, an Arab country, tending to vote along Shiite and Sunni Muslim and Christian sectarian lines and out of family loyalties.
Iran, in contrast, which is mainly Persian and mostly Shiite Muslim, is divided by a sharp struggle between the Islamic establishment and desires for greater personal freedom and more liberal foreign and economic policies.
Neither country has any accurate, independent or publicly available political polling, and no poll has attempted to substantively gauge the effect of Obama's presidency or his recent Cairo outreach speech to Muslims on either country LinkHere


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