In Lebanon, an anti-Syrian coalition won what the New York Times termed a “stunning majority victory.” Notably, the coalition crossed over religious lines. This victory assures an anti-Syrian majority in the next Lebanese Parliament. The Times says:
It was a startling change in the way politics have usually been carried out here – along strict clan and religious lines and long under the control of Syria – and perhaps an example of a greater yearning for democracy in the Arab world.
Of course, the Times doesn’t go so far as to credit President Bush’s Iraq strategy for the contiuing favorable developments in Lebanon.
On the other hand, the election in Iran ended somewhat bizarrely, with Tehran Mayor Mahmoud Ahmadinejad claiming the number two spot and heading for a runoff against Former President Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani. What is surprising about this is that Ahmadinejad’s pre-election poll numbers were in single digits. Brian Murphy of the Associated Press tried to blame the outcome in Iran on President Bush. Relying on several dubious sources, including Iran’s foreign minister and other mouthpieces for the mullahs, Murphy argues that Bush’s criticism of Iran’s government and plea for freedom and democracy in that country somehow mobilized pro-mullah Iranians to go to the polls.
The simpler explanation, never mentioned by Murphy but reported nearly everywhere else, is that the government rigged the vote. For a thorough fisking of Murphy’s theory, see Dafydd ab Hugh’s guest post on Patterico.