The Internet has revolutionized politics globally. In Lebanon's 2009 electoral campaign, political parties have fully adopted the technique of cyber campaigning. Election platforms, candidate biographies, campaign visual media, and other multimedia have been uploaded to the parties' official web sites. Videos are uploaded to YouTube and other video-sharing web sites. One of the most influential Lebanese web sites is VcoderZ.com, run by young Maronite Lebanese. Its founder, Dany Moussa, is voting for 'Aoun, a former Lebanese Army general and a popular politician among working-class Maronites and other Lebanese Christian groups. The web site's biggest scoop thus far has been uploading a cell phone video of Walid "The Hobbit" Jumblatt, the Druze leader of the Progressive Socialist Party, speaking with Druze elders and criticizing his Sunni political ally, Sa'd "Junior" al-Hariri, and the failure of the Hariri (Saudi and U.S.-funded) militias to stand up to Hizbullah when fighting broke out between the two groups in May 2008.
Al Jazeera English provides a short and interesting report on the impact of the Internet on Lebanon's upcoming elections, scheduled to be held this Sunday (subscribers, view video directly on the blog):
In other news, Junior Hariri and his sectarian Saudi funders are reportedly pouring money into buying votes abroad from Lebanese expatriates. In Canada, Future Movement operatives are paying for voters to fly to Lebanon to vote for the party's list of candidates. They allege that their chief political rival, the Shi'i party Hizbullah, is doing the same thing. Hizbullah, however, is not backed by the petro-billionaire princes of Saudi Arabia and their state Salafi 'ulama lackeys, nor by other Sunni autocracies in the region, such as Egypt and Jordan. Junior Hariri's outfit is also supported politically and, reportedly, financially by the U.S. government.
The New York Times, whose reporting on the Middle East is generally mediocre and heavily slanted as most U.S. mainstream media outlets are, particularly with regard to the Palestinian-Israeli issue, reported on this in April. The article was reproduced on the Hariri-funded sectarian web site Ya Libnan.
Some choice sections of the article (The New York Times is, predictably, subtly-but-clearly biased toward the allegedly "pro-Western" Future Movement.) :
"From Brazil to Australia, thousands of expatriates are being offered free plane trips back home to vote. Saad Hariri, the billionaire leader of the current parliamentary majority and a Saudi ally, is reputed to be the biggest election spender. It may not have helped that he kicked off his campaign with a gaudy televised event that resembled the set of “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire.” But members of his movement say that the accusation is unfair, and that their own money is outmatched by the hundreds of millions of dollars Iran has given to Hezbollah over the years.
"“We are putting a lot into this,” said one adviser to the Saudi government, who added that the Saudi contribution was likely to reach hundreds of millions of dollars in a country of only four million people. “We’re supporting candidates running against Hezbollah, and we’re going to make Iran feel the pressure.”
Iranian funding of Hizbullah has been largely spent on maintaining the group's extensive social services networks in southern Lebanon, the southern suburbs of Beirut, and the Biqa' Valley, as well as military expenditures related to the conflict with Israel during and after the end of Israel's 17-year occupation of a large chunk of southern Lebanon from 1982-May 24, 2000.
Saudi Arabia, with the U.S., has poured money into the coffers of Junior Hariri's Future Movement to sway the elections and to build up Sunni militias capable of standing up to Hizbullah.
The Saudi royals are driven to a large degree by state-sanctioned bigotry against Shi'is and non-Salafi Muslims (the majority), as well as their obsessive fear of Iran's growing regional influence. Hariri has also funded Salafi radicals in Lebanon, and the Salafi movement in the country is growing, particularly in the north and in Palestinian refugee camps like 'Ain al-Hilwe outside of the southern coastal city of Sidon. Salafi jihadi groups, like Fatah al-Islam, are also growing in the country. Fatah al-Islam held off the Lebanese Army for nearly three months throughout the summer of 2007 in the Nahr al-Barid Palestinian refugee camp outside of the northern coastal city of Tripoli.
Junior's money was not well spent, as his militias fled in fear during May 2008 clashes with Hizbullah and AMAL paramilitaries.
Sunni Hariri supporters, reportedly with the blessings of the party and the country's Sunni mufti (state religious jurist/official), a Hariri-appointed lackey, set fire to and sacked the Danish embassy in Beirut in early February 2006, allegedly in protest of the publication of insulting cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad.