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How Iran's election – and three others – have reshaped Mideast

Briefing: With newly installed or reinstalled leaders in Iran, Lebanon,
Israel, and the US, the balance of power has shifted between a US-allied bloc and the 'axis of resistance.'

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Why are these elections important?

Iran: On June 12, incumbent President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad defeated his main challenger, Mir Hossein Mousavi, by an official margin of 2 to 1 – a vote that has been bitterly, and sometimes violently, contested on Iran's streets. The turmoil has underscored deep rifts in Iranian society, raising questions about the Islamic republic's long-term viability.

Israel: In January elections, Ben­ja­min Netanyahu came to power as prime minister of a center-right coalition government. Arabs were less than pleased, believing Mr. Netanyahu's hard-line approach would slow progress toward peace with the Palestinians and Syria.

Lebanon: On June 7, the US-backed March 14 coalition narrowly beat the opposition, which is led by the militant group Hezbollah. That means March 14 will retain the upper hand in parliament – essentially preserving the status quo.

US: The 2008 election was widely anticipated in the Middle East, with many hoping for a new US approach that would restart the Arab-Israeli peace process, stabilize Iraq, and explore engagement with Iran.

How do they change the region?

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