WASHINGTON, July 28 (UPI) -- Calm in Lebanon surrounding the June election is eroding as Beirut struggles to form a new government amid renewed border skirmishes with Israel.
The Western-backed March 14 slate secured a victory in the June 7 parliamentary contest over the opposition March 8 coalition, which includes lawmakers with the Lebanese Hezbollah.
The period leading up to the elections was rife with political skirmishes but few reports of violence. While Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah and Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri both made promises of unity, opposition in Beirut is intensifying due in part to external allegiances, writes David Schenker, a fellow at The Washington Institute for Near East Policy.
Syria, long a contentious player in the political scene in Beirut, is keen to mend ties with its Arab neighbors, putting a strain on loyalties in various Lebanese circles, Schenker writes.
Meanwhile, border tensions with Israel have put Hezbollah at the center of discussions on Lebanon. Beirut complained to U.N. officials that Israel was violating international agreements, while Israel says Hezbollah is stockpiling weapons along the border.
Tensions in Lebanon are approaching a breaking point despite modest signs of optimism during the election season. March 14 has failed to take advantage of election gains, while belligerence from Hezbollah is resurfacing. Schenker notes that this, like in the previous years, may push Lebanon once again to the brink of war.