File - MPs attend a Parliament session to elect a new president in Beirut, Tuesday, Sept. 23, 2014. (The Daily Star/Hasan Shaaban)
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After six months of vacuum, Lebanon watchers have nothing to go on to justify optimism that the country's bickering politicians can elect a head of state.Pinning their hopes on a regional rapprochement between the West and Saudi Arabia on one side and Iran on the other to solve Lebanon's intractable problems, those hopes were dashed as Iran and the West decided to extend talks on the Islamic Republic's nuclear program until the middle of next year. But analysts are divided over whether the extension of negotiations between Iran and the West will perpetuate the status quo in Lebanon, or if the positive atmosphere surrounding the talks will spur dialogue between rivals Hezbollah and the Future Movement. Despite the limited prospects for an immediate deal, they say Iran is unlikely to make significant sacrifices limiting the power of Hezbollah, but may seek to offer milder concessions through lenient terms on the presidential race as a sign of goodwill to its negotiating partners in the West. Hezbollah publicly says Iran is not involved in the discussions about the presidency.The extension also means that Iran will want concessions in exchange for every card it has, including the presidential race in Lebanon, even if Hezbollah is interested in a deal.
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