According to an Arab press report, Saudi Arabia is not sitting by idly watching Amal and Hezbollah (therefore, Iran) dominate Shiite politics in Lebanon. The Lebanese Affiliation Faction, a group of Shiites who oppose Amal/Hezbollah, is being funded by the Saudis. It would be a remarkable development, as the Saudi state religion is Wahhabism, which is extremely intolerate of Shiites. The Saudis are probably willing to look past this in order to counter Iranian influence.
The same report said that LAF’s tactics include giving away cell phones, cars, and money to win support, which may indicate this report is an attempt to discredit the LAF. On the other hand, Lebanese voters may look at this report and criticize Hezbollah’s hypocrisy (if indeed that group is behind this potential smear). After all, it’s widely known that Hezbollah gained its popularity through providing social services and other mechanisms to influence voters. Some argue this tactic is a form of bribery, a trick to create dependency upon the group and therefore loyalty, others say it’s simply a way of reaching voters and using social services to influence opinions.
All are probably correct assessments, but whatever the truth is, it’s clear that a Shiite force must be supported to compete with Hezbollah and the only current way to do that is to provide an alternative system of support to Lebanese citizens. The government may do it, or individual political parties may do it, but until Hezbollah’s monopoly on this strategy is broken, it’ll be tough to compete with them.