Lebanon’s sectarian diversity and strategic location has shed regional and international light on it, causing major risk for internal conflict. This was the case of the 70s conflict where a civil war has erupted and caused sectarian violence and risk of internal balance. Nevertheless, the civil war ended with the Taef agreement that resulted in major change in the composition of the sectarian division of parliament. Nevertheless, up until today this agreement has resulted in relative peace or in other words described as negative peace. This negative peace risks the country into a new outbreak of violence and conflict. Risk and conflict management after the 70s civil war was not on the agenda and has resulted in major setbacks for the country and has put a risk of another civil war outbreak. Currently, Lebanon is facing a major economic and political crisis and in addition on August 4th, 2020, Beirut has encountered one of the biggest blasts that faced major humanitarian disasters. These issues that the citizens are facing are due to political corruption that date back to the 70s civil war. Therefore, a rapprochement of peace-building and conflict transformation tactic should take place in order to rebuild Lebanon and lower the risks of a new major civil war.
On a regional level:
Before the Saudi Arabian and Iranian peace deal, the region saw a security dilemma between the two powers. This rivalry was reflected upon the region as proxy wars across the middle east and Lebanon was one of the targeted fields . Lebanon’s natural complex composition was easy to manipulate via sectarian lines and line up the Shiaa sect through Hezbollah’s narrative and presence, on the other hand the Sunni sect was some how directed through Hariri’s presence and his support for the Lebanese forces. Nevertheless, these narratives are no longer in motion due to the sudden change of regional balance. Now, the peace deal brought by Muhamad Bin Salman has tamed down regional differences and proxies although there is no talk yet on the future of Lebanon but important talks have been happening currently about Yemen’s future. Therefore, an optimistic future would be possible for Lebanon if we’re speaking in terms of regional politics.
On an Internal level:
The current political stagnation and the non-stop corruption has put the government in a tough position for political change and reform. The civil war lords are remaining in government and have an interchanging nepotism and relations that keep the governmental control of the mafia politicians. The law and constitution have not seen any major reforms or change to equip the Lebanese government for proper rule of law and order. Nevertheless, it equips and aids corruption in favor of the politicians. In 2019, major protests erupted and almost all Lebanese citizens went hand in hand demanding for change. But it’s currently 2023 almost exactly 4 years these protests occurred and until this day nothing seems to have changed. The country remains paralyzed and unable to assist its citizens from all sectors and inflation is seemingly heavier than ever.
The risk these issues hold is a dangerous eruption of conflict. Conflict and clashes in the early or far future seems inevitable since the country is deeply troubled and no proper leadership is present. Lebanon can easily slip into war due to wounds that haven’t properly healed from the old civil war. Therefore, many factors indicate that a risk of conflict can be observed soon if no change or reform happens.
To learn more insight about the topic check out our podcast with Imad Salameh on this issue.