This Peace Brief, one of a five-part series on sectarianism in the Middle East, examines the impact of the Syrian conflict on Lebanon’s politics and political stability.

Summary

  • The Syrian crisis has had a negative impact on Lebanon’s political scene, including the dynamics among political factions within and across the country’s major sectarian communities.
  • The political fragmentation of the Sunni community has implications for the growing trend toward political violence triggered by the Syrian conflict. The rise of challengers and the decline of centralized authority within the Sunni community further increase the probability of violence perpetrated by in-group factions.
  • Despite the pressures from the Syrian conflict, mounting sectarian tensions will not inexorably spark another all-out civil war.
  • If Lebanon does not move past the current political deadlock and stagnation, the spillover from the Syrian crisis stands to undermine the country’s stability in the longer term.

About This Brief

Melani Cammett is an associate professor of political science specializing in the political economy of development and the Middle East at Brown University. Her most recent book is Compassionate Communalism: Welfare and Sectarianism in Lebanon. This Peace Brief is one in a five-part USIP series on sectarianism in the Middle East.

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