This Peace Brief is part of a series examining the regional dimensions of Syria’s popular uprising. The Institute invited leading experts from the U.S. and across the Middle East to identify key vectors of influence Syria’s neighbors are bringing to bear on the conflict; to forecast how the on-going conflict in Syria will affect the delicate and volatile regional balance of power; and to examine how the Syrian opposition and the Syria regime are factoring in regional and cross-border dynamics.

pb 107

Summary

  • Lebanese society is starkly divided on Syria, but all sides fear the country’s potential descent into a sectarian civil war and seek to insulate Lebanon from its fallout.
  • Lebanon’s key political actors hold vastly different views on their definitions of interests, threat perceptions and desirable outcomes in Syria. Lebanon has already witnessed some negative Syrian spillover.
  • Going forward, key concerns will center on both directed threats and uncontrolled fallout from worsening instability inside Syria.
  • Lebanon’s ability to influence the conflict dynamics inside Syria is limited.

About This Brief

This Peace Brief is part of a series examining the regional dimensions of Syria’s popular uprising. The Institute invited leading experts from the U.S. and across the Middle East to identify key vectors of influence Syria’s neighbors are bringing to bear on the conflict; to forecast how the on-going conflict in Syria will affect the delicate and volatile regional balance of power; and to examine how the Syrian opposition and the Syria regime are factoring in regional and cross-border dynamics.

The series was edited by USIP’s Steven Heydemann, Senior Adviser for Middle East Initiatives; and Scott Lasensky, a Senior Program Officer. Through this series, several related workshops and events held in September and October, and on-going programs that bring together experts, civil society figures and officials, the Institute aims to provide applied analysis and on-the-ground conflict management tools in support of political transitions across the Arab world.

This study on Lebanon was written by Mona Yacoubian, a Senior Advisor at the Institute’s Center for Conflict Management and director of USIP’s Lebanon Working Group.

Explore Further

Related Publications

What’s Next for Lebanon? Examining the Implications of Current Protests

What’s Next for Lebanon? Examining the Implications of Current Protests

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

By: Mona Yacoubian

Mona Yacoubian, senior advisor for Syria, Middle East and North Africa, testified on November 19 at the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Middle East, North Africa, and International Terrorism's hearing on “What’s Next for Lebanon? Examining the Implications of Current Protests.” Her expert testimony as prepared is presented below.

Type: Congressional Testimony

Democracy & Governance

A massive protest movement emerges in Lebanon. What does it mean?

A massive protest movement emerges in Lebanon. What does it mean?

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

By: Dr. Elie Abouaoun

Over the last week, mass protests broke out across Lebanon, signaling citizens' mounting discontent with their government and economy. Millions of Lebanese of all backgrounds, including Sunnis, Shiites, Christians and Druze from across the socio-economic spectrum hit the streets to express their exasperation with the country’s endemic corruption. The government announced on Monday emergency economic reforms in an effort to assuage protesters. Will it be enough? USIP’s Elie Abouaoun takes a closer look at what sparked the protests, the impact on Lebanon’s highly polarized politics, and possible scenarios for the next few weeks.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Democracy & Governance

Lebanon’s New Election Law Results in Limited Change

Lebanon’s New Election Law Results in Limited Change

Friday, May 11, 2018

By: Mona Yacoubian

On May 6, Lebanon held parliamentary polls—its first in nine years—under a new electoral law. I served as an international observer with the National Democratic Institute’s (NDI) mission. It was a unique opportunity to witness firsthand Lebanon’s complex political system. Deployed to Zahle, a multi-confessional district in eastern Lebanon, I gained a deeper appreciation of the election’s enormous challenges and limited bright spots.

Type: Blog

Democracy & Governance

Amid a Region in Strife, Lebanon Holds Parliamentary Elections

Amid a Region in Strife, Lebanon Holds Parliamentary Elections

Thursday, May 3, 2018

By: USIP Staff; Dr. Elie Abouaoun

On May 6, Lebanese voters will elect a new parliament for the first time in nine years. This election introduces a new electoral law that scraps the former winner-take-all model in favor of a proportional representation system, aimed at opening the door for smaller parties and independent candidates to make it into parliament. While the election is an important development for Lebanon’s democracy and stability, it will be closely watched by regional and major powers alike.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Democracy & Governance

View All Publications