For much of the last several decades, Lebanon has been wracked by instability and tangled up in the affairs of larger or more powerful neighbours. Its confessional political system, based on power sharing among its eighteen officially recognised ethno-religious groups, is arguably both the cause and the effect of recurrent strife, notably the 1975-1990 civil war. Today the elites who run the system are also implicated in ever-deepening state dysfunction and economic recession. Meanwhile, Lebanon is at risk of spillover from the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the Syrian war and regional turmoil, due partly to the rise of Hizbollah, the Shiite Islamist movement opposed to Israel and allied with Iran and the Syrian regime, as a political force. The country hosts hundreds of thousands of Palestinian refugees as well as nearly 1.5 million Syrians. Pending changes that would allow resolution of the outside conflicts, Crisis Group works to keep Lebanon insulated from their flare-ups, to seek durable solutions for refugees and to encourage structural reform that might alleviate the country's internal problems.
Domestic politics in Israel and Lebanon could scuttle talks about their claims in the Mediterranean – and to the gas riches underneath. With the U.S. mediator’s help, the two countries should refocus on achieving an accord that serves their mutual interest and spares them a confrontation.
Govt formation remained stalled ahead of October expiry of President Aoun’s term and violent street clashes erupted amid deepening economic crisis.
Govt formation efforts made no progress. PM Mikati and President Aoun failed to reach breakthrough; new govt may remain unattainable during Aoun’s term, which ends 31 Oct. Parliament 29 Sept held first round of presidential elections, failed to elect new president; uncertainty persists that new president will be appointed before Aoun’s term ends. Parliament 26 Sept passed 2022 budget, which fell short of International Monetary Fund (IMF)’s standards for bailout package; IMF delegation 19 Sept visited capital Beirut to “accelerate” reform process, concluded progress was “very slow”.
Insecurity flared, notably in north Lebanon. Central Bank 12 Sept lifted last remaining fuel subsidies, fuelling further price hikes for gasoline and diesel. Lebanese lira weakened to all-time lows, trading at 39,000 to $1 on 19 Sept. In various regions – notably Tripoli, North and Bekaa Valley – street clashes over robberies and family issues led to deaths and injuries. Interior Minister Bassam Mawlawi 13 Sept announced govt would impose “sustainable” security plan for North Lebanon; 16 Sept reiterated need for state intervention after bank depositors held up seven banks across country within three days to gain access to their own funds trapped inside illiquid banks. Transport minister 23 Sept confirmed that days earlier boat carrying Lebanese en route to Europe sank off Syrian coast, killing over 100.
Govt and Israel inched closer to maritime deal, notwithstanding risk of escalation. U.S. mediator Amos Hochstein 9 Sept met separately with President Aoun, PM Mikati and House Speaker Nabih Berri to discuss Israel’s response to proposal in which govt renounces claims to Karish gas field – some 90km off coast of Lebanon and Israel – in return for exclusive rights to unexplored Qana prospect; Hochstein said that “very good progress has been made” but noted “work to be done.” After drilling company Energean 8 Sept announced it is ready to resume work “within weeks”, Hizbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah 17 Sept reiterated previous warnings that Israel’s exploitation of Karish field before border negotiations conclude is “red line”.
It is in Hezbollah’s interest to have at least the outward appearance of a functioning political system [in Lebanon] where everyone is involved, including the Sunnis.
For a large part of the population [in Lebanon], electricity will become a luxury. Driving your car will become a luxury, too. Transportation will become a luxury.
Turkey is also one of the candidates to rebuild Beirut harbour. There is also a section within Lebanese society – amongst Sunni Muslims – who have some sympathy for Turke...
The Lebanese state has been hollowed out by decades of corruption and patronage, and this has undermined due process and any sense of accountability.
[The Trump administration] is content allowing Israel to take the lead in pushing back against Iranian and Hezbollah influence in Syria.
The real risk [for Israel and Lebanon] is that of a miscommunication or accident being a trigger of a conflict across their border.
The CrisisWatch Digest Lebanon offers a monthly one-page snapshot of conflict-related country trends in a clear, accessible format, using a map of the region to pinpoint developments.
في 15 أيار/مايو، ووسط انهيار اقتصادي مستمر، اختار الناخبون اللبنانيون برلماناً جديداً. فيما يلي من أسئلة وأجوبة، يحلل الخبير لدى مجموعة الأزمات ديفيد وود النتائج ويقيّم تداعياتها على الجهود المبذولة لحل الأزمة المتفاقمة في البلاد.
Crisis Group’s Watch List identifies ten countries or regions at risk of deadly conflict or escalation thereof in 2022. In these places, early action, driven or supported by the EU and its member states, could enhance prospects for peace and stability.
هذه النظرة إلى يأس بيروت، على مستوى الشارع، تعبّر عن أصوات أولئك الذين يحاولون التكيّف مع حالة تقترب من الانهيار.
Lebanon’s imploding economy is deepening instability in the country. Public safety is further imperilled as state institutions weaken and regional tensions play out in Lebanese domestic politics. In this excerpt from the Watch List 2022, Crisis Group urges the EU and its member states to provide financial support to the Lebanese state, press for elections to be held on schedule and intensify efforts to reduce tension in the region.
While warning signs of Lebanon’s economic meltdown have been apparent for some time, as Crisis Group expert Heiko Wimmen writes, it is still shocking just how close things are to falling apart.
يعاني لبنان من انهيار اقتصادي في الوقت الذي يستمر فيه سياسيوه في المماطلة. ومن غير المرجح أن يتم إجراء الإصلاحات - وبالتالي الحصول على إغاثة مالية - قبل الانتخابات المقررة في عام 2022. ينبغي على الشركاء الدوليين الدفع نحو إجراء الانتخابات في موعدها، وفي الوقت نفسه تقديم المساعدات الإنسانية لتخفيف معاناة السكان، والمحافظة على عمل البنية التحتية الأساسية وتحاشي الانهيارات الأمنية.