Lebanon

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.

CrisisWatch Lebanon

Unchanged Situation

Conflict Risk Alert

Spectre of all-out conflict loomed large as Hizbollah and Israel intensified cross-border attacks; crackdown against Syrians continued.

Hizbollah and Israel exchanged threats amid escalation of cross-border attacks. Israel in June targeted southern Lebanon with deadly airstrikes, while Hizbollah launched major rocket and drone attacks on northern Israel, sparking wildfires and injuring several Israelis. Notably, Israeli airstrike 11 June killed Taleb Sami Abdallah, reportedly most senior Hizbollah casualty since Oct 2023, and three others in Jouaiyya town, South governorate. In response, Hizbollah next day launched unprecedented barrage of over 250 rockets into northern Israel, and 13 June targeted nine military sites in what reportedly amounts to group’s largest rocket and drone attack since October. Hizbollah also targeted Israel’s airpower, forcing Israeli warplane to avoid anti-aircraft missile 6 June and shooting down Israeli drone 10 June. Meanwhile, Israeli PM Netanyahu 5 June said Israel is “prepared for a very intense operation”, and Israeli FM Israel Katz 18 June warned of imminent all-out war, saying military’s “operational plans for an offensive in Lebanon were approved and validated”. Hizbollah leader Nasrallah next day threatened war with “no restraint and no rules and no ceilings” in case of Israeli offensive, and vowed to attack Cyprus should island open bases and airports for Israeli use. Israeli Defence Minister Yoav Gallant 26 June said Israel does not want war but warned it could “take Lebanon back to the Stone Age”.

Crackdown against Syrian refugees continued. Nationwide vilification of Syrian refugees continued in June, with politicians calling for immediate deportations and municipalities targeting Syrians with home evictions and document checks. Notably, Christian party Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea 18 June sent letter to UN Sec Gen Guterres complaining that UN refugee agency (UNHCR) was complicit in imposing burden of Syrian refugees on Lebanon. 

Economic crisis and political deadlock persisted. Leaders made no tangible progress to end double executive vacuum or implement reforms required by International Monetary Fund to unlock financial rescue package. 

In another important development. Syrian national 5 June opened fire on U.S. embassy just outside capital Beirut, leading to shootout with army; assailant was arrested after being injured. 

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In The News

3 Ιαν 2024
Israel and Hezbollah have pursued a new dynamic of tit-for-tat retaliation – launching strikes against each other below the threshold of triggering an all-out war. The New Arab

David Wood

Senior Analyst, Lebanon
30 Αυγ 2023
This year's [UNIFIL] mandate renewal discussion comes at an especially tense moment for the peacekeeping force [in Lebanon]. The New Arab

David Wood

Senior Analyst, Lebanon
11 Απρ 2023
Nothing happens in southern Lebanon without Hezbollah’s knowledge. Al Jazeera

Heiko Wimmen

Project Director, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon
14 Οκτ 2022
Israel and one of its neighbors [Lebanon] - a neighbor that doesn't officially recognize Israel - have come to a constructive solution for a conflict. And that's histor... DW

Heiko Wimmen

Project Director, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon

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Heiko Wimmen

Project Director, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon
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Senior Analyst, Lebanon
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