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

Hizbollah and Israel continued to trade heavy cross-border blows, underscoring risk of expanded conflict; EU bolstered financial support as security forces cracked down on Syrians amid surging anti-refugee sentiment.

Border clashes between Hizbollah and Israel continued. Lebanon continued to face spectre of all-out war, as Hizbollah expanded territorial range of attacks and deployed more sophisticated weaponry. Notably, Hizbollah missile attack 14 May killed Israeli civilian and injured five soldiers. Hizbollah 15 May struck Israel’s Tel Shamayim military base, some 35km from border – marking group’s deepest strike inside Israel since Oct 2023. Hizbollah 16 May launched Russian-made air-to-surface rockets from drone for first time. Israeli airstrike 5 May killed four civilians in Mays al Jabal town. Israel 18 May said it killed around 300 Hizbollah personnel since Oct; strikes, however, appear to have had little discernible impact on group’s offensive capabilities. Israeli airstrikes 26 May killed at least eight across south; Hizbollah same day reportedly responded by launching over 150 missiles at Israeli targets. Harsh rhetoric and warnings of escalation continued. Hizbollah’s chief Hassan Nasrallah 13 May said fighting would continue as long as war in Gaza persists, reiterating Hizbollah’s months-long position (see Israel/Palestine). Israeli Defence Minister Yoav Gallant 8 May warned of “hot summer” in border region. Israeli Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich 20 May said Israel should threaten to occupy southern Lebanon if Hizbollah does not withdraw north of Litani river. 

Crackdown on Syrian refugees intensified following EU financial support. Following upsurge in violence against Syrian refugees in April, and after Lebanon stopped taking back Syrian refugees crossing to Cyprus “illegally”, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and Cypriot President Nikos Christodoulides 2 May announced €1bn support package for refugee relief and migration control, much of which repackaged pre-existing funding commitments; announcement caused public outcry accusing EU of “bribing” Lebanon to permanently settle refugees. General Security 8 May announced measures to crack down on “illegal” Syrian refugees, including forced closure of shops and seizure of vehicles, adding to climate of fear among 1.5mn refugees. First “voluntary return” convoy of over 300 Syrian refugees 14 May left Lebanon, as human rights organisations warned of increased forced deportations.

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In The News

3 Jan 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 Agu 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 Apr 2023
Nothing happens in southern Lebanon without Hezbollah’s knowledge. Al Jazeera

Heiko Wimmen

Project Director, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon
14 Okt 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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