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CrisisWatch Lebanon

Unchanged Situation

Former PM Saad Hariri returned to power as new PM while govt began negotiations with Israel on disputed maritime border. Following PM-designate Adib’s resignation last month, former PM Saad Hariri – who stepped down following mass demonstrations last year – 8 Oct declared himself “the natural candidate” to form unity govt; despite opposition from major Christian parties, Hariri 22 Oct earned mandate to form new govt after receiving narrow parliamentary support in consultations held with President Michel Aoun, vowing to lead non-aligned technocratic cabinet and implement French-led reform initiative. In first non-security related talks in three decades, Lebanon and Israel began negotiations to delineate maritime border: Lebanese and Israeli delegations 2 Oct confirmed agreement on terms of negotiations; U.S.-mediated discussions 14 and 28 Oct took place at UN base in southern Naqoura town; Hizbollah 8 Oct declared negotiations over border did not amount to “reconciliation” or “normalisation” with Israel. Amid fraying security situation, rival clans in eastern Beqaa valley early Oct threatened confrontation with heavy machine guns and medium-range missiles; Lebanese Armed Forces 8 Oct deployed to Baalbek to prevent further escalation, arresting over dozen; clashes resumed late Oct. Meanwhile, local police reports publicised late Oct indicated boom in petty crime, robbery and murder in Lebanon in last year. Protesters outside French embassy in Beirut 30 Oct clashed with police, leaving three injured. U.S. Treasury 23 Oct imposed sanctions on senior Hizbollah members Nabil Qaouk and Hassan al-Baghdadi of party’s central council. Daily COVID-19 cases tripled since early Sept while foreign exchange reserves dwindled, threatening stocks of medical supplies.

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Reports & Briefings

In The News

22 Aug 2020
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 Turkey’s neo-Ottoman project. Cyprus Mail

Heiko Wimmen

Project Director, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon
13 Aug 2020
The Lebanese state has been hollowed out by decades of corruption and patronage, and this has undermined due process and any sense of accountability. Voice of America

Heiko Wimmen

Project Director, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon
21 Feb 2018
[The Trump administration] is content allowing Israel to take the lead in pushing back against Iranian and Hezbollah influence in Syria. The Washington Times

Robert Malley

President & CEO
9 Feb 2018
The real risk [for Israel and Lebanon] is that of a miscommunication or accident being a trigger of a conflict across their border. The Daily Star

Joost Hiltermann

Program Director, Middle East and North Africa
2 Jan 2018
[The return of Assad’s forces to the border] has the potential of creating a more united front of resistance between Lebanon and Syria against Israel. Jewish Week

Ofer Zalzberg

Former Senior Analyst, Arab-Israeli Conflict
26 Nov 2017
Hezbollah thrives on its position of being a state within a state, an alternative provider for all kinds of things [when Lebanon's political institutions are weakened]. The Washington Post

Heiko Wimmen

Project Director, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon

Latest Updates

Pulling Lebanon out of the Pit

An uprising of unprecedented scope has rocked Lebanon as the country’s economy tumbles deeper into recession. Poverty and unemployment could lead to violent unrest. Donors should put together an emergency package but condition further aid upon reforms to tackle corruption, a major grievance driving protest.

Also available in العربية

Lebanon is on the Brink of Economic Collapse

The accumulation of crises is driving ever greater numbers of Lebanese into absolute poverty. While the COVID-19 lockdown is gradually easing, the loss of jobs and purchasing power triggered new protests that are turning violent and may prefigure the disintegration of state capacity and institutions.

Arab Protests: A Wicked Dance Between Rulers and Subjects

A new wave of popular protests has jolted an already deeply unsettled Arab world. Nine years ago, uprisings across the region signalled a rejection of corrupt autocratic rule that failed to deliver jobs, basic services and reliable infrastructure. Yet regime repression and the protests’ lack of organisation, leadership and unified vision thwarted hopes of a new order. As suddenly as the uprisings erupted, as quickly they descended into violence. What followed was either brutal civil war or regime retrenchment. Tunisia stands as the sole, still fragile, exception.

Originally published in Valdai Club

Easing Syrian Refugees’ Plight in Lebanon

Most Syrian refugees in Lebanon have thought many times about going home but in the end deemed the risks too great. Donors should increase aid allowing the Lebanese government to continue hosting the Syrians, so that any decision they make to leave is truly voluntary.

Also available in العربية

Pulling Lebanon Back from the Precipice

After months of mass protests, a new Lebanese government may take office soon. Yet it must make reforms that strike at the very vested interests that appointed it. Outsiders should give the cabinet a chance to succeed but plan for emergency aid if it fails.