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CrisisWatch Lebanon

Deteriorated Situation

New PM-designate resigned after failing to form govt amid deepening political polarisation, increased U.S. pressure on Hizbollah and clashes in capital Beirut. Following govt’s resignation last month, French President Emmanuel Macron 1 Sept arrived in Beirut to pressure political elite to kickstart reforms to counter deteriorating economic crisis and secure commitment from new PM-designate Adib – former ambassador to Germany appointed PM-designate 31 Aug – to form govt within 15 days. However, by mid-Sept deadline Adib failed to form new govt due to dispute over allocation of finance portfolio and U.S.-France disagreement over role of Hizbollah. Adib 26 Sept resigned citing govt formation gridlock; Macron next day said there would be “serious consequences” for politicians who failed to uphold deal. Meanwhile, U.S. increased financial pressure on companies and individuals linked to Hizbollah: U.S. Treasury 9 Sept sanctioned Hizbollah allies, former Finance Minister Ali Hassan Khalil and Youssef Finianos of the Christian Marada Movement; 17 Sept sanctioned two Lebanese companies and one individual for allegedly funneling funds to Hizbollah. President Macron expressed concern over sanctions, warning that confrontation with Hizbollah could further hamper reform efforts. In sign of worsening security across country, violence between rival political groups broke out in Beirut: in Tariq al-Jdide neighbourhood, clashes involving rifles and rocket-propelled grenades 7 Sept erupted between Sunni groups affiliated with former PM Saad Hariri and followers of his brother Bahaa, killing one and injuring two; in eastern suburb, clashes 14 Sept broke out between Christian party Free Patriotic Movement and Lebanese Forces. Four Lebanese soldiers 14 Sept killed in operation to apprehend alleged jihadist militant suspected of planning late Aug attack in Kaftoun village that killed three people; shootout between army and jihadist militants 27 Sept killed three near Miniyeh. Daily COVID-19 cases 14 Sept surged past 1,000 for the first time since outbreak. Accidental explosion at suspected Hizbollah arms depot 22 Sept rocked southern town of Ain Qana, reportedly causing four casualties. 

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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

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

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.

Lebanon’s Revolt

Austerity measures have triggered countrywide unrest in Lebanon. In this Q&A, Crisis Group expert Heiko Wimmen says the prime minister’s emergency measures may be too little, too late. Most protesters appear bent on the government’s resignation if not the political system‘s complete overhaul.

Hezbollah and Israel: Deterrence at the Edge of Destruction

After 13 years of maintaining the status quo, Israel and Hezbollah are now negotiating new rules of engagement.

Originally published in Middle East Eye