Saturday, October 27, 2012

Lebanese Stability

Nicholas Blanford lays out reasons why he doesn't believe Lebanon will descend into civil war:
First, memories of that debilitating 16-year conflict are still raw. The war left more than 100,000 people dead and some 17,000 still missing, a substantial number for a country with a population today of only 4 million. No one seeks a return to that grim and bloody period.
Second, in 1975, the military balance between the rival sides was more equally matched than is the case today. In 2012, there is only one major non-state armed force – the militant Shiite Hezbollah. With its enormous military resources, Hezbollah could defeat the Lebanese Army, let alone another militia...
Third, despite the factional rivalries in Lebanon, the top leaders agree on the importance of maintaining stability in Lebanon and not allowing Syria’s woes to trigger domestic violence. Hezbollah stayed out of the sporadic clashes that followed Hassan’s death last week, recognizing that the Sunni supporters of the slain security chief were venting anger rather than seeking a war. The Lebanese Army also had political cover to move into trouble spots in Beirut and elsewhere to stamp out the clashes."
These are solid reasons for why there will not be large-scale violence related to the political relationships among Lebanon major's sectarian blocs.  What concerns me, however, is the possibility of a more organic tactical spreading of Syria's violence into Lebanon if forces in Syria start retaliating against their opponents' allies in Lebanon, allied who are supply them and even crossing the border as individual fighters.  In other words, I'm not worried about a Lebanese politics descending into conflict, I'm worried about the country becoming a battleground in Syria's conflict.

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