Sectarian Violence in Lebanon
Increased sectarian violence and political instability in Lebanon due to spillover from the Syrian civil war
The intensification of the Syrian civil war is putting increased stress on Lebanon’s political system and security infrastructure. Lebanon has absorbed more than one million Syrian refugees since the start of the conflict in 2011—which now compromise one-third of Lebanon’s population and more refugees than any other country bordering Syria.
The World Bank predicts that the Lebanese economy will spend close to $7.5 billion on refugees, as it struggles to adjust its economy to meet the demands of a growing population. Beyond the economic effects, the spillover from Syria has also heightened sectarian tensions in Lebanon.
Historic differences between Hezbollah—a Shia terrorist militant group backed by Iran—and other Sunni groups in Lebanon have escalated. Particularly in Tripoli, just thirty miles from the Syrian border, the predominant Sunni population—led by the March 14 alliance—combats Shia supporters of Syrian president Bashar al-Assad, as well as Hezbollah militants who conduct terrorist attacks on Sunni mosques.
The influx of Syrian refugees, coupled with Hezbollah’s involvement in fighting Syrian rebels, has resulted in cross-border skirmishes and increased weapons smuggling. In early August 2014, militants from Syria’s al-Qaeda affiliate, Jabhat al-Nusra, and the al-Qaeda–influenced Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) attacked the Sunni border town of Arsal, highlighting Lebanon's vulnerability to violence emanating from Syria.
These security risks have alarmed U.S. policymakers, as well as members of European and Gulf states, who are interested in stabilizing Lebanon and finding a diplomatic solution to the Syrian civil war.
- Lebanon Profile
- World Report 2014: Lebanon
Human Rights Watch
- Sectarian Wedge Pushes From Syria Into Lebanon
Anne Barnard, New York Times
October 27, 2014
- The politics of Lebanon: The state that didn’t fail—yet
October 11, 2014
- Lebanon and the ISIS Threat
David Daoud, Washington Institute for Near East Policy
August 28, 2014
- Beirut's Champs-Elysees Sees Despair of Syria's Refugees
Donna Abu-Nasr, Bloomberg
August 25, 2014
- Not Us Too
August 7, 2014
- United Nations Documents on UNIFIL
United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon
- United Nations Security Council Statements on Lebanon
United Nations Security Council
U.S. National Counterterrorism Center
- 2014 Syria Regional Response Plan Lebanon
UN High Commissioner for Refugees
- UNHCR Country Operations Profile - Lebanon
United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees
- Report of the Secretary-General on the implementation of Security Council resolution 1701
United Nations Security Council
June 26, 2014
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Lawrence Silverman, U.S. Department of State
April 8, 2014
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Jonathan Masters, CFR.org Backgrounder
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Elliott Abrams, CFR.org Blog "Pressure Points"
October 31, 2014
- The Arab League
Jonathan Masters and Mohammed Aly Sergie, CFR.org Backgrounder
October 21, 2014
- The New Arab Cold War
Steven A. Cook, CFR.org blog "From the Potomac to the Euphrates"
August 29, 2014
- The Long War Against Hamas
Elliott Abrams, Weekly Standard
August 4, 2014
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Interview with David Miliband and Zachary Laub, CFR.org
June 18, 2014
- Renewed Conflict in Lebanon
Mona Yacoubian, Center for Preventive Action Contingency Planning Memorandum
- This Week: Syria’s Fighting and Spillover Into Lebanon and Jordan
Robert M. Danin, CFR.org blog "Middle East Matters"
April 17, 2014