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
- Not Us Too
August 7, 2014
- ISIS Just Took a Town in Lebanon. Wait, Lebanon?
Zack Beauchamp, Vox
August 4, 2014
- In the Shadow of Lebanon
Robin Wright, New York Times
June 29, 2014
- Lebanon Enters Dangerous Power Vacuum
Mario Abou Zeid, Al Jazeera
May 30, 2014
- This is What the Syrian Election Looks Like in Lebanon
Adam Taylor, Washington Post
May 29, 2014
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United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon
- United Nations Security Council Statements on Lebanon
United Nations Security Council
U.S. National Counterterrorism Center
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UN High Commissioner for Refugees
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United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees
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United Nations Security Council
June 26, 2014
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Jonathan Masters, CFR.org Backgrounder
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Mona Yacoubian, Center for Preventive Action Contingency Planning Memorandum
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Robert M. Danin, CFR.org blog "Middle East Matters"
April 17, 2014
- How does the nuclear deal with Iran affect Hezbollah and its regional influence?
Mira Rapp-Hooper, Ask CFR Experts
February 25, 2014
- Mohamad Chatah, R.I.P.
Elliott Abrams, CFR.org blog "Pressure Points"
December 27, 2013
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CFR Interview with Matthew Levitt
October 9, 2013
- A Third Lebanon War
Daniel C. Kurtzer, CFR Contingency Planning Memorandum