Sunday, July 6, 2014

Neighboring Insurgency: How are the Syrian Crisis and International Responses Driving Lebanon to a Fragility Trap?

Paper Presented at the panel "Local Ownership, Global Collective Action, and Addressing Fragile States" in the 2014 Annual Meeting – Global Governance: Engaging New Norms and Emerging Challenge,  June 19- 21, 2014


Lebanon and Syria, two neighboring countries in the Middle East, have always been interrelated in all aspects socially, politically, economically and even culturally. The two countries share a 365-kilometer border, as well as extremely close historical, communal and familial ties.
In March 2011, a revolution erupted in Syria, starting a peaceful one then rapidly turned into a violent insurgency, which caused an unstable sphere, that transformed to a "magnet" to radicals and terrorists from all over the world.
2012 and subsequently, the Syrian war leaked out of its borders, causing major risks to Lebanon, which seldom has been immune to the events happening near its borders. Syrian spillover to Lebanon took many forms: military, economic, influx of refugees etc.  From the Syrian crisis’ early days, there was no doubt that Lebanon, traditionally under its neighbor's strong influence, would not remain un-influenced for long as Syria’s regime has a history of direct and indirect interference in Lebanese internal affairs.
Today, signs of Syria’s spillover effects are evident in Lebanon: Border lines between the two countries have been caught in the conflict, with weapon smuggling, as well as militant attacks against Lebanese villages. Political and sectarian tensions plus the huge influx of Syrian refugees to Lebanon not only had humanitarian but also political, economic and security consequences.
Was Lebanon a fragile state before the Syrian crisis? What are the causes of fragility situations in Lebanon? What are the effects of Syrian crisis, international and donors' policies on Lebanon? How can the international community and donors in cooperation with local ownership help Lebanon overcome these consequences and escape fragility?.
In this paper, I assume that the effects of the spillover of the Syrian crisis and the international responses are deeply and negatively affecting the Lebanese State's existence, leading to a strong belief that Lebanon is heading rapidly to a "fragility trap".
This paper is divided into four sections. The first provides a brief sketch of the definitions of  a "Fragile state", including an overview of the Lebanese situations of fragility before the Syrian crisis. Section two presents a summary of the major political, structural, and economic effects of the Syrian spillover on Lebanon. The third section discusses the effects of donors' measures to cope with the refugees' crisis on Lebanon. The final section suggests some solutions and recommendations to help Lebanon escape a fragility trap.

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