Lebanon and the Uprising in Syria: Issue for Congress [February 2, 2012]   [open pdf - 417KB]

From the Document: "As Congress exercises oversight and prepares to consider programs for Lebanon in the coming year, some observers have expressed fear that Syrian instability may negatively affect Lebanon. Syria exerts a strong political influence on Lebanon and Syrian business interests remain prominent in the Lebanese economy. Both Lebanon and Syria have diverse societies where ethnic and sectarian groups compete and cooperate as they seek power within the confines of a rigid political system. […] Continued unrest could exacerbate all of these problems, while complicating sectarian relations in Lebanon, reshaping Hezbollah's strategic position, and contributing to regional instability. Although Syrian troops withdrew from Lebanon in 2005, Syria continues to exercise influence through its patronage relationships with members of the pro-Syrian and Hezbollah-affiliated March 8 governing coalition This coalition includes Hezbollah, the Shiite party Amal, the Maronite Christian Free Patriotic Movement, and the Druze-led Progressive Socialist Party (PSP). Its members have mostly supported the Asad regime since unrest in Syria began in early 2011, complicating Lebanese politics and Lebanese-Syrian relations. Despite these complications, many analysts agree that the major political players in Lebanon share a desire to insulate Lebanon from the unrest in Syria and avoid risking domestic conflict by dramatically upsetting the current Lebanese balance of power. However, the fractious nature of Lebanese politics makes discord likely; a small provocation could easily disrupt the tenuous peace. Increased unrest in Syria or dramatic regime change there may incite instability in Lebanon."

Report Number:
CRS Report for Congress, R42339
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