Lebanon’s Future at a Crossroads

Following a destructive war in July 2006 and tumultuous two years of political upheaval, Lebanon’s future is back in the throes between strongly entrenched opposing political forces abetted by regional and international powers. Just like in the seventies, Lebanon’s role as proxy battleground for outside powers is in a tug of war between various political actors that define the new political scene in the country. On the one hand, the US and Saudi-backed March 14 coalition is fighting to survive a stranglehold on its government by the Hezbollah-led opposition which includes a major Christian faction and is backed by Syria and Iran. The country finds itself in a state of quasi-paralysis as a result of the drawn-out political standoff that has pitted the opposition against the government in a bid to overthrow the latter and re-draw Lebanon’s political map. But the internal competition within the March 14 coalition will sooner or later stand in the way of future compromise, just as denouncing the Taef agreement might be the only implicit common ground that is keeping General Aoun’s group and Hezbollah’s alliance together.