Lebanon’s Economic Collapse and Outside Intervention

Date
Nov 30, 2021, 12:00 pm1:00 pm
Location
Zoom Webinar

Speaker

Sponsor
The Institute for the Transregional Study of the Contemporary Middle East, North Africa, and Central Asia
Audience
Open to public
Event Description

This talk examines how outside actors are interacting with Lebanon’s present crisis. As the country’s economic system has worsened, and as the state’s reach has reduced, new spaces have opened to outside actors. These can now play a role in Lebanon, to different degrees and in novel ways. This outside intervention has rubbed against Iran and Hezbollah’s domination of the Lebanese system, but it has begun to alter their control—not so much to challenge their power as to try to affirm alternative stakes in the system. While this development is unlikely to lead to a fundamental shift in power structure soon, it has generated dynamics that could well have a bearing in the medium and long term. Moreover, unless Arab countries realize that the only way to challenge Iran’s regional power is to build their own alignments in Arab states now dominated by Iran, whether in Lebanon or Syria or Yemen, Tehran’s hegemony will remain unchallenged. A view that sees the challenge of Iran as a zero-sum struggle, we will achieve little. And while regimes like the one in Syria may play the Arabs (or others) off against Iran for their own benefit, sticking to a policy that insists that the only desirable goal is the elimination Iran’s influence from the region is unrealistic and will surely fail. 

Michael Young is a senior editor at the Malcolm H. Kerr Carnegie Middle East Center in Beirut, where he is also editor of Diwan, the blog of the Carnegie Middle East program. He was previously opinion editor of the Daily Star (2003-2016), and is the author of The Ghosts of Martyrs Square: An Eyewitness Account of Lebanon’s Life Struggle (2010). He has lived in Lebanon since 1970, with a brief interruption from 1985 to 1992.