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The Government and Politics of Lebanon

Second Edition

Imad Salamey

The Government and Politics of Lebanon, Second Edition describes the special attributes of Lebanese politics and the functions of its confessional state. It aims to contribute to the reader’s understanding of contemporary Lebanese politics, consensus building, and government. It stimulates discussion concerning the nature of consociationalism as a power sharing arrangement for a divided society. The book captures the complexity of Lebanese politics by revealing the challenges embedded in the management of plurality, including institutional paralysis and system stagnations. The second edition features new and expanded chapters that pay particular attention to state’s adaptations to post-Arab Spring politics. It expands the analysis on the performance of the Lebanese consociational state in light of turbulent regional environment and the various repercussions associated with regional conflict. It is divided into several parts. The first introduces the particular form and foundations of Lebanese consociationalism and provides an elaborate description of its special features. The second part explains the different rules of the game as institutionalized in the country’s international and domestic power sharing arrangements. It describes the international politics of Lebanon and the influence exerted by regional powers in shaping its domestic affairs. It explains the manifestation of domestic parties and electoral systems in the power distribution among the country’s different sectarian and ethnic groups. It analyzes the political economy of communitarian politics. The third part focuses on the contemporary powers and functions of the different branches of government as well as their institutional expression of sectarian interests. The fourth part of the book places Lebanese consociationalism in light of contemporary regional turmoil and describes state’s responsiveness in mitigating and managing conflicts, particularly those associated with the spillover from the Syrian conflict.
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8. The International Affairs of Lebanon


This chapter addresses the issue of domestic realignments in light of shifting foreign allegiances. National identity has undergone major transformations as the public has repositioned its alliances. This came amid dramatic global and regional power shifts, which had a significant and resounding impact on the formation of Lebanese nationalism. After all, the country needed to cope with different regional and international struggles for influence. Syria, directly and indirectly, has played the most determinant role in shaping Lebanese politics and institutions. Its hegemony has been backed and supported by other regional and international powers, such as Iran and Russia (and previously the USSR). Confronting Syrian influence in Lebanon have been Israel, France, the United States, and Saudi Arabia, among others. The international struggle over Lebanon has manifested in a variety of ways, ranging from economic, cultural, and political influence to that of direct military intervention. This chapter examines Lebanon’s relations vis-à-vis key player countries.

The Geopolitics of Lebanon

Lebanon draws the interest of regional and international powers because of its geopolitical positions. It has historically stood in the midst of various struggling ←117 | 118→civilizations that have torn its domestic landscape between different loyalties. As far back as the Phoenician civilization (1550–300BC), which thrived on commerce throughout the eastern coast of the Mediterranean and included the geographic terrain of modern Lebanon, cities and regions were subjugated to different regional political and religious influences (Persian, Egyptian, Greek, Roman, Byzantine, Arab, Ottoman, and European). Its geographic location...

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