In a recent article, French foreign policy analyst Alexander Langlois warned of regional repercussions of Lebanon’s total collapse.
Langlois, whose work focuses on the MENA region, points out in the article, published by The National Interest, that Lebanon has “nearly devolved” into a failed state.
“Yet while it is easy for many to overlook the small eastern Mediterranean country among wider regional issues, considering Lebanon’s state of affairs as an afterthought will have profoundly negative implications with substantial externalities,” he writes.
Lebanon’s case, he explains, is “intricately intertwined with Middle Eastern geopolitics,” an aspect that world leaders need to recognize if they are to prevent the coming regional tragedy, in the analyst’s view.
The Lebanese crisis, recently deemed by the World Bank as potentially one of the worst three since the mid-19th century, has been gaining considerable international attention, led by France, over the months.
World leaders have been attempting to end the political deadlock since caretaker Prime Minister Hassan Diab‘s government resigned in August 2020.
Since then, Lebanon’s overall situation has only deteriorated, and the crisis has branched out to undermine every aspect of daily life in the country.
Amidst all the chaos that Lebanon has been living since the start of the crisis, sectarian and ethnic strife has been on the rise as political parties “harden division lines along patronage networks,” especially between Lebanese nationals and Syrian refugees, according to Langlois.
The presence of Syrian refugees in Lebanon has, in Langlois’s perspective, provided Lebanese political leaders with a scapegoat that widens the rift between ethnic groups and increases instability in the country.
Taking that into account, and citing the history that connects Lebanon with Syria, Langlois affirms that instability in Lebanon is bound to result in instability in Syria, and vice versa.
“Such interconnectedness is tied to wider regional geopolitics. Gulf-Damascus normalization efforts, while partially focused on lucrative reconstruction plans, are also likely an attempt to counter Iranian influence in both Syria and Lebanon.”
As such, Lebanon’s collapse “could set off a chain reaction of events that further destabilize the region,” Langlois concludes.