Cost of Deadlock in Lebanon

  • 30 July 2007

Despite all efforts by the Arab and international community toward solving Lebanon’s longstanding political crisis, a solution still appears elusive because of great difference in positions and priorities of various sides. However, diplomatic efforts are still continuing in this regard. There is growing regional and international awareness of the danger posed by the state of political impasse in Lebanon and the tensions it could cause. French Foreign Minister expressed this awareness clearly, when he warned of a possible eruption of the civil war in Lebanon, if Lebanese parties were unable to agree on a return to the negotiating table.

The concern over Lebanon’s future is pushing various parties to mitigate the political crisis and to try all options for achieving this objective, despite the complexities of the crisis. Although French involvement is presently at the forefront of the political scene, it has been preceded by many Arab attempts that are still ongoing either in coordination with France or on separate tracks. Lebanon is a country that witnessed a civil war for many years in its recent past, and here politics is delicately placed on a religious and sectarian balance. For this reason, the perpetuation of tensions threatens to draw the country again into a bloody period; despite declarations by various parties that civil war is a red line that they would not breach.

If things do not progress on the Lebanese political scene things will start regressing, as has already been clearly observed in recent times. The continuing political deadlock is escalating tensions and giving rise to bigotry and sectarianism. Consequently, the matter is no longer limited to disputes at the level of political leadership; but has started poisoning to the grassroots level that has raised fears of an eruption that will be difficult to contain.

Everybody is aware of the dangerous situation in Lebanon, and all sides are seeking to prevent a flare-up. However, Lebanese forces would have to wary of this fact, because without translating this awareness into real action, mere talk or sloganeering would not be able to defuse any possible eruption or the chances of a confrontation.