In Global Security Watch—Lebanon, author David Sorenson explores Lebanon's arcane—almost dysfunctional—political structure and economic system, as well as the complex religious makeup of a country that is home to Christians, Jews, and Arabs with no majority faith. Sorenson also looks at how the nation has often served as a focal point of diplomatic and military conflict for other nations, including Syria, Iran, and Israel, as well as how ill-informed American policies toward Lebanon have ultimately harmed American strategic interests in the Middle East.
Since the end of the Cold War, academic debate over the nature of war in the contemporary world has focused upon the asymmetric nature of conflict among a raft of failed or failing states, often held together by only a fragile notion of a shared communal destiny. Little scholarly attention has been paid, however, to one such conflict that predates the ending of the Cold War, yet still appears as intractable as ever: Israel’s hostile relationship with Lebanon and in particular, its standoff with the Lebanese Shi’a militia group, Hizbollah. As events surrounding the ‘Second Lebanon War’ in the summer of 2006 demonstrate, the clear potential for further cross border violence as well as the potential for a wider regional conflagration that embraces Damascus and Tehran remains as acute as ever.
This book focuses on the historical background of the conflict, while also considering the role that other external actors, most notably Syria, Iran and the United Nations, play in influencing the conduct and outcomes of the Israeli-Lebanese conflict. In addition, it also looks at Hizbollah’s increasing sway in Lebanese domestic politics, its increased military cooperation with Iran and Syria, and the implications of such developments.
This book will be of much interest to students of Middle Eastern politics, War and Conflict Studies, International Security and International Relations in general.
Clive Jones is Professor of Middle East Studies and International Politics in the School of Politics and International Studies (POLIS), University of Leeds, UK. His books include Soviet Jewish Aliyah 1989-92 (1996), Israel: Challenges to Democracy, Identity and the State (with Emma Murphy, 2002), and co-editor The al-Aqsa Intifada: Between Terrorism and Civil War (2005).
Sergio Catignani is Lecturer in Security and Strategic Studies and MA Programme Director for the MA in Security and Strategic Studies at the Department of Politics, University of Sussex. He is the author of Israeli Counter-Insurgency and the Intifadas: Dilemmas of a Conventional Army (2008).
It is crucial to the interests of the West to grasp the complexities of the Arab world. In this clear, concise volume, Sandra Mackey provides a unique view of this tortured and tortuous region through the lens of Lebanon.
A small, fractured country at the gateway of the Arab east, Lebanon signals the challenges that the Arab world poses to itself and to the West. As Mackey vividly demonstrates, the Lebanese have experienced every issue currently roiling the Middle East: borders contrived by others, a weak state housing weak institutions, a Palestinian presence, civil war, resistance to societal and political change, Sunni/Shia sectarianism, occupation, militant Islam as a political ideology, conflict over the common identity essential to turning a fragile state into a viable nation, a troubled democratic tradition, and war perpetrated by forces inside and outside its borders. Lessons learned from these conflicts will ease understanding and resolution elsewhere.