The Lebanese Systemic Threat

Following the Lebanese war, the Reut Institute identifies a new situation coalescing in Lebanon that includes a multiplicity of actors and a fluidity in the roles that they are carrying out. This new reality is liable to influence crucial Israeli political dilemmas.

The war in Lebanon (7-8/06) constituted a nexus for a number of threats confronting Israel:

  • absence of an effective and political address in Lebanon
  • taking of control by the Hizbullah of the Lebanese side of the border
  • continuation of Syrian involvement in Lebanon, and
  • Iranian attempts to influence the Israel-Lebanon arena.

At present, in the wake of the war, the Reut Institute identifies a new situation coalescing in Lebanon that includes a multiplicity of state and non-state actors and a fluidity in the roles that they are carrying out.

From recent reports it appears that the new reality consists of a large number of actors:

  • the Lebanese government and the Lebanese Army that is attempting to regain control of Lebanese territory;
  • the dynamic triangular relationship among the Hizbullah, Syria and Iran;
  • organizations identified with Al-Qaida that are deepening their penetration into Lebanon; and
  • the reinforced UNIFIL force that is gathering criticism from the Shi’ite population which perceives it as a foreign implant.

This new reality may impact the following Israeli political issues:

  • The Israeli border regime – the Israeli border regime has been based on a Wall of Legitimacy model that included an element of Israeli military presence on the international border and strong Israeli deterrence. This model has difficulty dealing with the system containing a multiplicity of state and non-state actors such as Lebanon;
  • Permanent Resistance to Israel – the elements acting in Lebanon are dealing with the tension between their support for permanent resistance to Israel’s existence and other goals that they represent such as: patriotism; nationalism; and regional, political and economic motives.
  • The political process and the issue of a political address – the lack of Lebanon’s ability to establish itself as a state with capacity and responsibility in the region negatively influences progress in the regional peace process in general; and between Israel and Lebanon specifically.

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