Lebanon’s Economic Collapse and Outside Intervention
This talk examines how outside actors are interacting with Lebanon’s present crisis. As the country’s economic system has worsened, and as the state’s reach has reduced, new spaces have opened to outside actors. These can now play a role in Lebanon, to different degrees and in novel ways. This outside intervention has rubbed against Iran and Hezbollah’s domination of the Lebanese system, but it has begun to alter their control—not so much to challenge their power as to try to affirm alternative stakes in the system. While this development is unlikely to lead to a fundamental shift in power structure soon, it has generated dynamics that could well have a bearing in the medium and long term. Moreover, unless Arab countries realize that the only way to challenge Iran’s regional power is to build their own alignments in Arab states now dominated by Iran, whether in Lebanon or Syria or Yemen, Tehran’s hegemony will remain unchallenged. A view that sees the challenge of Iran as a zero-sum struggle, we will achieve little. And while regimes like the one in Syria may play the Arabs (or others) off against Iran for their own benefit, sticking to a policy that insists that the only desirable goal is the elimination Iran’s influence from the region is unrealistic and will surely fail.