Lebanon is more than ever a fragile State which is endangered by the Islamic State (IS) pressure on its borders and within the same country. Furthermore, so far, the international community has not taken serious steps to foster the week Lebanese government, due to the presence of a Hezbollah component within it and since various conflicting geopolitical interests in the area are at stake. Moreover, with a declining economy, the Lebanese Republic might soon no longer be able to shelter over 1.5 million refugees. Eventually, IS wishes to get an access to the sea for the Caliphate, putting therefore at least the northern part of Lebanon in serious danger.
Lebanon has always been considered as a fragile State, nowadays it surely is because of its position within the critical geopolitical scenario of the region. Indeed, the country is in front of the IS in the east and north, while it neighbours Israel in the south. Actually, in southern Lebanon, over a thousand Italian soldiers, taking part in the Mission UNIFIL, live in the military base of Shama, in a strip of land by the municipality of Tyre, the so-called “Blue Line”, as it is the demarcation line between Lebanon and Israel. Furthermore, Lebanese economy is collapsing and the infrastructure is decaying. Nonetheless, all over its territory, Lebanon harbours more than 1.5 million refugees, mostly from Syria. Finally, IS dormant cells have been settled in major Lebanese cities, if not all over the country. Additionally, the Lebanese army is relatively well trained but badly armed, while Hezbollah appears to be the only military force capable of effectively fighting against the IS. However, this poses a challenge to the international community, since many Western countries and their allies in the Arab world place Hezbollah among the organisations in the terrorist list, despite it is somehow contributing to rule the Lebanese Republic. The Lebanese Hezbollah radical group consists of about 3000 activists, composed of many Palestinian refugees, which advocates the annihilation of the State of Israel and the creation of an Islamic republic in Lebanon, on the Iranian model. Still, Hezbollah now also fights the IS and sided with Assad, but only to defend their territories. Going back to the mid-seventies, Lebanon hosted banks and important financial activities, but it was absorbed by a series of latent problems of cohabitation and coexistence of different faiths: Shia Muslim, Sunni Muslim, Druze and Maronite Christian. Additionally, thousands of Palestinian refugees reached the country from the territories occupied by Israel. The rich Lebanon was so transformed, in a few years, into a social tinderbox in which divisions were sharpened by the many pressures made by the neighbouring countries. In 1975, following increasing sectarian tensions, a full-scale civil war broke out in Lebanon and, in 1982, Israel invaded the country to respond to Palestine Liberation Organization attacks from Lebanon on Israel. In the meantime, in 1980, inspired by Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah and financed by Iran, Hezbollah arose and soon won the support of the poorest layers of the Shiite faith, who lived in conditions of extreme poverty and in a social climate of great frustration.
Lebanon, according to several analyses, is almost to collapse. Indeed, the IS pressure on its borders and within the country is a burning issue. Moreover, due to the presence of a Hezbollah component in the Lebanese government and to conflicting geopolitical interests in the region, the international community has not effectively committed itself to solve the problems at stake yet. Additionally, since Lebanon is experiencing a sharp decline in its economy, even harbouring over 1.5 million refugees, as it has done till now, could become difficult. Ultimately, IS aims to obtain an access to the sea and a week Lebanon could be an occasion for that, activating its various dormant cells in the country and conquering at least the northern part of its territory.
Fabio Di Nunno