Lebanon: What Happened to the Cedar Revolution?

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My biggest fear in Lebanon is that if the Shiat community takes a major blow, and if the Lebanese government caves to the demands of Israel and the United States, I fear that a bigger and broader sectarian fault line could emerge and wrack the country apart. In particular if Israel escalates… what you’ll have after the dust settles is a civil war.

Fawaz Gerges
leb 2

Celebrating Syria’s withdrawal, 2005 [FlickrJunkie / Flickr]

leb protest

Protesting the bombings, 2006 [captain nomes / Flickr]

It seems like just yesterday the US was cheering on the Cedar Revolution as proof that democracy was spreading through the Middle East. Now the memory of last year’s elections and the withdrawal of Syrian troops has been overshadowed by the power and popularity of Hezbollah. And this second, tragic destruction of Beirut has left us all wondering what happened to the promise of a free and rebuilt Lebanon.

As a new chapter is written in the story of this country, once the Riviera of the Middle East and then synonymous with civil war, we’d like to trace the domestic dividing lines and understand Lebanon as if frozen the day before this conflict started.

From the past: What were the domestic forces that weakened the government so much that it could not or did not want to demilitarize Hezbollah? What accounts for Hezbollah’s power and popularity in the first place? What was the relationship between those Lebanese who supported Hezbollah and those who did not? Were these dynamics the political and cultural remnants of civil war? Of meddling from Syria and Israel?

And, for the future: How might this new conflict re-draw old fault lines?

Fawaz Gerges

Chair, International Affairs and Middle Eastern Studies, Sarah Lawrence College

Author, Journey of the Jihadist: Inside Muslim Militancy

Robert Fisk

Middle East Correspondent, The Independent

Because of an emergency situation in southern Lebanon, Robert Fisk was unable to join us for this show

Caline Jarudi

Director, American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee of Massachusetts

Extra Credit Reading

jij, A Primer of Events: How We Got Where We Are Today, JIJ, 7/20/06

dibo, Let the flame burn?, The Thinking Lebanese, 7/19/06

Mustapha, On Hezbollah’s Supporters.., The Beirut Spring, 7/19/06

Doha, Iraqizing Lebanon, The Lebanese Bloggers, 7/22/06

Fawaz Gerges, Madman of the Mideast, New York Daily News, 7/23/06

Martin Patience, The divided loyalties of Lebanon, BBC, 7/20/06

Anthony Shadid, Attacks Could Erode Faction’s Support, Washington Post, 7/14/06

Lebanese Civil War, Wikipedia

Jad Mouawad, Beirut’s Young, in the Middle, See Future Take a Dark Turn, The New York Times, 7/23/06

Sabrina Tavernise, In Beirut, an Abyss Between Elegance and Chaos, New York Times, 7/25/06

Augustus Richard Norton, When bombs stir a Shiite political revival, The Daily Star, 7/25/06

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