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Beirut's Center Cannot Hold

Lebanon Is On the Brink of Another Civil War

Lebanese Hezbollah supporters march during a religious procession November 7, 2014. Courtesy Reuters

Lebanon is again on the precipice of civil war. With the conflict in neighboring Syria spilling over its borders, Lebanese society finds itself bitterly divided between two distinct camps—one that backs the regional Sunni alliance led by Saudi Arabia and supported by the West, another that supports the alliance between Iran and the Syrian government. Tensions between these two groups are worsening by the day in Lebanon, and as a result, the country is on the brink of destabilization.

The two sides are at such odds that it will be impossible in the short term to solve the country's crisis. But its most damaging effects can be mitigated by reminding all parties of the many advantages of Lebanon's traditional consensus-based style of politics.

Historically, Beirut has depended on power-sharing arrangements to maintain stability. Lebanon’s 15-year civil war ended in the early 1990s with the so-called Taif agreement which

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