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Lebanon: a new proxy battlefield?

09-08-2020, 08:20   624

A powerful explosion in the port of Beirut on August 4 dealt a final blow to Lebanon, which is already on the brink of collapse.  Some scenarios for the country anticipate the loss of de facto independence. A multi-confessional country, Lebanon, is one of the most sensitive countries, if not the first one, which can easily turn into a hotbed of conflict. 

Unlike its neighbors, Lebanon is not a rich with energy resources. Thus, opening a front in Lebanon would be economically unfavorable for major powers. Nevertheless, it's worth noting that Lebanon is of exceptional strategic importance in the Near East geopolitics. Providing an access to the  Mediterranean for some regional powers, especially Iran, possessing direct borders with Syria and Israel and located several hundred kilometers away from Russian military bases in Syria on the Mediterranean coast are Lebanon`s key strategic advantages. 

At present, some regional and global powers pour intensive diplomatic efforts in order to strengthen their positions in Lebanon. The French-United Arab Emirates (UAE) and the Turkish-Qatari alliances seem more active in this regard. Lack of religious and sectarian integrity does not rule out the possibilty of a coup by a nationalist figure in a scenario similar to the ones played by Haftar in Libya and Sisi in Egypt.

We can claim the French-Emirati alliance is a step ahead in this situation. However, Iranian-backed Hezbollah is quite strong in Lebanon (unlike Egypt and Libya) and can organize fierce resistance. Such circumstances can force Israel to undertake a more aggressive policy against Lebanon.