Re-defining the Balance of Power in Lebanon: Sunni and Shiites Communities Transformations, the Regional Context and the Arab Uprisings

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The paper analyzes the transformations occurred in the two most active and relevant communities in Lebanon after the end of the civil war, namely the Sunni and the Shiites, in the light of Arab uprisings and of the changes in the regional balance of power. If the meta-narrative of the ‘sectarianization’ of the Middle East, especially after 2011, has powered the interpretation of the regional events as marked by the struggle between Sunni and Shiites, the analysis of the transformations of the above mentioned communities in Lebanon and of their impact on the internal and external level, provides one of the best examples against this simplistic representation: the sectarian contraposition is deeply rooted in Lebanon, a pars constituent of its system, but, despite the rhetoric, both communities tend to have more pragmatic and accommodating attitudes instead of exacerbating sectarian confrontation as the afore-mentioned meta-narrative tends to impose. While it is true that each community has witnessed the radicalization of certain positions and that, over the years, major changes are taking place, those have been fuelled by the meta-narrative that is emerging at the regional level and not by a desire to bring the country to the brink of the abyss.

Re-defining the Balance of Power in Lebanon: Sunni and Shiites Communities Transformations, the Regional Context and the Arab Uprisings

in Oriente Moderno

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5

For an historical view see Dakhlallah (2012). Some scholars argue however that although weak institutions such as the Arab League and the gcc are still playing a role in regional politics. See for example Phillips (2014).

9

This term appears in Hinnebusch (2001 p. 67 and following).

18

See Lamloum (2009) and Koch (2008).

19

See Khashan (2011).

34

Malik Misbah“Hariri’s visit to Damascus receives mixed reactions in Lebanon” in Al Horfa21 December 2009 (http://goo.gl/rGSq6f accessed 3 October 2014).

35

However as Patrick Seale (2012) pointed out the forces of March 14 are perceived by the Syrian National Council as the imperialist forces given the support they receive from Saudi Arabia and the West and in a regional perspective without Asad the ties between Lebanese Sunnis and Syrian opposition forces would be ultimately very weak.

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