A discussion withPaul SalemVice President for Policy and Research
Middle East Institute
Resident Senior Fellow, Brent Scowcroft Center on International Security
Fellow, Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East
To prevent the Syrian conflict from completely destabilizing Lebanon, its government has maintained an official policy of disassociation. Yet even if rival factions can agree to maintain this policy of neutrality in the new cabinet formed on February 15, its relevance to reality on the ground would be unclear. In truth, Hezbollah, its domestic rivals, and Lebanon’s security forces have been involved in the Syrian conflict to varying degrees since it began. It is now increasingly clear that the longer the war goes on, the harder it will be for Lebanon’s political factions to keep up the pretense of neutrality. Without an agreement to limit infighting over and involvement in Syria, Lebanon's government is unlikely to make progress on reforms, economic development, or addressing the country's other serious challenges.
Please join us for a discussion on the prospects of Lebanese neutrality towards Syria’s civil war, and the critical implications for security and stability in Lebanon. Bilal Saab is a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council’s Brent Scowcroft Center, specializing in the politics, security, and defense-industrial affairs of the Gulf and the Levant. Dr. Paul Salem is vice president for policy and research at the Middle East Institute. Faysal Itani, who focuses on the Levant at the Atlantic Council will moderate the discussion.