Lebanon is not only on the brink of renewed conflict, it is also facing challenges to its very survival. As a result of the war raging next door, Lebanon has been overwhelmed by Syrian refugees. Their numbers have been estimated at 1.6 million and growing—as a result, almost one fourth of the country’s present population are Syrian refugees. To understand the magnitude of this situation, it as if the United States had to suddenly contend with over 100,000,000 refugees streaming across its borders. This tragic human tide has flooded Lebanon placing severe strains on its economy and its resources—housing, employment, health, education, and public and social services—while posing a direct threat to civil order.
If this were not enough, Syria’s war, itself, has started to spill over into Lebanon. Groups like Jabhat al Nusra and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), have attacked several Lebanese towns, are holding 30 members of the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) hostage, and have engaged in terror attacks against Lebanese targets. To date, the LAF has been successful in containing this threat.
Lebanon has become “the forgotten front” since all too often, the conflict ongoing within Lebanon is ignored in discussions about the war against ISIL. The immediate danger, however, is real. Lebanon is drowning and may not recover unless attention is paid to the impact the last three years have had on the country and the Lebanese people. While we remain concerned with the continued war in Syria and the humanitarian needs of the Syrian refugees, attention must be finally be paid to the dangers and hardships all of this has created for Lebanon.
As a member of the international coalition fighting ISIL, Lebanon needs U.S. support both to win the war and to provide for those who have affected by the conflict.
Download AAI's 2015 report Saving Lebanon: The Case for Supporting a Strategic Partner
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