Tuesday, January 6, 2015
The conflict has had an increasing impact on Lebanon since it began in 2011, in the form of sectarian political violence, massive refugee inflows, a deepening government crisis and cross-border movements of fighters. The spillover has destabilised Lebanon's delicate sectarian balance and created an institutional vacuum, with the country lacking an elected government since April 2013, and a president since May 2014. In particular, the emergence of Islamic State group (ISG) as a major force in Syria, and its brief occupation of Lebanese territory, has highlighted the threat of an escalated sectarian conflict on Lebanese soil.
- If jihadists capture towns or villages in the Bekaa Valley, they could carry out massacres, and spark fighting in other parts of Lebanon.
- Fragmentation of the army on Sunni-Shia lines would undermine security and create a vacuum for ISG to step into.
- ISG could coordinate a campaign inside Lebanon with al-Qaida's Jabhat al-Nusra (JN).
- Sectarian tensions could help radicalise the Syrian refugee population, strengthening ISG's presence.