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HomeGeopolitical CompassThe LevantLebanon Is Europe’s Most Urgent Challenge

Lebanon Is Europe’s Most Urgent Challenge

Subtitle: A collapsing state risks creating a catastrophic refugee crisis.

Author: Faysal Itani and Azeem Ibrahim

Affiliation:  Newlines Institute for Strategy and Policy

Organization/Publisher: Foreign Policy

Date/Place: October 15, 2021/USA

Type of Literature: Opinion Article

Word Count: 2693


Keywords: Lebanon Political Leaders, European Parliament, Refugees, Accountability.


The European Parliament has undertaken beleaguered sanctions against chief Lebanese political figures if they disrupt the newly formed government in the country. This is a postponement of the policy that the European Parliament used to induce Beirut’s fractious political elite to come to an agreement to finally form a government. The European Union usually doesn’t arbitrate with threatening sanctions etc. Nonetheless, as Lebanon falls into another wave of violence, after months of economic disaster, the EU may find itself playing a critical role. Lebanon is currently Europe’s most persistent foreign-policy challenge, and the EU has a vital interest in protecting good governance there. The collapse of Lebanon, which has engrossed millions of refugees fleeing the war in Syria and other conflicts, would create a new wave of refugees heading to Europe and carry political catastrophe with it. The European Parliament appears to be anxious to avoid just that possibility, which is why it is taking a firmer hand with Beirut’s politicians. While Lebanon itself has experienced an enormous strain of hosting this refugee population, which acts as an impression to Europe of what it could face, the country needs a functioning government, and its people deserve greater accountability from their politicians. If Europe wants Lebanon to keep absorbing these refugees, it needs to provide the aid frantically needed, but that aid must go to a class of competent politicians rather than thugs and thieves. European countries, above all France, have significant leverage over Beirut’s political class, not least because while they might steal in Lebanon, they spend in Paris and Milan and keep their bank accounts overseas.


By: Maryam Khan, CIGA Research Associate



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