Syria and Saudi Arabia in post-Ta'if Lebanon

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Stedem, Kelly Alicia

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The tiny nation-state of Lebanon has been marred by political instability and violence over the past 35 years. Most scholars blame the consociational structure of the bureaucratic system as the main culprit for the precarious state of the republic. It is an understatement to say that the delicate power-sharing balance divided between the Christian and Muslim sects has been one of the most detrimental elements to government stability and socioeconomic development. Underneath these sectarian affiliations, however, lie numerous patronage systems all vying for power and control over the Lebanese system. These systems not only act to support their Lebanese sectarian leader, but many have reached across the border and found the open hands of foreign powers. The actions of these foreign entities have also constituted a divisive role in undermining the unification of the nation into a cohesive and functioning state, particularly during the post-civil war time period. The end of the 15 year civil war through the passage of the National Reconciliation Accord heralded in a sense of promise for a future free of war and political mismanagement through the abolition of the consociational system. This promise, however, has yet to be fulfilled. This thesis is an examination into the role and impact of Syrian and Saudi Arabian patronage ties in the Lebanese system. By looking at the states through the actions of their clients we can come to a better understanding of both why and how the goals of Ta'if have yet to be achieved and potentially come to understand the needs facing Lebanon's future.



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