The regional contestation between Saudi Arabia and Iran is moving westwards. The events around Prime Minister Hariri’s ‘resignation’ indicate that Lebanon has just moved from a precarious balancing act between domestic and regional interests, underpinned by distrustful compromise, to direct political confrontation. Whether this situation escalates, will depend on how key actors assess the costs and benefits of conflict in Lebanon.
This policy brief examines such calculations in light of recent developments. It translates its findings into two scenarios about what may come to pass ahead of the Lebanese elections scheduled for May 2018. The more probable scenario is one of localised and targeted violence, domestic political fragmentation and possibly an economic downturn. However, if Hezbollah does not overplay its hand from its current position of strength, Lebanon’s fragile stability might yet be preserved.