Emile Bustani Seminar: "Lebanon's Struggle to Survive in the Post-Arab Spring Middle East"

Tuesday, September 20, 2022 at 4:30pm to 6:00pm

Building E51, 315
70 MEMORIAL DR, Cambridge, MA 02142

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"Lebanon's Struggle to Survive in the Post-Arab Spring Middle East"

Hussein Ibish
Senior Resident Scholar, Arab Gulf States Institute in Washington

In addition to its numerous internal crises – including a staggering economic meltdown, seemingly endless political gridlock, and a range of disasters, most notably the Beirut port explosion – the emerging regional strategic environment poses numerous challenges, but could offer some opportunities, for the struggling Lebanese state. After a decade of confrontation and conflict following the 2011 Arab spring uprisings, especially the brutal war in Syria, many Middle Eastern regional powers have been seeking to secure their interests through consolidation, retrenchment and maneuver, relying primarily on diplomatic, political and economic tools. However, this reduction of regional tensions has ironically increased Lebanon's role as a proxy battleground for outside forces seeking to expand their influence and contain others. Lebanon's political gridlock and inability to reform are closely linked to these dynamics. Lebanon faces the unenviable prospect of being the subject of informal side deals and understandings linked to Iran's relations with the United States, the Gulf Arab countries and even Israel. Yet this atmosphere of competition potentially offers Lebanon new opportunities for regional and international engagement and investment if domestic political forces can cooperate sufficiently to take advantage of these openings. This lecture will seek to unpack where Lebanon is situated in the post-Arab spring Middle East and examine how the evolving regional environment presents the country with dangerous new challenges but also significant potential opportunities.

Hussein Ibish is a senior resident scholar at the Arab Gulf States Institute in Washington. He is a weekly columnist for Bloomberg and The National (UAE) and has written for numerous U.S. and Middle Eastern publications and is a former monthly columnist for The International New York Times. He has made thousands of radio and television appearances and was the Washington, DC correspondent for The Daily Star (Beirut).

He is the author of What’s Wrong with the One-State Agenda? (ATFP, 2009). Ibish is the editor and principal author of three major studies of Hate Crimes and Discrimination against Arab Americans 1998-2000 (ADC, 2001), Sept. 11, 2001-Oct. 11, 2002 (ADC, 2003), and 2003-2007 (ADC, 2008). He is also the author of numerous other essays and book chapters in many different volumes and publications, and is the editor, along with Saliba Sarsar, of Principles and Pragmatism (ATFP, 2006).

Ibish previously served as a senior fellow at the American Task Force on Palestine, and executive director of the Hala Salaam Maksoud Foundation for Arab-American Leadership from 2004-09. From 1998-2004, Ibish served as communications director for the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee. He has a PhD in comparative literature from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.


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history, Middle East, international studies, Bustani, CIS, Saudi Arabia, Iran



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