The recent explosion in Beirut has again led to calls for political and economic reforms in Lebanon. The country has an economy in crisis, corruption, few job opportunities, and an influx of 1.5 million Syrian refugees. Sustained global investment is needed if Lebanon is to recover over the long run.
Where the original Arab Spring protests removed authoritarian leaders, the current demonstrators in Iraq and Lebanon are trying to topple popularly elected governments. This could have dramatic implications for the future of representative democracy in the Middle East.
Host governments, international development agencies, and donor countries like the United States could take several steps to improve Syrian refugee employment. This would increase self-reliance among Syrian refugees and ease pressures on host communities.
Syrian refugee women in Turkey, Lebanon, and Jordan want opportunities to work. But there are multiple barriers and challenges that limit them. Improving the chances of safe and dignified work opportunities for Syrian women in these countries could yield broad positive social benefits for both the refugee and host communities.
Syrian refugees in Turkey, Jordan, and Lebanon are finding ways to get by. But many refugees are not able to fully use their skills, and that is a lost opportunity both for the Syrians and the host countries.
As tensions increase on the Israeli-Lebanese border the possibility is growing that a confrontation with Iran may move from Syria to Lebanon. For the United States, turning its back on this small but strategically critical country and conflating U.S. interests in Lebanon solely with countering Iran could be short-sighted, and a missed opportunity at a time when the region has few.
America should encourage Tehran and Riyadh to settle their differences, not facilitate aggressive Saudi action. Otherwise, the region will be plunged into an even bigger crisis—without an end in sight.
Hezbollah has gained valuable combat experience in Syria, but the cost of that experience may not outweigh the losses in troops, the damage to its image and the need to cede some of its autonomy to Iran and the Assad regime. The longer the war drags on, the more apparent these losses will become.
Most parties have been on the losing side of the war in Syria. Meanwhile, Lebanese terrorist militia Hezbollah has cemented its status as a regional power player. The group has gained fighting experience and benefited from a growing alliance with the Assad regime, Iran, and Russia.
The gendered impact of political conflict on women and children has been well documented in other conflicts. But much less is known about the effect of the Syrian civil war on displaced women and children.
Whether or not Jabhat Fateh al-Sham's new name means a genuine break from its parent organization al Qaeda, the mere rebranding could prolong Syria's civil war. The worst-case scenario is that the group could embed itself within the rebel opposition in Syria the way Hezbollah did in Lebanon.
In Jordan and Lebanon, middle-income countries with robust public sectors where a significant Syrian population may be present for years to come, solutions should be more about supporting the expansion of existing national public services, rather than creating new, internationally run parallel services.
More than 700,000 Syrian refugee children are not receiving formal education. Host countries are struggling to create enough spaces to accommodate them in schools, and there are no formal programs to teach children who have missed years of instruction.
To avoid further resentment and restrictions on Syrians desperate to escape their war-torn country, as well as the instability such attitudes generate, the international community must work with host governments to increase and highlight the benefits refugee populations can bring to neighboring states.
At least half of Syrian refugee children aren't in school. Those who are face risks to the quality of education they receive, a risk they share with host-country children. But by making long-term investments, the international community can help ensure education isn't another casualty of the war.
The Syrian conflict, now in its fourth year, has been the main contributor to the largest refugee crisis since the 1994 Rwandan genocide—and the problem can be expected to get worse as the fighting continues.
To disrupt al-Baghdadi's advance, the United States and its allies should start by addressing the source of the problem -- the conflict in Syria. They can begin by negotiating a truce with President Bashar Assad to stop the fighting in Syria.
Tensions between rival militant groups al Qaeda and Hezbollah have reached a fever pitch following bombings at two mosques in Lebanon, making a bloody sectarian conflict an increasingly real possibility.
If Hezbollah's participation in the Syrian civil war begins to clearly tip the balance in favor of the Assad regime, the U.S. could face pressure to adjust its position and support efforts to minimize Hezbollah's position in Lebanon.
The result of Sunday's parliamentary elections in Lebanon is a boon for the United States, but it also presents a challenge. The U.S. would be well-advised to play for the long term in Lebanon with a pragmatic policy that deals with the reality of Hezbollah's political power while continuing to strengthen moderate forces and national institutions, write Aram Nerguizian and Ghassan Schbley.
Lebanon is scheduled to hold elections Sunday [June 7], and the pro-Western political alliance favored by the United States may lose. If it does, the Obama Administration should not consider the result a triumph for Hezbollah, but a challenge, write Aram Nerguizian and Ghassan Schbley.