Refugees and political stability in Lebanon

Benjamin MacQueen, Kylie Baxter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


This article compares the Palestinian and Syrian refugee crises on political stability in Lebanon. Debates over the implantation (tawteen) of the Palestinian refugee community, alongside the increasing militarization of the community after 1970 were key factors in the outbreak of civil war in Lebanon in 1975. The arrival of over 1 million Syrian refugees in Lebanon since 2011 has raised similar concerns of whether Lebanon will again. witness political collapse and civil conflict. However, it is argued that whilst the current refugee crisis in Lebanon is broadly comparative to the events of the early 1970s, the scale of the current refugee crisis alongside the different profile of the refugee community has created different dynamics. Specifically, the blurring of lines between the host community and the refugee community through familial, personal, and other links makes the dynamics of refugee politics in Lebanon today markedly different from that of the early 1970s. In addition, where Lebanese political actors had initially sought to politicize the refugee issue, the scale of the crisis has made this a national, not political issue, serving to reduce the distance between political opponents in the country. This is not to argue that the current crisis does not pose potentially existential challenges to the Lebanese state. Instead, the nature of the crisis is such that efforts at isolating the refugee problem , as took place before and after the Lebanese civil war, are not possible today.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)46 - 63
Number of pages18
JournalMiddle Eastern Studies: Journal of Politics and International Relations
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2014

Cite this