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Sunni and Shia communities’ transformations in Lebanon: changes in the balance of power

Lilit Harutyunyan

vol. XII(1)

Pages 6-25

Abstract: The paper focuses on the transformations going on in Sunni and Shia

communities in Lebanon within the framework of the current changes in the regional

balance of power. The analysis of the transformations of the mentioned communities

in Lebanon and of their impact on the internal and external levels provides one of the

most relevant examples of the "sectarianization" of the Middle East, especially after

2011, which was also characterized by the struggle between Sunnis and Shiites. The

confessional contradictions are deeply rooted in Lebanon, based on its confessional

political system, but, despite the public rhetoric, both communities tend to have more

pragmatic and accommodating attitudes instead of deepening confessional

confrontations. While it is true that each community has witnessed the radicalization

of certain positions and that, especially after 2011, major changes are taking place,

which have been fuelled by the narrative that is mostly emerging at the regional level.

Have regional developments influenced the national Lebanese ones? Has

confessionalism been used as a tool of realpolitik in Lebanon? These are the main

questions that are going to be examined.

Keywords: Lebanon, Sunni, Shia, Confessional system, Balance of Power,

Transformations, Arab uprisings (“Arab spring”).

Lilit Harutyunyan
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