Map of Middle East.

Key Questions

The key challenge that has faced Lebanon for decades is whether it can transform its multi-confessional character into a viable state where people identify with both their nation and their religion. This question is manifest in the country's recent mass and leaderless protests. Who participates in these protests, who does not, what are protesters demanding, and can they produce any enduring changes? Given the tenacity of the discredited ruling elites to hold on to power, will the protests be a catalyst for structural reform or lead to a modified status quo? In sum, are protests and other signs of civil discontent a watershed or a brief passing moment within the broader arc of Lebanon’s history?

About the Project

To answer these questions, the Lebanese Republic Project within the Baker Institute’s Center for the Middle East will study the deep-seated political and social challenges facing this beleaguered nation, enlisting experts from across the United States, Europe and the Middle East to provide coherent options for policymakers. The fundamental geopolitical issue regarding Lebanon, the region and the international community, including the U.S., is the consequences of a failed Lebanese state, creating a vacuum in the Levant that will lead to wider instability, affecting the national security interests of all the parties involved. Importantly, this project will identify realistic policy options for the Biden administration’s approach to the Lebanese crisis.

The Baker Institute thanks Ms. Kelly Rorschach and Mrs. Kimerly Rorschach Hart for their generous gift to support the Lebanese Republic Project, made in memory of their mother Virginia “Ginny” Rorschach.