Tuesday, September 09, 2008

America Abroad Media: Battleground Lebanon--Where Politics, Faith and Identity Collide

Batteground Lebanon
Where Politics, Faith, and Identity Collide
America Abroad Media

Lebanon has been a political and religious powder keg for decades. It’s a nation known for its intellectual and cultural capital, and its political instability. Lebanon was built on a shaky sectarian foundation with religious identity at the heart of its political system. History has shown that when there is a palpitation, it can have deadly consequences. This summer, after two years of political paralysis and a couple of bloody spasms, Sunni, Shia, and Christian factions compromised and formed a consensus government. But, between the domestic divisions, regional conflicts, and international interests, there’s no telling how long the current calm will last.

Ray Suarez looks back at the major role foreign powers have played in Lebanon’s turbulent history. Examines America’s unsuccessful attempt to calm Lebanon’s troubled waters in the early 1980s.

Deborah Amos explores the rise of Hezbollah, a Shiite Muslim fighting force turned political powerhouse. Syria’s interests and long-standing influence on its tiny Western neighbor. Examines the relationship between Lebanon’s sectarian identity politics and its chronic instability.

Guests include:

Hilal Khashan, Professor of Political Studies at the American University of Beirut

Paul Salem, Director of the Carnegie Middle East Center

Rajah al Husseini, Media Officer for the Waad Company

Sheikh Mazen Mohammad, Imam at the Harba Mosque in Tripoli

Samir al Taqi, Al Sharq Center for International Relations in Damascus

William Harris, Professor of Political Science at Otago University in New Zealand

Mohammed Berjawi, former Member of Parliament for Beirut’s Second District

Timur Goksel, Senior Advisor to the UN Interim Forces in Lebanon

Judith Palmer Harik, President of Metn University and author of “Hezbollah: The Changing Face of Terrorism”

Michael Young, Opinions Editor for Lebanon’s English language newspaper, The Daily Star

Nicholas Veliotes, Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs

Robert Dillon, US Ambassador to Lebanon

Robert McFarlane, National Security Advisor to President Reagan

Sulieman Haddad, Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee in the Syrian Parliament

Ziad Haidar, Political Editor of Syrian newspaper Al Watan

Elie Fawaz, Political Analyst with the Lebanon Renaissance Foundation.

To Listen to the Episode

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