Lebanese Civil Society
Lebanon’s protest movements of 2015 and 2019: A comparative analysis

by Abbas Assi
Abbas Assi

The 2015 and 2019 protest movements represented a new hope for the Lebanese to reform the political system and combat corruption in state institutions. However, both movements faced obstacles and were not able to obtain their objectives. This research seeks to explore why the civil society movements in Lebanon were not able to exert pressure on the sectarian parties to introduce genuine political and socio-economic reforms and to combat corruption. It will argue that the intersection of internal and external factors led to the failure of the civil society movement in Lebanon. The internal factors involve the inability of the protest movements to develop a clear political and economic program and strategy, and assign a leadership which had impact on their ability to mobilize followers and agree on the organization of protests and strikes. The external factors refer to the sectar- ian parties which were able to play two main roles to weaken the movements. Firstly, the parties used the state security apparatus and violence to quell the protests. Secondly, they manipulated the movements by supporting them and manipulating their endeavor to reform the political system. In doing so, the sectarian parties aimed to improve their popularity.

About the Author

Abbas Assi holds a PhD in international relations from the University of Leeds, UK. The domain of his study is Middle East politics, incorporating the study of the democratization process, Islamic movements, ethnic poli- tics and state formation. He is the author of “Democracy in Lebanon: Political Parties and the Struggle for Power since Syrian Withdrawal” (I.B. Tauris, 2019, 2016 (paperback edition)). Assi also published several academic and newspaper articles and several research reports.