Vail Symposium kicks off winter programming with a deep dive on Lebanon |

Vail Symposium kicks off winter programming with a deep dive on Lebanon

First winter program of the season is a Zoom webinar with two Middle East experts discussing economic, political and diplomatic struggles in Lebanon

Located in the eastern Mediterranean, Lebanon was home to the ancient Phoenicians and Romans. A tiny country, it features sandy beaches, soaring mountains and historic ruins. In the early 20th century, France left a lasting, sophisticated impression after two decades of control. Unfortunately, Lebanon’s history since gaining independence in 1943 has been tumultuous, including a long civil war.

Though it is located thousands of miles away, Lebanon’s future impacts the U.S. as well. On Tuesday, Dec. 7, at 6 p.m., Vail Symposium presents a Zoom Webinar with Middle East experts Mona Yacoubian of the United States Institute for Peace and Dr. Eric Bordenkircher of the UCLA Center for Middle East on Lebanon.

“The program will endeavor to answer why Americans should care about Lebanon,” said Claire Noble, director of programming. “One reason that quickly comes to mind is that as the world’s leading democracy, we should be concerned whenever we lose a member of that caucus. Our two experts will explore many other valid reasons.”

Lebanon possesses a heterogeneous population, and uneasy power-sharing agreements have been destabilized by accusations of corruption and opportunistic neighbors. Iran, Syria and Saudi Arabia all meddle in Lebanon’s domestic politics. Refugees from regional conflicts provide another source of unease.

Recently, the situation in Lebanon deteriorated further. More than a year since a powerful blast ripped through Beirut killing more than 200 people, no one has been brought to justice. Sectarian violence erupts on the streets of Beirut. Saudi Arabia, one of Lebanon’s biggest benefactors, is applying economic and diplomatic pressure as its regional rivalry with Iran plays out in Lebanon.

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In this program, Middle East experts Yacoubian and Bordenkircher will provide context for the current situation in Lebanon, introduce the influential/powerful political parties and the key political figures, address factors contributing to or exacerbating the current crisis, and examine the external forces exerting influence in Lebanon. Tune in to learn what is happening in Lebanon and why.

About the speakers

Dr. Eric Bordenkircher is currently a research fellow at UCLA’s Center for Middle East Development and lectures in the political science department at George Washington University. A former visiting assistant professor at Claremont McKenna College and Pepperdine University, he focuses on Lebanese and Iraqi politics, U.S. relations and policy toward the Middle East, Progressives and U.S. foreign policy, the Arab-Israeli conflict, Islamic movements, governance and the impact(s) of globalization.

Mona Yacoubian is the sernios adviser to the vice president of Middle East and Africa at the United States Institute of Peace. Her work centers on conflict analysis and prevention in the Middle East with a specific focus on Syria, Iraq and Lebanon. In 2019, she served as executive director of the congressionally appointed Syria Study Group, which USIP was mandated to facilitate. Additional research interests include violent extremism, fragility and resilience.


What: Hard Times: Lebanon’s Economic, Political and Diplomatic Struggles

When: Tuesday, Dec. 7, 2021. 6-7 p.m.

Where: Zoom webinar

More information: Please visit for more information and to register.

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