Lebanon and its Uncertain Future
For thousands of years Lebanon has been an important crossroad between the east and west and has been influenced by many different cultures and civilizations.
Many scars are still visible throughout the country from the many conflicts its people have had to endure in recent times: perhaps most importantly the Lebanese civil war (1975-1990), and the Israel - Hezbollah war in 2006 which saw over 100,000 shells being dropped over many parts of the country, killing and wounding thousands of civilians and destroying much of Lebanon's infrastructure.
New civil wars have been dangerously close at breaking out again on several occasions. In the summer of 2008, armed Hezbollah guerrilla soldiers stormed Beirut and seized control over large parts of the city in the worst internal conflict since the civil war, before negotiations lead to an agreement being signed in Doha and Hezbollah withdrew from the city after a 13 day siege.
After the elections in June of 2009, a struggle for minister posts meant a government failed to form and the country was without leadership for several months. In November, after five months of cabinet negotiations, a government was finally formed but is now comprised by many rival groups with a wide range of loyalties and agendas.
The proud and outgoing Lebanese people, clearly hardened by the many years of turmoil they have endured, may to a casual observer seem to have maintained an almost paradoxical zest for life. Beirut's streets are teeming with life and hundreds of restaurants, bars and nightclubs are packed every night in a city that never seems to sleep. But just below the surface, tensions and worries about an uncertain future remain.