- Pathfinder

Reply To: What were the “three ascendancies?” How did these ascendancies lead to the current situation in Lebanon?

Mason Strain

The “three ascendancies” are different periods in Lebanon’s history in which a specific group rose to the forefront of the Lebanese cultural and political landscape. The first of these was the Christian ascendancy which lasted from 1920 to 1975. This period is often looked backed to as the golden era of Lebanon, in which Lebanon was often called the “Switzerland of the Near East” and Beirut often referred to as the “Paris of the Middle East”. While Lebanon was distinctly Arab during this time, there was a pro-Western approach in the country. Western education and political ideas thrive, which led to relative peace among the different groups in Lebanon. However, cracks in the system hid under the surface, sometimes being brought out into the light such as the 1958 crisis. After the end of the Lebanon War in 1990, the Sunni ascendancy began. This period was marked by steady decline and increasing corruption among the political class. Despite the decline in Lebanon, the country remained a functional state and there was still hope for a better future. In 2005, the Cedar Revolution, which expelled the Syrian occupation, brought even more optimism. However, 2005 marked a turn for the worse. After the assassination of Sunni prime minister Rafic Hariri by Hezbollah operatives, the Shia ascendancy began. As Iranian influence crept into the country, corruption and instability both grew. Both Lebanon’s economy and government has essentially collapsed under the pressures of Hezbollah dominance and the influx of Syrian refugees.