BEIRUT: Lebanon was ranked the 29th most failed state in the world by Foreign Policy's online annual index released last Wednesday. The placement is an 11-rank improvement from last year's ranking of 18th, but still a far cry from the country's position as 65th in the 2006 index.
The index ranked 177 countries according to their potential for failure, which was based on the totals of 12 scores for factors of state stability. Each factor received a rating of 1 to 10, 10 being the least stable. Lebanon's total score was 93.5.
Lebanon's ranking on the failed state index has varied greatly since it began in 2005. Its placement has jumped up and down an average of 17 places every year indicating that the future of Lebanon, a key state in a turbulent region, is still uncertain.
Lebanon is known for its weak confessional government that is held together by an unwritten 1943 National Pact that needed to be patched back together in 2008 with the Doha Agreement after opposition parties boycotted the government. The state is also hugely reliant on foreign aid.
But the strength of government is not all that is taken into account when creating the rankings and a centralized government might not be the main thing Lebanon needs for a more stable future.
"Centralization might not be a good thing," said Harvard public policy professor Robert Rotberg who is director of Harvard's program of interstate conflict. "Good governance depends on much more than form."
Compared to 2008, Lebanon received lower, more stable, scores in 11 of the 12 categories. Despite those improving numbers the country received unstable scores of 9 or higher in the areas of refugees, group grievance and vengeance, security apparatus and rise of factionalized elites.
Recent clashes in Beirut, killings and explosives found in Ain al-Hilweh Palestinian refugee camp and increased political tension surrounding cabinet formation have all underscored these high ratings.
Lebanon also received a score of 8.3 in the category of external intervention. Lebanon became free of foreign occupation in 2005, but Syria and Saudi Arabia are thought to still have large influence in internal politics.
The two countries recent d?tente is seen as a reason for reconciliation between political parties in Lebanon. A potential tripartite meeting between Syria, Saudi Arabia and Lebanon might take place later this month.
Out of all 177 states, Lebanon had the 11th least stable scores for factionalized elites, and group grievance, the 12th least stable score for refugees and the 13th least stable score for its security apparatus.
Both of Lebanon's geographical neighbors were classified by the index as "less failed" than Lebanon. Syria was ranked 39, four spots lower than last year, and Israel was ranked 58 the same ranking it received in 2008.
The top three failed states according to the poll were Somalia, Zimbabwe and Sudan. The least failed was Norway.