So why is this the case?
Although there are probably myriad reasons, it is very important to focus on the separation of economic development and political dysfunction in Northern Ireland as well as the role of foreign powers in its politics. Peace and stability in Northern Ireland did not necessarily come from the political settlement agreed in 1998, but from larger economic factors occurring in post-Cold War Europe and reforms to the northern economy. Irish. Moreover, the foreign powers involved in the conflict were, for the most part, all geopolitical allies.
The settlement that ended Lebanon’s civil war, the Taif Agreement, also brought about major economic development to rebuild the country, especially Beirut. However, this development did not address social inequalities as it did in Northern Ireland. At the same time, foreign powers involved in Lebanese politics do not share the same geopolitical goals and have used Lebanon as a stage for a wider regional conflict.
In short, Northern Ireland has benefited from more equitably distributed capital and healthier relations with its neighbours, enabling it to rise to its current social and economic position.
Shortly after the fall of the Soviet Union, the European Union began to take shape and, following the ideals of the burgeoning neoliberal world order, trade and commerce became ubiquitous across the continent. The formation of the EU in 1993 allowed the free movement of people and capital in the region, which benefited Europe’s poorest countries the most.
Indeed, the geographical location of Northern Ireland is probably the most important aspect of its post-conflict social and economic development.
In the Republic of Ireland, this flow of capital and direct investment boosted the Irish economy, leading to a period of rapid economic growth known as the “celtic tiger.” Ireland quickly went from being one of the poorest nations in Western Europe to one of the wealthiest. And economic prosperity inevitably crossed the border into Northern Ireland, as the entry of Britain and Ireland into the EU meant the removal of the militarized barrier between the two.
US and EU played an important role in mediating a resolution of the conflict and in fostering economic development that lifted Northern Ireland’s most vulnerable communities out of extreme poverty.
In the mid-1990s, economic disparities between Catholics and Protestants in Northern Ireland began to converge significantly, as education and labor policy reforms created a more equitable distribution of wealth. This trend continued into the 2000s and people in Northern Ireland soon began to enjoy a quality of life that large segments of the population (particularly the Catholic community) had never experienced, diminishing drastically the gargantuan economic inequalities that had plagued the region for generations. .
Alongside this, the foreign powers involved in Northern Ireland were always on the same page regarding its conflict, although there was (and still is) a good degree of divergence. Moreover, the United States and the EU have played an important role in mediating a resolution of the conflict and in fostering economic development that lifted Northern Ireland’s most vulnerable communities out of extreme poverty.
By contrast, Lebanon’s post-conflict economic recovery has not changed the social inequalities that sparked the conflict in the first place. Although large amounts of foreign capital flowed into Beirut in the 1990s and 2000s, it only benefited a small part of Lebanese society. Moreover, this capital has mainly gone to banking, real estate and tourism, neglecting agriculture and industry, which could have (and still can be) drivers of the modification of inequalities. Of course, all of this came to a head in 2019, when the current economic crisis in Lebanon began.
In addition to the mismanagement and greed of the Lebanese political elite, the country has been the scene of regional and global competition since the 1950s. Foreign powers could not resist the temptation to interfere in Lebanese affairs, which had a catastrophic impact on the development and stability of the country.
In recent years, the rivalry between Saudi Arabia and Iran has had the greatest impact on Lebanon’s politics and economy, but Western powers have not improved the situation either. Indeed, the West has continuously supported Lebanon’s toxic political establishment since its founding.