With the assassination of Pierre Gemayel, Lebanon hardly heads into civil war. Iran wouldn’t want that. Iran means to manipulate itself into the position of a respectable regional hegemon, not a terrorist state that jump-starts civil wars abroad. Young Assad is smart but so far has not demonstrated his father’s reckless attitude that underpinned Syrian involvement in Lebanon. He wants rapprochement with the West, and a guerrilla war would impede his policy of whitewashing Syria. Israel abandoned the South Lebanon Army and would hardly bankroll a Christian army now. Hezbollah expects to take the state over democratically and doesn’t want a civil war that would derail its plans for governing Lebanon legally. Christians accept Hezbollah, especially when it distributes Iranian money.

Israel must partition Lebanon with Syria, and set up a Christian state between them. Alternatively, the West could pour enough money into Lebanon through the existing government to bribe voters away from Iran and Hezbollah. Otherwise, Lebanon is going to become a shia state or slip into another civil war.