Pity the poor Lebanese, who, after having lived through a bloody and protracted civil war and equally bloody and protracted invasions by Israel, have then had to cope with the awful violence in neighbouring Syria. With 1.5 million Syrian refugees joining the already significant number of Palestinian refugees in Lebanon, the country's infrastructure and economy have been put under severe pressure. Damage to the social fabric is also evident: the number of people needing support has drained Lebanese patience and pockets, leading to growing resentment. Hezbollah's involvement in the Syrian war, fighting on the government side, has also polarised the country: many Lebanese are understandably antagonistic to the Assad regime after so many years of Syrian occupation.
The country's political system has been in disarray and was briefly pushed into the international news cycle by the odd incident in late 2017 when Prime Minister Saad Hariri unexpectedly resigned after travelling to Saudi Arabia. Weeks later, when he finally returned to Beirut, Hariri agreed to stay on, at least for now. With other international interests pulling the political strings in Lebanon, the machinery of the government is regularly paralysed, and constant wrangling in the highly factionalised national parliament has left it basically dysfunctional. At time of research, there had been no elections in eight years, but things seem to be looking up slightly, with a decent chance of elections in 2018.