Michael Totten hazards a guess:
Lebanon is an interesting case and could be held up as a partial example for post-Assad Syria. It has never been unified. It never had a homegrown dictatorship. It never went through a socialist phase. Lebanon never wanted those things, never tried. It has a weak central state by design. That way, no one group can seize power and rule over the others. If anyone does seize power like Hezbollah recently did, it hardly makes any difference because the state’s teeth are so few and so small. Aside from Lebanon’s foreign policy shift, hardly anything changed after Hezbollah took over the government. Lebanon is still just as freewheeling and decadent as it was before. …
We shouldn’t forget that Syria’s borders were drawn not by Syrians, but by French imperialists.
The Alawites wanted a state of their own north of Lebanon and south of Turkey in the green part of Syria between the Mediterranean and the an-Nusayriyah Mountains. They actually had a semi-autonomous Free Alawite State, complete with their own flag, before the French forced them back into a merger with the inland Sunni Arab region. The Kurds in the north and northeast likewise never wanted to be part of Syria. They wanted, and still want, an independent Kurdistan of their own. If the people of Syria had drawn their own borders, the country would be smaller and more cohesive than it currently is. It has only been held together thus far because it has been ruled by a totalitarian terrorist state.
“Look,” [Lebanon MP Amine Gemayel] said, “you have to understand something. There is no multicultural country in the world that can survive without some kind of a composite state. All multicultural nations are federate states. Belgium, Switzerland, Canada are all federal states. Spain doesn’t like to be called a federal state, but it is in fact a federal state. Multicultural states that don’t go to federalism go to partition like Yugoslavia. It’s very difficult without federalism. You’re asking people who are very different, who have different attachments to the region around them, to rule the country together. It’s impossible.”