For many Lebanese, the nightly news pictures of car bombings and street fighting in Iraq are a disturbing reminder of the 15 years of civil war that devastated their country. Between 1975 and 1990 factions waged a bloody conflict that tore the country apart and killed more than 100,000 people. But today there is relative peace in Lebanon. Things are far from perfect, but infrastructure has been rebuilt, the security situation is stable and there is a functioning government. With a diverse makeup comprising 17 different sects, and a political system that offers more freedom than any other Arab state, some say Lebanon could be a model for the new Iraq. 'If you ask Iraqis in Baghdad what state in the Middle East would be the most suitable model for their country, many mention Lebanon,' said Reinoud Leenders, an analyst with the International Crisis Group. 'Perhaps they perceive Lebanon as a country that is closest to the western system but can still preserve their values,' he said. With security one of the key issues for Iraq's interim government, the post-war stabilisation of Lebanon is an experience Iraq could study. 'One lesson they could learn from Lebanon is on merging militias into the state's army,' said Nizar Hamzeh, a political science professor at the American University of Beirut. Mr Hamzeh said the United States could deal with Moqtada al-Sadr's Mehdi Army militia by incorporating it into the new Iraqi armed forces, giving jobs and status to its poor and disenfranchised members. In Lebanon, members of disbanded militias were often given jobs either in the security services or as civil servants. 'The Americans would also do well to learn from the experience of the Israelis in Lebanon,' Mr Hamzeh said. Israel, Syria and a multinational force led by the US all invaded or intervened in Lebanon at different stages and, apart from Syria, all were forced to beat ignominious retreats after tenacious resistance campaigns by militants. Yet although Lebanon offers some pointers on how Iraq could rebuild itself, it also has lessons on what should be avoided. Mr Leenders, who recently returned from Iraq and is the author of a several reports on the Middle East, warned that Iraq must avoid the kind of rampant corruption and cronyism that plagues Lebanon's bureaucracy. 'You have to make sure the ministries do not become fiefdoms,' he said. Lebanon's government is crippled by infighting among leaders from different sects, something a country with a US$33 billion public debt can ill afford. Mr Leenders said he had seen some similarities in Iraq, and this had hampered reconstruction. 'I think it's very important to safeguard against corruption, abuse of power and waste of resources,' he said. Oil was a key sector that needed to be regulated, he said. 'They should create an institution that manages a large proportion of the oil revenue and is autonomous from the political process ... and isolate it from the daily bickering,' he said.