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Home > History of Lebanon > Today

Introduction | Phoenicia | Greek & Roman Periods | Arab Period | Ottoman Rule
French Mendate | Independence | Civil War | Today | Chronology of Key Events

Postwar Reconstruction

Since the end of the war, the Lebanese have conducted several elections, most of the militias have been weakened or disbanded, and the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) have extended central government authority over about two-thirds of the country. Only the Islamist Shi'a party Hizballah retains its weapons.

Postwar social and political instability, fueled by economic uncertainty and the collapse of the Lebanese currency, led to the resignation of Prime Minister Omar Karami, also in May 1992, after less than 2 years in office. He was replaced by former Prime Minister Rashid al Sulh, who was widely viewed as a caretaker to oversee Lebanon's first parliamentary elections in 20 years.

 

Today

1. Postwar Reconstruction
2. Syrian Military Presence
3. Amendments to the Constitution
4. Assassination of Hariri in 2005
5. Withdrawal of Syrian Troops
6. Amnesty for Samir Geagea
7. Investigations
8. Border Tension
9. 2006 Israel-Lebanon conflict
10. 2007 Lebanon conflict
11. 2008 Update
12. Latest Update

By early November 1992, a new parliament had been elected, and Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri had formed a cabinet, retaining for himself the finance portfolio. The formation of a government headed by a successful billionaire businessman was widely seen as a sign that Lebanon would make a priority of rebuilding the country and reviving the economy. Solidere, a private real estate company set up to rebuild downtown Beirut, was a symbol of Hariri's strategy to link economic recovery to private sector investment. After the election of then-commander of the Lebanese Armed Forces Emile Lahoud in 1998 following Hrawi's extended term as President, Salim al-Hoss again served as Prime Minister. Hariri returned to office as Prime Minister in November 2000. Although problems with basic infrastructure and government services persist, and Lebanon is now highly indebted, much of the civil war damage has been repaired throughout the country, and many foreign investors and tourists have returned.

If Lebanon has in part recovered over the past decade from the catastrophic damage to infrastructure of its long civil war, the social and political divisions that gave rise to and sustained that conflict remain largely unresolved. Parliamentary and more recently municipal elections have been held with fewer irregularities and more popular participation than in the immediate aftermath of the conflict, and Lebanese civil society generally enjoys significantly more freedoms than elsewhere in the Arab world. However, there are continuing sectarian tensions and unease about Syrian and other external influences.

In the late 1990s, the government took action against Sunni Muslim extremists in the north who had attacked its soldiers, and it continues to move against groups such as Asbat al-Ansar, which has been accused of being partnered with Osama bin Laden's al-Qaida network. On January 24, 2002, Elie Hobeika, another former Lebanese Forces figure associated with the Sabra and Shatilla massacres who later served in three cabinets and the parliament, was assassinated in a car bombing in Beirut.

Syrian Military Presence

During Lebanon's civil war, Syria's troop deployment in Lebanon was legitimized by the Lebanese Parliament in the Taif Agreement, supported by the Arab League, and is given a major share of the credit for finally bringing the civil war to an end in October of 1990. In the ensuing fifteen years, Damascus and Beirut justified Syria's continued military presence in Lebanon by citing the continued weakness of a Lebanese armed forces faced with both internal and external security threats, and the agreement with the Lebanese Government to implement all of the constitutional reforms in the Taif Agreement. Under Taif, the Hezbollah militia was eventually to be dismantled, and the LAF allowed to deploy along the border with Israel. Lebanon was called on to deploy along its southern border by UN Security Council Resolution 1391, urged to do so by UN Resolution UN Security Council Resolution 1496, and deployment was demanded by UN Security Council Resolution 1559. The Syrian military and intelligence presence in Lebanon was classified by some critics in Lebanon and abroad as an occupation, others believed it helped to prevent renewed civil war and discourage Israeli aggression, and others believed its presence and influence was helpful for Lebanese stability and peace but should be scaled back. Major powers United States and France rejected Syrian reasoning that they were in Lebanon by the consent of the Lebanese government. They insist that the latter had been co-opted and that in fact Lebanon's Government was a Syrian puppet.

Up to 2005, 14-15,000 Syrian troops (down from 35,000) remained in position in many areas of Lebanon, although the Taif called for an agreement between the Syrian and Lebanese Governments by September 1992 on their redeployment to Lebanon's Bekaa Valley. Syria's refusal to exit Lebanon following Israel's 2000 withdrawal from south Lebanon first raised criticism among the Lebanese Maronite Christians and Druze, who were later joined by many of Lebanon's Sunni Muslims. Lebanon's Shiites, on the other hand, have long supported the Syrian presence, as has the Hezbollah militia group and political party. The U.S. began applying pressure on Syria to end its occupation and cease interfering with internal Lebanese matters. In 2004, many believe Syria pressured Lebanese MPs to back a constitutional amendment to revise term limitations and allow Lebanon's two term pro-Syrian president Emile Lahoud to run for a third time. France, Germany and the United Kingdom, along with many Lebanese politicians joined the U.S. in denouncing alleged Syria's interference. On September 2, 2004, the UN Security Council adopted UN Security Council Resolution 1559, authored by France and the U.S. in an uncommon show of cooperation. The resolution called "upon all remaining foreign forces to withdraw from Lebanon" and "for the disbanding and disarmament of all Lebanese and non-Lebanese militias".

On May 22, 2000, Israel completed its withdrawal from the south of Lebanon in accordance with UN Security Council Resolution 425. A 50 square kilometer piece of disputed mountain terrain, commonly referred to as the Shebaa Farms, remains under the control of Israel. The UN has certified Israel's pullout, and regards the Shebaa Farms as occupied Syrian territory, while Lebanon and Syria have stated they regard the area as Lebanese territory. The January 20, 2005, UN Secretary-General's report on Lebanon stated: "The continually asserted position of the Government of Lebanon that the Blue Line is not valid in the Shab'a farms area is not compatible with Security Council resolutions. The Council has recognized the Blue Line as valid for purposes of confirming Israel's withdrawal pursuant to resolution 425 (1978). The Government of Lebanon should heed the Council's repeated calls for the parties to respect the Blue Line in its entirety."

In Resolution 425, the UN had set a goal of assisting the Lebanese government in a "return of its effective authority in the area", which would require an official Lebanese army presence there. Further, UN Security Council Resolution 1559 requires the dismantling of the Hezbollah militia. Yet, Hezbollah remains deployed along the Blue Line. Both Hezbollah and Israel have violated the Blue Line more than once, according to the UN. The most common pattern of violence have been border incursions by the Hezbollah into the Shebaa Farms area, and then Israeli air strikes into southern Lebanon. The UN Secretary-General has urged "all governments that have influence on Hezbollah to deter it from any further actions which could increase the tension in the area". Staffan de Misura, Personal Representative of the Secretary-General for Southern Lebanon stated that he was "deeply concerned that air violations by Israel across the Blue Line during altercations with Hezbollah are continuing to take place", calling "upon the Israeli authorities to cease such violations and to fully respect the Blue Line". In 2001 de Misura similarly expressed his concern to Lebanon's prime minister for allowing Hezbollah to violate the Blue Line, saying it was a "clear infringement" of UN Resolution 425, under which the UN certified Israel's withdrawal from south Lebanon as complete. On January 28, 2005, UN Security Council Resolution 1583 called upon the Government of Lebanon to fully extend and exercise its sole and effective authority throughout the south, including through the deployment of sufficient numbers of Lebanese armed and security forces, to ensure a calm environment throughout the area, including along the Blue Line, and to exert control over the use of force on its territory and from it. On January 23, 2006 The UN Security Council called on the Government of Lebanon to make more progress in controlling its territory and disbanding militias, while also calling on Syria to cooperate with those efforts. In a statement read out by its January President, Augustine Mahiga of Tanzania, the Council also called on Syria to take measures to stop movements of arms and personnel into Lebanon.

2004 Amendments to the Constitution

On September 3, 2004, the National Assembly voted 9629 to amend the constitution to allow the pro-Syrian president, Emile Lahoud, three more years in office by extending a statute of limitations to nine years. Many regarded this as a second time Syria had pressured Lebanon's Parliament to amend the constitution in a way that favored Lahoud (the first allowing for his election in 1998 immediately after he had resigned as commander-in-chief of the LAF.)citation needed Three cabinet ministers were absent from the vote and later resigned. The USA charged that Syria exercised pressure against the National Assembly to amend the constitution, and many of the Lebanese rejected it, saying that it was considered as contradictive to the constitution and its principles.citation needed Including these is the Maronite Patriarch Mar Nasrallah Boutros Sfeir the most eminent religious figure for Maronites and the Druze leader Walid Jumblatt.

To the surprise of many, Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri, who had vehemently opposed this amendment, appeared to have finally accepted it, and so did most of his party. However, he ended up resigning in protest against the amendment. He was assassinated soon afterwards (see below), triggering the Cedar Revolution. This amendment comes in discordance with the UN Security Council Resolution 1559, which called for a new presidential election in Lebanon.

On October 1, 2004, one of the main dissenting voices to Emile Lahoud's term extension, the newly resigned Druze ex-minister Marwan Hamadeh was the target of a car bomb attack as his vehicle slowed to enter his Beirut home. Mr. Hamadeh and his bodyguard were wounded and his driver killed in the attack. Druze leader Walid Jumblatt appealed for calm, but said the car bomb was a clear message for the opposition.citation needed UN Secretary General Kofi Annan expressed his serious concern over the attack.

On October 7, 2004, UN Secretary General Kofi Annan reported to the Security Council that Syria had failed to withdraw its forces from Lebanon. Mr. Annan concluded his report saying that "It is time, 14 years after the end of hostilities and four years after the Israeli withdrawal from Lebanon, for all parties concerned to set aside the remaining vestiges of the past. The withdrawal of foreign forces and the disbandment and disarmament of militias would, with finality, end that sad chapter of Lebanese history.".

On October 19, 2004, following the UN Secretary General's report, the UN Security Council voted unanimously (meaning that it received the backing of Algeria, the only Arab member of the Security Council) to put out a statement calling on Syria to pull its troops out of Lebanon, in accordance with Resolution 1559.

Assassination of Hariri in 2005

On October 20, 2004, Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri resigned; the next day former Prime Minister and loyal supporter of Syria Omar Karami was appointed Prime Minister. On February 14, 2005, former Prime Minister Hariri was assassinated in a car-bomb attack which killed 16 and wounded 100. This was a second car-bomb assassination of a Lebanese Parliament member that opposed Syria in a four month period. On February 21 2005, tens of thousand Lebanese protestors held a rally at the site of the assassination calling for an end of Syrian occupation and blaming Syria and the pro-Syrian president Lahoud for the murder.

Hariri's murder triggered increased international pressure on Syria. In a joint statement U.S. President Bush and French president Chirac condemned the killing and called for full implementation of UNSCR 1559. UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan announced that he is sending a team led by Ireland's deputy police commissioner, Peter Fitzgerald, to investigate the assassination. And while Arab League head Amr Moussa declared that Syrian president Assad promised him a phased withdrawal over a two year period, the Syrian Information Minister Mahdi Dakhlallah said Mr Moussa had misunderstood the Syrian leader. Mr Dakhlallah said that Syria will merely move its troops to eastern Lebanon.

Local Lebanese pressure mounted as well. As daily protests against the Syrian occupation grew to 25,000, a series of dramatic events occurred. Massive protests such as these have been quite uncommon in the Arab world, and while in the 90s most anti-Syrian demonstrators were predominantly Christian (and put down by force), the new demonstrations were distinctly non-sectarian. On February 28 the government of pro-Syrian Prime Minister Omar Karami resigned, calling for a new election to take place. Mr Karami said in his announcement: "I am keen the government will not be a hurdle in front of those who want the good for this country." The tens of thousands gathered at Beirut's Martyrs' Square cheered the announcement, then chanted "Karami has fallen, your turn will come, Lahoud, and yours, Bashar". Opposition MPs were also not satisfied with Karami's resignation, and kept pressing for full Syrian withdrawal. Former minister and MP Marwan Hamadeh, who survived a similar car bomb attack on October 1, 2004, said "I accuse this government of incitement, negligence and shortcomings at the least, and of covering up its planning at the most... if not executing". Two days later Syrian leader Bashar Assad announced that his troops will leave Lebanon completely "in the next few months". Responding to the announcement, opposition leader Walid Jumblatt said that he wanted to hear more specifics from Damascus about any withdrawal: "It's a nice gesture but 'next few months' is quite vague we need a clear-cut timetable".

On March 3 Russia, Syria's Cold War ally, and Germany had joined those calling for Syria to comply with UNSCR 1559. German Chancellor Gerhard Schrder said: "Lebanon should be given an opportunity for sovereignty and development and this can only be achieved by complying with Security Council resolutions that stipulate immediate Syrian withdrawal from Lebanon.". The Russian Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov, stated that "Syria should withdraw from Lebanon, but we all have to make sure that this withdrawal does not violate the very fragile balance which we still have in Lebanon, which is a very difficult country ethnically".

Arab states have also joined in with the withdrawal demands. As Al-Assad arrived in Saudi Arabia for emergency consultation with Crown Prince Abdullah bin Abdel-Aziz, Assad was told in no uncertain terms that Syria must comply with UN Security Council demands immediately. It was reported that Assad offered to remove most of the 15,000 troops Syria has stationed in Lebanon during the talks, but insisted on leaving a force of 3,000 in the country. The Saudis also rejected a Syrian plea that an Arab summit, due to take place on March 23 in Algeria, should officially ask Syria to withdraw, giving the pullback an Arab endorsement as envisaged in the 1989 Taif Agreement, rather than making it conditional on UNSCR 1559. Algerian Foreign Minister Abdel-Aziz Belkhadem discussed the consensus ahead of the summit, stating that "we all agreed to demand the implementation of the Taif Accord with respect to international legitimacy."

On March 5 Syrian leader Assad declared in a televised speech that Syria would withdraw its forces to the Bekaa valley in eastern Lebanon, and then to the border between Syria and Lebanon. Assad did not provide a timetable for a complete withdrawal of Syrian forces from Lebanon 14,000 soldiers and intelligence agents. Meanwhile, Hezbollah leader Nasrallah called for a "massive popular gathering" on Tuesday against UN Resolution 1559 saying "The resistance will not give up its arms ... because Lebanon needs the resistance to defend it", and added "all the articles of UN resolution give free services to the Israeli enemy who should have been made accountable for his crimes and now finds that he is being rewarded for his crimes and achieves all its demands". In opposition to Nasrallah's call, Monday, March 7th saw at least 70,000 people with some estimates putting the number at twice as high gathered at central Martyrs' Square to demand that Syria leave completely.

The following day a pro-Syrian demonstration set a new record when Hezbollah amassed 400500 thousand protestors at Riad Solh square in Beirut, most of them bussed in from the heavily Shi'ite south Lebanon and eastern Beka'a valley. The show of power demonstrated Hezbollah's influence, wealth and organization as the sole Lebanese party allowed to hold a militia by Syria. In his speech Nasrallah blasted UN Security-Council Resolution 1559, which calls for Hezbollah's militia to be disbanded, as foreign intervention. Nasrallah also reiterated his earlier calls for the destruction of Israel saying "To this enemy we say again: There is no place for you here and there is no life for you among us. Death to Israel!". Though Hezbollah organized a very successful rally, opposition leaders were quick to point out that Hezbollah had active support from Lebanon's government and Syria. While the pro-democracy rallies had to deal with road blocks forcing protestors to either turn back or march long distances to Martyr's Square, Hezbollah was able to bus people directly to Riad Solh square. Dory Chamoun, an opposition leader, pointed out that "the difference is that in our demonstrations, people arrive voluntarily and on foot, not in buses". Another opposition member said the pro-Syrian government pressured people to turn out and some reports said Syria had bused in people from across the border. But on a mountain road leading to Beirut, only one bus with a Syrian license plate was spotted in a convoy of pro-Syrian supporters heading to the capital and Hezbollah officials denied the charges. Opposition MP Akram Chehayeb said "That is where the difference between us and them lies: They asked these people to come and they brought them here, whereas the opposition's supporters come here on their own. Our protests are spontaneous. We have a cause. What is theirs?".

After weeks of international and local pressure it appeared that a UN showdown was on its way. A meeting between UN special envoy Terje Roed-Larsen and Syrian leader Assad was scheduled for March 12. Roed-Larsen preceded the meeting by consulting with Egypt, Jordan, Arab League chief Amr Mousa, and Lebanon. Roed-Larsen was expected to deliver an ultimatum to Assad over compliance with UNSCR 1559. This included compliance with honoring Lebanon's sovereignty; not undermining its upcoming legislative elections; providing a complete timeline for a full pullout of troops. A phased withdrawal, or "sequencing" would be accepted, but must be expeditious; providing a timeline for the withdrawal of some 5,000 Syrian intelligence agents in Lebanon; Finally, disarming and dismantling foreign and domestic Syrian-supported militias in Lebanon. Supporting Roed-Larsen's mission, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, speaking after talks with Lebanese opposition leader Walid Jumblatt, said Russia was keeping a close eye on Syrian troop movements and that Syria's intelligence services should also pull out.

One month after Hariri's murder, an enormous anti-Syrian rally gathered at Martyr's Square in Beirut. Multiple news agencies estimated the crowd at between 800,000 and 1 million a show of force for the Sunni, Christian and Druze communities. The rally was double the size of the mostly Shi'ite pro-Syrian one organized by Hezbollah the previous week. When Hariri's sister took a pro-Syrian line saying that Lebanon should "stand by Syria until its land is liberated and it regains its sovereignty on the [Israeli-] occupied Golan Heights" the crowd jeered her. This sentiment was prevalent among the rally participants who opposed Hezbollah's refusal to disarm based on the claim that Lebanese and Syrian interests are linked.

Withdrawal of Syrian Troops

Maj. Gen. Jamil Sayyed, the top Syrian ally in the Lebanese security forces, resigned on Monday, April 25th, just a day before the final Syrian troops pulled out of Lebanon.

On April 26, 2005, the last 250 Syrian troops left Lebanon. During the departure ceremonies, Gen. Ali Habib, Syria's chief of staff, said that Syria's president had decided to recall his troops after the Lebanese army had been "rebuilt on sound national foundations and became capable of protecting the state."

On April 27, 2005 The Lebanese would celebrate their first Free-from-Syria Day in 30 years.

UN forces led by Senegalese Brig. Gen. Mouhamadou Kandji were sent to Lebanon to verify the military withdrawal which was mandated by Security Council resolution 1559.

Following the Syrian withdrawal a series of car bomb assassinations of Lebanese politicians and journalists with the anti-Syrian camp had begun. Over nine such bombings have occurred to date and have triggered condemnations from the UN Security Council and UN Secretary General.

Amnesty for Samir Geagea

Parliament voted for the release of the former Lebanese Forces warlord in the first session since election were held in the spring of 2005. Geagea was the only leader during the civil war to be charged with crimes related to that conflict. With the return of Michel Aoun, the climate was right to try to heal wounds to help unite the country after former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri was assassinated on February 14, 2005. Geagea was released on July 26, 2005 and left immediately for an undisclosed European nation to undergo medical examinations and convalesce.

Hariri Assassination Investigations

Eight months after Syria withdrew from Lebanon under intense domestic and international outrage over the assassination of Lebanese prime minister Rafiq Hariri the UN investigation has yet to be completed. While UN investigator Detlev Mehlis has pointed the finger at Syria's intelligence apparatus in Lebanon he has yet to be allowed full access to Syrian officials who are suspected by the UN International Independent Investigation Commission (UNIIIC) as being behind the assassination. In its latest report UNIIIC said it had "credible information" that Syrian officials had arrested and threatened close relatives of a witness who recanted testimony he had previously given the Commission, and that two Syrian suspects it questioned indicated that all Syrian intelligence documents on Lebanon had been burned. A campaign of bomb attacks against politicians, journalists and even civilian neighborhoods associated with the anti-Syrian camp has provoked much negative attention for Syria in the UN and elsewhere. On December 15, 2005 the UN Security Council extended the mandate of the UNIIIC.

On December 28, 2005 Lebanese newspaper An-Nahar said it had received a statement signed by "The Strugglers for the Unity and Freedom in al-Sham," the group that claimed responsibility for the death of its former editor Gibran Tueni with a car bomb on December 12. The statement said outgoing UNIIIC chairman Mehlis was lucky to escape death and threatened any new chairman with assassination if he too implicated Syria.

On December 30, 2005 Syria's former Vice-President, Abdul Halim Khaddam, said that "Hariri received many threats" from Syria's President Bashar Al-Assad. Prior to Syria's withdrawal from Lebanon Mr Khaddam was in charge of Syria's Lebanon policy and mainly responsible for Syria's abuse of Lebanon's resources. Many believe that Khaddam seized the opportunity to clear his history of corruption and blackmail.

Border Tension

During the Cedar Revolution Hezbollah organized a series of pro-Syrian rallies. Hezbollah became a part of the Lebanese government following the 2005 elections but is at a crossroads regarding UNSCR 1559's call for its militia to be dismantled. On November 21, 2005 Hezbollah launched an attack along the entire border with Israel, the heaviest in the five and a half years since Israel's withdrawal. The barrage was supposed to provide tactical cover for an attempt by a squad of Hezbollah special forces to abduct Israeli troops in the Israeli side of the village of Al-Ghajar. The attacked failed when an ambush by the IDF Paratroopers killed 4 Hezbollah members and scattered the rest. The UN Security Council accused Hezbollah of initiating the hostilities. On December 27, 2005 Katyusha rockets fired from Hezbollah territory smashed into houses in the Israeli village of Kiryat Shmona wounding three people. UN Secretary General Kofi Annan called on the Lebanese Government "to extend its control over all its territory, to exert its monopoly on the use of force, and to put an end to all such attacks". Lebanese Prime Minister Fuad Saniora denounced the attack as "aimed at destabilizing security and diverting attention from efforts exerted to solve the internal issues prevailing in the country". On December 30, 2005 the Lebanese army dismantled two other Katyusha rockets found in the border town of Naqoura, an action suggesting increased vigilance following PM Saniora's angry remarks. In a new statement Saniora also rejected claims by Al-Qaeda that it was responsible for the attack and insisted again that it was a domestic action challenging his government's authority.

2006 Lebanon War

The 2006 Lebanon War, known in Lebanon as the July War and in Israel as the Second Lebanon War, was a 34-day military conflict in Lebanon and northern Israel. The principal parties were Hezbollah paramilitary forces and the Israeli military. The conflict started on 12 July 2006, and continued until a United Nations-brokered ceasefire went into effect on 14 August 2006, though it formally ended on 8 September 2006 when Israel lifted its naval blockade of Lebanon.

The conflict began when Hezbollah militants fired rockets at Israeli border towns as a diversion for an anti-tank missile attack on two armored Humvees patrolling the Israeli side of the border fence. Of the seven Israeli soldiers in the two jeeps, two were wounded, three were killed, and two were kidnaped and taken to Lebanon. Five more were killed in a failed Israeli rescue attempt. Israel responded with massive airstrikes and artillery fire on targets in Lebanon, which damaged Lebanese civilian infrastructure, including Beirut's Rafic Hariri International Airport which Israel said Hezbollah used to import weapons, an air and naval blockade, and a ground invasion of southern Lebanon. Hezbollah then launched more rockets into northern Israel and engaged the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) in guerrilla warfare from hardened positions.

The conflict killed more than a thousand people, most of whom were Lebanese civilians; severely damaged Lebanese infrastructure; and displaced 974,184 Lebanese and 300,000-500,000 Israelis, although most, if not all, were able to return to their homes. After the ceasefire, some parts of Southern Lebanon remained uninhabitable due to unexploded cluster bombs.

On 11 August 2006, the United Nations Security Council unanimously approved UN Resolution 1701 in an effort to end the hostilities. The resolution, which was approved by both Lebanese and Israeli governments the following days, called for disarmament of Hezbollah, for withdrawal of Israel from Lebanon, and for the deployment of Lebanese soldiers and an enlarged United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) force in southern Lebanon. The Lebanese army began deploying in southern Lebanon on 17 August 2006. The blockade was lifted on 8 September 2006. On 1 October 2006, most Israeli troops withdrew from Lebanon, though the last of the troops continued to occupy the border-straddling village of Ghajar. In the time since the enactment of UNSCR 1701 both the Lebanese government and UNIFIL have stated that they will not disarm Hezbollah.

2007 Lebanon Conflict

The 2007 Lebanon conflict began when fighting broke out between Fatah al-Islam, an Islamist militant organization, and the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) on May 20, 2007 in Nahr al-Bared, an UNRWA Palestinian refugee camp near Tripoli. It was the most severe internal fighting since Lebanon's 197590 civil war. The conflict evolved mostly around the Siege of Nahr el-Bared, but minor clashes also occurred in the Ain al-Hilweh refugee camp in southern Lebanon and several terrorist bombings took place in and around Lebanon's capital Beirut. Fighting continued into early September and the LAF declared victory on September 7.

2008 Update

The 2008 fighting in Lebanon began on May 7, after Lebanon's 17-month long political crisis spiraled out of control. The fighting was sparked by a government move to shut down Hezbollah's telecommunication network and remove Beirut Airport's security chief Wafic Shkeir over alleged ties to Hezbollah. Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah said the government's decision to declare the group's military telecommunications network illegal was a "declaration of war" on the organization, and demanded that the government revoke it.

Hezbollah-led opposition fighters seized control of several West Beirut neighborhoods from Future Movement militiamen loyal to the American-backed government, in street battles that left 11 dead and 30 wounded. The opposition-seized areas were then handed over to the Lebanese Army. The army also pledged to resolve the dispute and has reversed the decisions of the government by letting Hezbollah preserve its telecoms network and re-instating the airport's security chief.

Rival Lebanese leaders reached a deal on May 21 to end the 18-month political feud that exploded into fighting and nearly drove the country to a new civil war. It was the worst violence in Beirut since Lebanon's 1975-90 civil war. On May 25, Lebanon's parliament elected General Michel Sleiman as the new president of the country, a post that had been vacant since November. The opposition ended its sit-in which begun on Friday, December 1, 2006 in Beirut.

Since the Agreement there have been frequent minor security incidents between supporters of the opposing factions. Delays in the formation of a national unity government as stipulated in the accord, have raised fears of a further deterioration in the security situation. On June 17, three people were killed in clashes betwen pro- and anti-government residents in two villages in the Bekaa Valley, in eastern Lebanon, according to a Lebanese military official. On June 22 and June 23, at least nine people, eight civilians and a policeman, were killed and 55 others were wounded in Tripoli, in clashes between pro-government Sunnis based in the Bab el-Tabaneh district and pro-Syrian Alawites from Jabal Mohsen. Machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades were used in the clashes, which started around four in the morning. Also on June 22, a senior officer of the Islamist group Jund al-Sham, Imad Yassin, was wounded by a bomb, along with another Islamist, in the Palestinian refugee camp Ain al-Hilweh. Between July 25 and July 26, fierce sectarian clashes raged in the northern Lebanese port city of Tripoli, killing nine people including a boy. Militants from the rival Sunni Muslim and Alawite communities fought each other with rocket-propelled grenades and automatic weapons.

Latest Update

For the latest information up to 2012, check out the chronology of key Events.

Last Updated: November 2010
Source: Federal Research Division of the Library of Congress and Wikipedia.

Introduction | Phoenicia | Greek & Roman Periods | Arab Period | Ottoman Rule
French Mendate | Independence | Civil War | Today | Chronology of Key Events


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