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Lebanese Civil War
Date 13 April 1975 – 13 October, 1990
Location Lebanon
Result
  • An estimated 130,000–250,000 people killed (some report the number much higher),
  • 1,000,000 wounded (half of whom were left with lifetime disability)
  • billions of dollars of damage, collapse of the economy
  • complete destruction of central Beirut
  • Presence of a multitude of foreign troops, foreign occupation and invasion.
  • Stabilization of Syria as the superior power in Lebanon. see the Syrian occupation of Lebanon
  • Israeli occupation resulted in the creation of Hezbollah.
  • The Taif Agreement.
Belligerents
Lebanon Lebanese Front/Lebanese Forces
Syria Syria (before 1978)
Israel Israel
South Lebanon Army
Lebanon LNM
Palestinian territories PLO
Syria Syria (After 1978)
Commanders
LebanonBachir Gemayel
LebanonSamir Geagea
Lebanon Michel Aoun
IsraelAriel Sharon
Saad Haddad
LebanonKamal Jumblatt
Flag of the Amal Movement.svg Musa al-Sadr
Palestinian territoriesYasser Arafat
Lebanese Civil War (Phase I)
Date 1975–1977
Location Lebanon
Result ADF-enforced ceasefire
De facto Syrian control over Lebanon.
Lebanese Civil War (Phase II)
Date 1977–1982
Location Lebanon
Result PLO departure from Beirut, 2nd invasion of Lebanon by Israel, Israeli occupation of South Lebanon, Hezbollah is created due to invasion.
Lebanese Civil War (Phase III)
Date 1982–1983
Location Lebanon
Result 17 May Agreement
Lebanese Civil War (Phase IV)
Date 1984–1990
Location Lebanon
Result Taif Agreement

The Lebanese Civil War (Arabic: الحرب الأهلية اللبنانية‎) was a multifaceted civil war in Lebanon. The war lasted from 1975 to 1990 and resulted in an estimated 130,000 to 250,000 civilian fatalities. Another one million people (one third of the population) were wounded, half of whom were left with lifetime disabilities.

There is no consensus among scholars and researchers on what triggered the Lebanese Civil War. The antecedents of the war can be traced back to the conflicts and political compromises reached after the end of Lebanon's administration by the Ottoman Empire. The Cold War had a powerful disintegrative effect on Lebanon, which was closely linked to the polarization that preceded the 1958 crisis as well as the heightening tension that preceded the collapse of 1975. Regional polarization had a more important visible effect on Lebanon than did global polarization. The establishment of the state of Israel and the displacement of a hundred thousand Palestinian refugees to Lebanon (around 10% of the total population of the country) changed the demographics of Lebanon and provided a foundation for the long-term involvement of Lebanon in regional conflicts.

The involvement of Syria, Israel, the United States and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) exacerbated the conflict. After a short break in the fighting in 1976 due to Arab League mediation and Syrian intervention, Palestinian-Lebanese strife continued, with fighting primarily focused in south Lebanon, occupied first by the PLO, then by Israel. During the course of the fighting, alliances shifted rapidly and unpredictably. By the end of the war, nearly every party had allied with and subsequently betrayed every other party at least once. The 1980s were especially bleak: much of Beirut lay in ruins as a result of the 1976 Karantina massacre carried out by Lebanese Christian militias, the Syrian Army shelling of Christian neighborhoods in 1978 and 1981, and the Israeli invasion that evicted the PLO from the country.

A number of atrocities and terrorist acts were committed by the Lebanese Christian Phalange as well as Palestinians and the Israel Defence Forces, all of whom participated in the war. These included the Damour massacre in which Palestinians massacred Christian inhabitants of the coastal town 20 miles south of Beirut, and the Sabra and Chatila massacre where Christian Phalange forces, with protection and support from the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF), massacred civilians and refugees over three days, while the camps were under Phalange control. The war deteriorated ever further into sectarian carnage, and in the end Lebanon's effective independence counted among the casualties.

The 1967 War and the subsequent years of conflict between Israeli and Palestinian commandos in Lebanon devastated the south of the country, depleted the resources of the state, and the lack of concern by the Lebanese government in the south completely polarized the Lebanese body politic. The 1973 War opened the doors for a separate Egyptian-Israeli peace which only heightened tensions between Israel and Syria. This led to a race for influence and strategic advantage along Israel's eastern front of which Lebanon was a part, with both Syrian and Israeli armies maneuvering freely in the country. Conflicts between Syria and Israel were played out in Lebanon, directly as well as through proxies, as were conflicts between Syria and the PLO, Syria and Egypt, and Syria and Iraq. In other words, the Cold War set the stage for general world confrontation; in a country like Lebanon where the population was basically divided, where the two superpowers and their clients enjoyed strong influence, and where the state was weak, global tensions could only too easily lead to internal war.[1]

The strike of fishermen at Sidon in February 1975 could also be considered the first important episode that set off the outbreak of hostilities. That event involved a specific issue: the attempt of former President Camille Chamoun (also head of the Maronite-oriented National Liberal Party) to monopolize fishing along the coast of Lebanon. The injustices perceived by the fishermen evoked sympathy from many Lebanese and reinforced the resentment and antipathy that were widely felt against the state and the economic monopolies. The demonstrations against the fishing company were quickly transformed into a political action supported by the political left and their allies in the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO). The state tried to suppress the demonstrators, and a government sniper reportedly killed a popular figure in the city, the Mayor of Sidon, Maroof Saad, who was known for his opposition to the government and his support for the Palestinians. The events in Sidon were not contained for long. The government began to lose control of the situation in 1975. On the morning of 13 April, 1975, Palestinian gunmen in a speeding car fired on a church in the Christian East Beirut suburb of Ain El Rummaneh, killing four people, including two Maronite Phalangists. That same day the situation escalated when a bus carrying Palestinians was ambushed by gunmen belonging to the Phalange party. The party claimed that earlier its headquarters had been targeted by unknown gunmen. The attack against the bus in Ain El Rummaneh marked the official beginning of the Lebanese Civil War. Initially, the war pitted Maronite-oriented right-wing militias (most notably the Phalange party and the National Liberal party) against leftist and Muslim-oriented militias (grouped together in the Lebanese National Movement) supported by the PLO. The eruption of military hostilities produced a heated political debate on whether the army of Lebanon, led by a right-wing Maronite commander, should be deployed to end the fighting.

Contents

Prelude

Phoenician ship.jpg

This article is part of the series on:

History of Lebanon

Ancient History
Phoenicia
Ancient history of Lebanon
Post Phoenicia Era
Assyrian Rule
Babylonian Rule
Persian Rule
Hellenistic Rule
Roman Rule
Byzantine Rule
Arab Era
Ottoman Rule
French Rule
Modern Lebanon
1958 Lebanon crisis
Lebanese Civil War
1982 Lebanon War
Syrian presence in Lebanon
2005 Lebanon bombings
Cedar Revolution
2006 Lebanon War
2006-8 political protests
2007 North Lebanon conflict
2008 conflict in Lebanon
Topical
Military history
Economic history
Timeline of Lebanese history

Historical context

Christian refugees during the 1860 strife between Druze and Maronites in Lebanon.

In 1860 foreign interests transformed sociopolitical struggles into bitter religious conflicts. A civil war between Druze and Christians erupted in Lebanon and resulted in the death of about 10,000 people. The commission members agreed that the partition of Mount Lebanon in 1842 between the Druze and the Christians had been responsible for the massacre.

In 1918 the Ottoman rule in Lebanon and Syria ended. These were hard times for the Lebanese; while the rest of the world was occupied with the World War, the people in Lebanon were suffering from a famine that would last nearly 4 years. The outbreak of World War I in August 1914 brought Lebanon further problems, as Ottoman Empire allied itself with Germany and Austria Hungary . The Ottoman government abolished Lebanon's semi autonomous status and appointed Djemal Pasha, then minister of the navy, as the commander in chief of the Turkish forces in Syria, with discretionary powers. Known for his harshness, he militarily occupied Lebanon and replaced the Armenian mutasarrif, Ohannes Pasha, with a Turk, Munif Pasha.

In February 1915, frustrated by his unsuccessful attack on the British forces protecting the Suez Canal, Jamal Pasha initiated a blockade of the entire eastern Mediterranean coast to prevent supplies from reaching his enemies and indirectly caused thousands of deaths from widespread famine and plagues. Lebanon suffered as much as, or more than, any other Ottoman province. The blockade deprived the country of its tourists and summer visitors, and remittances from relatives and friends were lost or delayed for months. The Turkish Army cut down trees for wood to fuel trains or for military purposes. In 1916 Turkish authorities publicly executed twenty-one Syrians and Lebanese in Damascus and Beirut, respectively, for alleged anti-Turkish activities (see: Arab Revolt). The date, 6 May, is commemorated annually in both countries as Martyrs' Day, and the site in Beirut has come to be known as Martyrs' Square.[2]

1926 Lebanon was declared a republic, and a constitution was adopted. However in 1932 the constitution was suspended due to upheaval, as some factions demanded unity with Syria, whilst a larger number demanded independence from the French.[3] In 1934, the country's first and, to date, last census was conducted.

In 1936 the Christian Phalange party was founded by Pierre Gemayel.

Lebanon was promised independence and on 22 November 1943 it was achieved. French troops, who had invaded Lebanon in 1941 to rid Beirut of the Vichy forces, left the country in 1946. The Christians assumed power over the country and economy. A confessional parliament was created, where Muslims and Christians were given quotas of seats in parliament. As well, the President was to be a Christian, the Prime Minister a Sunni Muslim and the Speaker of Parliament a Shia Muslim.

Series of events

In 1948 an influx of Palestinian refugees arrived in Lebanon during the Palestinian abscondence. Palestinians came to play an important role in future Lebanese civil conflicts, whilst the establishment of Israel radically changed the local environment in which Lebanon found itself.

US Marines on patrol in Beirut, during the 1958 Lebanon conflict

In July 1958, Lebanon was threatened by a civil war between Maronite Christians and Muslims. Tensions with Egypt had escalated earlier in 1956 when the pro-western President, Camille Chamoun, did not break off diplomatic relations with the Western powers that attacked Egypt during the Suez Crisis, angering Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser. These tensions were further increased when Camille Chamoun showed closeness to the Baghdad Pact. Nasser felt that the pro-western Baghdad Pact posed a threat to Arab Nationalism. As a response, Egypt and Syria united into the United Arab Republic. Lebanese Sunni Muslim Prime Minister Rashid Karami supported Nasser in 1956 and 1958. Lebanese Muslims pushed the government to join the newly created United Arab Republic, while the Christians wanted to keep Lebanon aligned with Western Powers. President Camille feared the toppling of his government and asked for U.S intervention. At the time the U.S was committed to fighting the war against "communism". Chamoun asked for assistance proclaiming that communism was going to overthrow his government. During this time the Phalange Party was able to further its growing power by means of its militia. In that year, when President Chamoun was unable to convince the army commander, Fouad Shihab, to use the armed forces against Muslim demonstrators, the Phalange militia came to his aid. Encouraged by its efforts during this conflict, later that year, principally through violence and the success of general strikes in Beirut, the Phalange achieved what journalists dubbed the "counterrevolution." By their actions the Phalangists brought down the government of Prime Minister Karami and secured for their leader, Jumayyil, a position in the four-man cabinet that was subsequently formed.

By this year the Phalange's membership had grown to almost 40,000 men, its rival the Syrian Social Nationalist Party (SSNP), had a membership of only 25,000. From 1959 through 1968 the Phalange placed 61 percent of its candidates in office. Moreover, by the start of the disturbances in 1975, the party's rolls may have included as many as 65,000 members, including a militia approaching 10,000 men.[4]

During the 1960s Lebanon was relatively calm, but this would soon change. Fatah and other Palestinian Liberation Organization factions had long been active among the 400,000 Palestinian refugees in Lebanese camps. Through the 1960s the center for armed Palestinian activities had been in Jordan, after being evicted from Jordan by the King, they came to Lebanon. When they arrived they created a "a State within the State". This action wasn't welcomed by the Lebanese government nor the majority of the Lebanese people. Nonetheless this shook Lebanon's fragile sectarian climate. Solidarity to the Palestinians was expressed through the Lebanese Sunni Muslims but with the aim to change the system in a limited manner while the left-wing Lebanese National Movement aimed to demolish the sect-based system. The PLO eventually transformed the Western Part of Beirut into its stronghold.

1 January 1965 - Fatah, using the name al-‘Asifa (The Storm) to avoid punitive measures from Arab States, attempted to launch first guerrilla operations against an Israeli pumping station from Lebanese border (31 Dec. 1964) and water canal (South of Lake Tiberias, 1 Jan.)- both unsuccessful, but highly publicized by both Fatah and Israel; subsequent attacks from Syria, Jordan and Lebanon border area by the Palestinian guerrillas, as well as Gaza Strip.

There was an economic dispute between Muslims and Christians in Sidon, involving Muslim fishermen who feared that new fishing consortium run by Chamoun and other Maronites would destroy their livelihood. Maarouf Saad the mayor of Sidon, was fatally wounded in a fishermen's demonstration and in further fighting the Lebanese National Army, largely commanded by the Christians came into conflict with the Muslims and more of the radical PLO guerrilla groups.

Formation of militias

Lebanese Army personnel, Beirut, Lebanon 1982

The influx of Palestinian refugees between 1948 and 1970, the 1950s and 1960s reassertion of pan-Arab nationalism as espoused by Gamal Abdel Nasser of Egypt, the founding of the PLO in 1965, the eviction or squashing of all armed Palestinian resistance movements in Syria, Jordan and Egypt, and the escalating assertion of Palestinian nationalism through armed struggle, unsettled the delicate political and demographic balance of the Lebanese communities. After its bloody eviction from Jordan by King Hussein during "Black September" in 1970, the PLO and all its affiliate movements settled in Beirut and the Lebanese north from which they vowed to continue liberating Palestine, in violation of every agreement made with the Lebanese authorities to regulate the activities of the Palestinian organizations. The Muslim community in Lebanon saw Monastir Palestinian movements (Sunni in their vast majority) as an opportunity to renege on the 1943 National Pact by using the Palestinian weapons to pressure their fellow Christian Lebanese into abrogating the National Pact. The latter is an extra-constitutional unwritten agreement that guarantees the division of power among the three largest communities: The Presidency to the Maronites, the position of Speaker of Parliament to the Shiites, and the Prime Minister to the Sunnis. These and other constitutionally guaranteed distributions of government posts had come under increasing pressure from Muslims, now emboldened by a resurgent pan-Arab nationalism and secular left wing groups acting at the behest of the Soviet-Communist Bloc in the 1960s, leading them to join forces as the Front for Progressive Parties and National Forces in 1969. The Muslim-leftist opposition coalition (later evolved into the Lebanese National Movement) called for the taking of a new census (the last one had been conducted in 1932) and the subsequent drafting of a new governmental structure that would reflect the shifts in the actual population balance. The Christian (especially Maronite) community saw this as an attack on the foundations of the State of Lebanon and a reneging on the National Pact. Furthermore, the Christians did not want to renegotiate the Pact or other rearrangements since they wanted to keep their domination on the Lebanese society.

Lebanese Army APC, Beirut 1982

Both sides were unable to reconcile their conflicts of interest and began forming militias for self-protection. As the situation escalated these militias grew stronger and soon surpassed the regular army. This rapidly undermined the authority of the central government. The government's ability to maintain order was also handicapped by the nature of the Lebanese Army. One of the smallest in the Middle East, it was composed based on a fixed ratio of religions. As members defected to sectarian militias, the army would eventually prove unable to contain the militant groups, rein in the PLO or monitor foreign infiltration. Since the government was Christian-dominated, especially the officers' ranks, trust among Muslims for central institutions, including the army, was low. The disintegration of the Lebanese Army was eventually initiated by Muslim deserters declaring that they would no longer take orders from the Maronite generals.

Major militias

Most militias claimed that they were non-sectarian forces, but in fact they recruited mainly from the community or region of their chiefs.

Throughout the war most or all militias operated with little regard for human rights, and the sectarian character of some battles, made non-combatant civilians a frequent target. As the war dragged on, the militias deteriorated ever further into mafia-style organizations with many commanders turning to crime as their main occupation rather than fighting. Finances for the war effort were obtained in one or all of three ways:

Method Description
Outside support generally from one of the rival Arab governments, Iran or Israel, or a superpower like US, often with strings attached. Alliances would shift frequently.
Preying on the population Extortion, theft, bank robberies and random checkpoints at which "customs" would be collected, were commonplace on all sides. During cease-fires, most militias operated in their home areas as virtual mafia organizations.
Smuggling During the civil war, Lebanon turned into one of the world's largest narcotics producers, with much of the hashish production centered in the Bekaa valley. But much else was also smuggled, such as guns and supplies, all kinds of stolen goods, and regular trade - war or no war, Lebanon would not give up its role as the middleman in European-Arab business. Many battles were fought over Lebanon's ports, to gain smugglers access to the sea routes.

Christian militias

Logo of Kataeb

Christian militias acquired arms from Romania and Bulgaria as well as from West Germany, Belgium and Israel,[5] and drew supporters from the larger Christian population in the north of the country. They were generally right-wing in their political outlook, and all the major Christian militias were Maronite-dominated, and other Christian sects played a secondary role.

The most powerful of the Christian militias was the Kataeb, or Phalanges, under the leadership of Bachir Gemayel. This Militia eventually became a strong ally of Israel due to the civil war. Initially many Muslims welcomed Israel to rid Lebanon of the PLO. The Phalange went on to help found the Lebanese Forces in 1977 which came under the leadership of Samir Geagea in 1986. A smaller faction was the nationalist non-sectarian Guardians of the Cedars. These militias quickly established strongholds in Christian-dominated East Beirut, also the site of many government buildings. In the north, the Marada Brigades served as the private militia of the Franjieh family and Zgharta.

Another mainly Christian Militia was the South Lebanon Army which was controlled by Saad Haddad. This militia was installed in South Lebanon by the Israelis. Their goal was to minimize the U.N peace keeping movement and to attack the PLO.

Also, another notable militia; Noumour (نمور) was the military wing of the National Liberal Party (NLP/ AHRAR) during the Lebanese Civil War. The Tigers formed in Saadiyat in 1968, as Noumour Al Ahrar (Tigers of the Liberals, نمور الأحرار ), under the leadership of Camille Chamoun. The group took its name from his middle name, Nemr - "Tiger". Trained by Naim Berdkan, the unit was led by Chamoun's son Dany Chamoun. After the Lebanese Civil War began in 1975, the Tigers, strong of 3,500 militiamen fought the Lebanese National Movement (LNM) and its Palestinian allies

Shi'a militias

The Shi'a militias were slow to form and join in the fighting. Initially, many Shi'a had sympathy for the Palestinians and a few had been drawn to the Lebanese Communist Party, but after 1970's Black September, there was a sudden influx of armed Palestinians to the Shi'a areas. South Lebanon's population is mainly Shi'a and the Palestinians soon set up base there for their attacks against the Israelis. The Palestinian movement quickly squandered its influence with the Shi'ite, as radical factions ruled by the gun in much of Shi'ite-inhabited southern Lebanon, where the refugee camps happened to be concentrated, and the mainstream PLO proved either unwilling or unable to rein them in.

Flag of Hezbollah

The Palestinian radicals' secularism and behaviour had alienated the traditionalist Shi'ite community, the Shi'a didn't want to pay the price for the PLO's rocket attacks from Southern Lebanon. The PLO created a State within a State in South Lebanon and this instigated a fury among Lebanon's Shi'a who feared a retaliation from the Israelis to their native land in the South. Initially the Shi'a had been sympathetic towards the Palestinians, but when the PLO created chaos in South Lebanon these feelings were reversed. The Shiʿa predominated in the area of southern Lebanon that in the 1960s became an arena for Israel-Palestinian conflict. The state of Lebanon, which always avoided provoking Israel, simply abandoned southern Lebanon. Many of the people there migrated to the suburbs of Beirut which are known as "poverty belts." The young Shi'a migrants, who had not participated in the prosperity of prewar Beirut, joined many Lebanese and some Palestinian organizations. After many years without their own independent political organizations, there suddenly arose Musa Sadr's Amal Movement in 1974-75. The Amal movement was created to expel foreign forces from Lebanese land, solely the PLO at the time. Its moderate Islamist ideology immediately attracted the unrepresented people, and Amal's armed ranks grew rapidly. Amal fought against the PLO in the early days. Later, in the early 1980s, Amal proved to be a strong militia in the face of the Israelis. Amal fighters had delivered the first attack against their Israeli occupiers and succeeded. The Lebanese Shi'a soon proved that the Israelis were not as invincible as everyone thought. Later a hard line faction would break away to join with Shi'a groups fighting Israel to form the organization Hezbollah also known as the National Resistance, who to this day remain the most powerful militia of Lebanon. Hezbollah was created as a faction split from Amal Movement, whereas they became enemies at start. Eventually, they started to fight against Israel. There was a time in the war when the South was occupied by Israel, if anyone wanted to pass out of South Lebanon they had to have their passports stamped by the Israelis with an Israeli stamp. After a 20 year occupation, the Israelis withdrew from South Lebanon, due to an international agreement. Although this was a tactical pull-out, Hezbollah claimed this as a victory.

The Lebanese Alawites, followers of a sect of Shia Islam, were represented by the Red Knights Militia of the Arab Democratic Party, which was pro-Syrian due to the Alawites being dominant in Syria, and mainly acted in Northern Lebanon around Tripoli.

Sunni militias

Some Sunni factions received support from Libya and Iraq, and a number of minor militias existed, the more prominent with Nasserist or otherwise pan-Arab and Arab nationalist leanings, but also a few Islamist ones, such as the Tawhid Movement. The main Sunni-led organization was the al-Murabitun. To compensate for weakness on the battlefield, the Sunni leadership turned early in the war to the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), which was dominated by Palestinian Sunnis, although it also had a Christian (mainly Greek Orthodox) minority.

Druze Progressive Socialist Party

Flag of the Progressive Socialist Party

The small Druze sect, strategically and dangerously seated on the Chouf in central Lebanon, had no natural allies, and so were compelled to put much effort into building alliances. Under the leadership of the Jumblatt family, first Kamal Jumblatt (the LNM leader) and then his son Walid, the Progressive Socialist Party (PSP) served as an effective Druze militia, building excellent ties to the Soviet Union mainly, with Israel upon its invasion of Lebanon and with Syria upon the withdrawal of Israel to the south of the country. However, many Druze in Lebanon at the time were members of the non-religious party, the Syrian Social Nationalist Party. Under Kamal Jumblatt's leadership, the PSP was a major element in the Lebanese National Movement (LNM) which supported Lebanon's Arab identity and sympathised with the Palestinians. Despite Jumblatt's initial reluctance to engage in paramilitarism, it built a powerful private army, which proved to be one of the strongest in the Lebanese Civil War of 1975 to 1990. It conquered much of Mount Lebanon and the Chouf District. Its main adversaries were the Maronite Christian Phalangist militia, and later the Lebanese Forces militia (which absorbed the Phalangists). The PSP suffered a major setback in 1977, when Kamal Jumblatt was assassinated. His son Walid succeeded him as leader of the party. From the Israeli withdrawal from the Chouf in 1983 to the end of the civil war, the PSP ran a highly effective civil administration, the Civil Administration of the Mountain, in the area under its control. Tolls levied at PSP militia checkpoints provided a major source of income for the administration, which succeeded in providing a high standard of social and public services. The PSP played an important role in the so-called "Mountain War" under the lead of Walid Jumblatt: after the Israeli Army retreated from the Lebanese Mountain, important battles took place between the PSP and Christian militias. PSP armed members were accused of several massacres that took place during that war (31 August 1983: 36 civilians in Bmarian, 7 September 1983: 200 Christian civilians killed in Bhamdoun, 10 September 1983: 64 in Bireh, 10 September 1983: 30 in Ras el-Matn, 11 September 1983: 15 in Maasser Beit ed-Dine, 11 September 1983: 36 in Chartoun, 13 September 1983: 84 in Maasser el-Chouf, and many others...). The Progressive Socialist Party (or PSP) (Arabic: الحزب التقدمي الاشتراكي‎, al-hizb al-taqadummi al-ishtiraki) is a political party in Lebanon. Its current leader is Walid Jumblatt. It is ideologically secular and officially non-sectarian, but in practice is led and supported mostly by followers of the Druze faith.

Non-religious groups

Flag of the Syrian Social Nationalist Party

Although several Lebanese militias claimed to be secular, most were little more than vehicles for sectarian interests. Still, there existed a number of non-religious groups, primarily but not exclusively of the left and/or Pan-Arab right.

Examples of this was the Lebanese Communist Party (LCP) and the more radical and independent Communist Action Organization (COA). Another notable example was the Syrian Social Nationalist Party (SSNP), which promoted the concept of Greater Syria, in contrast to Pan-Arab or Lebanese nationalism. The SSNP was generally aligned with the Syrian government [?], although it did not ideologically approve of Hafez al-Assad's Ba'thist regime, and up to this day, it still opposes the Syrian Government's regime and the Syrian regime that was implemented in Lebanon during the Civil War.

Two competing Baath party factions were also involved in the early stages of the war: a nationalist one known as "pro-Iraqi" headed by Abdul-Majeed Al-Rafei (Sunni) and Nicola Y. Firzli (Greek Orthodox Christian), and a Marxist one known as "pro-Syrian" headed by Assem Qanso (Shiite).

Palestinians

PLO logo

The Palestinian movement relocated most of its fighting strength to Lebanon at the end of 1970 after being expelled from Jordan in the events known as Black September. The umbrella organization, the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO)—by itself undoubtedly Lebanon's most potent fighting force at the time—was little more than a loose confederation, and its leader, Yassir Arafat, proved unable to control rival factions. This undermined both the PLO's operative strength and the sympathy of the Lebanese for the PLO, as the organization's image in Lebanon was increasingly marred by radical factions whose "Communist revolutionary order" rarely turned out to be anything other than protection rackets. In the end, the PLO was held together more by shared interests and Arafat's continual attempts at intra-organizational mediation, than by any coherent organizational structure.

The PLO mainstream was represented by Arafat's powerful Fatah, which waged guerrilla warfare and had a socialist doctrine. Among the most important Palestinian combatants were the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), and its splinter, the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP). Lesser roles were played by the fractious Palestinian Liberation Front (PLF) and another split-off from the PFLP, the Syrian-aligned Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine - General Command (PFLP-GC). To complicate things, the Ba'thist systems of Syria and Iraq both set up Palestinian puppet organizations within the PLO. The as-Sa'iqa was a Syrian-controlled militia, paralleled by the Arab Liberation Front (ALF) under Iraqi command. The Syrian government could also count on the Syrian brigades of the Palestinian Liberation Army (PLA), formally but not functionally the PLO's regular army. Some PLA units sent by Egypt were under PLO (Arafatist) control, but never played the same dominant role as the heavily armed Syrian-backed factions.

In 1974, a stone was added to Arafat's burden with the near-formal breakup of the PLO. A controversial proposal (the Ten Point Program) that aimed to make way for a two-state solution had been advanced by Arafat and Fatah in the Palestinian National Council (PNC). Under furious accusations of treason, many of the PLO's hard line anti-Israel factions simply walked out of the organization. With Iraqi, and later Syrian and Libyan, backing, they formed the Rejectionist Front, espousing a no-compromise line towards Israel. The defectors included the PFLP, the PFLP-GC, the PLF, as-Sa'iqa, ALF and several others, and discontent mounted also within Fatah. Arafat would eventually manage to patch up the differences, but this would come back to haunt him throughout the 1970s and early 1980s, and the split effectively prevented organizational unity in crucial stages of PLO's involvement in the Lebanese civil war.

PLO and regional conflict

Arafat in Palestinian refugee camp in Southern Lebanon in 1978

Due to major Arab political pressure, the Cairo Agreement brokered by Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser in 1969, the Lebanese were forced to allow a foreign force (the PLO) to conduct military operations against Israel from inside their own territory. Although initially very reluctant to sign, the Lebanese government saw this accord as its last hope of regaining control of the country whereby it was agreed that attacks would be carried out in co-ordination with the Lebanese army. The PLO were granted full control over the refugee camps, but soon much of southern Lebanon fell under their effective rule and rarely was the accord abided by. As fighters poured in from Jordan after the Black September destruction of the PLO's apparatus there, the PLO's presence became overbearing to many of inhabitants of these areas. The radical factions operated as a law unto themselves, and quickly alienated conservative Shi'a villagers. Much the same way that the PLO had lost its welcome in Jordan, Muslim support for the Palestinians began to erode in Lebanon.

A significant left-wing opposition also started to evolve within Fatah, as radical veteran fighters from Jordan began pouring into its ranks, to the worry of Arafat himself. Still, Arafat set about building a "state-within-the-state" in southern Lebanon, to create a secure base area for the PLO, headquartered in the Bekaa Valley and West Beirut. Gradually the Lebanese authorities were being pushed into irrelevancy. Harsh Israeli retribution after Palestinian raids from what was now termed "Fatahland" did nothing to endear the civilian Shi'a and Christian population to the Palestinian guerrillas.

The PLO was welcomed, however, by the Sunnis - who thought of them as a natural ally in sectarian terms - and by the Druze. A personal friendship developed between Arafat and the charismatic Druze leader Kamal Jumblatt, who not only headed the PSP, but who had also set up a Lebanese National Movement (LNM). Many of the Rejectionist Front organizations joined the leftist LNM straightway, and indeed portions of the Fatah left followed. But Arafat was unwilling to commit the Palestinians to what he regarded as an intra-Lebanese conflict, fearing it would bog the movement down in Lebanon and unnecessarily alienate potential supporters among the Christians and their foreign allies.

First phase

Sectarian violence and civilian massacres

Between 1968 and 1975, there was a gradual buildup in the assertion by Yasser Arafat's PLO of its right to fight Israel from the Lebanese south, in spite of Lebanese sovereignty. A sample of the incidents includes: Palestinian roadblocks in the city of Beirut killing innocent Lebanese civilians; kidnapping by PLO militants of Lebanese gendarmes; kidnapping of Christians and the dumping of the mutilated bodies on roadsides; Syria's backing of the PLO included punishing Lebanon by closing the borders between the two countries, which choked the Lebanese economy; incursions by Palestinian contingents of the Syrian Army such as the Palestine Liberation Army, the Al-Saiqa commandos, the Yarmouk Brigades, etc. into Lebanese territory and carrying out massacres against Christian villages in the north and the east; ineffective attacks by PLO militants against the Israeli north were often met with massive and deadly reprisals by Israel against the civilian population; the assassination of the Israeli ambassador in London led to Israel bombing Beirut Airport and destroying the entire fleet of the Lebanese national air carrier - MEA, Lebanese army air force bombing the Palestinian camps, etc. After these incidents, several accords were signed between the Lebanese State and the PLO (examples: The Cairo Accord of 1969 and the Melkart Accord of 1972), only to be violated by the PLO, then backed by Syria, Libya, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Egypt.

In the spring of 1975, this build-up erupted in an all-out conflict, with the PLO pitted against the Christian Phalange, and the ever-weaker national government wavering between the need to maintain order and catering to its constituency. In March 1975, a demonstration by Lebanese fishermen against a planned fishing company was subverted by the PLO and its Sunni Muslim backers in the city of Sidon. The Lebanese army tried to maintain order, and a clash ensued in which a leading Sunni Muslim politician, Maaruf Saad, was killed. On the morning of Sunday 13 April 1975, unidentified gunmen in a speeding car fired on a church that was being inaugurated in the Christian East Beirut suburb of Ain El Rummaneh with the Phalange leader Pierre Gemayel attending. The shooting killed 4 people including Gemayel's two body guards. Hours later, Phalangists led by Gemayels ambushed a bus carrying Palestinians and killed 27 Palestinians. By the evening of 13 April 1975, citywide clashes had erupted in what became known as "round 1", to be followed by several rounds interspersed with ceasefires and mediation attempts.

On 6 December 1975, a day later known as Black Saturday, the killings of four Christian civilians on a mountain road led the Phalanges to quickly and temporarily set up roadblocks throughout Beirut at which identification cards were inspected for religious affiliation. Many Palestinians or Muslims passing through the roadblocks were killed immediately. Additionally, Phalange members took hostages and attacked Muslims in East Beirut. Pro-Muslim and Palestinian militias retaliated with force, increasing the total death count to between 200 and 600 civilians and militiamen. After this point, all-out fighting began between the militias.

Christian East Beirut was ringed by heavily fortified Palestinian camps from which kidnappings and sniping against Lebanese civilians became a daily routine. Christian East Beirut became besieged by the PLO camps, with severe shortages of food and fuel. This unbearable situation was remedied by the Phalanges and their allied Christian militias as they besieged the Palestinian camps embedded in Christian East Beirut one at a time and brought them down. The first was on 18 January 1976 when the heavily fortified Karantina camp, located near the strategic Beirut Harbor, was sacked during the Karantina massacre: About 1,000 PLO fighters and civilians were killed. The Palestinian PLO and al-Saika forces retaliated by attacking the isolated defenseless Christian town of Damour about 20 miles south of Beirut on the coast, during the Damour massacre in which 1,000 Christian civilians were killed and 5,000 were sent fleeing north by boat, since all roads were blocked off. The Maronites retaliated with the Tel al-Zaatar massacre that same year. These massacres prompted a mass exodus of Muslims and Christians, as people fearing retribution fled to areas under the control of their own sect. The ethnic and religious layout of the residential areas of the capital encouraged this process, and East and West Beirut were increasingly transformed into an effective Christian and Muslim Beirut. Also, the number of Christian leftists who had allied with the LNM, and Muslim conservatives with the government, dropped sharply, as the war gradually changed from an essentially Palestinian versus Lebanese confrontation into a more sectarian conflict.

Syrian intervention

Map showing power balance in Lebanon, 1976: Dark green - controlled by Syria, purple - controlled by Christian militias, light green - controlled by Palestinian militias

In June, 1976, with fighting throughout the country and the Maronites on the verge of defeat, President Suleiman Frangieh called for Syria intervention in Lebanon, on the grounds that the port of Beirut would be closed and that is how Syria received a large portion of their goods. Christian fears had been greatly exacerbated by the Damour massacre, and both sides felt the stakes had been raised above mere political power. Syria responded by ending its prior affiliation with the Palestinian Rejectionist Front and began supporting the Maronite-dominated government. This technically put Syria on the same side as Israel, as Israel had already begun to supply Maronite forces with arms, tanks, and military advisers in May 1976.[6] Syria had its own political and territorial interests in Lebanon, which harbored cells of the Islamists and anti-Ba'thist Muslim Brotherhood, and was also a possible route of attack for Israel.

At the President's request, Syrian troops entered Lebanon, occupying Tripoli and the Bekaa Valley, easily brushing aside the LNM and Palestinian defenses. A cease-fire was imposed,[7] but it ultimately failed to stop the conflict, so Syria added to the pressure. With Damascus supplying arms, Christian forces managed to break through the defenses of the Tel al-Zaatar refugee camp in East Beirut, which had long been under siege. A massacre of about 2,000 Palestinians followed, which unleashed heavy criticism against Syria from the Arab world.

On 19 October 1976, the Battle of Aishiya took place, when a combined force of PLO and a Communist militia attacked Aishiya, an isolated Christian village in a mostly Muslim area. The Artillery Corps of the Israel Defence Forces fired 24 shells (66 kilograms of TNT each) from US-made 175-millimeter field artillery units at the attackers, repelling their first attempt. However, the PLO and Communists returned at night, when low visibility made Israeli artillery far less effective. The Christian population of the village fled. They returned in 1982.

In October 1976, Syria accepted the proposal of the Arab League summit in Riyadh. This gave Syria a mandate to keep 40,000 troops in Lebanon as the bulk of an Arab Deterrent Force charged with disentangling the combatants and restoring calm. Other Arab nations were also part of the ADF, but they lost interest relatively soon, and Syria was again left in sole control, now with the ADF as a diplomatic shield against international criticism. The Civil War was officially ended at this point, and an uneasy quiet settled over Beirut and most of the rest of Lebanon. In the south, however, the climate began to deteriorate as a consequence of the gradual return of PLO combatants, who had been required to vacate central Lebanon under the terms of the Riyadh Accords.

Uneasy quiet

Green Line, Beirut 1982

The nation was now effectively divided, with southern Lebanon and the western half of Beirut becoming bases for the PLO and Muslim-based militias, and the Christians in control of East Beirut and the Christian section of Mount Lebanon. The main confrontation line in divided Beirut was known as the Green Line.

In East Beirut, in 1977, Christian leaders of the National Liberal Party (NLP), the Kataeb Party and the Lebanese Renewal Party joined in the Lebanese Front, a political counterpart to the LNM. Their militias - the Tigers, Phalange and Guardians of the Cedars - entered a loose coalition known as the Lebanese Forces, to form a military wing for the Lebanese Front. From the very beginning, the Kataeb and Phalange, under the leadership of Bashir Gemayel, dominated the LF. Through absorbing or destroying smaller militias, he both consolidated control and strengthened the LF into the dominant Christian force.

In March the same year, Lebanese National Movement leader Kamal Jumblatt was assassinated. The murder was widely blamed on the Syrian government. While Jumblatt's role as leader of the Druze Progressive Socialist Party was filled surprisingly smoothly by his son, Walid Jumblatt, the LNM disintegrated after his death. Although the anti-government pact of leftists, Shi'a, Sunni, Palestinians and Druze would stick together for some time more, their wildly divergent interests tore at opposition unity. Sensing the opportunity, Hafez al-Assad immediately began splitting up both the Christian and Muslim coalitions in a game of divide and conquer.

Second phase

Israel intervenes in South Lebanon, 1978

Operation Litani

UNIFIL base, 1981

PLO attacks from Lebanon into Israel in 1977 and 1978 escalated tensions between the countries. On 11 March 1978, eleven Fatah fighters landed on a beach in northern Israel and proceeded to hijack two buses full of passengers on the Haifa - Tel-Aviv road, shooting at passing vehicles. They killed 37 and wounded 76 Israelis before being killed in the firefight with the Israeli forces.[8] Israel invaded Lebanon four days later in Operation Litani. The Israeli Army occupied most of the area south of the Litani River The UN Security Council passed Resolution 425 calling for immediate Israeli withdrawal and creating the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), charged with maintaining peace.

Security Zone

Israeli forces withdrew later in 1978, but retained control of the southern region by managing a 12-mile (19 km) wide "security zone" along the border. To hold these positions, Israel installed the South Lebanon Army (SLA), a Christian-Shi'a proxy militia under the leadership of Major Saad Haddad. Israel supplied the SLA with arms and resources, and posted "advisers" to strengthen and direct the militia. The Israeli Prime Minister, Likud's Menachem Begin, compared the plight of the Christian minority in southern Lebanon (then about 5% of the population in SLA territory) to that of European Jews during World War II.[9]

Violent exchanges resumed between the PLO, Israel, and the SLA, with the PLO attacking SLA positions and firing rockets into northern Israel, Israel conducting air raids against PLO positions, and the SLA continuing its efforts to consolidate power in the border region.

Conflicts between Syria and the Phalange

Beirut in April, 1978

However, the peace pact between Israel and Egypt made Syria change its mind, and support was withdrawn from the Christians and turned towards the Palestinians. Syria, meanwhile, clashed with the Phalange, a Maronite militia led by Bachir Gemayel, whose increasingly aggressive actions - such as his April 1981 attempt to capture the strategic city of Zahle in central Lebanon - were designed to thwart the Syrian goal of brushing aside Gemayel and installing Suleiman Frangieh as president. Consequently, the de facto alliance between Israel and Gemayel strengthened considerably. In April 1981, for instance, during fighting in Zahle, Gemayel called for Israeli assistance. Israeli Prime Minister Begin responded by sending Israeli fighter jets to the scene, which shot down two Syrian helicopters.[10] This led to Syrian President Hafiz al-Assad's decision to place surface-to-air missiles on the hilly perimeter of Zahle.

Israeli bombing of Beirut

On 17 July 1981, Israeli aircraft bombed multi-story apartment buildings in Beirut that contained offices of PLO associated groups. The Lebanese delegate to the United Nations Security Council reported that 300 civilians had been killed, and 800 wounded. The bombing led to worldwide condemnation, and a temporary embargo on the export of U.S. aircraft to Israel.[11]

Israel plans for attack

In August, Israeli prime minister Menachem Begin was re-elected, and in September, Begin and his defense minister Ariel Sharon began to lay plans for a second invasion of Lebanon for the purpose of driving out the PLO. Sharon's intention was to "destroy the PLO military infrastructure and, if possible, the PLO leadership itself; this would mean attacking West Beirut, where the PLO headquarters and command bunkers were located".[12]

Sharon also wanted to ensure the presidency of Bashir Gemayel. In return for Israeli assistance, Sharon expected Gemayel, once installed as president, to sign a peace treaty with Israel, presumably stabilizing forever Israel's northern border. Begin brought Sharon's plan before the Knesset in December 1981; however, after strong objections were raised, Begin felt compelled to set the plan aside. But Sharon continued to press the issue. In January 1982, Sharon met with Gemayel on an Israeli vessel off the coast of Lebanon and discussed a plan "that would bring Israeli forces as far north as the edge of Beirut International Airport".[13] In February, with Begin's input, Yehoshua Seguy, the chief of military intelligence, was sent to Washington to discuss the issue of Lebanon with Secretary of State Alexander Haig. In the meeting, Haig "stressed that there could be no assault without a major provocation from Lebanon".[14]

Israel-PLO security situation

The PLO routinely attacked Israel during the period of the cease-fire, with over 270 documented attacks.[15] People in Galilee regularly had to leave their homes during these shellings. Documents captured in PLO headquarters after the invasion showed they had come from Lebanon.[16]

In addition, Arafat refused to condemn attacks occurring outside of Lebanon, on the grounds that the cease-fire was only relevant to the Lebanese theater.[17] Arafat's interpretation underscored the fact that the cease-fire agreement did nothing to address ongoing violence between the PLO and Israel in other theaters. Israel thus continued to weather PLO attacks throughout the cease-fire period.

Third phase

Israeli invasion of Lebanon

Map showing power balance in Lebanon, 1983: Green - controlled by Syria, purple - controlled by Christian groups, yellow - controlled by Israel, blue - controlled by the United Nations

Argov assassination

On 3 June 1982, the Abu Nidal Organization attempted to assassinate Israeli ambassador Shlomo Argov in London. Abu Nidal had assassinated numerous PLO diplomats, and attempted to kill both Arafat and Mahmud Abbas, and was in fact condemned to death by the PLO.[18] Additionally, British intelligence reported that the attempt had likely been sponsored by Iraq, and Israeli intelligence agreed. However, Ariel Sharon and Menachem Begin ordered a retaliatory aerial attack on PLO and PFLP targets in West Beirut that led to over 100 casualties.[14]

The PLO responded by launching a counterattack from Lebanon with rockets and artillery, which also constituted a clear violation of the cease-fire. This was the immediate cause of Israel's subsequent decision to invade. Meanwhile, on 5 June, the UN Security Council unanimously passed Resolution 508 calling for "all the parties to the conflict to cease immediately and simultaneously all military activities within Lebanon and across the Lebanese-Israeli border and no later than 0600 hours local time on Sunday, 6 June 1982."[19]

Israel invades

Israeli troops in South Lebanon, June, 1982

Israel launched Operation Peace for Galilee on 6 June 1982, attacking PLO bases in Lebanon. Israeli forces quickly drove 25 miles (40 km) into Lebanon, moving into East Beirut with the tacit support of Maronite leaders and militia. When the Israeli cabinet convened to authorize the invasion, Sharon described it as a plan to advance 40 kilometers into Lebanon, demolish PLO strongholds, and establish an expanded security zone that would put northern Israel out of range of PLO rockets. In fact, Israeli chief of staff Rafael Eitan and Sharon had already ordered the invading forces to head straight for Beirut, in accord with Sharon's blueprint dating to September 1981. After the invasion had begun, the UN Security Council passed a further resolution on 6 June, 1982, Resolution 509, which reaffirms UNSCR 508 and "demands that Israel withdraw all its military forces forthwith and unconditionally to the internationally recognized boundaries of Lebanon".[20] Thus far the US had not used its veto. However, on 8 June, 1982, the US vetoed a proposed resolution that "reiterates [the] demand that Israel withdraw all its military forces forthwith and unconditionally to the internationally recognized boundaries of Lebanon",[21] thereby giving implicit assent to the Israeli invasion.

Siege of Beirut

An aerial view of the stadium used as an ammunition supply site for the PLO after Israeli airstrikes in 1982

By 15 June 1982, Israeli units were entrenched outside Beirut. The United States called for PLO withdrawal from Lebanon, and Sharon began to order bombing raids of West Beirut, targeting some 16,000 PLO fedayeen who had retreated into fortified positions. Meanwhile, Arafat attempted through negotiations to salvage politically what was clearly a disaster for the PLO, an attempt which eventually succeeded once the multinational force arrived to evacuate the PLO.

The fighting in Beirut killed more than 6,700 people of whom the vast majority were civilians. Combatants killed included 500 PLO, more than 400 Lebanese, over 100 Syrians and 88 Israelis. Fierce artillery duels between the IDF and the PLO, and PLO shelling of Christian neighborhoods of East Beirut at the outset gave way to escalating aerial IDF bombardment beginning on 21 July 1982.[22][23] It is commonly estimated that during the entire campaign, approximately 20,000 were killed on all sides, including many civilians, and 30,000 were wounded[citation needed].

Negotiations for a cease-fire

On 26 June, a UN Security Council resolution was proposed that "demands the immediate withdrawal of the Israeli forces engaged round Beirut, to a distance of 10 kilometers from the periphery of that city, as a first step towards the complete withdrawal of Israeli forces from Lebanon, and the simultaneous withdrawal of the Palestinian armed forces from Beirut, which shall retire to the existing camps";[24] the United States vetoed the resolution because it was "a transparent attempt to preserve the P.L.O. as a viable political force",[25] an indication of Washington's support for Sharon's objective of destroying the PLO before it could negotiate a withdrawal agreement.

Finally, amid escalating violence and civilian casualties, Philip Habib was once again sent to restore order, which he accomplished on 12 August on the heels of IDF's intensive, day-long bombardment of West Beirut. The Habib-negotiated truce called for the withdrawal of both Israeli and PLO elements, as well as a multinational force composed of U.S. Marines along with French and Italian units that would ensure the departure of the PLO and protect defenseless civilians.

International intervention

Checkpoint 4, manned by U.S. Marines and Lebanese Army soldiers. Beirut 1982

A multinational force landed in Beirut on 20 August 1982 to oversee the PLO withdrawal from Lebanon and U.S. mediation resulted in the evacuation of Syrian troops and PLO fighters from Beirut. The agreement also provided for the deployment of a multinational force composed of U.S. Marines along with French, Italian and British units. However, Israel reported that some 2,000 PLO militants were hiding in Palestinian refugee camps on the outskirts of Beirut.

Bachir Gemayel was elected president under Israeli military control on 23 August. Many, especially in the Muslim circles, feared his relationship with Israel. He was assassinated on 14 September.

Sabra and Shatila Massacre

After conferring with Phalange leaders, Sharon and Eitan bypassed the Israeli cabinet and sent Israeli troops into West Beirut, violating the Habib agreement; these troops helped transport approximately 200 Phalange personnel to the camps, which the Phalangists entered on 16 September at 6:00 P.M. The Phalangists remained in the camps until the morning of 19 September, killing an estimated 700-3,000 Palestinians, according to official Israeli statistics, "none apparently members of any PLO unit".[26]

The Kahan Commission, set up by the Israeli government to investigate the circumstances of the massacre, held Sharon and Eitan indirectly responsible, concluding that the Israeli officials should have known what would happen if they sent 200 anti-Palestinian militants into Palestinian refugee camps. The Commission recommended that Sharon resign his post as Defense Minister, which he did, though he remained in the government as an influential Minister without Portfolio.[27]

The massacres made the headlines all over the world, and calls were heard for the international community to assume responsibility for stabilizing Lebanon. As a result, the multinational forces that had begun exiting Lebanon after the PLO's evacuation returned as peace keepers. With U.S. backing, Amine Gemayel was chosen by the Lebanese parliament to succeed his brother as President and focused anew on securing the withdrawal of Israeli and Syrian forces.

17 May Agreement

On 17 May 1983, Lebanon's Amine Gemayel, Israel, and the United States signed an agreement[28] text on Israeli withdrawal that was conditioned on the departure of Syrian troops; reportedly after the US and Israel exerted severe pressure on Gemayel. The agreement stated that "the state of war between Israel and Lebanon has been terminated and no longer exists." Thus, the agreement in effect amounted to a peace agreement with Israel, and was additionally seen by many Lebanese Muslims as an attempt for Israel to gain a permanent hold on the Lebanese South.[29] The 17 May Agreement was widely portrayed in the Arab world as an imposed surrender, and Amin Gemayel was accused of acting as a Quisling President; tensions in Lebanon hardened considerably. Syria strongly opposed the agreement and declined to discuss the withdrawal of its troops, effectively stalemating further progress.

In August 1983, Israel withdrew from the Chouf District (southeast of Beirut), thus removing the buffer between the Druze and the Christian militias and triggering another round of brutal fighting. By September, the Druze had gained control over most of the Chouf, and Israeli forces had pulled out from all but the southern security zone. The IDF would remain in this zone until 2000.

Resurging violence

The virtual collapse of the Lebanese Army in February 1984, following the defection of many Muslim and Druze units to militias, was a major blow to the government. With the U.S. Marines looking ready to withdraw, Syria and Muslim groups stepped up pressure on Gemayel. On 5 March the Lebanese Government canceled the 17 May Agreement, and the Marines departed a few weeks later.

This period of chaos witnessed the beginning of attacks against U.S. and Western interests, such as the 18 April 1983 suicide attack at the U.S. Embassy in West Beirut, which killed 63. Following the bombing, the Reagan White House "ordered naval bombardments of Druze positions, which resulted in numerous casualties, mostly non-combatant," and the "reply to the American bombardments" was the suicide attack.[30] Then, on 23 October 1983, a devastating suicide bombing in Beirut targeted the headquarters of the U.S. and French forces, killing 241 American and 58 French servicemen.[31] On 18 January 1984, American University of Beirut President Malcolm Kerr was murdered. After US forces withdrew in February 1984, anti-US attacks continued, including a second bombing of the U.S. embassy annex in East Beirut on 20 September 1984, which killed 9, including 2 U.S. servicemen. The situation became serious enough to compel the U.S. State Department to invalidate US passports for travel to Lebanon in 1987, a travel ban that was only lifted 10 years later in 1997.

During these years, Hezbollah emerged from a loose coalition of Shi'a groups resisting the Israeli occupation, and splintered from the main Shi'a movement, Nabih Berri's Amal Movement. The group found inspiration for its revolutionary Islamism in the Iranian Revolution of 1979, and gained early support from about 1,500 Iranian Pasdaran Guards. With Iranian assistance, and a large pool of disaffected Shi'a refugees from which to draw support, Hezbollah quickly grew into a strong fighting force.

Fourth phase

Worsening conflict and political crisis

Between 1985 and 1989, sectarian conflict worsened as various efforts at national reconciliation failed. Heavy fighting took place in the War of the Camps of 1985-86 as a Syrian-backed coalition headed by the Amal militia sought to rout the PLO from their Lebanese strongholds. Many Palestinians died, and the Sabra, Shatila, and Bourj al-Barajneh refugee camps were largely destroyed. (Fisk, 609)

Major combat returned to Beirut in 1987, when Palestinians, leftists, and Druze fighters allied against Amal, eventually drawing further Syrian intervention. Violent confrontation flared up again in Beirut in 1988 between Amal and Hezbollah. Hezbollah swiftly seized command of several Amal-held parts of the city, and for the first time emerged as a strong force in the capital.

Aoun government

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Rashid Karami, head of a government of national unity set up after the failed peace efforts of 1984, was assassinated on 1 June 1987. President Gemayel's term of office expired in September 1988. Before stepping down, he appointed another Maronite Christian, Lebanese Armed Forces Commanding General Michel Aoun, as acting Prime Minister, contravening the National Pact. Conflict in this period was also exacerbated by increasing Iraqi involvement, as Saddam Hussein searched for proxy battlefields for the Iran–Iraq War. To counter Iran's influence through Amal and Hezbollah, Iraq backed Christian groups; Saddam Hussein helped Aoun and the Lebanese Forces led by Samir Geagea between 1988-1990.[32]

Muslim groups rejected the violation of the National Pact and pledged support to Selim al-Hoss, a Sunni who had succeeded Karami. Lebanon was thus divided between a Christian military government in East Beirut and a civilian government in West Beirut.

Aoun's "War of Liberation"

On 14 March 1989, Aoun launched what he termed a "war of liberation" against the Syrians and their Lebanese militia allies. As a result, Syrian pressure on his Lebanese Army and militia pockets in East Beirut grew. Still, Aoun persisted in the "war of liberation", denouncing the regime of Hafez al-Assad and claiming that he fought for Lebanon's independence. While he seems to have had significant Christian support for this, he was still perceived as a sectarian leader among others by the Muslim population, who distrusted his agenda. He was also plagued by the challenge to his legitimacy put forth by the Syrian-backed West Beirut government of Selim al-Hoss. Militarily, this war did not achieve its goal. Instead, it caused considerable damages to East Beirut and provoked massive emigration among the Christian population.

Taif Agreement

An approximation of the distribution of Lebanon's main religious groups, 1991

The Taif Agreement of 1989 marked the beginning of the end of the fighting. In January of that year, a committee appointed by the Arab League, chaired by Kuwait and including Saudi Arabia, Algeria, and Morocco, began to formulate solutions to the conflict. This led to a meeting of Lebanese parliamentarians in Ta'if, Saudi Arabia, where they agreed to the national reconciliation accord in October. The agreement provided a large role for Syria in Lebanese affairs. Returning to Lebanon, they ratified the agreement on 4 November and elected Rene Mouawad as President the following day. Military leader Michel Aoun in East Beirut refused to accept Mouawad, and denounced the Taif Agreement.

Mouawad was assassinated 16 days later in a car bombing in Beirut on 22 November as his motorcade returned from Lebanese independence day ceremonies. He was succeeded by Elias Hrawi (who remained in office until 1998). Aoun again refused to accept the election, and dissolved Parliament.

Infighting in East Beirut

On 16 January 1990, General Aoun ordered all Lebanese media to cease using terms like "President" or "Minister" to describe Hrawi and other participants in the Taif government. The Lebanese Forces, which had grown into a rival power broker in the Christian parts of the capital, protested by suspending all its broadcasts. Tension with the LF grew, as Aoun feared that the LF was planning to link up with the Hrawi administration.

On 31 January 1990, Lebanese Army forces attacked the LF, after Aoun had stated that it was in the national interest for the government to "unify the weapons" (i.e. that the LF must submit to his authority as acting head of state). This brought fierce fighting to East Beirut, and the LF made initial advances, in the intra-Christian warfare.

In August 1990, the Lebanese Parliament, which didn't heed Aoun's order to dissolve, and the new president agreed on constitutional amendments embodying some of the political reforms envisioned at Taif. The National Assembly expanded to 128 seats and was for the first time divided equally between Christians and Muslims.

As Saddam Hussein focused his attention on Kuwait, Iraqi supplies to Aoun dwindled.

On 13 October, Syria launched the 13 October Massacre a major operation involving its army, air force (for the first time since Zahle's siege in 1981) against Aoun's stronghold around the presidential palace, where hundreds of Aoun supporters were executed. It then cleared out the last Aounist pockets. Aoun went to the French Embassy to negotiated a cease-fire with the Syrians and all militias from West Beirut ( It is strongly believed that the Christian Militia the Lebanese forces betrayed the Lebanese army in a shady deal and also joined the Syrians in their attack). However the cease-fire negotiations turned out to be a scam in order to remove Aoun away from the Presidential palace and command center. The Acting Prime Minister General Aoun was obliged to leave behind his family and hundreds of Lebanese army soldiers in the middle of the battle since the Lebanese forces helped in jamming all radio frequencies, so Aoun could not reach his troops who fought vigorously. Later on, he announced over the radio that the war is over and stayed in Beirut until a safe exit to Paris was available since everybody was trying to eliminate Aoun due his extreme support within the Christian ranks.

William Harris claims that the Syrian operation could not take place until Syria had reached an agreement with the United States, that in exchange for support against the Iraqi regime of Saddam Hussein in the Persian Gulf War, it would convince Israel not to attack Syrian aircraft approaching Beirut. Aoun claimed in 1990 that the United States "has sold Lebanon to Syria".[33]

The war in Lebanon and the fighting in East Beirut is a main theme in Rahbi Almedene's novel Kooliaids; the Art of War.

End

In March 1991, parliament passed an amnesty law that pardoned all political crimes prior to its enactment. The amnesty was not extended to crimes perpetrated against foreign diplomats or certain crimes referred by the cabinet to the Higher Judicial Council. In May 1991, the militias (with the important exception of Hezbollah) were dissolved, and the Lebanese Armed Forces began to slowly rebuild themselves as Lebanon's only major non-sectarian institution.

Some violence still occurred. In late December 1991 a car bomb (estimated to carry 220 pounds of TNT) exploded in the Muslim neighborhood of Basta. At least thirty people were killed, and 120 wounded, including former Prime Minister Shafik Wazzan, who was riding in a bulletproof car.

Conclusions

A war-damaged building in Beirut, still unrepaired in 2004

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. Following the cease-fire which ended the 12 July 2006 Israeli-Lebanese conflict, the army has for the first time in over three decades moved to occupy and control the southern areas of Lebanon. Only Hezbollah retains its weapons, due to what it claims is legitimate resistance against Israel in the Shebaa farms area.

The 'Holiday Inn', where some of the major battles took place, still shows the damage inflicted to it from the Civil War

Lebanon still bears deep scars from the civil war. In all, it is estimated that more than 100,000 people were killed, and another 100,000 permanently handicapped by injuries. Approximately 900,000 people, representing one-fifth of the pre-war population, were displaced from their homes. Perhaps a quarter of a million emigrated permanently. Thousands of land mines remain buried in the previously contested areas. Some Western hostages kidnapped during the mid-1980s (many claim by Hezbollah, though the movement denies this)[citation needed] were held until June 1992.[34] Lebanese victims of kidnapping and wartime "disappeared" number in the tens of thousands[citation needed].

Car bombs became a favored weapon of violent groups worldwide, following their frequent, and often effective, use during the war. In the 15 years of strife, there were at least 3,641 car bombs, which left 4,386 people dead and thousands more injured.[35] Other favorite weapons were the AK-47 and RPGs.

The country made progress toward rebuilding its political institutions and regaining its national sovereignty after the end of the war, establishing a political system that gives Muslims a greater voice in the political process. Many critics, however, have charged that the arrangements institutionalized sectarian divisions in the government. Though the country repaired much of its infrustructure in the years after the civil war, some of these improvements were lost in the destruction of the 2006 Lebanon War.

Notes

  1. ^ http://www.lcps-lebanon.org/pub/breview/br5/psalembr5pt3.html
  2. ^ http://www.country-data.com/cgi-bin/query/r-7940.html
  3. ^ http://www.arab-american.net/Historical_Chronology_of_Lebanon.pdf
  4. ^ http://countrystudies.us/lebanon/85.htm
  5. ^ Bregman and El-Tahri (1998), 158pp. (This reference only mentions Israel.)
  6. ^ Charles D. Smith, Palestine and the Arab Israeli Conflict, p. 354.
  7. ^ Fisk, pp. 78-81
  8. ^ "133 Statement to the press by Prime Minister Begin on the massacre of Israelis on the Haifa - Tel Aviv Road- 12 March 1978", Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 1977-79
  9. ^ Smith, op. cit., 355.
  10. ^ Smith, op. cit., p. 373.
  11. ^ "The Bombing of Beirut". Journal of Palestine Studies 11 (1): 218–225. 1981. doi:10.1525/jps.1981.11.1.00p0366x. 
  12. ^ Smith, op. cit., p. 377.
  13. ^ Time, 15 February 1982, cited in Chomsky, op. cit., 195.
  14. ^ a b Smith, op. cit., p. 378.
  15. ^ http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/myths/mf11.html#4
  16. ^ Jillian Becker, The PLO, (London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1984), pp. 202, 279.
  17. ^ Smith, op. cit., p. 376.
  18. ^ Chomsky, op. cit., p. 196.
  19. ^ "United Nations Security Council Resolution 508", Jewish Virtual Library
  20. ^ "United Nations Security Council Resolution 509", Global Policy Forum
  21. ^ "United Nations Security Council Draft Resolution of 8 June 1982 (Spain), United Nations
  22. ^ George W. Gawrych, "Siege of Beirut, GlobalSecurity.org
  23. ^ "Myths & Facts Online: Israel and Lebanon", Jewish Virtual Library
  24. ^ "United Nations Security Council Revised Draft Resolution of 25 June 1982 (France), United Nations
  25. ^ New York Times, 27 June 1982, cited in Chomsky, op. cit., p. 198
  26. ^ Smith, op. cit., 380-1.
  27. ^ Chomsky, op. cit., 406.
  28. ^ "17 May Agreement", Lebanese Armed Forces
  29. ^ "Israel and South Lebanon", Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, 5 March 1984, Page 3
  30. ^ Smith, op. cit., 383.
  31. ^ "Iran responsible for 1983 Marine barracks bombing, judge rules", CNN, 30 May 2003
  32. ^ "Doctrine, Dreams Drive Saddam Hussein", Washington Post, 12 August 1990
  33. ^ Harris, p. 260
  34. ^ "Lebanon (Civil War 1975-1991)", GlobalSecurity.org
  35. ^ World Notes Lebanon - TIME

References

Primary sources

Book references

  • Al-Baath wa-Lubnân [Arabic only] ("The Baath and Lebanon"), NY Firzli, Beirut, Dar-al-Tali'a Books, 1973.
  • The Iraq-Iran Conflict, NY Firzli, Paris, EMA, 1981. ISBN 2-86584-002-6
  • Murr Nehme, Lina (2008). Les Otages Libanais Dans les Prisons Syriennes. Aleph Et Taw. ISBN 2951521391. 
  • Murr Nehme, Lina (2008). Le Liban Assassiné. Aleph Et Taw. ISBN 2951521383. 
  • Bregman, Ahron (2002). Israel's Wars: A History Since 1947. London: Routledge. ISBN 0-415-28716-2
  • Bregman, Ahron and El-Tahri, Jihan (1998). The Fifty Years War: Israel and the Arabs. London: BBC Books. Penguin Books. ISBN 0-14-026827-8
  • The Breakdown of the State in Lebanon, 1967-1976 Khazen Farid El (2000) (ISBN 0-674-08105-6)
  • The Bullet Collection, a book by Patricia Sarrafian Ward, is an excellent account of human experience during the Lebanese Civil War.
  • Civil War in Lebanon, 1975-92 O'Ballance Edgar (1998) (ISBN 0-312-21593-2)
  • Crossroads to Civil War: Lebanon 1958-1976 Salibi Kamal S. (1976) (ISBN 0-88206-010-4)
  • Death of a country: The civil war in Lebanon. Bulloch John (1977) (ISBN 0-297-77288-0)
  • Faces of Lebanon: Sects, Wars, and Global Extensions (Princeton Series on the Middle East) Harris William W (1997) (ISBN 1-55876-115-2)
  • The Fateful Triangle: The United States, Israel, and the Palestinians Noam Chomsky (1983, 1999) (ISBN 0-89608-601-1)
  • History of Syria Including Lebanon and Palestine, Vol. 2 Hitti Philip K. (2002) (ISBN 1-931956-61-8)
  • Lebanon: A Shattered Country: Myths and Realities of the Wars in Lebanon, Revised Edition Picard, Elizabeth (2002) (ISBN 0-8419-1415-X)
  • Lebanon in Crisis: Participants and Issues (Contemporary Issues in the Middle East) Haley P. Edward, Snider Lewis W. (1979) (ISBN 0-8156-2210-4)
  • Lebanon: Fire and Embers: A History of the Lebanese Civil War by Hiro, Dilip (1993) (ISBN 0-312-09724-7)
  • Pity the Nation: Lebanon at War Fisk, Robert (2001) (ISBN 0-19-280130-9)
  • Syria and the Lebanese Crisis Dawisha A. I. (1980) (ISBN 0-312-78203-9)
  • Syria's Terrorist War on Lebanon and the Peace Process Deeb Marius (2003) (ISBN 1-4039-6248-0)
  • The War for Lebanon, 1970-1985 Rabinovich Itamar (1985) (ISBN 0-8014-9313-7)
  • Palestine and the Arab-Israeli Conflict, fourth edition, Charles D. Smith (2001) (ISBN 0-312-20828-6) (paperback)
  • From Beirut to Jerusalem. Thomas Friedman.

Documentaries

  • (2001) Harab libnan [TV-Series]. Lebanon: Al-Issawi, Omar.

Secondary sources


Simple English

The Lebanese Civil War (1975–1990) was a conflict that became greatly worse by Lebanon's changing demographic trends, Christian and Muslim inter-religious strife, and the involvement of Syria, Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO). After a short break in the fighting in 1976 due to Arab League mediation and Syrian intervention, civil strife continued, with fighting primarily focused in south Lebanon, occupied first by the PLO, then occupied by Israel.









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