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Thursday, September 20, 2007

Lebanon: Christian Falange MP Ghanem Assassinated

"Assassination is the extreme form of censorship." -George Bernard Shaw, 'The Rejected Statement', Part I.

HISTORY IN THE NEWS: DEVOTED TO THE DEEP ORIGINS OF CONTEMPORARY EVENTS AROUND THE WORLD.

TAG: Syria is once again suspected in the assassination of an anti-Syrian politician in Lebanon. Syria has never forgotten the days when, as Province of the Ottoman Empire, it ruled over Lebanon.

IN THE NEWS: IN BEIRUT, A CAR BOMB KILLED ANTOINE GHANEM, A CHRISTIAN FALANGIST MEMBER OF THE LEBANESE ASSEMBLY. GHANEM WAS THE 8TH LEBANESE POLTICIAN OPPOSED TO SYRIA THAT HAS BEEN MURDERED SINCE THE ASSASSINATION OF PRIME MINISTER RAFIK HARIRI IN FEBRUARY, 2005. GHANEM'S DEMISE HAS REDUCED THE RULING COALTION TO 68 OUT OF 128 SEATS, FEEDING SPECULATION ABOUT A SYRIAN CAMPAIGN TO WEAKEN THE CURRENT GOVERNMENT BY KILLING OFF ITS MAJORITY IN THE ASSEMBLY. THE OBJECTIVE MAY BE THE UPCOMING PRESIDENTIAL VOTE IN WHICH PRIME MINISTER SINIORA'S RULING COALITION IS HOPING TO UNSEAT PRO-SYRIAN PRESIDENT EMILE LAHOUD. THE KILLING MAY ALSO HAVE BEEN AN ATTEMPT TO DERAIL OPPOSITION PARLIAMENTARY SPEAKER NABIH BERRI'S PROPOSAL TO PUT FORWARD A PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE AGREED UPON BY BOTH SIDES.

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW: Lebanon, with its Christian minority, was once part of Ottoman Syria. Syria, having lost Lebanon in the allied settlements of both world wars, reasserted its influence during during Lebanon's civil war, finally withdrawing in 2005. Since then, Syria has been plotting re-establish itself.

IN A NUTSHELL: Under the Ottoman empire, the province of Syria comprised the entire Levant including the coastal area and Palestine. Since then, what some Syrians still see as "Greater Syria" has systematically shrunk. After the break-up of the Ottoman empire at the end of World War One, Syria was under a French mandate and France also made Lebanon separate. After World War Two, Lebanon and Syria each became independent. (In effect, Syria "lost" Lebanon) Syria has taken advantage of the civil wars that have wracked Lebanon since then, to reassert its influence. Forced to withdraw once and for all after it was suspected in the assassination of Lebanese Prime Minister Hariri in 2005, Syria has been trying to find ways to rebuild its presence if not its authority in Lebanon. One of the last cards it has had to play is Lebanon's pro-Syrian president, Emile Lahoud. Damascus would be loathe to see him voted out of office. The development of a pro-Syrian Shia (Hezbollah)-dominated opposition to Lebanon's Christian-Sunni ruling coalition is, no doubt, seen as a cue for Syrian intervention; and Damascus remains a strong suspect in the string of political assassinations of anti-Syrian Lebanese politicians.

CONTENTS: SCROLL DOWN FOR:

DISTANT BACKGROUND TO THE EVENTS
RELEVANT DATES
RECENT BACKGROUND TO THE EVENTS
REMOTE BACKGROUND TO THE EVENTS

CROSS-CENTURY SUMMARY
PROFILE:

LOCATION OF NOTE:
PRESENT SITUATION
PLUS CA CHANGE
CURIOSITY
TIMELINE FOR THE HISTORY OF LEBANON


RELEVANT DATES:

-1920- as part of the Sevres settlement between the allies and the Ottomoan empire at the end of World War I, Syria comes under French mandate.

-the Turkish ‘sanjak’ of Lebanon is enlarged by the French into ‘Greater Lebanon’.

-The Christian Gemayyel clan became prominent in the 1930s with the ascendancy of Pierre Gemayyel.

1936- Pierre Gemayel (b. 1905 and father of Amin), of a prominent Maronite Christian family is educated in France. Having visited Nazi Germany, he brings the idea of a Fascist militia to Lebanon, which he names the Phalanges Libanaises, It is founded to oppose Pan Arabism.

1945- Jan 1- Lebanon becomes independent. But the Muslms tend to want to be part of Syria and the Christians regard themselves as part of Europe, having no real connection with the Arab World. They called themselves Phoenicianists, considering themselves a Mediterranean, not an Arab civilization.

1945- after World War II, the influence of the Maronites declines with the withdrawal of the French and the British.

1946- Syria attains independence from France.

1958- Unrest during the Suez Crisis. Maronite President Chamoun’s acceptance of US aid and his opposition to a union of Syria and Egypt causes fighting between Christians and Lebanese Pan Arab Nasserites, the latter with Syrian and Egyptian support. Pierre Gemayyel’s Maronite Phalanges Libanaises supports Chamoun. The Maronites invite intervention by US Marines. The Soviet Union protests.

-1958- Sept. -after the election of President Fouad Chehab , a 'Salvation Cabinet" is formed with leaders of the four opposing groups: Rashid Karami and Hussein Oueini represent the Muslims; Raymond Edde and Pierre Gemayyel, the Christians. Muslims have now achieved parity with Christians. The Salvation Cabinet is given rule by decree for six months.

-Gemayyel's Christian, Falangist party is the only party in the tri-partite alliance of right-wing, pro-Western parties that could be said to have national power. Pierre Gemayyel will hold several cabinet portfolios throughout the 1960s.

1958-59- Michel Aoun, son of a prominent Maronite family gets military training in France.

-late 1960s- Bashir Gemayyel (b. 1947), younger son of Pierre Gemayyel, protests the presence of the PLO in Lebanon.

The sons of Pierre Gemayyel,, Amin and Bashir, were leaders in the Lebanese Civil War of the 1970s and 1980s. Amin Gemayyel's son Pierre was assassinated last November. General Michael Aoun rose to power as President Amin Gemayyel's successor in the late 1980s. Now they are on opposite sides.

1970- Bashir and elder brother Amin Gemayyel begint to take over leadership of the Maronite Phalange from their father Pierre. Their ascendancy begins the eclipse of Chamoun.

1970- Amin Gemayyel is elected to parliament. His brother Bashir, meanwhile works for a Washington law form where he is recruited by the CIA.

1975- April- Lebanese Civil War breaks out- -Bashir Gemayyel becomes comander of the Lebanese Forces of the Lebanese Front, a coalition of rightist Maronites. He moves into alliance with Israel.

1976- Syria forms the Arab Deterrent Force (ADF) and invades Lebanon at the request of Maronite leader Suleiman Franjieh, supporting the Maronites to prevent the Palestinians from gaining control. Syrian intervention is opposed by Druze leader Kamal Jumblatt.

-1976- Amin Gemayyel, elder brother of Bashir of the Maroite Falangist party, gets in touch with Syrian army.

1978- May- patriarch Pierre Gemayyel visits Israel where he signs an agreement with the Israelis for arms and training.

1978--June- Bashir Gemayyel engineers assassination of fellow Maronite rival Tony Franjieh.

1978-1980- Michel Aoun gets military training in the United States.

1980- the broad division in the civil war is between the larglely Christian-Sunni "Front of Lebanese Forces" and the "Front of National and Leftist Forces" which includes Hezbollah and the Druzes. However there is internecine fighting among the factions that make up both sides. On the conservative, Christian-Sunni side, Bashir Gemayyel, son of Falangist founder Pierre Gemayyel consolidates the Falangist party by force through more internecine fighting. He crushes the Tiger militia of ex-president Chamoun's National Liberal party, giving Gemayyel control of all east and northeast Beirut. But he fails to quell another militia, the Maradas. Gemayyel's Falangists join forces with Israel against the PLO.

- December- Pierre Gemayyel buries the hatchet with Chamoun and they join their Maronite forces with the Lebanese Front manifesto which favours a federal system within a united Lebanon.

-Bashir Gemayyel's militia gets arms and training from Israel.

-so far, Bashir's older brother Amin has kept a low profile and stayed out of factional politics and the civil war.

1982- -Israel invades Beirut and drives out the PLO. Bashir Gemayyel's Falangist militia links up with Israeli troops in south Beirut.

-with Syria and the PLO defeated and Israel triumphant, Bashir Gemayyel's Falangists are left in control.

Aug. 23- Maronite Bashir Gemayyel is elected President.

-Sept. 14- When President Bashir Gemayyel is assassinated in a bombing of the Christian Falangist headquarters,, Israel, fearing further instability, occupies Beirut. In the process it allows a proxy force of Christian Maronite militias to massacre Palestinian refugees in the Shabra and Shatila refugee camps- the Christians probably doing do in retaliation for the death of Gemayyel.

-Bashir’s brother Amin Gemayel, backed by Syria, is elected president. He manages to be popular at home and abroad.

-President Amin Gemayyel appoints General Michel Aoun as his chief of staff.

-Amin Gemayyel attempts a reconciliation of different Lebenese groups to win confidence among Muslims. He appoints Shafiq al Wazzan as prime minister and resists Israeli pressure to sign a peace treaty.

1983- - May- in a treaty brokered by the US, President Amin Gemayyil, though a Maronite must ask Israel, as well as Syria, to withdraw, if he is to retain national support. Even if it exposes him to Druze and Muslim militias. Nevertheless he successfully negotiates Israeli withdrawal after refusing to sign the peace treaty which Israel had held as a condition. As a result, Israel withdraws its protection of his regime and the Syrians refuse to pull out.

-when Israel finally withdraws, the Christian militias clash with Syrian backed Druze militias. Amin Gemayyel's government is weakened.

1984- February- President Amin Gemayyel tries using the army to quell the Shia of west Beirut. This results in the collapse of the army into religious factions. Now Gemayyel has nowhere to turn for help except Syria.

-President Amin Gemayyel is forced to recognize Syrian influence.

-March--at a Peace and Reconciliation Conference in Lausanne, Switzerland, President Amin Gemayyel appoints a reconciliation government under Rashid Karami. Amin's father, Pierre is present along with reconciled ally Camille Chamoun.

-April- Pierre Gemayyel joins Karami's reconciliation government.

August- Pierre Gemayyel dies.

-As internal strife eats at the Falange party in the wake of the death of Amin's father Pierre, Amin also becomes the target of Muslim and Druze leaders. As a result he refuses to recongize the agreement they had brokered with Syria.

-the pro-Syrian leaders agree on parity for Muslims in government instead of the 6-5 ratio that favours the Christians, a move opposed by Amin Gemayyel. This also places him in opposition to Syrian president Hafez Assad. Assad supports Lebanon's pro-Syrian factions against Amin Gemayyel.

-Sept. President Amin Gamayel’s term ends. Due to an election boycott, he brings in military government by General Michel Aoun whose mandate is to expel Syrian troops.

-surrounded by enemies, Amin Gemayyel goes into exile in France.

-Aoun appoints five military officers to cabinet but the three Muslim officers refuse to serve.

1989- Syrian troops are attacked by the Lebanese army in a 'War of Liberation,' led by General Michel Aoun. Muslim militias turn against him.

-President Gemayyel refuses to reduce the the permanent Maronite majority in the Taif Accord assembly.

-Oct.- the Arab League proposes the Ta’if Accord, signed by the last members of the assembly standing before the civil war in 1975; the accord reduces the representation of Maronite Christians in the Lebanese government. Druze leader Walid Jumblatt accepts it reluctantly.

-General Aoun rejects the National Reconciliation Charter which had been accepted as part of the Taif Accord.

-Nov- Aoun refuses to accept the election of of Rene Muawad as president and remains in the presidential palace Baabda, outside Beirut.

1989-1990- resistance to Syrian occupation by Gen. Michel Aoun is put down by Syria

1990s- Hezbollah drives Israeli troops from southern Lebanon.

1990- President Muawad assassinated. President Elias Hrawi succeeds him.

-General Aoun refuses to recognize President Hrawi and digs in at the presidential palace.

-internecine fighting among Maronite Christian groups weakens General Aoun's position.

--Syria and allied Lebanese opponents of Aoun close in on the General's forces .

1991- after taking refuge in the French embassy, Aoun is forced to leave the country.

2000- Pierre Gemayyel Jr, son of Amin, elected to parliament. He is part of the nationalist, anti-Syrian group that surrounds Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.

2005- Pierre Gemayyel Jr re-elected.

2005- Feb 14- Hariri is assassinated. Syria is strongly suspected.

2005- March- Pierre Gemayyel Jr., an opponent of Syria, takes part in the nationalist, democratic and anti-Syria Cedar Revolution in the wake of the assassination of Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.

2005- May 7- Michel Aoun returns to Lebanon, pays respects at the grave of Rafik Hariri. Aoun enters election in late May, opposing the March 14 Coalition which represents anti-Syria Sunni-Maronite supporters of the late Hariri.

-Aoun founds his own party, the Free Patriotic Movement.

-apparently changing sides, Aoun began talks with the pro-Syrian forces of Hezbollah and Amal. He sees this as a strategy for uniting Lebanon.

2006- Feb 6- Aoun formally enters into alliance with Hezbollah.

2006- Nov 21,. Lebanon's finance minister, Pierre Gemayel Jr. is assassinated. Syria, once again is suspected. In light of UN disclosure of Syria's implication in the Hariri assassination, Syria is suspected of attempting to derail any further inquiries.

Dec. 1- Aoun joins Hezbollah in its protest against the Siniora government's refusal to recognize Hezbollah's cabinet strength with a right of veto.

2007- August- In parliamentary by-elections, Government candidate Mohammed Amin Itani is easily elected to replace assassinated Sunni government deputy Walid Eito. More dramatically, however, Camille Khoury of the opposition (Michel Aoun's) Free Patriotic Movement, a Christian opposition party, edges out Amin Gemayyel, leader of the Government'sChristian Falange Party.

THEN AND NOW: In 1988 Syrian troops entered Lebanon to restore order and end the Lebanese civil war. That September also saw the end of the Falangist Christian, Amin Gamayel's term as president. Without the peace and order needed to hold elections, Gemayyel brought in military government under Maronite Christian General, Michal Aoun. The Christian general's mandate was to expel Syrian troops from the country. After several offensives, General Aoun was forced back and eventually made by Syria to go into exile. The Ta'if accords of 1989 generally recognized the Syrian occupation which nevertheless ended with the assassination of Prime Minister Rafik hariri in 2005. Now, the assassination of Christian legislator Antoine Ghanem may indicate another step in a campaign by Syria to regain lost ground in Lebanon since its withdrawal.

DISTANT BACKGROUND TO THE EVENTS. In 1861, when Lebanon and Syria were still part of the Ottoman Empire, Druze Muslims in Lebanon massacred a community of Maronite Christians. As a result, the Ottoman rulers granted the Christians an autonomous, protected enclave. When the Ottoman Empire crumbled after World War I, Syria fell under French mandate and the French expanded the Christian enclave into a modern Lebanon, separate from Syria. Lebanon, under largely Christian rule, continued to lean toward the west while Syria leaned toward the Arab east. Between the wars, French misrule and atrocities further alienated Syria from the west. In Lebanon, in the 1970s, after Muslims and Christians fell into civil war over Christian minority rule, Syria intervened in the 1980s to restore order. Syrian occupation led to Syrian domination of Lebanon until the assasination of Prime Minister Rafiq Harirr in 2005.

RECENT BACKGROUND TO THE EVENTS. With the Taif Accords of 1989, the Lebanese civil war, which had been raging since 1973, ended. Throughout the 1990s, Sunni-Christian domination of the government was confirmed but with reduced participation of Christians. Both Syria and Israel, who had repeatedly occupied Lebanon during the civil war, ceased hostilities. While Syria continued its occupation, Israel finally withdrew. The nationalist Sunni Prime Minister, Rafik Hariri, rebuilt much of the war-torn country but after he refused any extension of pro-Syrian president, Emile Lahoud's constitutional time limit, Syria delivered a veiled threat. On Feurary 14, 2005. Hariri was assassinated, much of the evidence pointing to Syria.

International pressure then forced Syria's final and full withdrawal from Lebanon. Periodic violence has accompanied efforts by the UN and the international community to set up a tribunal to bring pro-Syrian Lebanese suspects to justice. After the election of a pro-western Sunni-Christian government headed by Prime Minister Siniora (a Sunni), Lebanon began once again to fall into pro-Syria and anti-Syria factions. 'Anti- Syria' Siniora shares power with the 'pro-Syria (albeit Christian) President Lahoud. The Lebanese Shia party, Hezbollah, which did well in the last round of elections, opposes all criticism of Syria and since December has pulled its strong representation from Siniora's cabinet, protesting his refusal to give them the power of veto. Another pro-Syrian force is the party of General Michel Aoun, a Maronite Christian who once led the fight to drive Syria from Lebanon but has now teamed up with Hezbollah. Recent acts of terrorism and street clashes have raised fears that Syria is trying to provoke a civil war in order to reestablish control over Lebanon. In early August, 2007, Camille Khoury of the pro-Syrian opposition Free Patriotic Movement, Aaoun's Christian opposition party, edged out Amin Gemayyel, leader of the Government's Christian Falange Party.

REMOTE BACKGROUND TO THE EVENTS.Lebanon was part of the Umayyad Caliphate based in Damascus after Islam expanded into the region in 644 ; and it was the Sunni Umayyads who defeated the Shia in Iraq in a struggle to claim the caliphate. So radical Sunnis have a claim on the heritage of the Umayyads of Damascus, while Shia have populated Lebanon since the early days of Islam. Christian communities have been in Lebanon since the first century and thrived under the Byzantine Empire until the arrival of Islam in the 7th century. So the origins of the tension between Christians, Sunnis and Shia in Lebanon are ancient. Christian-Muslim tensions reached a high point suring the Crusades. It was a Sunni dynasty, the local Abuyyids under the leadership of Saladin, who repelled the European Crusaders in the 12th century.

Under the Ottoman Empire, Sunnis and Christians held the power in Lebanon as trade contacts with Europe intensified. In the 18th century, French protection of the Maronite Christians was seen as a threat by the Muslim Druzes. The Ottoman-supported feudal system that had kept Maronites and Druzes at peace collapsed and in 1840 and civil war erupted between them.

LOCATION OF NOTE: East Beirut, the location of Sin El Fil, where Antoine Ghanem was assassinated, has long been a Christian strong-hold. Centred on the Ashrafiya hill, East Beirut also hugs the jutting, northern Beirut coastline. The streets of East Beiruit resemble those of old provincial France. Since the civil war devastated much of central Beirut, many businesses and much reconstruction has moved to the Christian, Eastern sector. Down through history, the eastern quarter was home to the seven most powerful Greek Orthodox Christian families. Originally they were the landowners of large tracts where East Beirut now stands.

PROFILE: Pierre Gemayyel: founder of the Maronite Christian Falangist Party of which Antoine Ghanem was a member. Gemayyel was educated in the France during the 1930s. On a visit to Germany, he absorbed Fascist ideas which became the basis for his Falangist Party in Lebanon. After the short civil war of 1958, in which Maronite Christians fought the Pan Arabism which was spreading among Lebanese Muslins, Pierre Gemayyel was appointed a member of Christian Prime Minister Fouad Chehab's Muslim and Christian salvation cabinet. Throughout the 1960s, he held cabinet posts in various governments.
The turning point came in 1968 when he joined Chamoun and Raymond Edde in the Triple Alliance which took a strong stand against the presence of Palestinians and the PLO in Lebanon. During the civil war of the 1970s and 1980s, which pitted Leftist muslims against Rightist Christians, Gemayyel's sons, Bashir and Amin, became leaders of the Maronite Falangists and occasionally led the government. In 1976-77 the Falangists were, for a while, triumphant- albeit with the help of Syria. Perhaps worried about depending on Syria, the patriarch, Pierre, signed an agreement with Israel to procure arms and training for the Christains in 1978. A falling out with former Maornite president and rival Camille Chamoun, resulted in an internecine feud, after whichGemayyel and Chamoun made peace and united their two militias. Gemayyel then worked for peace though helping to insitutute a federal system of government and by joining the Reconciliation Movement. He died in 1984.

CROSS-CENTURY SUMMARY: Historically, the region, known as Syria, stretches eastward from the Mediterranean into Mesopotamia. Straddling Mediterranean west and Arab east, it was almost inevitable that Syria should split. The 19th century feud between Druze Muslims and Christians in the coastal regions provided the occasion. Mediterranean Lebanon fell away from Asian Syria when the French made them separate countries. But Syria, perhaps moved by a sense that it carries the historical mantle of the old Umayyad Caliphate and perhaps even the Ottoman Empire, has always had its eye on regaining Lebanon as part of greater Syria. Sunni Islamists in Lebanon can appeal to the same heroitage. The civil war in Lebanon provided an opportunity for Syria to assert the claim on the grounds of restoring order. Syrias's withdrawal from Lebanon after the Hariri assassination in 2005 did not put an end to those ambitions and whether of not Syrian intelligence is making common cause with Sunni Islamists in Lebanon remains to be seen.

EYE-WITNESS: Reporter Robert Fisk on what he saw of the massacre in the Chatila Palestinian refugee camp, 16-17 September during the Israeli invasion of 1982: "They were everywhere, in the road, in laneways, in backyards and broken rooms, beneath crumpled masonry and across the top of garbage tips...In some cases the blood was still wet on the ground. When we had seen a hundred bodies we stopped counting...The full story of what happened in Chatila on Friday night and Saturday morning may never be known...What is quite certain is that at six o'clock on Friday night, truckloads of gunmen in the uniform- and wearing the badges- of the right wing Christian Falange militia and Major Saad Haddad's renegade army from Southern Lebanon were seen by reporters entering the southern gate of the camp. There were bonfires inside and the sound of heavy gunfire. Israeli troops and armour were standing round the perimiter of the camp and made no attempt to stop the gunmen- who have been their allies since the invasion of Lebanon- going in.

PRESENT SITUATION: In light of MPs being kept away from the parliamentary vote by fear of assassination, Speaker Nabeh Berri has hinted at postponing presidential elections if sufficient numbers fail to show up for the quorum or two-thirds majority necessary for the first round in a presidential election. While supporters of the ruling coalition charge Syria with trying to kill off the majority needed to replace pro-Syrian President Emile Lahoud, the pro-Syrian opposition is challenging the government to arrest and bring the culprits to trial. For the time being, both sides are divided between moderates who are willing to agree on a new, compromise president and the extremists who are desperate to find a way of getting their own candidate in into power.

PLUS CA CHANGE: 2005-2007 is not the first time Syria has waited in the wings, looking for an excuse to get back into Lebanon. In May of 1983, during the middle phase of the civil war, President Amin Gemayyel tried to gain national support by asking Israel and Syria both to withdraw their troops. While Israel withdrew, Syria merely lowered its profile. In the ensuing vaccum, Christian militias clashed immediately with Syrian backed Druze militias. Multinational Peace Troops suffered bomb attacks, killing 230 US maries and 58 French partroopers. Fighting continued unabated, the Christian, South Lebanese Army occupied the south of Lebanon. and militias started taking western hostages. Factions fragmented and PLO units filtered back into Lebanon. Finally, in 1988, Syrian troops returned in force to restore order.

CURIOSITY: In the 6th century, when Syria-Lebanon was part of the Byzantine Empire, a Christian sect in Antioch, known as the Monothelites, suffered persecution and found refuge in to the south, in Lebanon. By 644, Lebanon had become Muslim while the Christian Monthelites who held fast in the mountain later became known as Maronites.

HISTORY OF SYRIA; HISTORY OF LEBANON: CHRONOLOGY

2250 BC- Syria-Lebanon is part of the Akkadian Empire.

1850 BC- the Kingdom of Egypt rules the Lebanese coastal region.

1600 BC- Lebanon-Syria occupied by the Hurrians.

1300 BC- the Amorites. Lebanon is on a trade route stretching fromm Ur in southern Iraq tp Assur in norhtern Iraq, to Aleppo in north Syria and down through Lebanon toward Egypt.

-1200 BC- Prompted by the Dorian invasions from the north of Greece and into Anatolia, the Luvians of Anatola occupy Syria-Lebanon.

-1000 -670 BC Phoenician civilization developes along the coast.

670 BC- Lebanon is ruled by the kingdom of Tyre as the Assyrian Empire dominates the region.

560 BC- Lebanon-Syria is ruled by Babylon.

500-334 BC- the region is part of the Persian Empire.

334-323 BC- Alexander the Great of Macedon takes the Lebanese coastal area on his march to Egypt.

323-301 BC- the region is ruled by Alexander's successor, Antigonus.

305 BC-64BC -Syria-Lebanon is rulled by the Macedonian Seleucid kings.

220 BC- the coastal region is ruled by Ptolemaic Egypt.

192 BC- Lebanon-Syria has fallen back under Seleucid rule.

74 BC- the region falls briefly under the rule of Armenia.

44 BC- the region has been taken by Rome with Syria to become a Roman province. The Lebanon region was called Phoenice.

AD 325- 644- Syria-Lebanon is part of the Oriens region of the Eastern Roman Empire.

-6th century- Monothelite Christians, persecuted in Antioch, find refuge in Lebanon.

644- Syria-Lebanon is penetrated by Islam.

-Lebanon is Islamized by migration of Kurds, Turkomans, Persians and Arabs, many of whom had been accused of the Shia heresy in their land of origin.

-Abu Dharral Ghifari, a companion of Mohammed and partisan of Ali, the first Shia Caliph, is exiled to Rubzah in Syria.

-Late 7th century- the Islamic Umayyad Caliphate rules from Damascus.

-Christian Monothelites in the mountains become known as Maronites.

-11th century- Arab Muslim sectarians name themselves Druzes.

-11th to 13th centuries- the Crusaders invade Syria.

-1187- Lebanon is held by the Crusaders, while the the Ayubids who oppose them rule from Syria.

-1258- the Mongols briefly take Damascus.

-1400 (circa) The Syrian military elite, the Mamelukes repel invasion from the east by the Samarkand conqueror, Tamerlane.

-1520-1566- the region is taken by the Ottoman sultan, Suleiman the Magnificent.

-17th-18th centuries- stable feudual structures provide stability between Druzes and Maronites.

-18th century. The French form close trade relations with Ottoman Syria.

-1736- with Ottoman approval, France becomes protector of the Maronite Christians. The Church of Rome grants the Maronites recognition.

-1757- contrary to the agreement with the French, the the Ottomans agree to Russia being the protector of Christians in the Levant.

-1774- the Ottomans and Russia reaffirm Russia as the protector of Christians in the Levant.

-prompted by French potection of the Maronites, Lebanon's Ottoman rulers incite the Druzes to move against the Maronites.

-1840- the Maronite-Druze feudal system falls apart. A civil war begins which will last until 1860

-1854- under threat of war, Napoleon III forces the Ottoman Sultan to recognize France as protector of the Christians in the Levant. In this he had British support against the ambitions of Russia in the Middle East.

-The Sultan begins, however, to give in to Russian pressure to restore Russia as the guarantor of Christianity and the Holy Places of the Middle East. In the end, the Sultan sides with Engand and France. In response, Russia occupies neightbouring Ottoman provinces of Wallachia and Moldovia under the prestext of protecting Russian Orthodoxy. The Russian action sparks the Cromean war.

--1860- in Ottoman Lebanon, Druze Muslims massacre Maronite Christians. Maronites were considered to be dhimmi, like Jews and Christians- 2nd class citizens.

-1861- France intervenes and forces the Ottoman sultan to appoint a Christian governor for Lebanon. As a result the Maronite Christians are awarded a special enclave.

1864-1914- the Ottoman province of Mount Lebanon retains semi-autonomous status.

1914- post-Ottomoan Turkey retains the ‘sanjak’ of Lebanon.

-1920- as part of the Sevres settlement between the allies and the Ottomoan empire at the end of World War I, Syria comes under French mandate.

-the Turkish ‘sanjak’ of Lebanon is enlarged by the French into ‘Greater Lebanon’.

-the Lebanese Maronite Christian enclave is expanded to form modern Lebanon, governed separately from Syria but still under French mandate. It includes coastal Muslim regions despite Muslim protest.

- Lebanon, on becoming a League of nations Mandate, increases in size, bringing its Muslim population almost to parity with the Maronite Christian establishment.

1925-26- uprising by the Druze Muslims. They are a Shia sect who still revered as an incarnation of God the 11th century Shia Fatimid Caliph al-Hakim who is said to have been taken up to heaven.

1926- Lebanon’s new Communal Constitution, modeled on that of the French Third Republic, representation in the assembly favours Maronites to Muslims, 6 to 5. This majority was to become permanent despite changes in the population. The President was to be a maronite, the Prime Minister a Sunni and the Speaker a Shia Muslim.

-Lebanon is run by an agreement between Maronite and Orthodox Christians, Druzes, Shia and Sunni Muslims that required self-discipline and rejected radicalism. The Maronites and the Sunnis are the dominant groups but this ruling entente was run by the Higher Muslim Council which represented all the sects.

-the Lebanese inherit the political system of France's fifth republic which allocates parliamentary positions according to relgion: the President has to be a Christian, the prime Minister a Sunni Muslim, the speaker a Muslim; half the parliament must be Muslim.

1930-1939- the French put down several rebellions in Syria while trying to establish their mandate and alienate much of the population.

1936- Pierre Jumayyil, educated in France brings the idea of a Fascist militia to Lebanon, which he names the Phalanges Libanaises, founded to oppose Pan Arabism.

1941- Britain and the Free French liberate Lebanon from Vichy France.

1943- the National Pact settles differences between Muslims and Christians.

1943- The French and the British send a joint expedition to Syria to keep it out of Nazi control.

1945- Jan 1- Lebanon becomes independent. But the Muslms tend to want to be part of Syria and the Christians regard themselves as part of Europe, having no real connection with the Arab World. They called themselves Phoenicianists, considering themselves a Mediterranean, not an Arab civilization.

1945- after World War II, the influence of the Maronites declines with the withdrawal of the French and the British.

1946- Syria attains independence from France.

-Communist Syria becomes the site of cold-war rivalry between the United States and the Societ Union.

1948- as a member of the Arab League, Lebanon declares war on Israel.

1949- Lebanon is made to receive 300,000 Palestinian refugees. 100,000 are in 15 major camps, five of which ring the capital, controlling entry and exits from Beirut.

1952 -Maronite Camille Chamoun becomes President, favouring the West against the leftist, pan-Arab Nasserite movement.

- Lebanon has a bloodless revolution.

1956- many Lebanese begin to follow Nasser. Muslims believed they had lost the prestige they had had under the Ottomans before 1920 when the Franch separated Lebanon from Syria.

-until 1958- Lebanese governments tried to steer a middle course, reaching out both to the west and the Arab world.

1958- Unrest during the Suez Crisis. Chamoun’s acceptance of US aid and his opposition to a union of Syria and Egypt causes fighting between Christians and Pan Arab Nasserites, the latter with Syrian and Egyptian support.

-General Fouad Chebab, a Muslim, becomes president. US troops are withdrawn. Chebab restores Muslim parity with Christians in the assembly. Lebanon begins to lean toward the Arab states.

1961- The United Arab Republic dissolves due to a Baathist coup in Syria.

1961- Syria’s withdrawal from a Pan Arab union with Egypt aggravates a rift between pro Arb and pro Western forces in Lebanon.

1962- Syria incites a coup to draw Lebanon into a Greater Syria but the plot is crushed.

-the late 60s- Palestinian Resistance units begin to infiltrate south Lebanon . Druze leader Kamal Jumblatt encourages their entry into Lebanon in order to weaken the Maronites.

1967- Lebanon gives lip service to the Arab cause in the Six Day War but tries to steer a middle course..

-1968- Dec. 28- Israel raids Beruit in reprisal for a Lebanon-based attack by Palestinian militants on an Iasraeli air plane in Athens.

1969- after attempting to limit the PLO’s activities, the Lebanese army engages against PLO units.

1970- Bashir and Amin Jamayyel begint to take over leadership of the Maronite Phalange from their father Pierre. Their ascendance begins the eclipse of Chamoun.

1970s- Civil war breaks out when Shia and Druze Muslims rebel against Maronite Christians and Sunni rule.

-the war complicates as the PLO, driven out by the Israelis, sets up around Beirut. The PLO sides with the Drize and Shia in the civil war.

1973- a brief upsurge of sectarian fighting. The Lebanese army engages Palestinian groups.

1973- a brief upsurge of sectarian fighting. The Lebanese army engages Palestinian groups.

1973- Lebanon stays neutral in the Yom Kippur war.

1974- Palestianian groups launch attacks from Lebanon against Israel.

1975- April 13- In response to the assassination of one of their leaders, Christian Maronite Phalagists launch an attack on Palestinians, inaugurating a full civil war.

1975- Left wing Shia and Druze Muslims supported by Syria revolt against Arab Maronite Christian (Eastern Chrisitians in communion with Rome) and Sunni control of the government. The Maronites are supported by Israel. The Druzes are led by Kamal Jumblatt, the Shia by Moussa Sadr.

-Shia leader Moussa Sadr undermines the Higher Muslim Council by calling for a Higher Shia Council.

-the war complicates as the PLO, driven out of Palestine by the Israelis and from Syria by the Syrians sets up around Beirut, using Lebanon as a new base for sorties against Israel.

1975- with Egypt having signed a peace accord with Israel, Syria’s Alawite regime decides to take over leadership of the Arab cause from Egypt by backing the PLO rebellion in Lebanon.

-the Shia form an alliance with the left of the PLO.

-The PLO sides with Druze and Shia Muslims and the LNM militia in the growing civil war. Government order dissolves into anarchy.

1976- Sakris becomes president.

1976- Syria forms the Arab Deterrent Force (ADF) and invades Lebanon at the request of Suleiman Franjieh, supporting the Maronites to prevent the Palestinians from gaining control. Syrian intervention is opposed by Druze leader Kamal Jumblatt.

-Oct- a ceasefire fails to last.

1976- the PLO shifts to southern Lebanon, out of reach of Syria’s ADF, but giving Arafat more direct control over them.

-West Beirut is riven by competing militias.

-East and North Beirut is the objective of Christian militias backed by Israel.

-fighting continues despite the presence of Multinational Peace Troops.

1977- Druze leader, Kamal Jumblatt is assassinated and succeeded by his son Walid as head of the Progressive Socialist Party.

1978- March- June – seeing that there is no longer any central authority in Lebanon to deal with the PLO, Israel invades in an attempt to crush the PLO in southern Lebanon and forms a security zone north of the Israeli border.

-Imad Mughaniyah, as a member of Arafat's elite 'Force 17' works as a sniper, on the Green Line, separating Muslim from Christian Beirut.

-the UN sends in an ineffective UNIFIL force of 6,000.

-the Soviet Union provides arms for Syria and the PLO.

1980s- Syria sends its army in to restore order and occupies Lebanon. Syria and the PLO hold separate parts of the country.

-the Soviet Union provides arms for Syria and the PLO.

1982- Israel invades, wiping out PLO strongholds in Tyre and Sidon, attacks Beirut by land, air and sea. Israeli troops encircle and bomb East Beirut, home of the PLO HQ. Israel drives out Syria and the PLO- sending the PLO to resettle in various Arab countries under the eye of international peace keepers.

-PLO Force 17 member, Imad Mughaniyah stays behind, fighting in Beirut.

Aug. Maronite Bashir Gemael is elected President.

-the expulsion of the PLO from Lebanon results in the creation of Hezbollah as the new resistance to Israeli occupation, dedicated also to the annihilation of Israel and the establishment of a Palestinian theocracy. After falling out with the PLO, Imad Mughinyah joins the newly formed Hezbollah and becomes its security chief. His is also prominent in Islamic Jihad.

-Sept.- When president Bashir Gemayel of Lebanon is assassinated in a bombing of the Christian Falangist headquarters,, Israel, fearing further instability, occupies Beirut. In the process it allows a proxy force of Christian Maronite militias to massacre Palestinian refugees in the Shabra and Shatila refugee camps- the Christians probably doing do in retaliation for the death of Gemayel.

-French, US and Italian troops are dispatched to restore order.

-Bashir’s brother Amin Gemayel is elected president.

-the US pressures Israel for a settlement.

1982 -Israeli troops occupy southern Lebanon to stop sorties against Israel by the PLO and the Shia militia, Hezbollah.

1983- April 18- a bomb destroys the US embassy in Beruit, killing 50.

- May- in a treaty brokered by the US, President Amin Gemayal, though a Maronite must ask Israel, as well as Syria, to withdraw, if he is to retain national support. Even if it exposes him to Druze and Muslim militias. Nevertheless he successfully negotiates Israeli withdrawal. The Syrians, however, refuse to withdraw.

-when Israel finally withdraws, the Christian militias clash with Syrian backed Druze militias.

Oct. 23- -Multinational Peace Troops suffer simultaneous bomb attacks, killing 230 US marines in a marine barracks and 58 French partroopers. Hezbollah militant Imad Mughaniyah is suspected in the blast that killed the 230 marines.

-fighting continues despite the 1982 ceasefire.

-1984- Israeli troops are forced to withdraw to their south Lebanon security zone.

-the Christian, South Lebanese Army, with the aid of Israeli troops, occupies south Lebanon.

-1985- TWA airliner hijacked by Hezbollah on flight from Beirut to Algeirs. Hezbollah demands the release of Hezbollah prisoners detained by Israel. US citizen killed. US indicts Imad Mughaniyah for hijacking.

-Beirut CIA station chief William Buckley is kidnapped and murdered. Imad Mughaniyeh is suspected.

-mid 1980s- various militias begin taking westerners hostage. Islamic Jihad kidnaps western academics and journalists in an attempt to free 17 Hezbollah members imprisoned in Kuwait. When attempts to force the release of the 17 failed, Imad Mughaniyah apparently arranged the kidnapping of British Anglican peace envoy, Terry Anderson.

-Mughaniyeh is allegedly involved in the Iran-Contra, arms for hostage deal between Washington and Iran. Working for Islamic Jihad, he releases hostages in return for which Iran buys arms from the US, the proceeds going to fund the Nicaraguan Contras

-Shia women begin wearing the black Chador as a gesture of traditionalist solidarity.

-in the absence of Israel, Lebanese factions turn on one another as the civil war fragments.

-President Amin Jemayyel is forced to recognize Syrian influence.

-PLO units filter back into Lebanon.

-1988- Syrian troops enter Lebanon to restore order. Druze leader Walid Jumblatt reluctantly accepts Syrian intervention.

-Sept. President Amin Gamayel’s term ends. Due to the impossibility of elections, he brings in military government by Maronite Michal Aoun whose mandate is to expel Syria.

-Syrian troops are attacked by the Lebanese army, led by General Michel Aoun.

-the Arab league brokers a truce between Muslims and Christians but makes no mention of Syrian occupation.

-Mughaniyah hijacks a Kuwat Airways jet to Cyprus and then to Algeria.

-1989 the Arab League proposes the Ta’if Accord, signed by the last members of the assembly standing before the civil war in 1975; the accord reduces the representation of Maronite Christians in the Lebanese government. Druze leader Walid Jumblatt accepts it reluctantly.

1989-1990- revolts against Syrian occupation by Gen. Michel Aoun are put down by Syria and Aoun is forced to leave the country.

-President Gemayel refuses to reduce the the permanent Maronite majority in the Taif Accord.assembly.

1990s- Hezbollah drives Israeli troops from southern Lebanon.

1990- President Muawad assassinated. President Hrawi succeds him.

-internecine fighting among Christian groups.

- Syria quietly re-occuppies Lebanon and enforces the Ta’if Accord.

-early 1990s- the militias begin releasing western hostages.

- Nov. -rival Shia groups make peace among themselves.

-1991- a government of national unity is established. A timetable for disarmament of the militias is established.

-the Lebanese army prepares to re-take control of the south.

-Hezbolllah releases hostage Terry Anderson.

-Aug- peace talks with Israel, Syria and a joint Palestinian-Jordanian delegation continue through 1992.

1992- fighting continues between various groups; and the Syrian military and the PLO are still in Lebanon.

-Israeli helicopter strike killes Hezbollah Secretary General Sheikh Abbas Mussawi in southern Lebanon.

-a general election in Lebanon is boycotted by many Maronite Christian parties. Amal and Hezbollah gain the most seats and Rafiq Hariri becomes Prime Minister. The constitution dictates that the president must be a maronite Christian, the Prime Minister a Sunni Muslim and the 108 member parliament divided equally between Christians and Muslms.

-Israel indicts Lebanese Hezbollah security chief Imad Mughaniyah in the 1992 bombing of the Jewish embassy in Argentina and in the bombing of a Buenos Aires Jewsih centre which killed 95.

2001- Syria withdraws 25,000 troops from Beruit but leaves 20,000 in the surrounding area.

2004- Aug. Under Syrian pressure, its own man in Lebanon, President Lahoud, remains in office beyond the constitutional six year time limit.

2004- Syrian President Bashir Assad, in a private meeting with Lebanon's western-oriented Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri, allegedly delivers a veiled threat of death should Hariri refuse to accept an extension of Syrian-backed President Lahoud's mandate to rule Lebanon.

2005- Hariri, who has almost rebuilt Lebanon in the wake of the war, resigns rather than confirm an extension of the mandate of Syria's proconsul, President Lahoud.

2005- February 14- Hariri is assassinated. Syria is strongly suspected. A national outpouring of support for Hariri, combined with international censure, forces Syria out of Lebanon.

-the new, pro-West, independence government of Prime Minister Sinioria is faced with heavy representation of the the Syria-supported Hezbollah Party in parliament and Cabinet.

2006- July- Hezbollah kidnaps Israel soldiers in the border area with Israel. In response, Israel invades Lebanon in order to destroy Hezbollah and cut off all support for hezbollah by Syria and Iran.

2006- November- the UN investigation of the murder of Rafiq Hariri implicates four Lebanese generals suspected of carrying out the attack on Syrian orders. Syria's president Bashir Assad's inner cicrcle is named as the instigator of the plot.

-Lebanon's finance minister, Pierre Gemayel is assassinated. Syria, once again is suspected. In light of UN disclosure of Syria's implication in the Hariri assassination, Syria is suspected of attempting to derail any further inquiries.

-Hezbollah holds mass demonstrations for the resignation of the Sinioria government and new elections that will more acurately show, in Hezbollah's view, the strength of the Shia vote.

-Hezbollah security chief Imad Mughaniyah is reported meeting Iranian President Ahmadinejad in Syria.

Dec. 1- Michel Aoun joins Hezbollah in its protest against the Siniora government's refusal to recognize Hezbollah's cabinet strength with a right of veto.

2007- August- In parliamentary by-elections, Government candidate Mohammed Amin Itani is easily elected to replace assassinated Sunni government deputy Walid Eito. More dramatically, however, Camille Khoury of the opposition (Michel Aoun's) Free Patriotic Movement, a Christian opposition party, edges out Amin Gemayyel, leader of the Government'sChristian Falange Party.

Sept.- Lebanese MP Antione Ghanem is assassinated during the run-up to the Presidential elections.

2008- February 12- Hezbollah militant Imad Mughaniyeh killed by Israeli car bomb in Damascus.

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