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Friday, May 9, 2008

Sunni-Shia fighting in Beiruit after Government bid to ban Hezbollah communications.

HISTORY IN THE NEWS

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DEVOTED TO THE DEEP ORIGINS OF CONTEMPORARY EVENTS AROUND THE WORLD.

"Discrimination eventually sapped the Shia of their enthusiasm for the Arab nationalist ideal...The Shia of Lebanon were the first to break away from the unhappy family of Arab Nationalism." -
Vali Nasr, 'The Shia Revival'.

TAG: The rise to power of the Shia underclass in Lebanon has been a long slow business, fraught with betrayal or indifference from Sunni groups as well as by determination of the Sunni-Christian Europeanized elite to hold on to power. Hezbollah's strength, military prowess and increasing popularity have put the government on the defensive. There is also the danger that Syria could use a new civil war to reassert its claims to Lebanon by backing Hezbollah as its Lebanese ally.

IN THE NEWS: AFTER THE GOVERNMENT ATTEMPTS TO CLOSE DOWN HEZBOLLOAH'S COMMUNICATIONS ON MAY 5, SHIA GUNMEN OF THE HEZOLLAH MILITIA AND POLITICAL PARTY OCCUPY SUNNI WEST BEIRUT, DRIVING OUT PRO-GOVERNMENT SUNNI GROUPS. THE OFFICES OF GOVERNING COALITION LEADER, SAAD HARIRI, ARE CLOSED AFTER AN ATTACK BY HEZBOLLAH. THE ARMY HAS INTERVENED AFTER HEZBOLLAH'S ATTEMPTS TO SILENCE GOVERNMENT NEWS OUTLETS. IT IS HOPED THAT THE ARMY CAN STABILIZE THE SITUATION WITH ITS RESOLUTE NEUTRALITY. SYRIA, BELIEVED TO BE BEHIND MUCH OF THE TROUBLE OVER THE LAST FEW YEARS, DENIES RESPONSIBILITY.

REARVIEW MIRROR:
*1860- in Ottoman Lebanon, Druze Muslims massacre Maronite Christians. Maronites were considered to be dhimmi, like Jews and Christians- 2nd class citizens.
*1975- April 13- In Beirut, in response to the assassination of one of their leaders, Christian Maronite Falangists launch an attack on Palestinians, sparking the civil war.
*-1989 the Arab League proposes the Ta’if Accord, signed by the last members of the assembly standing before the civil war broke out in 1975; the accord reduces the representation of Maronite Christians in the Lebanese government. Druze leader Walid Jumblatt accepts it reluctantly.
*2005- February 14- Sunni Lebanese nationalist Prime Minister Hariri is assassinated. Syria is strongly suspected. A national outpouring of support for Hariri, combined with international censure, forces Syria out of Lebanon.

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 to re-establish itself. Sunni and Christian Lebanese nationalists tend to support the government, while Shia Muslims represented by Hezbollah along with some Christians oppose the government and depend on Syria for support. Three issues: a spate of assassinations of pro-government politicians (usually attributed to Syria); Hezbollah's increased political power and prestige after facing down Israel's 2006 invasion of Lebanon; and the vacant post of president, (earmarked for a Christian) have brought the country to the brink. Hezbollah's demands for greater constitutional powers for itself and the parliamentary impasse over election of the new president brought tensions to a critical point. The point of no return may have been passed with the government's attempt to close down Hezbollah's telecommunications.

IN A NUTSHELL: Shia Muslims, who have been in Lebanon since the 7th and 8th centuries have long suffered discrimination under rule by the Europeanized Sunni-Christian elite. Throughout the twentieth century the Shia, Lebanon's lower class, discovered that neither Sunni Muslims in government, not the Pan Arab movement of the 1950s, nor the PLO fighters in Lebanon in the 1970s and 80s had their interests at heart. In the 1960s the Amal Party began to give the Shia an identity. Its successor, Hezbollah, was founded during the civil war as a sort of militant Shia self-help movement, militia and political party. Emboldened by Syrian support and by its performance in the 2006 summer war with Israel, Hezbollah has demanded a greater role in government, which the Sunni-Christian establishment has steadfastly refused them.

http://www.ibiblio.org/hyperwar/AMH/XX/MidEast/Lebanon-1982-1984/USMC-Lebanon82/img/USMC-Lebanon82-14.jpg

West Beirut before the Civil War.

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:
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.
-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.-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.
-early 19th cent: -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.
--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.
-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’.
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.
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. The latter called themselves Phoenicianists, considering themselves a Mediterranean, not an Arab civilization.
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 Muslim 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.
1975- April- Lebanese Civil War breaks out.
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.
-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- 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.
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.
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.
-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.
-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.1982- -Israel invades Beirut and drives out the PLO. Bashir Gemayyel's Falangist militia links up with Israeli troops in south Beirut.
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.
-with Syria and the PLO defeated and Israel triumphant, Bashir Gemayyel's Falangists are left in control.
-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.
-1988- Syrian troops enter Lebanon to restore order. Druze leader Walid Jumblatt reluctantly accepts Syrian intervention. 1989- Syrian troops are attacked by the Lebanese army in a 'War of Liberation,' led by General Michel Aoun. Muslim militias turn against him.
1989 -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. 1989-1990- resistance to Syrian occupation by Gen. Michel Aoun is put down by Syria.
1991- after taking refuge in the French embassy, Aoun is forced to leave the country.
1990s- Hezbollah drives Israeli troops from southern Lebanon.
2004- Aug. Under Syrian pressure, its own man in Lebanon, President Lahoud, remains in office beyond the constitutional six year time limit.
2005- Feb 14- Prime Minister Hariri is assassinated. Syria is strongly suspected.
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 begins 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- 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.
Nov.- -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.
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.
-parliament delays election of a new president until October 23- as the Hezbollah-pro-Syrian bloc boycotts al proceedings.
2008- March- Damascus: Arab League summit fails to break impasse on election of a new Lebanese prime minister.
May- government attempts close down Hezbollah'a telecommunications system throws south Beirut into factional fighting between pro-Syria, anti-government forces centred around Hezbollah and anti-Syrian,pro government Sunnis.

THEN AND NOW:
After a Druze Muslim uprising in 1925-1926, Lebanon adopted a "Communal Constitution", modeled on that of the French Third Republic. Representation in the assembly would favour Maronites to Muslims, 6 to 5, an advantage which was to become permanent despite future increase in the Muslim population. The President was to be a Maronite, the Prime Minister a Sunni and the Speaker of the Assembly a Shia Muslim. Despite its imperfections, the formula more or less kept the peace for fifty years (with the exception of a brief civil conflict in 1958) until 1975, by which time it no longer represented an expanding, impoverished Shia population- and Lebanon collapsed into a civil war from which it has never really recovered.
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19th century Beiruit seen from St. Dimila.

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. In 1926, Lebanon adopted what's called the 'confessional system by which each group, Sunni, Shia or Christian was guaranteed leadership posts and seats in parliament. Between the wars, French misrule and atrocities further alienated Syria from the west. At the end of World War II, both Lebanon and Syria attained their independence. With the simultaneous creation of the state of Israel, Lebanon took in thousands of Palestinian refugees. The presence of radicalized Palestinians, Egyptian President Nasser's pan Arabism and the prospect of a union of Egypt and Syria, galvanized Lebanese Arabs, while upper class Sunnis and Christians looked toward Europe for support. Throughout, the government tried to steer a middle course. The further radicalization of the Palestinian refugees and the entry of PLO units into Lebanon as a result of Israel's 1967 war only raised tensions. Soon the PLO was using Lebanon as a base from which to launch attacks into Israel. By the early 1970s, the battle lines were drawn: clannish Maronite Christians and the Sunni upper class who together controlled the government, were opposed by anti-government Shia and Druze Muslim militants supported by units of the PLO. By 1975, full scale civil war had broken out with Shia muslims fighting Christian minority rule. In 1979-1982, Israel invaded twice to prop up the Christian government and to drive out the PLO. In the second invasion, in 1982, Israel made way for its allies, the Christian Falangists, to massacre Palestinians in the Shabra and Shatila refugee camps in West Beirut. Syria intervened throughout the 1980s and the 1990s, ostensibly to restore order but with ulterior motives of drawing Lebanon under Syrian control and what Damascus saw as the restoration of a historical Greater Syria. The war began to end in 1989, with the Taif Accords which reduced the share of the dominant Christians in the government.

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1982: Massacres at Sabra and Shatila Hours after the Israeli forces enter West Beirut, Phalangist militiamen begin a massacre of Palestinians at the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps

http://www.magnumphotos.com/LowRes2/TR3/S/K/S/3/PAR133689.jpg
Muslim West Beirut, 1982.

PREVIOUS ENTRIES ON LEBANON:
11/21/06- Pierre Gemayyel Assassinated. (see entry for Nov. 17 and scroll down)
2/6/07- Murmurs of a Renewed Lebanese Civil War. (see entry for Nov. 17 and scroll down)
5/20/07- Tripoli Sunni Group Battles Lebanese Government.
6/ 1/ 07- Hezbollah decries UN tribunal.
6/27/07- France's Sarkozy offers all-party talks.
8/6/07- Government hangs on in parliamentary elections.
9/20/07- Christian Falange MP assassinated.


War ruins in old Beirut.

RECENT BACKGROUND TO THE EVENTS. With the Taif Accords of 1989, the Lebanese civil war, which had been raging since 1973 began to end. But Christian General Michel Aoun refused to recognize the new Muslim president and in 1991, the Syrian army finally defeated Aaoun's army and drove him from the country. 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, 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 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. Over the last three years, pro-government, anti-Syrian politicians have been assassinated with regularity. The hand of Syria is widely suspected. Anti- Syria Prime Minister Siniora shared power until recently with the 'pro-Syria (albeit Christian) President Lahoud. After Hezbollah fought Israel's summer, 2006 invasion of Lebanon to a stand-off, the Shia Party's prestige increased vastly. In the fall, Lebanon's leaders ignored Hezbollah's demonstrations, strikes and demands for the governemnt to resign and to run elections which would reflect Hezbollah'a increased power. The Shia party also demanded two-thirds of the seats in cabinet as well as the power of veto. In support of Hezbollah's demands, Michel Aoun, a Maronite Christian who once led the fight to drive Syria from Lebanon, led his party into a pro-Syrian alliance with Hezbollah. In August, 2007, Aoun's party made further inroads against the government in by-elections. With pro-and anti-Syrian factions in parliament unable to agree on a way of choosing a president to replace outgoing President Lahoud, presidential elections were postponed until October 23. Meanwhile Hezbollah boycotted the legislature along with its existing cabinet posts. October 23 came and went as Lebanon descended into a political morass, without a president. In December, the army's celebrated neutrality was threatened when Francois Al Hajj, a candidate for commander-in-chief was killed by a car bomb. A Damascus Arab League summit in March tried but failed to break the stalemate in Lebanon. Last month, army chief and presidential hopeful Michel Suleiman threatened to resign if the party didn't agree on a president by summer. The tensions, which have mounted since the murder of anti-Syrian president Rafiq Hariri in February, 2005, broke when the government attempted to close down Hezbollah's telecommunications network. Hezbollah leader Hassan Nazrallah called it a declaration of war.

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 during 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. Western countries also wanted to insure that Christian minorities and Christian holy places were protected. Russia, Britain and France competed for privileges granted by the Sultan to extend their influence in the region through trade and religion. 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 Christian Maronites and Druzes at peace collapsed and in 1840 and civil war erupted between them. Th war lasted for twenty years, ending with a Druze massacre of Christians and intervention by France which forced the Sultan to make Lebanon into a protected area where primacy was given to Christians. Until World War One, the Ottoman Province, known as Mount Lebanon retained its autonomous status.

http://www.iranian.com/LalehKhalili/2001/December/Beirut/Images/photo.jpg
West Beirut- looking east from over the Mediterranean.

LOCATION OF NOTE: West Beirut, Beirut's Muslim section, situated on Musaitiba Hill. West Beirut comprises the westernmost angle of land forming a squarish promontory into the Mediterranean. Round the perimeter on the north and west coasts run the Avenue de Paris and the Avenue de General De Gaulle respectively. The Boulevard Saeb Salaam bounds the south. The quarter became significant after then city was divided into sectarian districts during the 1975 civil war. In September, 1982, during the Israeli invasion, Palestinian forces were trapped against the sea in West Beirut by the Israeli Army and then expelled. On September 16, Israeli troops escorted members of the Christian Falange militia into West Beirut's Palestinian Shabra and Shatila refugee camps where the Falange massacred the inhabitants. Less than two years later, on February 3, 1984, the Lebanese Army and the Lebanese Forces (LF) launched an assault on Amal-Druze positions in West Beirut's Shia suburbs. US warships bombarded the area in support of the army and the LF. By 1987, fighting had engulfed West Beirut as the Shia Amal militia and the Druzes turned against one another. In 1989, Syria backed a government based in West Beirut as the Syrian army launched its assault to end Christian Prime Minister and army Chief Michel Aoun's war for the liberation of Lebanon.

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PROFILE: Musa Al Sadr- (1928-1978) In 1958, the religious leader of the Shia, Ayatollah Mushin Al-Hakim of Najaf, Iraq, sent the young Iranian cleric Muza al Sadr to represent him in Lebanon. After condemning the regime of the Shah in Iran for persecuting supporters of the Ayatollah Khomeini, he was stripped of his Iranian citizenship. In Lebanon, meanwhile, the Shia had remained an unrecognized minority who toed the Arab Nationalist line of the mainstream Sunnis, the Ba'athists, the Lebanese communist party, the Druzes or the Palestinian Fedayeen in exile. Since there was nothing that represented Shia interests, Al Sadr formed the first important Shia organization, the Higher Shia Communal Council. Around that time, the Shia heartland of southern Lebanon was flooded with Palestinian Sunnis after Jordan's 1970 expulsion of Palestinian refugees from Israel's 1967 war. Once again the Shia followed another's cause and fought another's war, this time the PLO-led cause against Israel. With constant Palestinian cross border raids and Israeli retalliation, the home of the Shia in south Lebanon became a scene of desolation and Shia refugees began to fill the slums of south Beirut. In 1972, Al Sadr presented a charter to the Lebanese government, demanding improved conditions for the Shia. The charter became the foundation for the Movement of the Disinherited, a broad-based, multi-ethnic populist front established in 1973. Al Sadr provided the scholarship, sophistication and intellectual leadership to craft a Shia cause and Shia ideology for impoverished south Lebanon and the slums of south Beirut. Through him the Shia became aware of their strength as Lebanon's single biggest religious group. Opposing the traditional Shia leadership, Al Sadr inspired Lebanese Shia to look to themselves and their own history rather than to indifferent monolith of Sunni ideology and Arab Nationalism. After the civil war broke out in April 1975, he founded a militia to support the Movement for the Disinherited (MD). The MD's armed group, Amal, became a de facto shadow government providing security, social services and education, As the civil war got under way, it fought the Christian Falangists. Meanwhile, Al Sadr remained on good terms with the Sunni Muslim establishment, if only to achieve political parity for Muslims with Christians. However, the international Sunni cause, then seen to be the only Arab cause, became suspicious of the growing power of the vocal and dynamic Shiite. Moreover, he was Iranian. In 1978, Musa Al Sadr left Lebanon on a trip to Libya. Intelligence agents of Syrian president Hafez Assad followed his movements and had him killed in Libya to avoid any suspicion of local hands in his death- since Syria, was at that time attempting to strengthen its political ties with the Shah's Iran. The 'disappearance' of Musa al Sadr only heightened his prestige as a martyr, giving him the mystique of a "missing Imam." The Amal militia was dissolved in 1991 when its militia agreed to be rolled into the Lebanese army under a disarmament program at the end of the civil war. Thus the field was left to the other Shia militia, Hezbollah.

CROSS-CENTURY SUMMARY: Historically, the region, known as Syria, stretches southward from Turkey to Egypt and eastward from the Mediterranean into Mesopotamia. In other words, it comprised the entire Levant including Palestine. The Lebanon region had a separate existence as Phoemicia. Syria and Phoenicia became political entities when Rome made Syria a province in the first century BC. Syria was ruled by Byzantium, briefly by Persia and finally under Islam as the Umayyad Caliphate with its capital at Damascus. It was Muslim Syria that resisted the crusaders. Gradually its coast became Europeanized because of trade and because of the Christian minority there, in what had once been Phoenicia. 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 after World War I when the French ruled them as separate mandates. But Syria, perhaps moved by a sense that it carries the historical mantle of the old Umayyad Caliphate and even the legacy of 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 heritage. 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: In 1985, Israel withdrew from Lebanon. In the wake of the Israelis, Syria, which had withdrawn its troops in 1982, re-occupied Beirut and West Beirut in particular, in February , 1987 because of fighting between Amal and Druze militias. This, from TIME:


Monday, Mar. 02, 1987

LEBANON BLOODY BATTLE FOR WEST BEIRUT
During twelve years of civil war, foreign correspondents came to rely on the Commodore Hotel in West Beirut as a respite from the turmoil around them. Feuding militia leaders held press conferences there, and a string of hopeful peace envoys were among its guests. The Commodore's lively bar was renowned throughout the Middle East as a meeting place for those passing through Beirut. It was also the home of a parrot whose uncannily accurate imitation of an incoming artillery shell fooled more than a few newly arrived reporters. While cross fire occasionally damaged the aging seven-story edifice, it managed to remain open for business.
Last week the Commodore's luck ran out. The hotel became a killing ground in the bitter, fierce struggle between two Syrian-backed groups, the Shi'ite Amal militia and a leftist coalition of Druze militiamen and fighters of the pro-Soviet Lebanese Communist Party. At midweek, after an all-night battle, the Druze, lobbing grenades and delivering armor-piercing rockets, stormed the hotel and drove the Shi'ites out. The floors and walls of the lobby were stained with blood, and gaping holes made by rockets scarred its walls. By the time the last guests and employees had fled -- none, miraculously, were hurt -- looters were already at work stripping the building of everything from television sets to vacuum cleaners.
The sudden outbreak of fighting for control of Muslim West Beirut's commercial district was the worst to hit the area in three years. By week's end more than 200 people had been killed and some 400 wounded. Thousands more had been forced to go without food and water for days as gunmen fought pitched battles around them. Hostilities eased briefly late in the week as 4,000 Syrian troops, backed by hundreds of tanks and armored personnel carriers, massed in the nearby Chouf Mountains awaiting the order to move into West Beirut. Their mission: to enforce a cease-fire among Syria's feuding clients, one that might extend south all the way to the port city of Sidon. The sudden mobilization promised to become the largest Syrian presence in Beirut since before the 1982 Israeli invasion.
"Save Beirut from this inferno," pleaded Lebanese Prime Minister Rashid Karami. Tank and artillery fire on downtown streets prevented fire trucks from reaching dozens of burning buildings in the Hamra district, which includes the Commodore and the American University of Beirut. West Beirut's once fashionable main thoroughfare, Rue Hamra, where the city's upper crust could buy anything from French perfume to Cuban cigars, was reduced to a smoke- filled war zone. Declared a retired Lebanese Army colonel: "It is a fight to the finish."
By the end of the week the Druze and the Communists, who had renewed an old alliance just last month, had the upper hand. They had pushed the Amal out of Hamra and the low-income Sunni Muslim district of Zarif and had begun shelling Shi'ite gunmen occupying the state television station in the Tallet Khayyat district, on the southern edge of West Beirut.
As the fighting continued, the big losers were clearly the Syrians. Damascus has 30,000 soldiers in northern Lebanon and the Bekaa Valley. Initial pleas by the Damascus government for a cease-fire were ignored. At one point, Amal Leader Nabih Berri ordered his men to "stand fast. Fight until victory or martyrdom."
Prime Minister Karami led a Lebanese delegation that was summoned to Damascus, along with Druze Warlord Walid Jumblatt, to discuss a truce with Berri and Syrian President Hafez Assad. Despite Assad's resolve to send in troops, fast-moving events raised fresh doubts about his ability to control the warring militias, much less impose a wider peace in Lebanon. In the meantime, Lebanese police and 500 Syrian commandos in the city patrolled buffer zones between the combatants, as sporadic firefights made a mockery of the cease-fire.
The new fighting apparently forced Amal to withdraw many of its gunmen who had been laying siege to Palestinian refugee camps in the southern Beirut suburbs. Since October, Amal has blockaded the camps, preventing food and medicine from getting through, and in recent weeks the residents have been reduced to eating dogs, cats and rats to survive. During the past two weeks Amal allowed United Nations workers to drive in truckloads of food for the beleaguered refugees.
In the past, the Druze and Communist militias have had close ties to Yasser Arafat's Palestine Liberation Organization, whose fighters have aided in clashes with Christian militias. Thus Amal's siege of the Palestinians in the camps was opposed by the two groups. But tensions between the Druze and Shi'ites apparently were exacerbated by the presumed abduction last month of Anglican Envoy Terry Waite by pro-Iranian Shi'ite radicals. Waite, who was attempting to negotiate the release of some of the 24 foreign hostages held in Lebanon, vanished after he insisted that his Druze bodyguards leave him alone with his Shi'ite interlocutors.
As Beirut burned, there were few voices of sanity. Minister of Education Selim Hoss called for the resignation of Karami's ten-member national government, "because we are all failures." Said he: "It is time for the blood-shedding gunmen to listen to the unarmed honest citizen, on whose behalf - I say, 'No to all militias!' " Indeed, even the looming Syrian military intervention represented the addition of just one more volatile factor in the violent maelstrom that has brought Lebanon's tattered identity as a nation another step closer to extinction.
With reporting by David S. Jackson/Cairo

PRESENT SITUATION: For the time being, Lebanon's neutral army has intervened by ordering the restoration pf Hezbollah's telecommunications and insuring that a pro-Hezbollah official retains his post as head of airport security. Although the government and Hezbollah have agreed to a ceasefire, Hezbollah has sworn to continue a campaign of civil disobedience until the government meets its demands for more political power.

PLUS CA CHANGE: The continuing existence of a Christian East Beirut, a Sunni West Beirut and a Shia south Beirut has condemned the past to repeat itself in ever new versions whenever political instability returns to Lebanon. In 1987, the Shia militia, Amal, which had come to oppose the presence of (Sunni) Palestinians in its south Lebanon homeland, launched attacks on the Palestinian refugee camps on the perimeter of West Beirut. As Amal penetrated deeper into West Beirut, they were powerfully resisted by an alliance of Druze and Communist militias . Today, Sunni West Beruit, the district of the Sunni governing class, has come under attack from another Shia militia, Hezbollah.

CURIOSITY: In the mid 1980s, various militias began taking westerners hostage. Islamic Jihad kidnapped 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, Islamic Jihad operative (and famed Hezbollah bomber of Beirut's US Marine barracks) Imad Mughaniyah arranged the kidnapping of British Anglican peace envoy, Terry Anderson.

HISTORY OF SYRIA; HISTORY OF LEBANON: CHRONOLOGY

Ancient Syria
2500 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.

Alexander and the Seleucids

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 is back under Seleucid rule.

74 BC- the region falls briefly under the rule of Armenia.
Rome and Byzantium
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.
Islam
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.
The Crusades.
-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.
Mongols and Mamelukes.
-1258- the Mongols briefly take Damascus.
-1400 (circa) The Syrian military elite, the Mamelukes repel invasion from the east by the Samarkand conqueror, Tamerlane.
THE OTTOMANS
-1520-1566- the region is taken by the Ottoman sultan, Suleiman the Magnificent.
-17th-18th centuries- stable feudual structures provide peace between Druzes and Maronites.
France and Russia.
-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.
The Civil War of 1840-1861.
-Maronites were considered to be dhimmi, like Jews and Christians- 2nd class citizens. 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.
End of Civil war. Special Status for the Province of Lebanon.
-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.
World War I. Treaty of Sevres.
1914- post-Ottoman 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.
The Communal Constitution.
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.
World War II.
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.
Lebanon and Syria become Independent
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.
The Cold War and Arab Nationalism.
-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 -Kemal Jumblatt ans Camille Chamoun leads the 'Rose Water' Revolution, a bloodless coup fueled by the need for social and political reform of Lebanon's government which is till run by an inward-turned feudal elite.
1952 -Maronite Camille Chamoun becomes President, favouring the West against the leftist, pan-Arab Nasserite movement.
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.
The 1958 Civil War.
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 who have 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.
Decline of the Arab Nationalist Movement.
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 Arrival of the PLO
-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.
Prelude to Civil War.
1970s- first shots of the civil war fired 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- Lebanon stays neutral in the Yom Kippur war.
1974- Palestianian groups launch attacks from Lebanon against Israel.
LEBANESE CIVIL WAR.

Stage 1- The Reformist Alliance.

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.
Stage 2- Syrian Intervention and Occupation.
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.
Stage Three: First Invasion by Israel.
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.
Stage Four: Unification of the Christian cause.
1979- 1980- In internal clashes, rhe Christian Falangists defeat the National Liberal party for control of the Maronite cause.
1981- peace agreement between Israel, 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.
Stage Five- Second Invasion by Israel.
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.
Stage Six: Syria Reasserts Control.
-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.
Stage Seven: Syria Stretched to the Limit.
-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.
Stage Eight- Aoun's War of Liberation against 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.
Srage Nine- the Taif Accord.
-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.
POST WAR SYRIA.
Tention between Christian President Lahoud and Sunni Prime Minister Hariri.
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.
Assassination of Rafiq Hariri/
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.
Hezbollah and the Summer 2006 Israeli Invasion.
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 Agitates for More power.
-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.
Aoun Joins Hezbollah.
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.

Standoff over Vacant post of President.

-parliament delays election of a new president until October 23- as the Hezbollah-pro-Syrian bloc boycotts al proceedings. October 23 deadline passes without a decision.

-December- Francois al-Hajj, touted as next army chief, is killed by a car bomb.

2008- January- car bomb kills four during attempt on US dip0lomatic vehicle.

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

March- Damascus: Arab League summit fails to break impasse on election of a new Lebanese prime minister.

April- army chief and presidential candidate Michel Suleiman warns he will resign if parties don't agree on a president by the summer.

Hezbollah Occupies West Beirut.

May- government attempts close to down Hezbollah'a telecommunications system throws south Beirut into factional fighting between pro-Syria, anti-government forces represented by Hezbollah and anti-Syrian, pro government Sunnis.
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