In the post Wolrd War Two settlements, “ Syria lost to Greater Lebanon, the mainly Muslim districts of Beirut, Tripoli, Sidon and Tyre, then the fertile plains of the Biqa Vallley, inhabited by Muslims and Orthodox Christians, and the Shia Muslim districts south of Mount Hermon...The annexatons created conflicts which still haunt the Lebanon and its relations with the Arab world " - from 'Syria' by Tabitha Petran.
DEVOTED TO THE DEEP ORIGINS OF CONTEMPORARY EVENTS AROUND THE WORLD.
TAG: France has had an interest in Lebanon ever since the 17th century when Louis XIV declared himself protector of the Lebanese Maronite Christian minority. President Sarkozy continues France's long tradition of attempting to bring stability to Lebanon as well as protect ing the Maronite community.
IN THE NEWS: FRANCE'S PRESIDENT SARKOZY MEETS THE PRESIDENTS OF SYRIA AND LEBANON IN PARIS, HELPING THE TWO COUNTRIES TO OPEN DIPLOMATIC RELATIONS. NEITHER COUNTRY HAS HAD RELATIONS WITH THE OTHER SINCE BOTH WERE FOUNDED AT THE END OF WORLD WAR TWO. THE NEW TIES BECAME POSSIBLE WHEN SYRIAN PRESIDENT BASHIR ASSAD SAID NORMAL RELATIONS COULD BE OPENED AS LONG LEBANON WAS ABLE TO FORM A NATIONAL UNITY GOVERNMENT. SUCH A GOVERNMENT WAS JUST FORMED AND IT INCLUDES SYRIA'S MAIN SUPPORTER IN LEBANON, HEZBOLLAH. HOWEVER, SYRIA'S ASSAD IS A LITTLE MORE GUARDED ABOUT THE DEAL THAN IS LEBANON'S PRESIDENT SULEIMAN. AFTER ALL, ASSAD CONSIDERS LEBANON TO BE PART OF GREATER SYRIA. SARKOZY HIMSELF HAS MADE FRANCE THE SPEARHEAD OF EUROPE'S NEW PEACE OFFENSIVE IN THE MIDDLE EAST. HIS SYRIA-LEBANON INITIATIVE IS PART OF HIS LARGER PLAN FOR A PARTNERSHIP OF ALL MEDITERRANEAN COUNTRIES WHICH WOULD BRING LEBANON, SYRIA AND ISRAEL TO THE SAME PEACE TABLE.
*1580- Pope Gregory XIII founds a seminary in Rome to train Lebanese Maronite Christians for the clergy.
*1649, the Ottoman Sultan accepts France's Louis XIV as protector of Christians in Lebanon and thenceforward, French education and culture will influence Lebanese political institutions
*1861- France intervenes in the first Muslim-Christian civil war and forces the Ottoman sultan to appoint a Christian governor for Lebanon. As a result the Maronite Christians are awarded a special enclave.
*1983- bomb attacks, killing scores of US marines and French paratroopers in their barracks, result in US and French withdrawal from Lebanon.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW: In ancient times, Lebanon, as Phoenicia, was distinct from the larger Syrian region which was usually attached to Mesopotamia. Distinctions faded when both became provinces of the Persian, Macedonian, Roman and Byzantine Empires. By 100 AD there was a sizeable Chrisitian community. After the region fell to the Muslim conquest, Lebanese Christians became a minority and the protection of that minority, as well as the conquest of Jerusalem, became an objective of the European Crusades. After the fall of Byzantium to the Muslims in 1453, large Christian communities remained in Lebanon, becoming an anomaly in the Muslim Middle East. From Lebanon's coastal cities, Christians maintained close relations with Christian Europe. Under the Ottoman Caliphate, attempts were made to keep feuding Muslims and Christians in Lebanon apart and protect the Christian minority. Eventually the Sultan recognized France as the protector of Lebanese Christians and France and Lebanon have maintained close cultural and religious ties ever since. But Lebanon remained, under the Ottomans, part of the same administrative region as Syria. After the fall of the Ottoman empire in 1918, the Arab tendency to regard the entire Levantine coast as 'Syria' persisted, even though Syria and Lebanon had become separate French protectorates. When both Syria and Lebanon became independent at the end of Wolrd War Two, Syria felt, inevitably, that it had 'lost' Lebanon. The Lebanese civil war of 1975-1990 gave Syria an opportunity to intervene militarily. The result was a gradual reassertion of Syria's claims to Lebanon. France's historical duty to Lebanese Christians and therefore to achieving peace in Lebanon, has combined with Syria's increasingly dim prospects of annexing Lebanon to make mutual recognition possible.
IN A NUTSHELL: France's influence and intervention in the Middle East began in the 17th century with its guarantee of protection of Lebanon's Maronite Christians. Since the French made Lebanon an autonomous part of its Mandate of Syria after World War I, a Sunni-Christian establishment has held power in a country with an increasing Shia Muslim population. Throughout two civil wars France , along with other western powers, has sought to protect Lebanon's Sunni-Christian establishment.
THEN AND NOW: In the early 1980s, at the height of the Lebanese Civil War, France, along with the United States and Britain stationed troops in Beirut to protect their interests but were driven out by Muslim militants in a flurry of assassinations, bombings and kidnappings. Over two decades later, war weariness and real power-sharing for Lebanon's Shia in the government in Beirut have made dialog possible, if still fragile.
CONTENTS: SCROLL DOWN FOR:
DISTANT BACKGROUND TO THE EVENTS
RECENT BACKGROUND TO THE EVENTS.
REMOTE BACKGROUND TO THE EVENTS
LOCATION OF NOTE:
PLUS CA CHANGE
TIMELINE FOR THE HISTORY OF
DISTANT BACKGROUND TO THE EVENTS : In 1861, to end the Druze-Maronite civil war, France helped pressure the Ottoman sultan to create a Sanjak or Christian-governed autonomous region in Lebanon and form a Majlis or multi-ethnic administrative council which included Maronites, Sunnis, Druzes and Shia. By the Berlin Treaty in 1878, however, French interests in Lebanon were confirmed and protection of the Maronites became the means by which France furthered its influence. Until World War I, ethnic strife continued and many Lebanese Christians moved to Europe; but by retaining ties in Lebanon, they only strengthened the European presence there. In 1919, in the post World War I settlement, Washington's King-Crane Commission decided that close Maronite ties with France were inevitable while the Muslim majority wanted Lebanon to remain part of Syria. As a result, King-Crane recommended maintaining the compromise of an autonomous Lebanese province within a larger Syrian State. At the same time, Greater Syria, which included Lebanon fell under French mandate. The European powers promised that territorial divisions which for example, separated Lebanon from Syria, would only be temporary. The French, however, increased the size of Lebanon so that it ended up containing more Muslims. After Muslims rebelled in 1925-26, demanding more power, France adpoted the "Communal System" of ethnic representation copied from its own Republic, determining that the Prime Minister would be a Sunni, the President a Maronite and the speaker a Shia. It also fixed the proportion of Christians to Muslims in the assembly at 6 to 5. This formula, balancing power toward the Christians, would remain more or less in place until the present day and remains a source of dissatisfaction with Shia Muslims who may now be in the majority. Western relations with the region were not helped when France brutally suppressed several rebellions in Syria during the 1930s. At the same time, imported French Fascist ideas took root among Maronite Christians like Phalange militia leader Pierre Gemayyel. European promises never to divide up Syria permanently were broken. In 1945, France granted Lebanon its independence leaving many Maronites feeling they were really a European enclave facing what would soon become a tide of Pan Arab nationalism. Syria gained its independence the following year. Like other western powers, France kept its eye on its own interests and on the welfare of Christians in the region during the turblent years of the 1970s and 1980s. In 1983, a French military force was withdrawn from Lebanon after its barracks were bombed by Hezbollah.
With the election of French president Sarkozy, Washington became nervous that France's traditional support of the pro western government and Hariri March 14 Coalition might weaken and that Sarkozy's attempt at peacemaking might not be as non-partisan as it appears.
Letter by poet Arthur Rimbaud to the French Consul in Beirut.
-14th century- Venice and Genoa develop trade with Lebanon. Europe retains an interest in protecting Chrisitian holy places.
1580- Pope Gregory XIII founds a seminary in Rome to train Lebanese Maronite Christians for the clergy.
1649, the Ottoman Sultan accepts France's Louis XIV as protector of Christians in Lebanon and thenceforward, French education and culture will influence Lebanese political institutions
-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 century: -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’.
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 Muslims 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.
1975- April- Lebanese Civil War breaks out.
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.
1983- bomb attacks killing scores of US marines and French paratroopers in their barracks, result in US and French withdrawal from Lebanon.
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.
2007- June 27- France's Sarkozy offers to broker all-party talks in Lebanon.
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 February 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, 'anti- Syria' Siniora sharing power with the 'pro-Syria (albeit Christian) President Lahoud. In 2005-2007, anti-Syria politicians were frequently assassinated. The hand of Syria was widely suspected. 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 for a greater share in government and its demands for the governemnt to resign in favour of elections which would reflect Hezbollah'a increased power. The Shia party also insisted on 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. Hezbollah opposed all criticism of Syria and in December, 2006, pulled its strong representation from Siniora's cabinet, protesting his refusal to give them the veto. Recent acts of terrorism and street clashes raised fears that Syria was trying to provoke a civil war in order to reestablish control over Lebanon.
French president Chirac, due to personal and poltiical ties to the late Sunni Prime Minister Hariri, had given partisan support to the anti-Syria March 14th Coalition led by Hariri's son, Saad. Charic's support of Hariri's legacys was pleasing to Washington. But after President Sarkozy succeeded Chirac, Washington was guarded about Sarkozy's non-partisan decision, in the spring of 2007, to hold all-party peace talks at St. Cloud. In Washington's view Sarkozy was playing into the hands of the Lebanese anti-Syria opposition's demands for a "unity government." In a June, 2007 meeting at the Elysee Palace Sarkozy met with Lebanon's Prime Minister Fouad Siniora. Although Siniora had accepted French foreign minister Bernard Kouchner's offer to host all-party peace talks on Lebanon, Siniora was fully satisfied that France's new government would not be neutral but would fully back his beleaguered government against the pro Syrian alliance of which the militant Shia party, Hezbollah, is a part.
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.
5/09/08-Sunni-Shia fighting in Beiruit after Government bid to ban Hezbollah communications.
REMOTE BACKGROUND TO THE EVENTS. While the Crusades ended in failure, they brought the Levantine coast to the attention of Europe and trade developed first with Venice and Genoa and then with France. As the Levant and Middle East fell under Ottoman rule, Europe retained a concern with protecting the holy places of Palestine along with Christian minorities, chiefly in Lebanon. In 1580, Pope Gregory XIII founded a seminary in Rome to train Lebanese Maronite Christians for the clergy. Over the next three centuries, Lebanese Maronites encouraged French Catholic missionaries to develop French, Christian western-style educational institutions in Lebanon. In 1649, the Ottoman Sultan accepted France's Louis XIV as protector of Christians in Lebanon and thenceforward, French education and culture influenced Lebanese political institutions. Throughout the 18th century, France pursued its political, commercial and religious interests in Lebanon. The coastal region of Beirut and Tyre became the most Europeanized area of the Middle East. Soon the western powers each had a religious group to protect. France protected the Maronites, Russia the Armenian and Greek Orthodox, Britain the Druzes and the Jews. Sectarian divisions deepened as the respective powers maintained diplomatic relations with each group. By the 19th century, the consequent empowerment of Lebanese Christians began to chafe on the Druze Muslims of the interior. In 1831, the Sultan's viceroy of Egypt, Muhammed Ali, rebelled against Constantinople, invaded Palestine and took Syria. He and his son, Ibrahim proceeded to bring Europeanizing reforms to Syria and Lebanon, facilitating the entry of European missions and increasing support and tolerance for the Christians, angering Lebanon's Muslims. The British soon threw the Egyptians out of Syria but ethnic strife had already begun.
Patron Saint of the Maronites.
LOCATION OF NOTE: Beiruit and Damascus. The capitals of Lebanon and Syria, respectively, are very close, less than a few hours drive, over the Lebanon mountains which separate them. The road crosses Lebanon's Bekaa valley, Syria's historic route of invasion into Lebanon and a strategic base for pro-Syrian Lebanese Muslim militias. Both capitals are ancient cities dating back at least to 1500 BC. Both saw rule by the Assyrians, Persians, Seleucids, Romans and Byzantines. Damascus fell to the Muslim Arabs in 635 and Beiruit in 636. At Damascus, the Umayyad Caliphate took power in 661 and ruled Beirut. Damascus lost its status as capital of the Caliphate when the Abassids moved the center of the empire to Baghdad in 763. Beirut fell to the Crusaders in 1110 and Damascus to the Mongols in 1258. Beirut, meanwhile, remained part of the Crusaders' Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem until 1291. The Ottomans took Damascus in 1517 and Beirut around the same time. In 1861, Beiruit became the capital of the autonomous Ottoman veleyat of Lebanon, which have special protection to the Christians. In turn, in 1920, Beirut became the capital of the French mandate of Lebanon and then capital of an independent Lebanon in 1946. Damascus became capital of an independent Syria in 1943. Beirut was the financial capital of the Middle East until the civil war of 1975-1990. Tension between the two capitals continued as a result of Damascus' repeated intervention in Lebanon. Damascus, never having recognized Lebanon until now, has not recognized Beirut as Lebanon's capital.
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: In the centuries following the Crusades, France gained its foothold in Lebanon through trade and through the education and protection of the Maronite Christian minority. In the eighteenth century, rivalry in Lebanon grew between Britain and France, both of whom made trade agreements with the Ottoman Sultan- but the extensive reach of Jesuit and other Catholic religious and educational institutions inside Lebanon guaranteed a strong French infleunce. As Druze Muslims began to feel the effects of French-backed Maronite power, they obtained the backing of the British and by the mid-19th century a Druze-Maronite civil war had ingited, not to end until 1860. The war concluded with an international agreement making Lebanon an autonomous region and providing it with a multi-ethnic adminstrative council or Majlis. An uneasy peace was maintained until Wolrd War I. With the end of the war, Lebanon-Syria fell under French mandate and in 1926, the French gave Lebanon the Communal System of government by which Sunnis, Maronites and Shia were guaranteed reperesentation in a power-sharing arrangement. During Wolrd War II, Vichy France provided a Fascist influence, chiefly among Lebanese Maronites. At the end of the war, in 1945, a Lebanon separate from Syria received its independence from France. Since then, France has maintained interests in Lebanon and tried with the UN, the US and Britain to act as a peace broker during Lebanon's civil war.
EYE-WITNESS: 1983: Beirut blasts kill US and French troops
-BBC- 23 October, 1983.
At least 146 American marines and 27 French servicemen have been killed after two separate bomb attacks on military headquarters in the Lebanese capital Beirut. Two lorries containing 4000lb (1.4 tonnes) bombs exploded when they hit the buildings, the US Battalion Landing Team headquarters and the French paratroopers base which are situated just four miles (6km) apart.The death toll is expected to rise to more than 200 as people remain trapped inside the collapsed buildings. The two suicide bombers, both of whom died in the attack, have been named as Abu Mazen, 26, and Abu Sijaan, 24. They are reported to be members of a previously unknown group called the Free Islamic Revolutionary Movement. The group is thought to be made up of Lebanese Shia Muslims and is part of an extremist faction of the Amal militia based in Syrian-occupied eastern Lebanon. The US Secretary of Defence, Caspar Weinberger, insisted there was "strong circumstantial evidence" that Iran was behind the attacks but did not rule out possible Syrian and Soviet involvement.
PRESENT SITUATION: Syrian president Assad's response to opening diplomatic relations with Lebanon was acquiescent but otherwise tepid. The maintenance by Lebanon and Syria of embassies in one another's capitals would amount to a de facto recognition by Syria of Lebanon's independence. If anything averse to Syria's interests develops, Syria could withdraw diplomatic recognition just as quickly. But Assad may also be taking a 'go-slow' approach, waiting to see whether pro-Syria Hezbollah, seen to represent Syria's interests in Lebanon, will survive as an active participant in Lebanon's new 'Unity Government,' in which case he may be satisfied with having Hezbollah as a 'fifth column' inside Lebanon.
PLUS CA CHANGE: With Lebanese independence on January 1, 1945, the Muslim population yearned to be part of a traditional, Greater Syria. Now, even with Lebanese Muslims, particularly the Shia, having a greater say in government, there remains the implied threat that if they do not get the power they feel they deserve they could ask, once again, for Syrian intervention.
CURIOSITY: In 1854 France's Napoleon III pressed a reluctant Ottoman Sultan to recognize France as protector of the Christians in the Levant. The Sultan, seeing that France was allied with the British Empire (against Russian designs in the Middle East), gave in.
TIMELINE FOR THE HISTORY OF LEBANON AND SYRIA:
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.
Alexander and the Seleucids
334-323 BC- Alexander the Great of Macedon takes the Lebanese coastal area on his march to Egypt.
192 BC- Lebanon-Syria is back under Seleucid rule.
74 BC- the region falls briefly under the rule of Armenia.
-prompted by French protection of the Maronites, Lebanon's Ottoman rulers incite the Druzes to move against the Maronites.
-1831- Muhammed Ali, Egyptian viceroy to the Ottomans, deals with rebellions against the Ottomans in Saudi Arabia and in Greece. The Ottoman Sultan, Mahmoud, having promised him Syria and Palestine as a reward, renegs. Ali rebels, takes Syria and from Syria occupies Palestine. He and his son open the area to European influence.
1831-40- Egyptian occupation of Syria and Palestine. Because Ali is a protege of France, France refuses to help the Sultan. Ali wins Cilicia, Palestine and Syria.
-Mohammed Ali invites the French Jesuits to set up in Lebanon where the Jesuits become protectors of the Maronite Christians.
-Ibrahim, son of Mohammed Ali administers Syria for Egypt, centralizing the government and improving the economy. Hailed for resisting the sultan's modernizing reforms, he soon brings in even more radical reforms- facilitating the entry of foreign missions and ruinous competition from foreign imports. Muslims protest his attempt to remove restrictions on Christians and Jews. He even arms Christians in Lebanon and uses them to suppress sectarian Muslim rebellions.
-Britain, meanwhile, allies itself with Druze chieftains in southern Lebanon.
-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.
Stage 1- The Reformist Alliance.
-Beirut CIA station chief William Buckley is kidnapped and murdered. Imad Mughaniyeh is suspected.
2007- June 27- France's Sarkozy offers to broker all-party talks in Lebanon.
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.
May 25- Parliament finally elects former army chief Michel Suleiman as president.
May 28- Fouad Seniora is re-appointed prime minister by Suleiman.
July 11- Seniora finally forms a unity overnment.
July 12- France's President Sarkozy brokers an agreement by which Syria and Lebanon will restore diplomatic relations.
October- Syria and Lebanon restore full diplomatic relations for the first time since the 1940s.
2009- March- International Criminal Tribunal to try the suspected killers of Lebanese Prime Minister Hariri, assassinated in 2005. Lebanon is to hand over the 4 pro-Syrian generals suspected in the assassination.
April- General Mohammed Zuhair al Saddiq, a former Lebanese intelligence officer is handed over to the tribunal trying the murder of Hariri.
-Four Lebanese Generals, suspected in the murder of Prime Minister Hariri, are released after the international tribunal finds there is not enough evidence.
-May- US Vice President Joe Biden visits Lebanon; Hexboollah accuses him of attempting to intefere in upcoming June elections.
-Lebanese army colonel arrested by Lebanon on suspicion of spying for Israel.
June- Saad Hariri's pro-western March 14 Alliance Party wins election, defeating Hezbollah's March 8 Alliance Party.
July- Lebanese army arrests 10 suspected Al Qaeda operatives believed to be planning attacks on UN peacekeepers in the south of Lebanon.
Septmber- Prime Minister Saad Hariri fails to establish a full unity government but coneintues to attempt to find a balance in allocation of cabinet seats.