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Tuesday, January 25, 2011

New Hezbollah-backed Prime Minister denounced by ex-PM Hariri.

HISTORY IN THE NEWS:

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DEDICATED TO THE ORIGINS OF CONTEMPORARY EVENTS AROUND THE WORLD.

TAG: Behind the crisis lies the four-century old problem of Lebanon's division between Western and native Arab influence.


IN THE NEWS:  NAJIB MIQATI BECOMES PRIME MINISTER AS FORMER PM SAAD HARIRI LOSES THE VOTE FOR THE POST WHICH HE HAD HELD IN THE NAME OF HIS FATHER WHOSE ASSASSINATION IN 2005 REMAINS THE MAIN ISSUE THREATENING LEBANON. HARIRI'S SUNNI SUPPORTERS STAGED VIOLENT PROTESTS AT THE CHOICE OF THE HEZBOLLAH-BACKED P.M., EVEN THOUGH THE PROCESS WAS NORMAL AND CONSTITUTIONAL.  THE DECIDING VOTES FOR THE HEZBOLLAH CANDIDATE CAME FROM WALID JUMBLATT, HEAD OF THE DRUZE MINORITY. IT IS COMMON KNOWLEDGE THAT THE U.N.-BACKED TRIBUNAL INVESTIGATING HIS FATHER'S DEATH WILL INDICT HEZBOLLAH SUSPECTS AND THAT THE CHOICE OF PRIME MINISTER WAS A DEFENSIVE MOVE ON THE PART OF HEZBOLLAH WITH THE SUPPORT OF JUMBLATT.  THE LATTER BELIEVE THE TRIBUNAL IS A U.S.-ISRAELI PLOT. MR. JUMBLATT HAD THOUGHT HARIRI HAD AGREED TO A COMPROMISE OVER THE TRIBUNAL BUT HAD GONE BACK ON HIS WORD. HOWEVER, MAQITI, THOUGH NOMINALLY ASSOCIATED WITH HEZBOLLAH, IS A BUSINESSMAN AND A CENTRIST WHO HAS WORKED WITH THE SUNNI COMMUNITY.



WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:  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. 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 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 power 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 the Sunni president Siniora's cabinet, protesting his refusal to give them the veto. 


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, 2008. 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. On May 25, 2008,Parliament finally elected former army chief Michel Suleiman as president. Three days later, Fouad Seniora was re-appointed prime minister by Suleiman.


Prospects for reconciliation received a setback in March 2009, when the International CriminalTribunal, having tried tried the four Lebanese generals suspected in the 2005 Hariri Assassination, acquitted them for lack of evidence The elections, the following month, produced a victory for Sunni leader and Prime-Minister designate Saad Hariri's March 14 Party, an alliance formed around his his father's assassination, implicitly opposing  the defeated pro-Syrian Hezbollah party and its backer, Syria. Instability continued as Saad Hariri failed to achieve agreement in the allocation of cabinet posts as he attempted to form a government. By September, Prirme Minister Saad Hariri had still not been able to form a government through the constitutional ethnic allocation of cabinet posts


Finally, on November 7, 2009, Prime Minister Saad Hariri announced the formation of a unity government five months after the victory of his March 14 Party. A period of conciliation  followed, the new cabinet ruling that Hezbollah could remain armed with its considerable arsenal.


Since then:

2009 December - Lebanon's cabinet endorses Hezbollah's right to keep its arsenal of weapons.

2010- Oct 4, It was reported that Syria has ordered the arrest of 33 people over false testimony given in the UN-backed probe into the assassination of Lebanese ex-premier Rafiq Hariri. Observers said the warrants carried no legal weight in Lebanon as the crime in question took place on Lebanese soil and the complainant as well as most of the defendants are Lebanese.


 Oct- -Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah calls on Lebanese to boycott UN tribunal into 2005 killing of former PM Rafik Hariri, saying the tribunal is in league with Israel.

-Oct 28, Sheik Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of Hezbollah, called on all Lebanese to boycott the UN tribunal investigating the 2005 assassination of a former prime minister, saying all information gathered by the team was being sent to Israel. He spoke a day after a crowd of women attacked two UN investigators and a Lebanese interpreter as they gathered evidence at a private gynecology clinic in Beirut. He confirmed that the wives and relatives of Hezbollah commanders and officials were among the clinic's patients.



Nov 23, Lebanese PM Saad Hariri dismissed a media report that implicated Hezbollah and possibly Lebanon's head of police intelligence, Colonel Wissam Hassan, in the 2005 murder of his father, ex-premier Rafiq Hariri.


Nov 27, Lebanese PM Saad Hariri expressed concerns for stability in the Middle East as he began a visit to Tehran to rally Iran's support for his efforts to keep Lebanon stable amid tensions over a U.N. probe into the assassination of his father, Rafik Hariri.



IN HISTORY:  FOR CENTURIES, LEBANESE HAVE BEEN DIVIDED BETWEEN PRO- AND AND ANTI- WESTERN FACTIONS. LEBANON, AFTER ALL, IS  HISTORICALLY THE MOST EUROPEANIZED PART OF THE MIDDLE EAST, CHIEFLY BECAUSE OF A DESIRE BY EUROPEAN NATIONS TO PROFIT FROM MEDITERRANEAN TRADE WHILE PROTECTING CHRISTIAN RELGIOUS SITES AND MINORITIES. BY THE EARLY 19TH CENTURY,  THE OTTOMAN EMPIRE HAD ALLOWED FRANCE AND BRITAIN TO BECOME WELL ESTABLISHED WITH TRADING, MILITARY AND RELGIOUS INSITUTIONS INSIDE LEBANESE TERRITORY.  WESTERN INFLUENCE BECAME DEEPER AFTER 1830.

In 1831, the Ottoman 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 Maronite Christians, angering Lebanon's Muslims. The British soon threw the Egyptians out of Syria but ethnic strife had already begun. It exploded in a Druze-Maronite sectarian war in 1860.

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.

After the collapse of the Ottoman Empire at the end of World War One. 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  When 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.
 
RELEVANT DATES:
 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.
-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 OTTOMANS
-1517-1566- the region is taken by the Ottoman sultan, Suleiman the Magnifice
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 Christian
WORLD WAR ONE- Treaty of Sevres.
1919- 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 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.
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.
 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 Druze and Shia in the civil war..
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
Dreation of Hezbollah
1982- the expulsion of the PLO from Lebanon results in the creation of the Shia 'army of God, "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. He is also prominent in Islamic Jihad.

Stage Six: Syria Reasserts Control.
-1984- Israeli troops are forced to withdraw to their south Lebanon security zone.
-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 re-enter Lebanon to restore order. Druze leader Walid Jumblatt reluctantly accepts Syrian intervention.
Stage Eight- Aoun's War of Liberation against Syria.
-Syrian troops are attacked by the Lebanese army, led by General Michel Aoun.
Stage 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 reluctantl1990s- Hezbollah drives Israeli troops from southern Lebanon.
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.
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.
UN INVESTIGATION OF MURDER OF HARIRI.
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. Amal and Hezbollah members resign in protest.
-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.
Standoff over Vacant post of President.
Oct-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.
2008-March- Damascus: Arab League summit fails to break impasse on election of a new Lebanese prime minister
Hezbollah Occupies West Beirut. Election of Suleiman breaks Impasse.

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.
July 11- Seniora finally forms a unity overnment.
Tribunal Arrives at Suspects.
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.
Suspects in Hariri murder released for lack of evidence.
-Four Lebanese Generals, suspected in the murder of Prime Minister Hariri, are released after the international tribunal finds there is not enough evidence.
Hariri's Pro-Western Alliance Party Defeats Hezbollah in Eelections.
June- Saad Hariri's pro-western March 14 Alliance Party wins election, defeating Hezbollah's March 8 Alliance Party.
Septmber- Prime Minister Saad Hariri fails to establish a full unity government but continues to attempt to find a balance in allocation of cabinet seats
Hariri froms National Unity Government, visits Syria for Talks.
2009- Nov 7- Saad Hariri succeeds in forming government of national unity, five months after his bloc won majority of seats in parliament.


2009 December - Lebanon's cabinet endorses Hezbollah's right to keep its arsenal of weapons.
Syria Makes Arrrests Over Tribunal.
2010- Oct 4, It was reported that Syria has ordered the arrest of 33 people over false testimony given in the UN-backed probe into the assassination of Lebanese ex-premier Rafiq Hariri. Observers said the warrants carried no legal weight in Lebanon as the crime in question took place on Lebanese soil and the complainant as well as most of the defendants are Lebanese.
Hezbollah Claims Tribunal is Tool of Israel. 
 Oct- -Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah calls on Lebanese to boycott UN tribunal into 2005 killing of former PM Rafik Hariri, saying the tribunal is in league with Israel.

Oct 28, Sheik Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of Hezbollah, called on all Lebanese to boycott the UN tribunal investigating the 2005 assassination of a former prime minister, saying all information gathered by the team was being sent to Israel. He spoke a day after a crowd of women attacked two UN investigators and a Lebanese interpreter as they gathered evidence at a private gynecology clinic in Beirut. He confirmed that the wives and relatives of Hezbollah commanders and officials were among the clinic's patients.

Hariri Worries about UN Tribunal and Stability of Lebanon
Nov 23, Lebanese PM Saad Hariri dismissed a media report that implicated Hezbollah and possibly Lebanon's head of police intelligence, Colonel Wissam Hassan, in the 2005 murder of his father, ex-premier Rafiq Hariri.

Nov 27, Lebanese PM Saad Hariri expressed concerns for stability in the Middle East as he began a visit to Tehran to rally Iran's support for his efforts to keep Lebanon stable amid tensions over a U.N. probe into the assassination of his father, Rafik Hariri.



CONTENTS: SCROLL DOWN FOR:
DISTANT BACKGROUND TO THE EVENTS
RECENT BACKGROUND TO THE EVENTS.
PREVIOUS ENTRIES

REMOTE BACKGROUND TO THE EVENTS
LOCATION OF NOTE:
PROFILE:
CROSS-CENTURY SUMMARY
EYEWTNESS
PRESENT SITUATION
PLUS CA CHANGE
CURIOSITY
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.

RELEVANT DATES
 
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.

In August, 2007, Aoun's anti-Syria 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, 2008. 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. In spring, 2008, the new 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. However, the fighting ended when the government agreed to leave Hezbollah's telecommunications intact. On May 25, 2008,Parliament finally elected former army chief Michel Suleiman as president. Three days later, Fouad Seniora was re-appointed prime minister by Suleiman. On July 11 Seniora formed a unity government and the following day, France's President Sarkozy brokered an agreement by which Syria and Lebanon would restore diplomatic relations.

Prospects for reconciliation received a setback in March 2009, when the International CriminalTribunal, having tried tried the four Lebanese generals suspected in the 2005 Hariri Assassination, acquitted them for lack of evidence. Moreover, in May, US Vice President Biden's visit to Lebanon before elections in June was seen by Hezbollah as political interference. The elections, the following month, produced a victory for Prime-Minister designate Saad Hariri's March 14 Party, an alliance formed around his his father's assassination, implicitly opposing  the defeated pro-Syrian Hezbollah party and its backer, Syria.

Al Qaeda, which has an interest in continuing instability in Lebanon had infiltrated fighters in the south before ten were arrested by the Lebanese army. Instability continued as Saad Hariri failed to achieve agreement in the allocation of cabinet posts as he attempted to form a government.

Meanwhile, Iraq and Syria cut off diplomatic relations after Iraq linked Syria with a string of bombings in Baghdad. By September, Prirme Minister Saad Hariri had still not been able to form a government through ethnic allocation of cabinet posts. Border unrest flared the following month with south Lebanese militants exchanging rocket and artillery barrages with Israel on October 27. In early November the border tension gained a maritime aspect when Israeli commandos intercepted a ship carrying 600 tons of arms from Egypt to Hezbollah (according to Israel) in South Lebanon.

Finally, on November 7, Prime Minister Saad Hariri announces the formation of a unity government five months after the victory of his March 14 Party. A period of conciliation  follows, the new cabinet ruling that Hezbollah could remain armed with its considerable arsenal and Hariri traveling to Damascus for what he described as productive talks with Syria. Relations seem warmer yet as Washington restores its ambassador to Damascus in February, 2010 after a five year chill when relations were broken because of presumed Syrian implication in the assassination of Saad Hariri's father, President Hariri.

Tensions resume, however, as an Israeli cabinet minister remarks in February 2010 that another war with Lebanon remains likely before Prime Minister Netenyahu distances himself from the comments. The rough patch continues as the US reprimands Syria upon hearing that Damascus supplied weapons to Hezbollah with Prime Minister Hariri moving, perhaps surpsingly, to Syria's defence. Implying that its suspicions are confirmed, the US hits Syria with sanctions in April accusing it of seeking weapons of mass destruction and arming terror groups in violation of UN resolutions.

In July Lebanon's revered Shia cleric Hussein Fadlallah dies. Syria and Iran, meanwhile deny US accsusations that Iran has supplied Syria with radar that can interfere with Israeli capabiliy of overflight in the event of a mission to destroy Iranian reactors. In August a skirmish between south Lebanese militants and Israelis on Lebanon's southern border leaves a few dead on each side and in September, Syria and Iraq restore diplomatic relations broken a year before.

PREVIOUS ENTRIES
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.

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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.





17th century Damascus.


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.





TIMELINE FOR THE HISTORY OF LEBANON AND SYRIA:

(some items, 2008-2010, thanks to BBC World News)

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
-1517-1566- the region is taken by the Ottoman sultan, Suleiman the Magnificent.
-1536- Francis I of France and the sultan, Suleiman I, sign a treaty of capitulations concerning permanent French trading settlements in the Levant and Turks trading in France; free trade and freedom of religion in one another's countries. Right to be tried in court by one's own consul or nationals. The agreement is renewable upon expiry.
-1585-1635- Fakhr al Din, Druze leader in Lebanon conducts his own foreign policy and invites Christian missionaries.
-1600-1900- Lebanese tribal chiefs encourage French Catholic missionaries to develop education in the country. Rome-educated Maronite priests return to Lebanon and spread western ideas.
1649- Ottoman Sultan issues a decree allowing France's Louis XIV to protect the Maronites. French clergy and French-educated Maronite priests begin to influence political institutions.
-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.
-1740- trade agreements between France and the Ottomans confirmed in perpetuity. The coastal area around Beirut and Tyre becomes the most Europeanized part of the Muslim world.
-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 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 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.
1918 October - Arab troops led by Emir Feisal, and supported by British forces, capture Damascus, ending 400 years of Ottoman rule.
1919 - Emir Feisal backs Arab self-rule at the Versailles peace conference, following the defeat of Germany and the Ottoman Empire in World War I.
1920 8 March - The National Congress proclaims Emir Feisal king of Syria "in its natural boundaries" from the Taurus mountains in Turkey to the Sinai desert in Egypt. 
-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.
1920 June - San Remo conference splits up Feisal's newly-created Arab kingdom by placing Syria-Lebanon under a French mandate, and Palestine under British control.

1920 July - French forces occupy Damascus, forcing Feisal to flee abroad. 
1920 August - France proclaims a new state of Greater Lebanon.
-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.
1922 - Syria is divided into three autonomous regions by the French, with separate areas for the Alawis on the coast and the Druze in the south.
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.
1928 - Elections held for a constituent assembly, which drafts a constitution for Syria. French High Commissioner rejects the proposals, sparking nationalist protests.
1930-1939- the French put down several rebellions in Syria while trying to establish their mandate and alienate much of the population.
1936 - France agrees to Syrian independence in principle but signs an agreement maintaining French military and economic dominance
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.
1940 - World War II: Syria comes under the control of the Axis powers after France falls to German forces. 
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 - Protests over the slow pace of French withdrawal.
1946 - Last French troops leave Syria.
 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- Founding of Baath party.

1947 - Michel Aflaq and Salah-al-Din al-Bitar found the Arab Socialist Baath Party. 
-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 - SYRIA- Army officer Adib al-Shishakhli seizes power in the third military coup in the space of a year.
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 - SYRIA- Al-Shishakli dissolves all political parties.
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.
1954 - SYRIA- Army officers lead a coup against Al-Shishakli, but return a civilian government to power. 
1955 - SYRIA Veteran nationalist Shukri al-Quwatli is elected president. Syria seeks closer ties with Egypt.
1956- many Lebanese begin to follow Nasser. Muslims believed they had lost the prestige they had had under the Ottomans before 1920 when the French separated Lebanon from Syria.
-until 1958- Lebanese governments tried to steer a middle course, reaching out both to the west and the Arab world.
United Arab Republic
1958 February - Syria and Egypt join the United Arab Republic (UAR). Egyptian president Gamal Abdul Nasser heads the new state. He orders the dissolution of Syrian political parties, to the dismay of the Baath party, which had campaigned for union.
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 of Lebanon. 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- SYRIA- September - Discontent with Egyptian domination of the UAR-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.

1963 March - SYRIA Army officers seize power. A Baathist cabinet is appointed and Amin al-Hafez becomes president.

1966 February - SYRIA Salah Jadid leads an internal coup against the civilian Baath leadership, overthrowing Amin al-Hafez and arresting Salah al-Din al-Bitar and Michel Aflaq. Hafez al-Assad becomes defence minister.  
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 June - Israeli forces seize the Golan Heights from Syria and destroy much of Syria's air force in the Six day War with Egypt, Jordan and Syria.
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.
Hafez al Assad
1970 November - Hafez al-Assad overthrows president Nur al-Din al-Atasi and imprisons Salah Jadid. 
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.
1971 March - SYRIA- Assad is elected president for a seven-year term in a plebiscite. 
1973- a brief upsurge of sectarian fighting. The Lebanese army engages Palestinian groups.

1973 - SYRIA- Rioting breaks out after Assad drops the constitutional requirement that the president must be a Muslim. He is accused of heading an atheist regime. The riots are suppressed by the army.

1973 6 October - SYRIA- Syria and Egypt go to war with Israel but fail to retake the Golan Heights seized during
1973- Lebanon stays neutral in the Yom Kippur war.
1974 May - Syria and Israel sign a disengagement agreement.
1974- Palestianian groups launch attacks from Lebanon against Israel.
the 1967 Arab-Israeli war. 

1975 February - SYRIA- Assad says he's prepared to make peace with Israel in return for an Israeli withdrawal from "all occupied Arab land".
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 June - Syrian army intervenes in the Lebanese civil war to ensure that the status quo is maintained, and the Maronites remain in power. 
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 - SYRIA- In response to the Camp David peace agreement between Egypt and Israel, Assad sets out to gain strategic parity with 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.
Muslim Uprisings in Syria.
1980 - SYRIA- After the Islamic Revolution in Iran, Muslim groups instigate uprisings and riots in Aleppo, Homs and Hama. Assad begins to stress Syria's adherence to Islam.
1980 - SYRIA Muslim Brotherhood member tries to assassinate Assad.
1980 September - SYRIA- Start of Iran-Iraq war. Syria backs Iran, in keeping with the traditional rivalry between Baathist leaderships in Iraq and Syria.
1981 December - SYRIA- Israel annexes the Golan Heights.
Syria's Assad Crushes Hama Uprising.
1982 February - SYRIA-Muslim Brotherhood uprising in the city of Hama. The revolt is suppressed by the military, whom rights organizations accuse of killing tens of thousands of civilians. 
 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.
1983 - SYRIA- Assad suffers a heart attack, according to reports denied by authorities. Assad's brother Rifaat apparently prepares to take power
1984 SYRIA- Rifaat is promoted to the post of vice-president. 
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.
1987 February - Assad sends troops into Lebanon for a second time to enforce a ceasefire in Beirut. 
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.
1990 -SYRIA-  Iraq invades Kuwait; Syria joins the US-led coalition against Iraq. This leads to improved relations with Egypt and the US. 
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 October - Syria participates in the Middle East peace conference in Madrid and holds talks with Israel. 
-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.
1994 - SYRIA- Assad's son Basil, who was likely to succeed his father, is killed in a car accident.
1998 - SYRIA Assad's brother Rifaat is "relieved of his post" as vice-president.  
1999 December - SYRIA Talks with Israel over the Golan Heights begin in the US. 
2000 January - Syrian-Israeli talks are indefinitely postponed.
Bashar Al Assad.
2000 June - Assad dies and is succeeded by his son, Bashar.
2000 November - Bashar orders the release of 600 political prisoners.
2001 April - Outlawed Muslim Brotherhood says it will resume political activity, 20 years after its leaders were forced to flee.
 2001- Syria withdraws 25,000 troops from Beruit but leaves 20,000 in the surrounding area.
2001 September - SYRIA Detention of MPs and other pro-reform activists, crushing hopes of a break with the authoritarian past of Hafez al-Assad.
2001 November - SYRIA- British PM Tony Blair visits to try shore up support for the campaign against terror. He and President Assad fail to agree on a definition of terrorism.
2001 November - SYRIA- More than 100 dissidents amnestied. Campaigners say hundreds of political prisoners remain in jail.
POST WAR SYRIA AND US INVASION OF IRAQ
2002 May - Senior US official includes Syria in a list of states that make-up an "axis of evil", first listed by President Bush in January. Undersecretary for State John Bolton says Damascus is acquiring weapons of mass destruction.
2003 April - US threatens sanctions if Damascus fails to take what Washington calls the "right decisions". Syria denies US allegations that it is developing chemical weapons and helping fugitive Iraqis.
2003 September - President Assad appoints Mohammed Naji al-Otari as PM.
2003 October - Israeli air strike against Palestinian militant camp near Damascus. Syria says action is "military aggression".
2004 January - President Assad visits Turkey, the first Syrian leader to do so. The trip marks the end of decades of frosty relations.
2004 March - At least 25 killed in clashes between members of the Kurdish minority, police and Arabs in the north-east.
2004 May - US imposes economic sanctions on Syria over what it calls its support for terrorism and failure to stop militants entering Iraq.

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 September - UN Security Council resolution calls for all foreign forces to leave Lebanon.
2004 December - SYRIA Authorities say they have amnestied 112 political prisoners.
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.
2005 April - Syria says it has withdrawn all of its military forces from 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.
2005 October - Interior minister and Syria's former head of intelligence in Lebanon, Ghazi Kanaan, commits suicide, officials say. UN inquiry into assassination of former Lebanese PM Rafik Hariri implicates senior Syrian officials.
2005 December - Exiled former vice-president, Abdul Halim Khaddam, alleges that Syrian leaders threatened former Lebanese PM Hariri before his assassination.
2006 February -SYRIA-  Danish and Norwegian embassies in Damascus are set on fire during a demonstration against cartoons in a Danish newspaper portraying the Muslim Prophet Muhammad.  
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 July - Thousands of people flee into Syria to escape the Israeli-Lebanese War.
2006 September - SYRIA Attack on the US embassy in Damascus. Four gunmen open fire and throw grenades but fail to detonate a car bomb. Three of them are killed, one is captured. 
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. Amal and Hezbollah members resign in protest.
-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.
2006 November - Iraq and Syria restore diplomatic relations after nearly a quarter century.
2006 December - The Iraq Study Group report making recommendations to the US government says neighbours should form a support group to reinforce security and national reconciliation in Iraq. Syria welcomes the chance to participate.
 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 March - European Union reopens dialogue with Syria.
2007 April - US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi meets President Assad in Damascus. She is the highest-placed US politician to visit Syria in recent years.
2007 May - SYRIA US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice meets Foreign Minister Walid Muallem, the first contact at this level between the two countries in two years.
2007 May - SYRIA Leading dissident Kamal Labwani and prominent political writer Michel Kilo are sentenced to a long jail terms, only weeks after human rights lawyer Anwar al-Bunni is jailed.
 Al-Assad endorsed as president for a second seven-year term.
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.
2007 September - Israel carries out an aerial strike against a site in northern Syria that it said was a nuclear facility under construction.
2007 October - Syria imposes tough visa restrictions on Iraqis, saying it can't cope with the influx of refugees.
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- SYRIA car bomb kills four during attempt on US diplomatic vehicle.
2008 January - Diplomatic row between Damascus and Paris over Lebanon's quest for a consensus president. 

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.
2008 March - Syria hosts Arab League summit. Many pro-Western states send lower-level delegations in protest at Syria's stance on Lebanon.
April- army chief and presidential candidate Michel Suleiman warns he will resign if parties don't agree on a president by the summer.
2008 April - The US accuses North Korea of having helped Syria to build a secret nuclear reactor at the site bombed by Israel in 200
2008 May - President Assad announces a 25% pay rise for public sector workers to offset effects of rising food and heating oil prices. 
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.

Syria and Lebanon Restore Relations.

July 12- France's President Sarkozy brokers an agreement by which Syria and Lebanon will restore diplomatic relations.
2008 July - President Assad meets French President Nicolas Sarkozy in Paris. The visit signals the end of the diplomatic isolation by the West that followed the assassination of former Lebanese PM Rafik Hariri in 2005.
While in Paris, President Assad also meets the recently-elected Lebanese president, Michel Suleiman. The two men agree to work towards the establishing of full diplomatic relations between their countries.
2008 September - Damascus hosts four-way summit between Syria, France, Turkey and Qatar, in a bid to boost efforts towards Middle East peace.
-Explosion kills 17 on the outskirts of Damascus, the most deadly attack in Syria in several years. Government blames Islamist militants.
Diplomatic thaw continues 2008 October - Syria establishes diplomatic relations with Lebanon for first time since both countries established independence in 1940s.
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.
2009 March - Jeffrey Feltman, acting assistant US secretary of state for the Near East, visits Damascus with White House national security aide Daniel Shapiro in first high-level US diplomatic mission for nearly four years. Met Foreign Minister Walid Muallem.
-Trading launches on Syria's stock exchange in sign of gradual liberalisation of state-controlled economy.
2009 April - A key suspect in the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri was arrested in Dubai. Mohammed Zuhair al-Siddiq, a former Syrian intelligence officer, was a witness to Hariri's killing.
April- General Mohammed Zuhair al Saddiq, a former Lebanese intelligence officer is handed over to the tribunal trying the murder of Hariri.


Suspects in Hariri murder released for lack of evidence.

-Four Lebanese Generals, suspected in the murder of Prime Minister Hariri, are released after the international tribunal finds there is not enough evidence.
2009 May - Syrian writer and pro-democracy campaigner Michel Kilo is released from prison after serving three-year sentence. 

-May- US Vice President Joe Biden visits Lebanon; Hezboollah accuses him of attempting to intefere in upcoming June elections.

-Lebanese army colonel arrested by Lebanon on suspicion of spying for Israel.

Hariri's Pro-Western Alliance Party Defeats Hezbollah in Eelections.

June- Saad Hariri's pro-western March 14 Alliance Party wins election, defeating Hezbollah's March 8 Alliance Party.
2009 June - The UN nuclear watchdog, the IAEA, says traces of undeclared man-made uranium have been found at second site in Syria - a reactor in Damascus. The IAEA was investigating US claims that the site destroyed in the 2007 Israeli raid was a nuclear reactor.
2009 July - US special envoy George Mitchell visits for talks with President Assad on Middle East peac
July- Lebanese army arrests 10 suspected Al Qaeda operatives believed to be planning attacks on UN peacekeepers in the south of Lebanon.

2009 August - Iraq and Syria recall their envoys in a deepening rift over charges of responsibility for a string of deadly bomb attacks in Baghdad.

Septmber- Prime Minister Saad Hariri fails to establish a full unity government but continues to attempt to find a balance in allocation of cabinet seats.

Oct 27-  South Lebanese militants fire rockets into northern Israel hitting the border town, Kirya Shamona. Israel responds with a cross-border artillery barrage.

Nov 4- Lebanon bound ship carrying 60 tons of weaponry intercepted by Israeli commandos who say it was destined for Hezbolla and had been loaded in Damietta, Egypt.

Hariri froms National Unity Government, visits Syria for Talks.

2009- Nov 7- Saad Hariri succeeds in forming government of national unity, five months after his bloc won majority of seats in parliament.

2009 December - Lebanon's cabinet endorsed Hezbollah's right to keep its arsenal of weapons.
Prime Minister Saad Hariri visits Damascus for talks with President Bashar Assad, describing the talks as friendly, open and positive,

2010 February - US posts first ambassador to Syria after a five-year break. 

2010 February - PM Sa'ad Hariri expresses concern about Israel "threats" after comments by Israeli minister suggesting a new war with Lebanon was likely. Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu distances himself from the comments.

2010 April - US warns of serious repercussions for Syria if reports that it supplied Hezbollah with Scud missiles were true. PM Sa'ad Hariri earlier dismisses the accusations against Syria.

2010 May - US renews sanctions against Syria, saying that Damascus supports terrorist groups, seeks weapons of mass destruction and has provided Lebanon's Hezbollah with Scud missiles in violation of UN resolutions,


2010 June - Eminent defence lawyer Mohannad al-Hassani, head of the Syrian Organisation for Human Rights, is jailed for three years for "spreading false information and weakening national morale" nearly a year after his arrest.

2010 July - Lebanon's most eminent Shia cleric, Grand Ayatollah Muhammad Hussein Fadlallah, dies.
2010 July - Syria and Iran deny US media reports that Iran has given Syria an advanced radar system that could hamper Israel's ability to overfly Syria and hit Iran's nuclear facilities.
Full face veils banned from universities.
2010 July - Syria and Iran deny US media reports that Iran has given Syria an advanced radar system that could hamper Israel's ability to overfly Syria and hit Iran's nuclear facilities.

-SYRIA Full face veils banned from Syrian universities. 


2010 August - Lebanese and Israeli troops exchange fire along border; two Lebanese soldiers, a senior Israeli officer and a journalist are killed.

2010 September - Syria and Iraq restore diplomatic ties a year after breaking them off.

Oct 4, It was reported that Syria has ordered the arrest of 33 people over false testimony given in the UN-backed probe into the assassination of Lebanese ex-premier Rafiq Hariri. Observers said the warrants carried no legal weight in Lebanon as the crime in question took place on Lebanese soil and the complainant as well as most of the defendants are Lebanese.

Oct 13, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad told visiting Iraqi premier Nuri al-Maliki that better ties between the two nations will be strengthened by the formation of a new Iraqi government.

October - Amid signs of heightened sectarian tension, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad pays controversial visit to Lebanon that culminates in rally held at Hezbollah stronghold near Israeli border.
Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah calls on Lebanese to boycott UN tribunal into 2005 killing of former PM Rafik Hariri, saying the tribunal is in league with Israel.

Oct 28, Sheik Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of Hezbollah, called on all Lebanese to boycott the UN tribunal investigating the 2005 assassination of a former prime minister, saying all information gathered by the team was being sent to Israel. He spoke a day after a crowd of women attacked two UN investigators and a Lebanese interpreter as they gathered evidence at a private gynecology clinic in Beirut. He confirmed that the wives and relatives of Hezbollah commanders and officials were among the clinic's patients.


Nov 23, Lebanese PM Saad Hariri dismissed a media report that implicated Hezbollah and possibly Lebanon's head of police intelligence, Colonel Wissam Hassan, in the 2005 murder of his father, ex-premier Rafiq Hariri.

Nov 27, Lebanese PM Saad Hariri expressed concerns for stability in the Middle East as he began a visit to Tehran to rally Iran's support for his efforts to keep Lebanon stable amid tensions over a U.N. probe into the assassination of his father, Rafik Hariri.

 Dec 7, The New York Times reported that US officials believe the militant group Hezbollah, based in Lebanon, has acquired an arsenal of some 50,000 rockets and missiles, raising fears of an enlarged conflict with Israel. Iran and Syria were named as the sources.
2010 December - US appoints envoy to Syria after six-year break

 Dec 29, President Barack Obama bypassed Congress to name the first US ambassador to Syria in nearly six years. Obama took the controversial step of forcing through the appointments of Ambassador Robert Ford and five other officials while the Senate, which normally needs to confirm nominations, was out of session.

Jan 12, 2011- Lebanese governmenrt falls as Hesbollah ministers walk out over Hariri Tribunal.

SYRIAN UPRISING
2011 March - "Day of Dignity" protest held in Damascus demanding release of political prisoners. Some 35 people are arrested. At a "Day of Rage" rally in the southern city of Deraa, security forces shoot a number of people dead, triggering days of violent unrest and more civilian deaths.
The government announces some conciliatory measures and releases dozens of political prisoners in an attempt to damp down the unrest. President Assad dismisses government, accuses protesters of being Israeli agents.
2011 April - State of emergency - in force since 1963 - is lifted.
2011 May - Army tanks enter Deraa, Banyas, Homs and suburbs of Damascus in an effort to crush anti-regime protests.
US tightens sanctions in response to bloody crackdown on protests. European Union follows suit days later.
President Assad announces amnesty for political prisoners.
2011 June - The government says that 120 members of the security forces have been killed by "armed gangs" in the northwestern town of Jisr al-Shughour. Troops besiege the town and more than 10,000 people flee to Turkey.
President Assad pledges to start a "national dialogue" on reform.
2011 June - The IAEA nuclear watchdog decides to report Syria to the UN Security Council over its alleged covert nuclear programme reactor programme. The structure housing the alleged reactor was destroyed in an Israeli air raid in 2007.
Opposition organises 2011 July - President Assad sacks the governor of the northern province of Hama after mass demonstration there, eventually sending in troops to restore order at the cost of scores of lives.
Dozens of opposition activists meet in Istanbul to form a unified opposition.
2011 August - US President Barack Obama and allies call on President Assad to step down.
2011 October - Newly formed Syrian National Council says it has forged a common front of internal and exiled opposition activists.
Russia and China veto UN resolution condemning Syria.
2011 November - Arab League votes to suspend Syria, accusing it of failing to implement an Arab peace plan. Weeks later the League votes to impose sanctions.
Army defectors target a military base near Damascus in the Free Syrian Army's most high-profile attack since protests began.
Government supporters attack foreign embassies.
2011 December - Death toll in uprising exceeds 5,000, says UN.
Syria agrees to an Arab League initiative allowing Arab observers into the country.
Twin suicide bombs outside security buildings in Damascus kill 44. Opposition suspects government of attacks.
Thousand of protesters gather in Homs to greet Arab League monitors.
State TV says more than 700 detainees freed.
2012 January - Suicide bomber kills 26 in Damascus. Government vows ''iron fist'' response.
Arab League suspends its monitoring mission because of worsening violence.
UN resolution blocked 2012 February - Russia and China block a UN Security Council draft resolution on Syria, and the government steps up the bombardment of Homs and other cities.
The UN says that more than 7,500 people have died since the security crackdown began.
2012 March - Syrian forces recapture Homs district of Baba Amr from rebels, and carry out massacres. Refugees flee to Lebanon.
UN Security Council endorses non-binding peace plan drafted by UN envoy Kofi Annan. China and Russia agree to support the plan after an earlier, tougher draft is modified. The UN statement falls short of a formal resolution.
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