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Tuesday, July 23, 2013

European Union Adds Hezbollah to Terror List.

HISTORY IN THE NEWS:


Syria Lebanon
 


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DEDICATED TO THE ORIGINS OF CONTEMPORARY EVENTS AROUND THE WORLD.




IN BRIEF:  Europe's rejection of the Lebanese Shia militia, Hezbollah, falls in line with a two century old conflict between the West and the Arab world in the Levant.

IN THE NEWS: HEZBOLLAH, THE LEBANESE SHIA MILITIA, IS LISTED AS A TERROR GROUP BY THE EUROPEAN UNION. THIS, IN THE WAKE OF THE MILITIA'S CLEAR CUT MILITARY SUPPORT OF THE BRUTAL ASSAD REGIME IN THE CIVIL WAR IN SYRIA. DUE TO HEZBOLLAH'S SIZE AND STRENGTH, MANY LEBANESE FEAR THE MOVE WILL AMOUNT TO A REJECTION OF LEBANON ITSELF. IT MAY ALSO SERIOUSLY COMPROMISE MAJOR FUNDING SOURCES FOR HEZBOLLAH IN EUROPE.


THE FACTS: In many respects, the international alignments remain as they were in the 19th century:
1) Europe- since the 18th century, Britain, and France in particular, had economic interests in the eastern Mediterranean, particularly Lebanon and Syria (the Levant), that often put them at odds with regional and local powers. France and Britain intervened in the Lebanese Civil War of 1840-1861. European interests now have more to do with international security and human rights. But they remain interests nonetheless.
2)  The West- North America, as Fernand Braudel has pointed out, is politically and culturally an offshoot of Europe. Together, Europe and America make up what is called "The West." The United States first intervened militarily to free Mediterranean trade from piracy and local tyranny in the 19th century. The West, including the United States, has never really ceased to be deeply involved in the eastern Mediterranean. British and French mandates occupied Syria and Lebanon in 1920 and gave them new borders. Westerners became hostages and targets in the Lebanese civil war pf 1975-1990. The 1991 Gulf War invasion of Iraq was led by a coalition of Western nations. The 2003 US invasion of Iraq presents a rare instance in which the West was deeply divided, the US being isolated. The International Criminal Court and the UN Tribunal which tried Hezbollah suspects in the 2005 assassination of Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Harir, were considered by Hezbollah to be biased, Western Institutions. The United Nations and the West in general have sided with the Syrian opposition and against the ruling Assad regime in the current civil war.

3)  Israel- ever since the Crusades,  European nations have been concerned to protect Christian holy places in Palestine, Lebanon and Syria. Since the creation of the state of Israel, what had once been protection of the sacred sites of Christianity has now become the protection of the Jewish state of Israel. The alignments are the same.
4) Russia: since the 18th century, Russia has competed with the West for power and influence in the eastern Mediterranean and now in Syria in particular. As with the West, Russian involvement in the Levant involved the protection of Christian holy places. But then as now, Russia was also concerned with the protection of its southern frontiers from Muslim encroachment. 


IN HISTORY:


644-1000 AD- -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.
-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.


RELEVANT DATES for Hezbollah outlawed by the European Union.

644-1000 AD- -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.
-1000 AD (circa) the Shia Alawite sect begins to appear in Syria's northwest coastal province of Latakia.

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.

Europe and 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.
 -18th century. The French form close trade relations with Ottoman Syria.
-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.
1831-1840- -Ibrahim, son of Syria-Palestine's revolutionary Viceroy, 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 reformn
- 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 U.S.-Trpoli War
1801-1805- war between the US and Tripoli about the amount of tribute US shipping should pay to the Dey for protection from pirates. The war ends with a US land invasion of Tripoli.

The Civil War of 1840-1861.
-Maronite Christians 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.
-in Lebanon, Maronite Christians, with French support and European cultural influence begin to challenge the Druzes. The local Ottoman governor inflames the conflict in hopes that the groups would destroy one another
-1840- the Maronite-Druze feudal system falls apart. A civil war begins which will last until 1860
-1856 -French and English allies of Turkey pressure the Sultan to adopt reforms with the “Hatti-Humayun”, a second edict of reform promoting tolerance, tax reform, modernization of the role of banks and investment houses.. However the reforms are mostly ignored by. anti-Christian Muslims. Officials, enraged by Christian-revolts in the Balkans, evade all implementation.
 
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.

-Britain forces France to withdraw from Lebanon. An international commission declares it an autonomous region. French influence is sustained, however, through commerce, trade and religion.

World War I. Treaty of Sevres.
-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.

French Divide and rule.
1922 - Syria is divided into three autonomous regions by the French, with separate areas for the Alawites on the coast and the Druze in the south.
1936 - France agrees to Syrian independence in principle but signs an agreement maintaining French military and economic dominance.

 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 Lebanese Civil war
1975-1990- Western envoys and diplomats are kidnapped, held for ransom and sometimes murderedin a civil war that rages roughly along Christian, pro-Israel and Muslim anti-Israel lines.
-French, US and Italian troops are dispatched to restore order.


Hezbollah
-In 1982, with the expulsion of the Secular, Sunni PLO from Lebanon by Israel, the Shiite militia Hezbollah essentially replaces the PLO in Lebanon as the main armed force dedicated to the destruction of Iarael. 
 -in the mid to late 80s, Hezbollah expands its campaign against Israel to an assault on all western interests in Lebanon, through bombings and kidnappings.

Civil War Targets Westerners.
 -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.
1983- 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.
-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
1985 -Beirut CIA station chief William Buckley is kidnapped and murdered. Hezbollah operative Imad Mughaniyeh is suspected.

9/11
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.  
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.
2005- assassination of Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri.


 Hezbollah Gains Political Power in Lebanon

2005- June- Hezbollah gets parliamentary power from large Shia vote in South Lebanon. To protect its new power, Hezbollah distances itself from support for the Shia of Iraq in order to placate the Sunnis in Lebanon in the name of Lebanese nationalism.

The Murder of Lebanese Prime Minister Hariri
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- June- son of Rafiq Hariri, Saad Hariri's pro-western March 14 Alliance Party wins election, defeating Hezbollah's March 8 Alliance Party.
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 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.



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