Lebanese Civil War

Lebanese Civil War
Lebanese Civil War
Martyrs Square 1982.jpg
The Martyr's Square statue in Beirut, 1982, during the civil war
Date 13 April 1975 – 13 October 1990
Location Lebanon
  • An estimated 130,000–250,000 people killed (some report the number much higher),
  • 1,000,000 wounded (half of whom were left with lifetime disability)
  • Billions of dollars of damage, collapse of the economy
  • Complete destruction of central Beirut
  • Presence of a multitude of foreign troops, foreign occupation and invasion.
  • PLO expulsion from Lebanon.
  • A Syrian occupation of Lebanon.
  • An Israeli occupation of the Southern region of Lebanon which lasted until 2000.
  • The creation of a resistance movement led by Kataeb and PNL then the Lebanese Forces against the Syrian presence in Lebanon.
  • The creation of a resistance movement led by Hezbollah against the Israeli presence in Southern Lebanon.
  • The Taif Agreement.
Lebanese Front
South Lebanon Army (from 1976)
 Israel (from 1978; See Operation Litani and 1982 Lebanon War)

Marada Brigades (left LF in 1978; aligned with Syria)

Lebanon LNM (until 1982)
Lebanon LNRF (from 1982)
Palestinian territories PLO
PKK (from 1980)

Amal Movement


Syria Syria (from 1983; See Syrian occupation of Lebanon)

Lebanon Lebanese Armed Forces

Arab Deterrent Force (1976-1983)

United Nations UNIFIL (from 1978)

Multinational Force in Lebanon (1982-1984)

Commanders and leaders
Bachir Gemayel 
Samir Geagea
Logo Kataeb.jpgAmin Gemayel
Michel Aoun
Dany Chamoun
Etienne Saqr
Bashir Maroun el-Khoury
Al-Tanzim logo.png Obad Zouein
Saad Haddad
Israel Menachem Begin
Israel Ariel Sharon

Marada old.jpg Tony Frangieh 
Marada old.jpg Suleiman Frangieh

Kamal Jumblatt 
Walid Jumblatt
Inaam Raad
Abdallah Saadeh
George Hawi
Muhsin Ibrahim
Ibrahim Kulaylat
Lt. Ahmed al-Khatib
Palestinian territories Yasser Arafat
Palestinian territories George Habash
Mahsum Korkmaz
Monte Melkonian

Nabih Berri

Abbas al-Musawi

Syria Hafiz al-Assad
Syria Mustafa Tlass

United Nations Emmanuel A. Erskine

United Nations William O'Callaghan

United Nations Gustav Hägglund

United States Timothy J. Geraghty

Lebanese Civil War (Phase I)
Date 1975–1977
Location Lebanon
Result ADF-enforced ceasefire
De facto Syrian control over Lebanon.
Lebanese Civil War (Phase II)
Date 1977–1982
Location Lebanon
Result PLO departure from Beirut, 2nd invasion of Lebanon by Israel, Israeli occupation of South Lebanon, Hezbollah is created due to invasion.
Lebanese Civil War (Phase III)
Date 1982–1983
Location Lebanon
Result May 17 Agreement
Lebanese Civil War (Phase IV)
Date 1984–1990
Location Lebanon
Result Taif Agreement
Casualties and losses
150,000 230,000

The Lebanese Civil War (Arabic: الحرب الأهلية اللبنانية‎) was a multifaceted civil war in Lebanon. The war lasted from 1975 to 1990 and resulted in an estimated 150,000 to 230,000 civilian fatalities. Another one million people (a quarter of the population) were wounded, and today approximately 350,000 people remain displaced. There was also a mass exodus of almost one million people from Lebanon. The Post-war occupation of the country by Syria was particularly politically disadvantageous to the Christian population as most of their leadership was driven into exile, or had been assassinated or jailed.[1]

There is no consensus among scholars and researchers on what triggered the Lebanese Civil War. However, the militarization of the Palestinian refugee population, with the arrival of the PLO guerrilla forces did spark an arms race amongst the different Lebanese political factions.

It has been argued that the antecedents of the war can be traced back to the conflicts and political compromises reached after the end of Lebanon's administration by the Ottoman Empire. The Cold War had a powerful disintegrative effect on Lebanon, which was closely linked to the polarization that preceded the 1958 political crisis. However, such accounts come from journalistic sources and are not consistent with such academic scholarship as is largely interested in comparative political research. These scholars (such as Michael Johnson) argue that the earlier conflicts in Lebanon were an expression of bourgeoisie war for influence amongst different political personalities. The 1958 war for example, often referred to as the War of the Pashas, was an insurrection mounted by traditional political bosses who had lost elections to the parliament in 1957. However, due to Lebanon's historic openness towards the press and political organization, such local conflagrations were always given more regional meaning because of the co-optation of such events by parasitic groups. The founding members of Fatah, for example, although not as yet officially formed, had flocked to Lebanon and participated in the insurrections, aiding in the take over of the streets in Tripoli by armed protesters who had been directed onto the streets by the defeated political bosses.

This crisis in 1958 was not deep and ended very quickly. However, by 1975, the presence of a foreign armed force in the form of the PLO guerrillas, who exercised a veto on Lebanese politics and exercised the foreign policy of other states within a period of regional polarization, had a visible effect on Lebanon. The establishment of the state of Israel and the displacement of a hundred thousand Palestinian refugees to Lebanon (around 10% of the total population of the country) changed the demographics of Lebanon and provided a foundation for the long-term involvement of Lebanon in regional conflicts.

After a short break in the fighting in 1976 due to Arab League mediation and Syrian intervention, Palestinian–Lebanese strife continued, with fighting primarily focused in south Lebanon, which had been occupied by the PLO since 1969, in contravention of the Cairo accords signed with the Lebanese government. During the course of the fighting, alliances shifted rapidly and unpredictably: by the end of the war, nearly every party had allied with and subsequently betrayed every other party at least once. The 1980s were especially bleak: much of Beirut lay in ruins as a result of the 1976 Karantina massacre carried out by the Lebanese Front, the Syrian Army shelling of Christian neighborhoods in 1978 and 1981, and the Israeli invasion that evicted the PLO from the country.



Historical context

Christian refugees during the 1860 strife between Druze and Maronites in Lebanon.

In 1860 foreign interests transformed sociopolitical struggles into bitter religious conflicts. A civil war between Druze and Christians erupted in Lebanon and resulted in the death of about 10,000 people. The commission members agreed that the partition of Mount Lebanon in 1842 between the Druze and the Christians had been responsible for the massacre.

In 1918 the Ottoman rule in Lebanon and Syria ended. These were hard times for the Lebanese; while the rest of the world was occupied with the World War, the people in Lebanon were suffering from a famine that would last nearly 4 years. The outbreak of World War I in August 1914 brought Lebanon further problems, as Ottoman Empire allied itself with Germany and Austria Hungary . The Ottoman government abolished Lebanon's semi autonomous status and appointed Djemal Pasha, then minister of the navy, as the commander in chief of the Turkish forces in Syria, with discretionary powers. Known for his harshness, he militarily occupied Lebanon and replaced the Armenian mutasarrif, Ohannes Pasha, with a Turk, Munif Pasha.

In February 1915, frustrated by his unsuccessful attack on the British forces protecting the Suez Canal, Jamal Pasha initiated a blockade of the entire eastern Mediterranean coast to prevent supplies from reaching his enemies and indirectly caused thousands of deaths from widespread famine and plagues. Lebanon suffered as much as, or more than, any other Ottoman province. The blockade deprived the country of its tourists and summer visitors, and remittances from relatives and friends were lost or delayed for months. The Turkish Army cut down trees for wood to fuel trains or for military purposes. In 1916 Turkish authorities publicly executed twenty-one Syrians and Lebanese in Damascus and Beirut, respectively, for alleged anti-Turkish activities (see: Arab Revolt). The date, 6 May, is commemorated annually in both countries as Martyrs' Day, and the site in Beirut has come to be known as Martyrs' Square.[2]

1926 Lebanon was declared a republic, and a constitution was adopted. However in 1932 the constitution was suspended due to upheaval, as some factions demanded unity with Syria, whilst a larger number demanded independence from the French.[3] In 1934, the country's first and, to date, last census was conducted.

In 1936 the Christian Phalange party was founded by Pierre Gemayel.

Lebanon was promised independence and on 22 November 1943 it was achieved. French troops, who had invaded Lebanon in 1941 to rid Beirut of the Vichy forces, left the country in 1946. The Christians assumed power over the country and economy. A confessional parliament was created, where Muslims and Christians were given quotas of seats in parliament. As well, the President was to be a Christian, the Prime Minister a Sunni Muslim and the Speaker of Parliament a Shia Muslim.

Series of events

During the 1948 Arab-Israeli War an exodus of Palestinian refugees who fled the fighting or were expelled from their homes, arrived in Lebanon. Palestinians came to play a very important role in future Lebanese civil conflicts, whilst the establishment of Israel radically changed the local environment in which Lebanon found itself.

US Marines on patrol in Beirut, during the 1958 Lebanon conflict

In July 1958, Lebanon was threatened by a civil war between Maronite Christians and Muslims. President Camille Chamoun had attempted to break the stranglehold on Lebanese politics exercised by traditional political families in Lebanon. These families maintained their electoral appeal by cultivating strong client-patron relations with their local communities. But this prevented the emergence of an educated political class into the parliament. Although he succeeded in sponsoring alternative political candidates to enter the elections in 1957, causing the traditional families to lose their positions, these families then embarked upon a war with Chamoun, referred to as the War of the Pashas. However, as always and due to Lebanon's open media and political society, regional tensions were used as an excuse to mount the insurrection by the excluded political bosses.

In previous years, tensions with Egypt had escalated in 1956 when the non-aligned President, Camille Chamoun, did not break off diplomatic relations with the Western powers that attacked Egypt during the Suez Crisis, angering Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser. Chamoun has often been called pro-Western, yet he had signed several trade deals with the Soviet union (see Gendzier). However Nasser had attacked Chamoun because of his suspected support for the US led Baghdad Pact. Nasser felt that the pro-western Baghdad Pact posed a threat to Arab Nationalism. Lebanon however historically had a small cosmetic army that was never effective in defending Lebanon's territorial integrity, and this is why in later years the PLO guerrilla factions had found it easy to enter Lebanon and set up bases, as well as takeover army barracks on the border with Israel as early as 1968. Yezid Sayigh documents the early skirmishes which saw the army not only lose control over its barracks to the occupying PLO but also lost many soldiers. However prior to this, aware of the country's vulnerability to outside forces, president Chamoun looked to regional pacts to ensure protection from foreign armies.

History of Lebanon
Phoenician ship.jpg
This article is part of a series
Ancient History
Arab rule
Ottoman rule
French Rule
Modern Lebanon
1958 Lebanon crisis
Lebanese Civil War
Cedar Revolution
2006 Lebanon War

Lebanon Portal
v · d · e

But his Lebanese Sunni Muslim Prime Minister Rashid Karami supported Nasser in 1956 and 1958. Lebanese Muslims pushed the government to join the newly created United Arab Republic, a country formed out of the unification of Syria and Egypt, while the majority of Lebanese and especially the Christians wanted to keep Lebanon as an independent nation with its own independent parliament. President Camille feared the toppling of his government and asked for U.S intervention. At the time the U.S was engaged in the Cold War. Chamoun asked for assistance proclaiming that communism was going to overthrow his government. Chamoun however was not only responding to the revolt of former political bosses, but also to the fact that both Egypt and Syria had taken the opportunity to deploy proxies into the Lebanese conflict. Thus the Arab National Movement (ANM), led by George Habash and later to become the Progressive Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP)and a faction of the PLO, were deployed to Lebanon by Nasser. The ANM were a clandestine militia implicated in attempted coups against both the Jordanian monarchy and the Iraqi president throughout the 1950s at Nasser's bidding. The founding members of Fatah, including Yasser Arafat and Khalil Wazir also flew to Lebanon to use the insurrection as a means by which a war could be fomented towards Israel. They participated in the fighting by directing armed forces against the government security in the city of Tripoli according to Yezid Sayigh's work.

In that year, President Chamoun was unable to convince the Christian army commander, Fuad Chehab to use the armed forces against Muslim demonstrators, fearing that getting involved in internal politics would split his small and weak multi-confessional force. The Phalange militia came to the presidents aid instead to bring a final end to the road blockades which were crippling the major cities. Encouraged by its efforts during this conflict, later that year, principally through violence and the success of general strikes in Beirut, the Phalange achieved what journalists dubbed the "counterrevolution." By their actions the Phalangists brought down the government of Prime Minister Karami and secured for their leader, Pierre Gemayel, a position in the four-man cabinet that was subsequently formed.

However estimates of the Phalange's membership by Yezid Sayigh and other academic sources put them at a few thousand. Non-academic sources tend to inflate the Phalanges membership. What should be kept in mind was that this insurrection was met with widespread disapproval by many Lebanese who wanted no part in the regional politics and many young men aided the Phalange in their suppression of the insurrection, especially as many of the demonstrators were little more than proxy forces hired by groups such as the ANM and Fatah founders as well as being hired by the defeated parliamentary bosses.

During the 1960s Lebanon was relatively calm, but this would soon change. Fatah and other Palestinian Liberation Organization factions had long been active among the 400,000 Palestinian refugees in Lebanese camps. Through the 1960s the center for armed Palestinian activities had been in Jordan, after being evicted from Jordan by the King, they came to Lebanon. Fatah and other Palestinians groups had attempted to mount a coup in Jordan by incentivizing a split in the Jordanian army, something that the ANM had attempted to do a decade earlier by Nasser's bidding. Jordan however responded and expelled the forces into Lebanon. When they arrived they created a "a State within the State". This action wasn't welcomed by the Lebanese government nor the majority of the Lebanese people and this shook Lebanon's fragile sectarian climate.

Solidarity to the Palestinians was expressed through the Lebanese Sunni Muslims but with the aim to change the political system from one of consensus amongst different ethnicities, towards one where their power share would increase. Certain groups in the Lebanese National Movement wished to bring about a more secular and democratic order, but as this group increasingly included Islamist groups, encouraged to join by the PLO, the more progressive demands of the initial agenda was dropped by January 1976. Islamists did not support a secular order in Lebanon and wished to bring about rule by Muslim clerics. Yezid Sayigh documents these events, especially the role of Fatah and the Tripoli Islamist movement known as Tawhid, in changing the agenda being pursued by many groups, including Communists. This rag-tag coalition has often been referred to as left-wing, but many participants were actually very conservative religious elements that did not share any broader ideological agenda; rather, they were brought together by the short term goal of overthrowing the established political order, each motivated by their own grievances.

These forces enabled the PLO / Fatah (Fatah constituted 80% of the membership of the PLO and Fatah guerrillas controlled most of its institutions now) to transform the Western Part of Beirut into its stronghold. The PLO had taken over the heat of Sidon and Tyre in the early 1970s, it controlled great swath of south Lebanon, in which the indigenous Shiite population had to suffer the humiliation of passing though PLO checkpoints and now they had worked their way by force into Beirut. The PLO did this with the assistance of so-called volunteers from Libya and Algeria shipped in through the ports it controlled, as well as a number of Sunni Lebanese groups who had been trained and armed by PLO/ Fatah and encouraged to declare themselves as separate militias. However as Rex Brynen makes clear in his publication on the PLO, these militias were nothing more than "shop-fronts" or in Arabic "Dakakin" for Fatah, armed gangs with no ideological foundation and no organic reason for their existence save the fact their individual members were put on PLO/ Fatah payroll.

The strike of fishermen at Sidon in February 1975 could also be considered the first important episode that set off the outbreak of hostilities. That event involved a specific issue: the attempt of former President Camille Chamoun (also head of the Maronite-oriented National Liberal Party) to monopolize fishing along the coast of Lebanon. The injustices perceived by the fishermen evoked sympathy from many Lebanese and reinforced the resentment and antipathy that were widely felt against the state and the economic monopolies. The demonstrations against the fishing company were quickly transformed into a political action supported by the political left and their allies in the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO). The state tried to suppress the demonstrators, and a sniper reportedly killed a popular figure in the city, the former Mayor of Sidon, Maroof Saad. He was buried in a Palestinian flag, and in the media, the Sidon riots became somehow fused with the Palestinian war with Israel in the minds of media watchers. However the event appeared to have been hi-jacked by the Palestinians because Saad was on bad terms with the PLO. Fatah controlled the heart of Sidon and the port and had attempted to fund the electoral campaigns of competing candidates which eventually saw Saad lose both his bid for a parliamentary seat and then in 1973, lose the mayor-ship. This meant that the Fatah sponsored rival had not only won Sidon, but was now representing Fatah's wishes in the Lebanese parliament! (see Khazen). When Saad died, there was bitter enmity between him and the PLO/ Fatah .

Many non-academic sources claim a government sniper killed Saad, however there is no evidence to support such a claim, and it appears that whoever had killed him had intended for what began as a small and quiet demonstration to evolve into something more. The sniper targeted Saad right at the end of the demonstration as it was dissipating. Farid Khazen, sourcing the local histories of Sidon academics and eye-witnesses, gives a run-down of the puzzling events of the day that based on their research. Other interesting facts that Khazen reveals, based on the Sidon academic's work including that Saad was not in dispute with the fishing consortium made up of Yugoslav nationals. In fact, the Yugoslavian representatives in Lebanon had negotiated with the fisherman's union to make the fisherman shareholders in the company; the company offered to modernize the Fisherman's equipment and buy their catch, give their fisherman's a union and annual subsidy. Saad, as a union representative (and not the mayor of Sidon at the time as many erroneous sources claim), was offered a place on the company's board too. There has been some speculation that Saad's attempts to narrow the differences between the fishermen and the consortium, and his acceptance of a place on the board made him a target of attack by the conspirator who sought a full conflagration around the small protest.

The events in Sidon were not contained for long. The government began to lose control of the situation in 1975. On the morning of 13 April 1975, PLO Palestinian guerrilla's in a speeding car fired on a church in the Christian East Beirut suburb of Ain El Rummaneh, killing four people, including two Maronite Phalangists. The Church was being opened and thus the presence of the Phalange party was well known at the new church. That same day the situation escalated when a bus carrying Palestinians was ambushed by gunmen belonging to the Phalange party. The party claimed that earlier its headquarters had been targeted by an unknown gunmen. The attack against the bus in Ain El Rummaneh marked the official beginning of the Lebanese Civil War. Initially, the war pitted Maronite-oriented right-wing militias (most notably the Phalange party and the National Liberal party) against leftist and Muslim-oriented militias (grouped together in the Lebanese National Movement) , many of whom were trained, formed, and now funded by the PLO. By the end of 1975, the PLO and their allied parties were occupying one army barracks after another, expelling Christian soldiers from barracks, many in the south of Lebanon. By the start of 1976, a split in the Lebanese army was official. In February, Fatah had encouraged and supported a coup by the Beirut area army commander Ahmad Ahdab, with claims made by other Palestinian leaders that the PLO had to dispense 25 million dollars to bribe Ahdab and his forces to declare the coup. Ahdab however would change his mind by the end of the year and express regret for his actions.

Major militias

Most militias claimed that they were non-sectarian forces, but in fact they recruited mainly from the community or region of their chiefs.

Throughout the war most or all militias operated with little regard for human rights, and the sectarian character of some battles, made non-combatant civilians a frequent target. As the war dragged on, the militias deteriorated ever further into mafia-style organizations with many commanders turning to crime as their main occupation rather than fighting. Finances for the war effort were obtained in one or all of three ways:

Outside support: Generally from one of the rival Arab governments, Iran or Israel. Alliances would shift frequently.

Preying on the population: Extortion, theft, bank robberies and random checkpoints at which "customs" would be collected, were commonplace on all sides. During cease-fires, most militias operated in their home areas as virtual mafia organizations.

Smuggling: During the civil war, Lebanon turned into one of the world's largest narcotics producers, with much of the hashish production centered in the Bekaa valley. But much else was also smuggled, such as guns and supplies, all kinds of stolen goods, and regular trade - war or no war, Lebanon would not give up its role as the middleman in European-Arab business. Many battles were fought over Lebanon's ports, to gain smugglers access to the sea routes.

Christian militias

Christian militias acquired arms from Romania and Bulgaria as well as from West Germany, Belgium and Israel,[4] and drew supporters from the larger Christian population in the north of the country. They were generally right-wing in their political outlook, and all the major Christian militias were Maronite-dominated, and other Christian sects played a secondary role.

The most powerful of the Christian militias was the Kataeb Regulatory Forces, the military wing of the Kataeb Party or Phalanges, which remained under the leadership of the charismatic William Hawi until his death during the final push against Tel el Zaatar Camp. After the fall of Palestinian camps in East Beirut, the Phalange militia, now under the command of Bachir Gemayel, merged with several minor groups (Tanzym, Guardians of the Cedars...) and formed a professional army called the Lebanese Forces (LF). With the help of Israel, the LF established itself in Christian-dominated strongholds and rapidly transformed from an unorganized and poorly equipped militia into a fearsome army that had now its own armor, artillery,commando units (SADM), a small Navy, and a highly advanced Intelligence branch. Meanwhile, in the north, the Marada Brigades served as the private militia of the Franjieh family and Zgharta.

Another mainly Christian Militia was the South Lebanon Army which was controlled by Saad Haddad. This militia was installed in South Lebanon by the Israelis. Their goal was to be a bulwark against PLO raids and attacks into the Galilee

Also, another notable militia; Noumour (نمور) was the military wing of the National Liberal Party (NLP/ AHRAR) during the Lebanese Civil War. The Tigers formed in Saadiyat in 1968, as Noumour Al Ahrar (Tigers of the Liberals, نمور الأحرار ), under the leadership of Camille Chamoun. The group took its name from his middle name, Nemr - "Tiger". Trained by Naim Berdkan, the unit was led by Chamoun's son Dany Chamoun. After the start Civil War in 1975, the Tigers, strong of 3,500 militiamen fought the Lebanese National Movement (LNM) and its Palestinian allies.

Shi'a militias

Flag of the Amal Movement

The Shi'a militias were slow to form and join in the fighting. Initially, many Shi'a had sympathy for the Palestinians and a few had been drawn to the Lebanese Communist Party, but after 1970s Black September, there was a sudden influx of armed Palestinians to the Shi'a areas. South Lebanon's population is mainly Shi'a and the Palestinians soon set up base there for their attacks against the Israelis. The Palestinian movement quickly squandered its influence with the Shi'ite, as radical factions ruled by the gun in much of Shi'ite-inhabited southern Lebanon, where the refugee camps happened to be concentrated, and the mainstream PLO proved either unwilling or unable to rein them in.

The Palestinian radicals' secularism and behaviour had alienated the traditionalist Shi'ite community; the Shi'a did not want to pay the price for the PLO's rocket attacks from Southern Lebanon. The PLO created a state within a state in South Lebanon and this instigated a fury among Lebanon's Shi'a, who feared a retaliation from the Israelis to their native land in the South. Initially the Shi'a had been sympathetic towards the Palestinians, but when the PLO created chaos in South Lebanon these feelings were reversed. The Shiʿa predominated in the area of southern Lebanon that in the 1960s became an arena for Israel-Palestinian conflict. The state of Lebanon, which always avoided provoking Israel, simply abandoned southern Lebanon. Many of the people there migrated to the suburbs of Beirut, which are known as "poverty belts". The young Shi'a migrants, who had not participated in the prosperity of prewar Beirut, joined many Lebanese and some Palestinian organizations. After many years without their own independent political organizations, there suddenly arose Musa Sadr's Amal Movement in 1974–75. Its Islamist ideology immediately attracted the unrepresented people, and Amal's armed ranks grew rapidly. Amal fought against the PLO in the early days. Later a hard line faction would break away to join with Shi'a groups fighting Israel to form the organization Hezbollah, also known as the National Resistance, who to this day remains the most powerful and organised force of Lebanon and the Middle East. Hezbollah was created as a faction split from Amal Movement, and an Islamist organization which deemed Amal to be too secular. Hezbollah's original aims included the establishment of an Islamic state in Lebanon.

There was great support by Iran during the Lebanese Civil War for Shi'ite factions, Amal Movement and Hezbollah. Hezbollah and its leaders were inspired by Ayatollah Khomeini's revolution and therefore in 1982 emerged as a faction set on resisting the Israeli occupation of Lebanon, and its forces were trained and organized by a contingent of Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps. Support was greatly met by both military training and funding support.

The Lebanese Alawites, followers of a sect of Shia Islam, were represented by the Red Knights Militia of the Arab Democratic Party, which was pro-Syrian due to the Alawites being dominant in Syria, and mainly acted in Northern Lebanon around Tripoli.

Sunni militias

Some Sunni factions received support from Libya and Iraq, and a number of minor militias existed, the more prominent with Nasserist or otherwise pan-Arab and Arab nationalist leanings, but also a few Islamist ones, such as the Tawhid Movement. The main Sunni-led organization was the al-Murabitun a major west-Beirut based force. Al-Murabitoun, led by Ibrahim Kulaylat, fought with the Palestinians against the Israelis during the invasion of 1982. The Sixth of February Movement was another pro-Palestinian Nasserist militia, and sided with the PLO in the War of the Camps.

Druze Progressive Socialist Party

The small Druze sect, strategically and dangerously seated on the Chouf in central Lebanon, had no natural allies, and so were compelled to put much effort into building alliances. Under the leadership of the Jumblatt family, first Kamal Jumblatt (the LNM leader) and then his son Walid, the Progressive Socialist Party (PSP) served as an effective Druze militia, building excellent ties to the Soviet Union mainly, and with Syria upon the withdrawal of Israel to the south of the country. However, many Druze in Lebanon at the time were members of the non-religious party, the Syrian Social Nationalist Party. Under Kamal Jumblatt's leadership, the PSP was a major element in the Lebanese National Movement (LNM) which supported Lebanon's Arab identity and sympathized with the Palestinians. It built a powerful private army, which proved to be one of the strongest in the Lebanese Civil War of 1975 to 1990. It conquered much of Mount Lebanon and the Chouf District. Its main adversaries were the Maronite Christian Phalangist militia, and later the Lebanese Forces militia (which absorbed the Phalangists). The PSP suffered a major setback in 1977, when Kamal Jumblatt was assassinated. His son Walid succeeded him as leader of the party. From the Israeli withdrawal from the Chouf in 1983 to the end of the civil war, the PSP ran a highly effective civil administration, the Civil Administration of the Mountain, in the area under its control. Tolls levied at PSP militia checkpoints provided a major source of income for the administration.

The PSP played an important role in the so-called "Mountain War" under the lead of Walid Jumblatt: after the Israeli Army retreated from the Lebanese Mountain, important battles took place between the PSP and Christian militias. PSP armed members were accused of several massacres that took place during that war (31 August 1983: 36 civilians in Bmarian, 7 September 1983: 200 Christian civilians killed in Bhamdoun, 10 September 1983: 64 in Bireh, 10 September 1983: 30 in Ras el-Matn, 11 September 1983: 15 in Maasser Beit ed-Dine, 11 September 1983: 36 in Chartoun, 13 September 1983: 84 in Maasser el-Chouf, and many others...).

The Progressive Socialist Party (or PSP) (Arabic: الحزب التقدمي الاشتراكي‎, al-hizb al-taqadummi al-ishtiraki) is a political party in Lebanon. Its current leader is Walid Jumblatt. It is in practice led and supported mostly by followers of the Druze faith.

Non-religious groups

Although several Lebanese militias claimed to be secular, most were little more than vehicles for sectarian interests. Still, there existed a number of non-religious groups, primarily but not exclusively of the left and/or Pan-Arab right.

Examples of this was the Lebanese Communist Party (LCP) and the more radical and independent Communist Action Organization (COA). Another notable example was the pan-Syrian Syrian Social Nationalist Party (SSNP), which promoted the concept of Greater Syria, in contrast to Pan-Arab or Lebanese nationalism. The SSNP was generally aligned with the Syrian government, although it did not ideologically approve of the Ba'thist regime (however this has changed recently, under Bashar Al-Assad, the SSNP having been allowed to exert political activity in Syria as well). The multi-confessional SSNP was led by Inaam Raad,a Catholic and Abdallah Saadeh, a Greek Orthodox.It was active in North Lebanon(Koura and Akkar),West Beirut(around Hamra Street),in Mount Lebanon(High Metn,Baabda,Aley and Chouf),in South Lebanon(Zahrani,Nabatieh,Marjayoun and Hasbaya) and and the Beqqa Valley(Baalbeck,Hermel and Rashaya).

Two competing Baath party factions were also involved in the early stages of the war: a nationalist one known as "pro-Iraqi" headed by Dr. 'Abdul-Majeed Al-Rafei (Sunni) and Nicola Y. Ferzli (Greek Orthodox Christian), and a Marxist one known as "pro-Syrian" headed by Assem Qanso (Shiite).

The Kurdistan Workers' Party at the time had training camps in Lebanon, where they received support from the Syrians and the PLO. During the Israeli invasion all PKK units were ordered to fight the Israeli forces. A total of 11 PKK fighters died in the conflict. Mahsum Korkmaz was the commander of all PKK forces in Lebanon.[5][6][7]

The Armenian Marxist-Leninist militia ASALA was founded in PLO-controlled territory of West Beirut in 1975. This militia was led by revolutionary fighter Monte Melkonian and group-founder Hagop Hagopian. Closely alinged with the Palestinians, ASALA fought many battles on the side of the Lebanese National Movement and the PLO, most prominently against Israeli forces and their right-wing allies during the 1982 phase of the war. Melkonian was field commander during these battles, and assisted the PLO in its defense of West Beirut.[8][9]


PLO logo

The Palestinian movement relocated most of its fighting strength to Lebanon at the end of 1970 after being expelled from Jordan in the events known as Black September. The umbrella organization, the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO)—by itself undoubtedly Lebanon's most potent fighting force at the time—was little more than a loose confederation, but its leader, Yassir Arafat, controlled all factions by buying their loyalties. Arafat allowed little oversight to be exercised over PLO finances an he was the ultimate source for all decisions made in directing financial matters. Rex Brynen provides a detailed account of how this worked. Arafat's control of funds, channeled directly to him by the oil producing countries like Saudi Arabia and Iraq and Libya meant that he had little real functional opposition to his leadership and although ostensibly rival factions in the PLO existed , this masked a stable loyalty towards Arafat so long as he was able to dispense financial rewards to his followers and members of the PLO guerrilla factions.

The PLO mainstream was represented by Arafat's powerful Fatah, which waged guerrilla warfare but did not have a strong core ideology, except the claim to seek the liberation of Palestine. As a result, they gained broad appeal with a refugee population with conservative Islamic values (who resisted secular ideologies). The more ideological factions however included Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), and its splinter, the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP). Fatah was actually instrumental in splitting the DF from the PFLP in the early days of the PFLPs formation so as to diminish the appeal and competition the PFLP posed to Fatah. Helen Cobban's history of the PFLP is an interesting source of information covering this event. Lesser roles were played by the fractious Palestinian Liberation Front (PLF) and another split-off from the PFLP, the Syrian-aligned Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine - General Command (PFLP-GC). To complicate things, the Ba'thist systems of Syria and Iraq both set up Palestinian puppet organizations within the PLO. The as-Sa'iqa was a Syrian-controlled militia, paralleled by the Arab Liberation Front (ALF) under Iraqi command. The Syrian government could also count on the Syrian brigades of the Palestinian Liberation Army (PLA), formally but not functionally the PLO's regular army. Some PLA units sent by Egypt were under Arafat's command.

First phase 1975–1977

Sectarian violence and civilian massacres

Between 1968 and 1975, there was a gradual buildup in the assertion by Yasser Arafat's PLO of its right to fight Israel from the Lebanese south, in spite of Lebanese sovereignty. A sample of the incidents includes: Palestinian roadblocks in the city of Beirut killing Lebanese civilians; kidnapping by PLO militants of Lebanese gendarmes; Syria's backing of the PLO included punishing Lebanon by closing the borders between the two countries, which choked the Lebanese economy; incursions by Palestinian contingents of the Syrian Army such as the Palestine Liberation Army, the Al-Saiqa commandos, the Yarmouk Brigades, etc. into Lebanese territory and carrying out massacres against Christian villages in the north and the east; ineffective attacks by PLO militants against the Israeli north were often met with massive and deadly reprisals by Israel against the civilian population; the assassination of the Israeli ambassador in London led to Israel bombing Beirut Airport and destroying the entire fleet of the Lebanese national air carrier - MEA, Lebanese army air force bombing the Palestinian camps, etc. After these incidents, several accords were signed between the Lebanese State and the PLO (examples: The Cairo Accord of 1969 and the Melkart Accord of 1972), only to be violated by the PLO, then backed by Syria, Libya, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Egypt.

In the spring of 1975, this build-up erupted in an all-out conflict, with the PLO pitted against the Christian Phalange, and the ever-weaker national government wavering between the need to maintain order and catering to its constituency.

Christian East Beirut was ringed by heavily fortified Palestinian camps from which kidnappings and sniping against Lebanese Christians became a daily routine. Christian East Beirut became besieged by the PLO camps, with severe shortages of food and fuel. This unbearable situation was remedied by the Phalanges and their allied Christian militias as they besieged the Palestinian camps embedded in Christian East Beirut one at a time and brought them down. The first was on 18 January 1976 when the heavily fortified Karantina camp, located near the strategic Beirut Harbor, was sacked during the Karantina massacre: About 1,000 PLO fighters and civilians were killed. Such massacres prompted a mass exodus of Muslims and Christians, as people fearing retribution fled to areas under the control of their own sect. The ethnic and religious layout of the residential areas of the capital encouraged this process, and East and West Beirut were increasingly transformed into an effective Christian and Muslim Beirut. Also, the number of Christian leftists who had allied with the LNM, and Muslim conservatives with the government, dropped sharply, as the war gradually changed from an essentially Palestinian versus Lebanese confrontation into a more sectarian conflict.

Syrian intervention

Map showing power balance in Lebanon, 1976: Dark green - controlled by Syria, purple - controlled by Christian militias, light green - controlled by Palestinian militias

In June, 1976, with fighting throughout the country and the Maronites on the verge of defeat, President Suleiman Frangieh called for Syria intervention in Lebanon, on the grounds that the port of Beirut would be closed and that is how Syria received a large portion of their goods. Christian fears had been greatly exacerbated by the Damour massacre, and both sides felt the stakes had been raised above mere political power. Syria responded by ending its prior affiliation with the Palestinian Rejectionist Front and began supporting the Maronite-dominated government. This technically put Syria on the same side as Israel, as Israel had already begun to supply Maronite forces with arms, tanks, and military advisers in May 1976.[10] Syria had its own political and territorial interests in Lebanon, which harbored cells of the Islamists and anti-Ba'thist Muslim Brotherhood, and was also a possible route of attack for Israel.

At the President's request, Syrian troops entered Lebanon, occupying Tripoli and the Bekaa Valley, easily brushing aside the LNM and Palestinian defenses. A cease-fire was imposed,[11] but it ultimately failed to stop the conflict, so Syria added to the pressure. With Damascus supplying arms, Christian forces managed to break through the defenses of the Tel al-Zaatar refugee camp in East Beirut, which had long been under siege.

In October 1976, Syria accepted the proposal of the Arab League summit in Riyadh. This gave Syria a mandate to keep 40,000 troops in Lebanon as the bulk of an Arab Deterrent Force charged with disentangling the combatants and restoring calm. Other Arab nations were also part of the ADF, but they lost interest relatively soon, and Syria was again left in sole control, now with the ADF as a diplomatic shield against international criticism. The Civil War was officially ended at this point, and an uneasy quiet settled over Beirut and most of the rest of Lebanon. In the south, however, the climate began to deteriorate as a consequence of the gradual return of PLO combatants, who had been required to vacate central Lebanon under the terms of the Riyadh Accords.

Uneasy quiet

The Green Line that separated west and east Beirut, 1982

The nation was now effectively divided, with southern Lebanon and the western half of Beirut becoming bases for the PLO and Muslim-based militias, and the Christians in control of East Beirut and the Christian section of Mount Lebanon. The main confrontation line in divided Beirut was known as the Green Line.

In East Beirut, in 1976, Christian leaders of the National Liberal Party (NLP), the Kataeb Party and the Lebanese Renewal Party joined in the Lebanese Front, a political counterpoint to the LNM. Their militias - the Tigers, Kataeb Regulatory Forces (KRF) and Guardians of the Cedars - entered a loose coalition known as the Lebanese Forces, to form a military wing for the Lebanese Front. From the very beginning, the Kataeb and its Regulatory Forces' militia, under the leadership of Bashir Gemayel, dominated the LF. In 1977-80, through absorbing or destroying smaller militias, he both consolidated control and strengthened the LF into the dominant Christian force.

In March the same year, Lebanese National Movement leader Kamal Jumblatt was assassinated. The murder was widely blamed on the Syrian government. While Jumblatt's role as leader of the Druze Progressive Socialist Party was filled surprisingly smoothly by his son, Walid Jumblatt, the LNM disintegrated after his death. Although the anti-government pact of leftists, Shi'a, Sunni, Palestinians and Druze would stick together for some time more, their wildly divergent interests tore at opposition unity. Sensing the opportunity, Hafez al-Assad immediately began splitting up both the Christian and Muslim coalitions in a game of divide and conquer.

Second phase 1977–1982

Israel intervenes in South Lebanon, 1978

Operation Litani

UNIFIL base, 1981

PLO attacks from Lebanon into Israel in 1977 and 1978 escalated tensions between the countries. On 11 March 1978, eleven Fatah fighters landed on a beach in northern Israel and proceeded to hijack two buses full of passengers on the Haifa - Tel-Aviv road, shooting at passing vehicles. They killed 37 and wounded 76 Israelis before being killed in a firefight with Israeli forces.[12] Israel invaded Lebanon four days later in Operation Litani. The Israeli Army occupied most of the area south of the Litani River The UN Security Council passed Resolution 425 calling for immediate Israeli withdrawal and creating the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), charged with attempting to establish peace.

Security Zone

Map showing the Blue Line demarcation line between Lebanon and Israel, established by the UN after the Israeli withdrawal from southern Lebanon in 1978

Israeli forces withdrew later in 1978, but retained control of the southern region by managing a 12-mile (19 km) wide "security zone" along the border. These positions were held by an Israeli ally, the South Lebanon Army (SLA), a Christian-Shi'a militia under the leadership of Major Saad Haddad. Israel supplied the SLA with arms and resources, and posted "advisers" to assist the militia. The Israeli Prime Minister, Likud's Menachem Begin, compared the plight of the Christian minority in southern Lebanon (then about 5% of the population in SLA territory) to that of European Jews during World War II.[13]

Violent exchanges resumed between the PLO and the Israeli/SLA alliance. The PLO attacked the SLA while it continued its efforts to consolidate power along the Lebanese-Israeli border. The PLO also continued to fire rockets into northern Israeli towns, while Israel retaliated with air raids against PLO positions.

Syria's wars against Lebanon's Christians

Syria had since the late 1960s covertly armed Palestinian guerrillas stationed in Lebanon. In 1976, a Palestinian-Syrian brigade called "Al Yarmook" crossed the Lebanese border and invaded the Christian town of Damour on the coast of the Chouf district, massacring thousands of its inhabitants. However, regional strategies shifted with 1978's Israel-Egypt Camp David agreement, and Syria changed its apparent role in Lebanon from a member of the Arab Peace keeping force (Green Helmets) into an open supporter of Palestinian/Leftist coalition, thus in summer 1978 Syrian troops started harassing the Lebanese Army (LAF) and Christian Militias. A major incident with the LAF in Hadath 1978 erupted into an all out confrontation with the Christian Militias, including the Phalanges and Chamoun's Ahrar forces. Syrian troops moved to invade strategic East Beirut and were countered by Christian forces in one of the bloodiest chapters of the civil war, known as the "100 Days War." Christian militias defeated elite troops of the Syrian army and kept them from occupying the vital regions of Ain el Remmaneh, Achrifiyeh, Sodeco, Karantina, and Gemayze, leading to an all out siege and a relentless bombardment of the city that lasted for three months killing thousands of innocent civilians. Eventually, international pressure mounted on Assad's regime, forcing a withdrawal of Syrian troops from Christian regions surrounding East Beirut, in a major victory to young Bachir Gemayel and a heavy defeat to Syria's occupation attempt.

Another chapter of Syria's open war on Lebanese Christians was the conflict of Zahle. In April 1981, Syrian forces attempted to invade the capital of the Bekaa's valley Zahle, famous for its largest concentration of Christian inhabitants in the entire Asian Continent. The Christian militias now know as the Lebanese Forces (LF), sent a force of 65 elite commandos on foot through the snowy peaks of Mount Lebanon to the encircled city where they organized local defenses. A relentless shelling of the city lasted for three months during which Syrian troops' several attempts to invade the city failed. Eventually, Israel intervened and shot down two Syrian helicopters that landed troops on Christian Mount Sannin, an incident that led Syria to set up anti-aircraft missiles in the Bekaa valley, leading to an international crisis that ended with the a ceasefire, a Syrian pullout from areas around Zahle, and the withdrawal of the 65 christian commando; another defeat to Syria, and another victory to Bashir Gemayel who had become the symbol of the Lebanese resistance.

Israeli bombing of Beirut

On 17 July 1981, Israeli aircraft bombed multi-story apartment buildings in Beirut that contained offices of PLO associated groups. The Lebanese delegate to the United Nations Security Council reported that 300 civilians had been killed, and 800 wounded. The bombing led to worldwide condemnation, and a temporary embargo on the export of U.S. aircraft to Israel.[14]

Israel plans for attack

In August, Israeli prime minister Menachem Begin was re-elected, and in September, Begin and his defense minister Ariel Sharon began to lay plans for a second invasion of Lebanon for the purpose of driving out the PLO. Sharon's intention was to "destroy the PLO military infrastructure and, if possible, the PLO leadership itself; this would mean attacking West Beirut, where the PLO headquarters and command bunkers were located".[15]

Sharon also wanted to ensure the presidency of Bashir Gemayel. In return for Israeli assistance, Sharon expected Gemayel, once installed as president, to sign a peace treaty with Israel, presumably stabilizing forever Israel's northern border. Begin brought Sharon's plan before the Knesset in December 1981; however, after strong objections were raised, Begin felt compelled to set the plan aside. But Sharon continued to press the issue. In January 1982, Sharon met with Gemayel on an Israeli vessel off the coast of Lebanon and discussed a plan "that would bring Israeli forces as far north as the edge of Beirut International Airport".[16] In February, with Begin's input, Yehoshua Seguy, the chief of military intelligence, was sent to Washington to discuss the issue of Lebanon with Secretary of State Alexander Haig. In the meeting, Haig "stressed that there could be no assault without a major provocation from Lebanon".[17]

Israel-PLO security situation

The PLO routinely attacked Israel during the period of the cease-fire, with over 270 documented attacks.[citation needed] People in Galilee regularly had to leave their homes during these shellings. Documents captured in PLO headquarters after the invasion showed they had come from Lebanon.[18]

In addition, Arafat refused to condemn attacks occurring outside of Lebanon, on the grounds that the cease-fire was only relevant to the Lebanese theater.[19] Arafat's interpretation underscored the fact that the cease-fire agreement did nothing to address ongoing violence between the PLO and Israel in other theaters. Israel thus continued to weather PLO attacks throughout the cease-fire period.

Third phase 1982–1983

Israeli invasion of Lebanon

Map showing power balance in Lebanon, 1983: Green - controlled by Syria, purple - controlled by Christian groups, yellow - controlled by Israel, blue - controlled by the United Nations

Argov assassination

On 3 June 1982, the Abu Nidal Organization attempted to assassinate Israeli ambassador Shlomo Argov in London. Abu Nidal had assassinated numerous PLO diplomats, and attempted to kill both Arafat and Mahmud Abbas, and was in fact condemned to death by the PLO.[20] Additionally, British intelligence reported that the attempt had likely been sponsored by Iraq, and Israeli intelligence agreed. However, Ariel Sharon and Menachem Begin ordered a retaliatory aerial attack on PLO and PFLP targets in West Beirut that led to over 100 casualties.[17]

The PLO responded by launching a counterattack from Lebanon, without consulting its government, with rockets and artillery, which also constituted a clear violation of the cease-fire. This was the immediate excuse of Israel's subsequent decision to invade. Meanwhile, on 5 June, the UN Security Council unanimously passed Resolution 508 calling for "all the parties to the conflict to cease immediately and simultaneously all military activities within Lebanon and across the Lebanese-Israeli border and no later than 0600 hours local time on Sunday, 6 June 1982."[21]

Israel invades

Israeli troops in South Lebanon, June, 1982

Israel launched Operation Peace for Galilee on 6 June 1982, attacking PLO bases in Lebanon. Israeli forces quickly drove 25 miles (40 km) into Lebanon, moving into East Beirut with the tacit support of Maronite leaders and militia. When the Israeli cabinet convened to authorize the invasion, Sharon described it as a plan to advance 40 kilometers into Lebanon, demolish PLO strongholds, and establish an expanded security zone that would put northern Israel out of range of PLO rockets. In fact, Israeli chief of staff Rafael Eitan and Sharon had already ordered the invading forces to head straight for Beirut, in accord with Sharon's blueprint dating to September 1981. After the invasion had begun, the UN Security Council passed a further resolution on 6 June 1982, Resolution 509, which reaffirms UNSCR 508 and "demands that Israel withdraw all its military forces forthwith and unconditionally to the internationally recognized boundaries of Lebanon".[22] Thus far the US had not used its veto. However, on 8 June 1982, the US vetoed a proposed resolution that "reiterates [the] demand that Israel withdraw all its military forces forthwith and unconditionally to the internationally recognized boundaries of Lebanon",[23] thereby giving implicit assent to the Israeli invasion.

Siege of Beirut

An aerial view of the stadium used as an ammunition supply site for the PLO after Israeli airstrikes in 1982

By 15 June 1982, Israeli units were entrenched outside Beirut. The United States called for PLO withdrawal from Lebanon, and Sharon began to order bombing raids of West Beirut, targeting some 16,000 PLO fedayeen who had retreated into fortified positions. Meanwhile, Arafat attempted through negotiations to salvage politically what was clearly a disaster for the PLO, an attempt which eventually succeeded once the multinational force arrived to evacuate the PLO.

The fighting in Beirut killed more than 6,700 people of whom the vast majority were civilians. Combatants killed included 500 PLO, more than 400 Lebanese, over 100 Syrians and 88 Israelis. Fierce artillery duels between the IDF and the PLO, and PLO shelling of Christian neighborhoods of East Beirut at the outset gave way to escalating aerial IDF bombardment beginning on 21 July 1982.[24] It is commonly estimated that during the entire campaign, approximately 20,000 were killed on all sides, including many civilians, and 30,000 were wounded[citation needed].

Negotiations for a cease-fire

On 26 June, a UN Security Council resolution was proposed that "demands the immediate withdrawal of the Israeli forces engaged round Beirut, to a distance of 10 kilometers from the periphery of that city, as a first step towards the complete withdrawal of Israeli forces from Lebanon, and the simultaneous withdrawal of the Palestinian armed forces from Beirut, which shall retire to the existing camps";[25] the United States vetoed the resolution because it was "a transparent attempt to preserve the PLO as a viable political force",[26] However, President Reagan made an impassioned plea to Prime Minister Begin to end the siege. Begin called back within minutes informing the President that he had given the order to end the attack.[27]

Finally, amid escalating violence and civilian casualties, Philip Habib was once again sent to restore order, which he accomplished on 12 August on the heels of IDF's intensive, day-long bombardment of West Beirut. The Habib-negotiated truce called for the withdrawal of both Israeli and PLO elements, as well as a multinational force composed of U.S. Marines along with French and Italian units that would ensure the departure of the PLO and protect defenseless civilians.

International intervention

US Navy Amphibian arriving in Beirut, 1982

The first troops of a multinational force landed in Beirut on 21 August 1982 to oversee the PLO withdrawal from Lebanon and U.S. mediation resulted in the evacuation of Syrian troops and PLO fighters from Beirut. The agreement also provided for the deployment of a multinational force composed of U.S. Marines along with French, Italian and British units. However, Israel reported that some 2,000 PLO militants were hiding in Palestinian refugee camps on the outskirts of Beirut.

Bachir Gemayel was elected president under Israeli military control on 23 August. Many, especially in the Muslim circles, feared his relationship with Israel. He was assassinated on 14 September.

Sabra and Shatila Massacre

The Kahan Commission was set up by the Israeli government to investigate the circumstances of the massacre , in which about 3500 Muslim civilians were killed by the Lebanese christian forces under the full knowledge and help of the Israeli authorities . The Defence Minister, Ariel Sharon, was found to bear personal responsibility[28] "for ignoring the danger of bloodshed and revenge" and "not taking appropriate measures to prevent bloodshed". Sharon's negligence in protecting the civilian population of Beirut, which had come under Israeli control amounted to a non-fulfillment of a duty with which the Defence Minister was charged. The Commission arrived to similar conclusions with respect to Chief of Staff, Lt. Gen. Rafael Eitan, finding his actions were tantamount to a breach of duty that was incumbent upon the Chief of Staff. The Commission recommended that Sharon resign his post as Defense Minister, which he did, though he remained in the government as an influential Minister without Portfolio.[29]

Amin Gemayel's Inauguration, Beirut 1982

The massacres made the headlines all over the world, and calls were heard for the international community to assume responsibility for stabilizing Lebanon. As a result, the multinational forces that had begun exiting Lebanon after the PLO's evacuation returned as peace keepers. With U.S. backing, Amine Gemayel was chosen by the Lebanese parliament to succeed his brother as President and focused anew on securing the withdrawal of Israeli and Syrian forces.

17 May Agreement

On 17 May 1983, Lebanon's Amine Gemayel, Israel, and the United States signed an agreement[30] text on Israeli withdrawal that was conditioned on the departure of Syrian troops; reportedly after the US and Israel exerted severe pressure on Gemayel. The agreement stated that "the state of war between Israel and Lebanon has been terminated and no longer exists." Thus, the agreement in effect amounted to a peace agreement with Israel, and was additionally seen by many Lebanese Muslims as an attempt for Israel to gain a permanent hold on the Lebanese South.[31] The 17 May Agreement was widely portrayed in the Arab world as an imposed surrender, and Amine Gemayel was accused of acting as a Quisling President; tensions in Lebanon hardened considerably. Syria strongly opposed the agreement and declined to discuss the withdrawal of its troops, effectively stalemating further progress.

In August 1983, Israel withdrew from the Chouf District (southeast of Beirut), thus removing the buffer between the Druze and the Christian militias and triggering another round of brutal fighting. By September, the Druze had gained control over most of the Chouf, and Israeli forces had pulled out from all but the southern security zone. The IDF would remain in this zone until 2000.

Resurging violence

The virtual collapse of the Lebanese Army in February 1984, following the defection of many Muslim and Druze units to militias, was a major blow to the government. With the U.S. Marines looking ready to withdraw, Syria and Muslim groups stepped up pressure on Gemayel. On 5 March the Lebanese Government canceled the 17 May Agreement, and the Marines departed a few weeks later.

This period of chaos witnessed the beginning of attacks against U.S. and Western interests, such as the 18 April 1983 suicide attack at the U.S. Embassy in West Beirut, which killed 63. Following the bombing, the Reagan White House "ordered naval bombardments of Druze positions, which resulted in numerous casualties, mostly non-combatant," and the "reply to the American bombardments" was the suicide attack.[32] Then, on 23 October 1983, a devastating suicide bombing in Beirut targeted the headquarters of the U.S. and French forces, killing 241 American and 58 French servicemen.[33] On 18 January 1984, American University of Beirut President Malcolm Kerr was murdered. After US forces withdrew in February 1984, anti-US attacks continued, including a second bombing of the U.S. embassy annex in East Beirut on 20 September 1984, which killed 9, including 2 U.S. servicemen. The situation became serious enough to compel the U.S. State Department to invalidate US passports for travel to Lebanon in 1987, a travel ban that was only lifted 10 years later in 1997.

During these years, Hezbollah emerged from a loose coalition of Shi'a groups resisting the Israeli occupation, and splintered from the main Shi'a movement, Nabih Berri's Amal Movement. The group found inspiration for its revolutionary Islamism in the Iranian Revolution of 1979, With Iranian assistance and a large pool of disaffected Shi'a refugees from which to draw support, Hezbollah quickly grew into a strong fighting force.

Fourth phase 1984–1990

Worsening conflict and political crisis

Between 1985 and 1989, sectarian conflict worsened as various efforts at national reconciliation failed. Heavy fighting took place in the War of the Camps of 1985-86 as a Syrian-backed coalition headed by the Amal militia sought to rout the PLO from their Lebanese strongholds, who were supported by Hezbollah. Many Palestinians died, and the Sabra, Shatila, and Bourj al-Barajneh refugee camps were largely destroyed. (Fisk, 609)

Major combat returned to Beirut in 1987, when Palestinians, Hezbollah and leftist fighters allied against Amal, eventually drawing further Syrian intervention. After several Hezbollah successes against Amal, Syrian troops invaded the Shia stronghold of Basta and attacked the Fathallah barracks, the headquarters of Hezbollah, killing 23 Hezbollah members and leading to a short period of fighting between Hezbollah and Syria. Violent confrontation flared up again in Beirut in early 1988 between Amal and Hezbollah. Hezbollah swiftly seized command of several Amal-held parts of the city, and for the first time emerged as a strong force in the capital.

Aoun government

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Rashid Karami, head of a government of national unity set up after the failed peace efforts of 1984, was assassinated on 1 June 1987. President Gemayel's term of office expired in September 1988. Before stepping down, he appointed another Maronite Christian, Lebanese Armed Forces Commanding General Michel Aoun, as acting Prime Minister, contravening the National Pact. Conflict in this period was also exacerbated by increasing Iraqi involvement, as Saddam Hussein searched for proxy battlefields for the Iran–Iraq War. To counter Iran's influence through Amal and Hezbollah, Iraq backed Christian groups; Saddam Hussein helped the Lebanese Forces led by Samir Geagea between 1988-1990.[34]

Muslim groups rejected the violation of the National Pact and pledged support to Selim al-Hoss, a Sunni who had succeeded Karami. Lebanon was thus divided between a Christian military government in East Beirut and a Muslim government in West Beirut.

Aoun's "War of Liberation"

On 14 March 1989, Aoun launched what he termed a "war of liberation" against the Syrians and their Lebanese militia allies. As a result, Syrian pressure on his Lebanese Army and militia pockets in East Beirut grew. Still, Aoun persisted in the "war of liberation", denouncing the regime of Hafez al-Assad and claiming that he fought for Lebanon's independence. While he seems to have had significant Christian support for this, he was still perceived as a sectarian leader among others by the Muslim population, who distrusted his agenda. He was also plagued by the challenge to his legitimacy put forth by the Syrian-backed West Beirut government of Selim al-Hoss. Militarily, this war did not achieve its goal. Instead, it caused considerable damages to East Beirut and provoked massive emigration among the Christian population.

Taif Agreement

An estimate of the distribution of Lebanon's main religious groups, 1991, based on a map by GlobalSecurity.org

The Taif Agreement of 1989 marked the beginning of the end of the fighting. In January of that year, a committee appointed by the Arab League, chaired by Kuwait and including Saudi Arabia, Algeria, and Morocco, began to formulate solutions to the conflict. This led to a meeting of Lebanese parliamentarians in Ta'if, Saudi Arabia, where they agreed to the national reconciliation accord in October. The agreement provided a large role for Syria in Lebanese affairs. Returning to Lebanon, they ratified the agreement on 4 November and elected Rene Mouawad as President the following day. Military leader Michel Aoun in East Beirut refused to accept Mouawad, and denounced the Taif Agreement.

Mouawad was assassinated 16 days later in a car bombing in Beirut on 22 November as his motorcade returned from Lebanese independence day ceremonies. He was succeeded by Elias Hrawi (who remained in office until 1998). Aoun again refused to accept the election, and dissolved Parliament.

Infighting in East Beirut

On 16 January 1990, General Aoun ordered all Lebanese media to cease using terms like "President" or "Minister" to describe Hrawi and other participants in the Taif government. The Lebanese Forces, which had grown into a rival power broker in the Christian parts of the capital, protested by suspending all its broadcasts. Tension with the LF grew, as Aoun feared that the LF was planning to link up with the Hrawi administration.

Aoun's troops had on several occasion attacked the LF including on 14 February 1989, one month before his all out war on Syria (14 March 1989), whereby Lebanese army troops attacked LF fighters stationed in Antelias, killing dozens. Nevertheless, the LF kept on assisting Aoun in his self declared "Liberation War," however, following the Taif's agreement and Aoun's failure in achieving any progress, plans changed and Aoun moved all his combat units facing Syria's army, and diverted them inwards launching an all out attack against the LF in what was know as the "Elimination war," which ended in severely weakening the Christian camp and ending all Aoun's ambitions of becoming President.

In August 1990, both the Lebanese Parliament, which did not heed Aoun's order to dissolve, and the new president agreed on constitutional amendments embodying some of the political reforms envisioned at Taif. The National Assembly expanded to 128 seats and was for the first time divided equally between Christians and Muslims.

As Saddam Hussein focused his attention on Kuwait, Iraqi supplies to Aoun dwindled.

Thus, on 13 October, Syria launched the 13 October attack, a major operation involving its army and air force (for the first time since Zahle's siege in 1981) against Aoun's stronghold around the presidential palace, taking advantage of the internal Christian war between Aoun and the LF, where hundreds of Aoun supporters were killed by Syrian troops. It then cleared out the last Aounist pockets. Aoun went to the French Embassy to negotiated a ceasefire with the Syrians and all militias from West Beirut. However some say the cease-fire negotiations turned out to be a scam in order to allow Aoun to flee from the Presidential palace and command center. Later on, he announced over the radio that the war is over and stayed in Beirut until a safe exit to Paris was available because of the Syrian political agenda of eliminating Aoun.

William Harris claims that the Syrian operation could not take place until Syria had reached an agreement with the United States, that in exchange for support against the Iraqi regime of Saddam Hussein in the Persian Gulf War, it would convince Israel not to attack Syrian aircraft approaching Beirut. Aoun claimed in 1990 that the United States "has sold Lebanon to Syria".[35]


In March 1991, parliament passed an amnesty law that pardoned all political crimes prior to its enactment. The amnesty was not extended to crimes perpetrated against foreign diplomats or certain crimes referred by the cabinet to the Higher Judicial Council. In May 1991, the militias (with the important exception of Hezbollah) were dissolved, and the Lebanese Armed Forces began to slowly rebuild themselves as Lebanon's only major non-sectarian institution.

Some violence still occurred. In late December 1991 a car bomb (estimated to carry 220 pounds of TNT) exploded in the Muslim neighborhood of Basta. At least thirty people were killed, and 120 wounded, including former Prime Minister Shafik Wazzan, who was riding in a bulletproof car.


War-damaged buildings in Beirut

Since the end of the war, the Lebanese have conducted several elections, most of the militias have been weakened or disbanded, and the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) have extended central government authority over about two-thirds of the country. Following the cease-fire which ended the 12 July 2006 Israeli-Lebanese conflict, the army has for the first time in over three decades moved to occupy and control the southern areas of Lebanon.

Lebanon still bears deep scars from the civil war. In all, it is estimated that more than 100,000 people were killed, and another 100,000 permanently handicapped by injuries. Approximately 900,000 people, representing one-fifth of the pre-war population, were displaced from their homes. Perhaps a quarter of a million emigrated permanently. Thousands of land mines remain buried in the previously contested areas. Some Western hostages kidnapped during the mid-1980s (many claim by Hezbollah, though the movement denies this)[citation needed] were held until June 1992.[36] Lebanese victims of kidnapping and wartime "disappeared" number in the tens of thousands[citation needed].

Car bombs became a favored weapon of violent groups worldwide, following their frequent, and often effective, use during the war. In the 15 years of strife, there were at least 3,641 car bombs, which left 4,386 people dead and thousands more injured.[37] Other favorite weapons were the AK-47 and rocket-propelled grenades (RPGs).

In popular culture

The 1981 German film Die Fälschung (English title: Circle of Deceit) was set during the Lebanese Civil War, being based on a 1979 novel of the same name by Nicolas Born. Lebanese movie drama Beyrout al Gharbyya (English title: West Beirut, French title: À l'abri les enfants) from 1998 is a story of two Muslim boys and orphaned Christian girl set in divided Beirut of 1975. The Oscar nominated Incendies, which focuses on the tragedy of this and all wars, has many scenes set at various times throughout the entire course of the war. The Swedish film Zozo is about a boy whose parents are killed during the civil war, and who subsequently moves to Sweden. The animated drama Waltz With Bashir explored a soldier's flashbacks of the war.


  1. ^ Baroudi and Tabar 2009
  2. ^ http://www.country-data.com/cgi-bin/query/r-7940.html
  3. ^ http://www.arab-american.net/Historical_Chronology_of_Lebanon.pdf
  4. ^ Bregman and El-Tahri (1998), 158pp. (This reference only mentions Israel.)
  5. ^ In the Spotlight: PKK (A.k.a KADEK) Kurdish Worker's Party
  6. ^ Abdullah Öcalan en de ontwikkeling van de PKK
  7. ^ a secret relationship
  8. ^ [1]
  9. ^ [Melkonian, Markar (2005). My Brother's Road: An American's Fateful Journey to Armenia. New York: I. B. Tauris. p. x. ISBN 1-85043-635-5.]
  10. ^ Charles D. Smith, Palestine and the Arab Israeli Conflict, p. 354.
  11. ^ Fisk, pp. 78-81
  12. ^ "133 Statement to the press by Prime Minister Begin on the massacre of Israelis on the Haifa - Tel Aviv Road- 12 March 1978", Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 1977-79
  13. ^ Smith, op. cit., 355.
  14. ^ "The Bombing of Beirut". Journal of Palestine Studies 11 (1): 218–225. 1981. doi:10.1525/jps.1981.11.1.00p0366x. 
  15. ^ Smith, op. cit., p. 377.
  16. ^ Time, 15 February 1982, cited in Chomsky, op. cit., 195.
  17. ^ a b Smith, op. cit., p. 378.
  18. ^ Jillian Becker, The PLO, (London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1984), pp. 202, 279.
  19. ^ Smith, op. cit., p. 376.
  20. ^ Chomsky, op. cit., p. 196.
  21. ^ "United Nations Security Council Resolution 508", Jewish Virtual Library
  22. ^ "United Nations Security Council Resolution 509", Global Policy Forum
  23. ^ "United Nations Security Council Draft Resolution of 8 June 1982 (Spain), United Nations
  24. ^ George W. Gawrych, "Siege of Beirut, GlobalSecurity.org
  25. ^ "United Nations Security Council Revised Draft Resolution of 25 June 1982 (France), United Nations
  26. ^ New York Times, 27 June 1982, cited in Chomsky, op. cit., p. 198
  27. ^ http://www.ontheissues.org/Celeb/Ronald_Reagan_War_+_Peace.htm
  28. ^ Schiff, Ze'ev; Ehud Ya'ari (1984). Israel's Lebanon War. Simon and Schuster. p. 284. ISBN 0-671-47991-1. 
  29. ^ Chomsky, op. cit., 406.
  30. ^ "17 May Agreement", Lebanese Armed Forces
  31. ^ "Israel and South Lebanon", Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, 5 March 1984, Page 3
  32. ^ Smith, op. cit., 383.
  33. ^ "Iran responsible for 1983 Marine barracks bombing, judge rules", CNN, 30 May 2003
  34. ^ "Doctrine, Dreams Drive Saddam Hussein", Washington Post, 12 August 1990
  35. ^ Harris, p. 260
  36. ^ "Lebanon (Civil War 1975-1991)", GlobalSecurity.org
  37. ^ "Lebanon: The Terrible Tally of Death". Time. 23 March 1992. http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,975156,00.html?promoid=googlep. Retrieved 7 May 2010. 

Further reading

  • Al-Baath wa-Lubnân [Arabic only] ("The Baath and Lebanon"), NY Firzli, Beirut, Dar-al-Tali'a Books, 1973.
  • The Iraq-Iran Conflict, NY Firzli, Paris, EMA, 1981. ISBN 2-86584-002-6
  • Bregman, Ahron (2002). Israel's Wars: A History Since 1947. London: Routledge. ISBN 0-415-28716-2
  • Bregman, Ahron and El-Tahri, Jihan (1998). The Fifty Years War: Israel and the Arabs. London: BBC Books. Penguin Books. ISBN 0-14-026827-8
  • The Breakdown of the State in Lebanon, 1967-1976 Khazen Farid El (2000) (ISBN 0-674-08105-6)
  • The Bullet Collection, a book by Patricia Sarrafian Ward, is an excellent account of human experience during the Lebanese Civil War.
  • Civil War in Lebanon, 1975-92 O'Ballance Edgar (1998) (ISBN 0-312-21593-2)
  • Crossroads to Civil War: Lebanon 1958-1976 Salibi Kamal S. (1976) (ISBN 0-88206-010-4)
  • Death of a country: The civil war in Lebanon. Bulloch John (1977) (ISBN 0-297-77288-0)
  • Faces of Lebanon: Sects, Wars, and Global Extensions (Princeton Series on the Middle East) Harris William W (1997) (ISBN 1-55876-115-2)
  • The Fateful Triangle: The United States, Israel, and the Palestinians Noam Chomsky (1983, 1999) (ISBN 0-89608-601-1)
  • History of Syria Including Lebanon and Palestine, Vol. 2 Hitti Philip K. (2002) (ISBN 1-931956-61-8)
  • Lebanon: A Shattered Country: Myths and Realities of the Wars in Lebanon, Revised Edition Picard, Elizabeth (2002) (ISBN 0-8419-1415-X)
  • Lebanon in Crisis: Participants and Issues (Contemporary Issues in the Middle East) Haley P. Edward, Snider Lewis W. (1979) (ISBN 0-8156-2210-4)
  • Lebanon: Fire and Embers: A History of the Lebanese Civil War by Hiro, Dilip (1993) (ISBN 0-312-09724-7)
  • Pity the Nation: Lebanon at War Fisk, Robert (2001) (ISBN 0-19-280130-9)
  • Syria and the Lebanese Crisis Dawisha A. I. (1980) (ISBN 0-312-78203-9)
  • Syria's Terrorist War on Lebanon and the Peace Process Deeb Marius (2003) (ISBN 1-4039-6248-0)
  • The War for Lebanon, 1970-1985 Rabinovich Itamar (1985) (ISBN 0-8014-9313-7)
  • Palestine and the Arab-Israeli Conflict, fourth edition, Charles D. Smith (2001) (ISBN 0-312-20828-6) (paperback)
  • Les otages libanais dans les prisons syriennes, jusqu'à quand? by Lina Murr Nehme

External links

Primary sources

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Игры ⚽ Нужен реферат?

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Lebanese Civil War (1975-1977) — Throughout the spring of 1975, minor clashes had been building up towards all out conflict, with the LNM pitted against the Phalange, and the ever weaker national government wavering between the need to maintain order and cater to its… …   Wikipedia

  • Lebanese Civil War — (1975–91) Civil conflict resulting from tensions among Lebanon s Christian and Muslim populations and exacerbated by the presence in Lebanon in the 1970s of fighters from the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO). In 1975 Lebanon s Muslims and… …   Universalium

  • Lebanese Civil War (1984-1989) — Between 1985 and 1989, sectarian conflict worsened as various efforts at national reconciliation failed. Heavy fighting took place in the War of the Camps of 1985 86 as a Syrian backed coalition headed by the Amal militia sought to rout the PLO… …   Wikipedia

  • Civil war — This article is about the definition of the specific type of war. For civil wars in history, see List of civil wars. For other uses, see Civil war (disambiguation). Warfare …   Wikipedia

  • Civil war in Iraq — Civil war/sectarian violence in Iraq Part of Iraq War and Iraqi insurgency Date February 2006 May 2008 …   Wikipedia

  • American Civil War — American Civil War …   Wikipedia

  • Conclusion of the American Civil War — The McLean house where Lee surrendered to Grant on April 9, 1865. This is a timeline of the conclusion of the American Civil War which includes important battles, skirmishes, raids and other events of 1865. These led to additional Confederate… …   Wikipedia

  • Angolan Civil War — Part of the Cold War and the South African Border War …   Wikipedia

  • Nepalese Civil War — Nepali Civil War Map of Nepal Date 13 February 1996 – 21 November 2006 Location …   Wikipedia

  • Lebanese Armed Forces — Al Quwwāt al Musallaḥa al Lubnāniyya Flag of the Lebanese Army Founded August 1, 1945 Current form …   Wikipedia

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”