Lebanon Recent History


What made Lebanon famous in antiquity was undoubtedly its cedar forests, so necessary for the production of that precious wood with which, at that time, both the Phoenicians and the Egyptians, carried on their constructions.

From the early dynasties of the pharaohs, shipments were sent to Lebanon to supply this timber. Therefore the Egyptian ships were forced to touch the Phoenician coasts and consequently to subjugate their cities. From which, then, the Phoenicians themselves took off for Lebanon from which, but to a small extent, they also supplied themselves with iron. Much of the prosperity of the Phoenician cities came precisely from the possession of the Lebanese forests.

But for the Phoenicians Lebanon also had great importance from a religious point of view. In fact, in that country the cult of “Ba-Al of Lebanon” arose, “Ba-Al” meant “Lord”. And this, in fact, was the attribute given to some local deities, and was different in each city. This cult was later brought to Carthage by the colonists of Tire.

In Tire it was called “Ba-Al Melquart” and in Sidon “Ba-Al Esmun”. According to Abbreviationfinder, Lebanon, although closely related to the events of the Phoenicians, was dominated by the Persians, the Macedonians, the Seleucids, the Ptolemies and the Romans.

Given the impracticability of its territory, however, the rulers who dominated it, at least nominally, never inhabited it so its population always remained Aramaic, that is Phoenician, and began, some time before the arrival of Islam, to count Arab nomadic elements, coming from the Syro-Arab desert. And because of its difficult nature, Lebanon was never invaded by the Arabs, immediately after they had completed the penetration of Syria. However, they did so later, also raised by the Byzantines who considered them allies suitable to fight against the arrival of Islam.

In the eighth century Lebanon was the ideal asylum for refugees of all ethnic groups and religious denominations.

And the Christian confession of the Maronites, dependent on the Patriarch of Antioch, had a remarkable development here and assumed, later, when it joined the Church of Rome, a very important role in the Arab-Christian civilization.

Lebanon Recent History

Then in Lebanon Islam took over and towards the end of the tenth century the ultra-Shiite heresy of the Druze flourished, an Islamist minority who refused to recognize the Sunna, appendix of the Koran, and who called themselves “shia” from “wake ”, Which means division. Other religious sects were then added to those existing up to now and in Lebanon the Assassins were also sheltered, Islamist fanatics who for a trifle killed the next with stabs. They were followers of Hassan-Ben-Sabah, the Persian founder of the sect in the 11th
century. He brought his followers to a strong state of exaltation by making them drink an intoxicating liquid called “haschich”; for this reason they were called “haschinschin”, therefore, by assonance “assassins”.

At the time of the Crusades in northern Lebanon the Crusaders settled building strong fortresses, such as the “Forte dei Kurdi”, which then remained in the possession of the Knights of San Giovanni until 1271. They founded feudal states on the coast of Syria, where they applied the Latin domination.

In the 16th century the Latins were dethroned by the Mamelukes sultans, Turkish-Egyptian soldiers, and under them Lebanon enjoyed a rather peaceful period.

The Maronites had dominion of the northern area, the Tanukh emirs of the southern one and Beirut, and on the western slopes presided over the Banu Ma’n dynasty, whose main representative Fakhr Ad-Din rebelled against the Ottomans, asked for help to the various European courts, including that of the Grand Duchy of Tuscany, and, although Druze, always favored Christians.

His attempt to liberate Lebanon failed but the influence of the West was always present in Lebanon, carried on by the Maronites, who had relations with the Roman Church.

Once the Banu Ma’n dynasty had lapsed, the Banu Shihab dynasty took office. The Emir of the latter, Bashir, tried, at the beginning of the 19th century, to unify Lebanon but the Turks prevented it, then exiled it in 1840 and for another 20 years they remained masters of the country.

And in 1860 the struggles between Maronites and Druze intensified, so much so that France had to intervene. It meant that Lebanon obtained some autonomy and was led by a Catholic leader, nominated by the Turks but authorized by other European forces. And this was the first step towards a wider European penetration, especially French, which favored not only the development of other ethnic groups but, with the exodus of many citizens to America, meant that libertarian currents later entered Lebanon and new yearnings for freedom.

At the outbreak of the First World War in Lebanon, Christians found themselves in the minority. And when the war ended with the victory of the Triple Entente, the Ottoman Empire completely collapsed and Lebanon had the Constitution on September 1, 1920 and became a “State of Greater Lebanon”, under French mandate.

In May 1925 the name of the state changed to the Lebanese Republic. But he did not have periods of great internal peace.

After the Second World War he participated, with other Arab states, in impeding the formation of a free Israelite state. This failed and Lebanon only gained a deep aversion from the state of Israel.

At the base of internal and external contrasts there were the rivalries between large oil complexes: in Tripoli di Soria, Syria, the outlet of an Iraq Petroleum Oil Company oil pipeline was made to arrive.

On February 14, 1951, a new Cabinet was formed following the resignation of Riyad Al-Sulh; on June 7, a new government was formed under the presidency of Abdullah El-Yaffi.

On September 18, 1952, a socialist coup took place, promoted by General Fuad Shebab, which led to the resignation of President Bechara El Khuri, in office since 1943 and the election of Camillo Chamoun in his place, five days later.

On October 9, 1952, Parliament gave full power, for six years, to the government chaired by Khaled Chebab.

The country maintained good relations with the Arab states and when the Baghdad Pact was signed in 1954/55, Lebanon, however, found it difficult to try to act as peacemaker between that and the League of Arab States.

Relations with the United Arab Republic were particularly close and their respective presidents signed an economic agreement in Cairo in March and June 1959. A pressing economic problem was in Lebanon represented by the numerous Palestinian refugees who, as such, also implied political difficulties. On August 26, 1959, the Secretary General of the United Nations proposed the final settlement of these Palestinians in Lebanon, but the Lebanese Chamber rejected the proposal by wishing interested parties to return to their homes.

Between 1958 and 1959 several accidents had occurred within the country. The calm returned when, after having expanded the seats of the government and the Chamber, in June-July 1960 there were new elections.

In 1961 a crisis with Egypt had to be faced first for having given refuge to Syrian refugees and then a coup that, failed, ended with the arrest and condemnation of the advocates.

Some tension returned in 1964 when President Shihab did not re-propose his candidacy. Instead, everything was quiet and Charles Helu was elected. But then this serenity was troubled in 1965 by accidents with Israel due to retaliatory actions conducted by guerrillas.

In January 1966 the Karamah government decided to resolve once and for all the problem of the administrative and judicial organization of the state. The conduct of these negotiations was particularly tough and 150 magistrates had to leave their positions. Shortly thereafter the Karamah government fell.

He was succeeded by Abdallah el-Yafi, who immediately found himself in serious financial difficulties. A great distrust of the Lebanese banking system, which was also the largest component of the state’s economy, led to the closure of Intra Bank in October. El-Yafi called in the government to defend savers and entrepreneurs but in December he resigned and returned to the Karamah government.

With the outbreak of the Israel-Egypt conflict in 1967, Lebanon took sides with the Arab countries. The following year in March new elections took place in which three different parties prevailed which did not lead to a clear majority. In the same 1968, after a resurgence of the Palestinian resistance, Lebanon found itself under the fire of Israeli retaliation and when some guerrillas attacked an Israeli plane in the Athens airport, the Israeli air force attacked that of Beirut destroying with bombs almost all Lebanese airliners.

The government, headed by El-Yafi, was accused of incapacity therefore he resigned and the premier was replaced on January 20, 1969 by Rashid Karamah.

Lebanon’s solidarity with the Palestinian resistance still led to a problem of vast proportions in the country, which involved relations between Maronites and Muslims. The former are in favor of a moderate policy towards Israel and the latter are more likely to support the guerrillas. And since the Muslims were in prevalence over others, in the spring-summer of 1969 Syrian guerrillas managed to infiltrate and created new bases from which other attacks on Israel started, which he immediately retaliated with reprisals.

It was on the verge of civil war which was barely averted by the signing, on November 2, between the Lebanese army chief and Yasir Arafat, of an agreement by which the Palestinians agreed to limit their guerrilla warfare to certain designated areas. Despite everything, even in 1970 the situation was critical. In August of that year, Helu’s term expired and he was succeeded by Suleiman Farangiyyah who entrusted the government to Sa’Ib Sallam. The latter immediately began a policy of relaxation and removed, as a first measure, the censorship of the press. Then it lifted the ban on some extremist parties but even so, in 1971, the country was torn apart by strikes, demonstrations of workers for the life expectancy and growing unemployment, riots driven by students and by opposing factions of the population.

New elections in 1972 favored the lefts. In the meantime, Jordan had expelled the Palestinian guerrillas from its territory and those had moved to Lebanon, so the Israeli reprisals increased and the populations of the southern villages, the most affected, asked for more control by the army.

Then there was the massacre of Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympics and the inevitable revenge led to many losses in September for the Lebanese army which was forced to attack some bases of the Palestinian resistance.

In February 1973, armed actions on one side and the other forced the government to resign. The tension increased, the attacks as well, and the Arab countries en masse had to intervene to establish a truce so that a new agreement could be made. With this it was sanctioned that Palestinian refugees would be disarmed, training on Lebanese territory as well as attacks on Israel prohibited.

Meanwhile, however, the demonstrations of Sunni Muslims continued. Their requests to gain access to the government in greater numbers were examined when in 1974 the new Prime Minister Taqi ed-din Solh proposed a reform, precisely, of the distribution of offices. The reaction of the Maronites was immediate. Southern Shiite Muslims also made the same demands as Sunnis, threatening armed claims against both Israel and Lebanon itself.

At the beginning of 1975 the situation was very serious: there were many clashes between the different factions without the Arab countries being able to stop the struggles and bring back the truce. When Syria decided to intervene, a “peacekeeping force” was created which, however, could not avoid the 1978 war between Maronites, Syrians and Palestinians in Beirut and southern Lebanon.

Lebanon was dominated by tensions and confusions. In 1978 a “security belt” was created on the borders with Israel and the United Nations also established a Multinational Force garrison in the south. However, despite everyone’s efforts, Israel burned Lebanon from 1982 to 1985 and never gave up on the positions it acquired.

In 1988 President al-Gumayyil, expiring his term, proposed General M. Awn as his successor. The clashes continued and even the Arab League summit, held in Casablanca in May 1989, was unable to bring the country back to peace.

After various other interventions, including that of the apostolic nuncio and the administration of the United States, on November 26, 1989 he was elected president of the republic E. Hrawi. What allowed Lebanon to find its way back to normalization was the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait. All the forces involved in that Gulf War kept Lebanon on the sidelines which could begin to deal with its dramatic situation. Work began to restore the economy and to rebuild and in May 1992 he was called to direct the Rasid al-Sulh government which took on the task of preparing the subsequent elections scheduled for August-October, in which three women were also elected.,

The new Prime Minister Rafiq al-Hariri, appointed on October 31, as authoritative and charismatic businessman, first placed the government’s attention on the extreme need to free southern Lebanon from the Israeli presence and proceed to an effective revival of the economy. His firmness was clear when in December 1992 he prevented 400 Palestinian deportees expelled from Israel from entering Lebanon. These were forced to settle in the so-called “no man’s land”, located between the “security belt” and the area controlled by the Lebanese army.

In April 1993 there was mutual recognition between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization.

In October 1995, Prime Minister Rafiq al-Hariri, supported by Syria, passed a constitutional amendment, whereby the National Assembly approved the term of 9 years instead of 6 years of the presidential term. He had argued the need for this variation to ensure the stability of the country which, thus, could fruitfully dedicate itself to reconstruction.

This operation had, however, been opposed by some Lebanese political sectors and labeled as unconstitutional and undemocratic, even if the president in office could not reply to his candidacy.

Instead, the government was strengthened and even in the political elections of August 1996, the seats for government candidates represented the majority.

In November 1996 al-Hariri was confirmed as prime minister and continued his national economic recovery program involving many private companies in the reconstruction.

He never allowed the secularization of the country and imposed a certain censorship on the “media”, so much so that in 1998 he assumed the monopoly of state television on the news.

In December 1998 a new coalition formation took over the government, led by S. al-Hoss. He based his economic policy on wider liberalization, eased censorship and fought corruption. In this regard, much of the year 1999 passed with a series of trials and convictions for politicians, even of a certain importance.

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