Lebanon Recent History

The independence of Lebanon

Lebanon only gained state independence in 1941. In order to take account of the various religious communities that had lived in the country for centuries, even millennia, the treaty contained an important agreement: The state president should be Maronit, i.e. Christian, the prime minister a Sunni and the Speaker of Parliament of Shiite faith. The British and French did not leave Lebanon until the end of World War II.

Peaceful coexistence of religions

Initially, the religious communities lived largely peacefully with one another. Lebanon was also referred to as the “Switzerland of the Orient” because the country remained economically stable and Lebanon was largely politically neutral. However, the residents felt closer to their different religious communities and less to a common Lebanese state.

The problems were already widening in the 1950s. Although there was no civil war, the military took power in the form of a general named Fuad Shebab who was President of Lebanon from 1958 to 1964.

In 1975 the civil war began in Lebanon

But the conflicts continued to spread and were not just between Christians and Muslims. The PLO directed against Israel (also take a look at Politics and History Israel) had meanwhile also spread to Lebanon and started attacks on neighboring Israel from there. Conversely, the Israelis attacked the PLO bases in the south of Lebanon.

This resulted in an alliance between Muslim Palestinians and Muslim Lebanese that terrified Christians because the balance between the two religious communities shifted. There was a split within society, which at the time did not see itself as a nation. As a result, there was a civil war between the various religious groups in 1975. The state of Lebanon could not do anything about it.

Proxy war in Lebanon

This war also affected Lebanon’s neighbors, who repeatedly intervened in the war. Syria fought the PLO to prevent it from taking power in Lebanon. That would have brought Israel back on the scene and brought about an Israeli invasion of Lebanon, which in turn would have put Syria in a worse position. However, after further fighting, the Israelis occupied southern Lebanon in 1978 and 1982. In 1982 they conquered Beirut.

From 1982 onwards one speaks of a kind of proxy war in Lebanon in which various interest groups let off steam. Many dead, injured and traumatized were the result. Then there were destroyed cities, a broken economy and burnt nature. The consequences of this war continue to the present day.

It was not until 1989 that the Taif Agreement came about, named after the place in Saudi Arabia where the agreement was concluded. It ended the civil war. From 1989 to 1998 Elias was HraouiLebanese President. Then in 2000 the Israelis withdrew their troops from Lebanon. Nevertheless, one continues to argue about certain areas. At the same time, there were calls for the Syrian army to withdraw, but this was to take a while.

What is the Cedar Revolution?

Since the First Lebanon War, many Syrian soldiers have been in Lebanon and controlled the country. But in February 2005 there was an assassination attempt on the former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik al-Hariri, who had repeatedly called for the withdrawal of Syrian troops and was very popular with many people. The Lebanese suspected the Syrians to have had a hand in this. So one began to fight against the Syrian overwhelming power. The Lebanese government has been forced to resign because it worked closely with Syria and the head of the government, Bashar al-Assad. The revolution that broke out after the assassination was also called the “Cedar Revolution”.

Recent developments in Lebanon

Michel Aoun has been President of Lebanon since October 31, 2016.

A disaster broke out in Lebanon in early August 2020. In the port of Beirut there was a terrible explosion with more than 190 dead and many missing and of course thousands of injured. The damage affected almost half of the city. More than 300,000 people had lost their homes and were homeless. After these terrible explosions, many protests followed, out of grief and anger. The anger towards the government and its failure existed before, but it was fanned again. Among other things, they called for a new government because they believed the government had failed completely. This is how the Lebanese government announced its resignation.

In the meantime, a new government should be formed, which is not so easy in Lebanon, because the country’s president is always a Christian, the prime minister a Sunni and the speaker of parliament a Shiite. Government posts are also awarded according to this system. Since the end of August, the former ambassador of Lebanon to Germany Mustafa Adib has been tasked with forming a government, which has not yet taken place (as of October 2020).

The independence of Lebanon