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Lebanon

Sovereign state in Western Asia

Top 10 Lebanon related articles

Coordinates: 33°50′N 35°50′E / 33.833°N 35.833°E / 33.833; 35.833

Lebanese Republic

ٱلْجُمْهُورِيَّةُ ٱللُّبْنَانِيَّةُ (Arabic)
al-Jumhūrīyah al-Lubnānīyah
République libanaise  (French)
Anthem: "كلّنا للوطن"  (Arabic)
"Kullunā li-l-waṭan"
"All of us! For our Country!" (English)
Capital
and largest city
Beirut
33°54′N 35°32′E / 33.900°N 35.533°E / 33.900; 35.533
Official languagesArabic[nb 1]
Recognised languagesFrench
Local vernacularLebanese Arabic[nb 2]
Ethnic groups
(2014[3])
Religion
Demonym(s)Lebanese
GovernmentUnitary parliamentary confessionalist constitutional republic[5]
• President
Michel Aoun
Hassan Diab
Nabih Berri
LegislatureParliament
Establishment
1 September 1920
23 May 1926
• Independence declared
22 November 1943
• French mandate ended
24 October 1945
• Withdrawal of French forces
17 April 1946
• Syrian and Israeli occupations
1976–2005
24 May 2000
30 April 2005
Area
• Total
10,452 km2 (4,036 sq mi) (161st)
• Water (%)
1.8
Population
• 2018 estimate
6,859,408[6][7] (109th)
• Density
560/km2 (1,450.4/sq mi) (21st)
GDP (PPP)2020 estimate
• Total
$91 billion[8]
• Per capita
$11,562[8] (66th)
GDP (nominal)2020 estimate
• Total
$18 billion[8] (82nd)
• Per capita
$2,745[8]
Gini  50.7
high
HDI (2019)  0.744[9]
high · 92nd
CurrencyLebanese pound (LBP)
Time zoneUTC+2 (EET)
• Summer (DST)
UTC+3 (EEST)
Driving sideright [10]
Calling code+961[11]
ISO 3166 codeLB
Internet TLD.lb

Lebanon (/ˈlɛbənɒn, -nən/ ( listen), Arabic: لبنانlubnān, Lebanese Arabic pronunciation: [lɪbˈneːn]),[12] officially known as the Lebanese Republic,[nb 3] is a country in Western Asia.[13][14][15][16] It is bordered by Syria to the north and east and Israel to the south, while Cyprus lies west across the Mediterranean Sea. Lebanon's location at the crossroads of the Mediterranean Basin and the Arabian hinterland has contributed to its rich history and shaped a cultural identity of religious and ethnic diversity.[17] At just 10,452 km2 (4,036 mi2), it is one of the smallest recognized sovereign states in the Asian continent.[18][19] As the country's official language is Arabic,[20] spoken Lebanese Arabic is used alongside Modern Standard Arabic in daily life.

The earliest evidence of civilization in Lebanon dates back more than seven thousand years, predating recorded history.[21] Lebanon was home to the Phoenicians, a maritime culture that flourished for almost three thousand years (c. 3200–539 BC). In 64 BC, the Roman Empire conquered the region, and eventually became one of its leading centers of Christianity. The Mount Lebanon range saw the emergence of a monastic tradition known as the Maronite Church. As the Arab Muslims conquered the region, the Maronites held onto their religion and identity. However, a new religious group, the Druze, established themselves in Mount Lebanon as well, generating a religious divide that has lasted for centuries. During the Crusades, the Maronites re-established contact with the Roman Catholic Church and asserted their communion with Rome. These ties have influenced the region into the modern era.

Lebanon was conquered by the Ottomans in the 16th century and remained under their rule for the next 400 years. Following the empire's collapse after World War I, the five provinces constituting modern Lebanon came under the French Mandate. The French expanded the borders of the Mount Lebanon Governorate, which was predominately Maronite and Druze, to include more Muslims. Upon independence in 1943, Lebanon established a unique confessionalist form of government, with the major religious sects apportioned specific political powers. Lebanon initially enjoyed political and economic stability, which was shattered by the bloody Lebanese Civil War (1975–1990) between various political and sectarian factions. The war partially led to military occupations by Syria (1975 to 2005) and Israel (1985 to 2000).

Despite Lebanon's small size,[22] Lebanese culture is renowned both in the Arab world and globally, powered by its large and influential diaspora. Prior to the civil war, the country enjoyed a diversified economy that included tourism, agriculture, commerce, and banking.[23] Its financial power and stability through the 1950s and 1960s earned Lebanon the name of "Switzerland of the East",[24] while its capital, Beirut, attracted so many tourists that it was known as "the Paris of the Middle East".[25] Since the end of the war, there have been extensive efforts to revive the economy and rebuild national infrastructure.[26] While still recovering from the political and economic effects of the conflict, Lebanon remains a cosmopolitan and developing country, with one of the highest levels of Human Development Index and GDP per capita in the Arab world outside of the oil-rich economies of the Persian Gulf.[27]

Lebanon was a founding member of the United Nations in 1945 and is a member of the Arab League (1945), the Non-Aligned Movement (1961), Organisation of the Islamic Cooperation (1969), and the Organisation internationale de la francophonie (1973).

Lebanon Intro articles: 94

Etymology

The name of Mount Lebanon originates from the Phoenician root lbn (𐤋𐤁𐤍) meaning "white", apparently from its snow-capped peaks.[28]

Occurrences of the name have been found in different Middle Bronze Age texts from the library of Ebla,[29] and three of the twelve tablets of the Epic of Gilgamesh. The name is recorded in Ancient Egyptian as Rmnn (𓂋𓏠𓈖𓈖𓈉), where R stood for Canaanite L.[30] The name occurs nearly 70 times in the Hebrew Bible, as לְבָנוֹן.[31]

Lebanon as the name of an administrative unit (as opposed to the mountain range) that was introduced with the Ottoman reforms of 1861, as the Mount Lebanon Mutasarrifate (Arabic: متصرفية جبل لبنان‎; Turkish: Cebel-i Lübnan Mutasarrıflığı), continued in the name of the State of Greater Lebanon (Arabic: دولة لبنان الكبيرDawlat Lubnān al-Kabīr; French: État du Grand Liban) in 1920, and eventually in the name of the sovereign Republic of Lebanon (Arabic: الجمهورية اللبنانيةal-Jumhūrīyah al-Lubnānīyah) upon its independence in 1943.

Lebanon Etymology articles: 11

History

The borders of contemporary Lebanon are a product of the Treaty of Sèvres of 1920. Its territory was the core of the Bronze Age Phoenician (Canaan) city-states. As part of the Levant, it was part of numerous succeeding empires throughout ancient history, including the Egyptian, Assyrian, Babylonian, Achaemenid Persian, Hellenistic, Roman and Sasanid Persian empires.

After the 7th-century Muslim conquest of the Levant, it was part of the Rashidun, Umayyad, Abbasid Seljuk and Fatimid empires. The crusader state of the County of Tripoli, founded by Raymond IV of Toulouse in 1102, encompassed most of present-day Lebanon, falling to the Mamluk Sultanate in 1289 and finally to the Ottoman Empire in 1516.[32] With the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire, Greater Lebanon fell under French mandate in 1920,[33] and gained independence under president Bechara El Khoury in 1943. Lebanon's history since independence has been marked by alternating periods of political stability and prosperity based on Beirut's position as a regional center for finance and trade, interspersed with political turmoil and armed conflict (1948 Arab–Israeli War, Lebanese Civil War 1975–1990, 2005 Cedar Revolution, 2006 Lebanon War, 2007 Lebanon conflict, 2006–08 Lebanese protests, 2008 conflict in Lebanon, 2011 Syrian Civil War spillover, and 2019–20 Lebanese protests).[34]

Ancient Lebanon

Temple of Bacchus is located in Baalbek
Map of Phoenicia and trade routes

Evidence dating back to an early settlement in Lebanon was found in Byblos, considered one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world.[21] The evidence dates back to earlier than 5000 BC. Archaeologists discovered remnants of prehistoric huts with crushed limestone floors, primitive weapons, and burial jars left by the Neolithic and Chalcolithic fishing communities who lived on the shore of the Mediterranean Sea over 7,000 years ago.[35]

Lebanon was part of northern Canaan, and consequently became the homeland of Canaanite descendants, the Phoenicians, a seafaring people who spread across the Mediterranean in the first millennium BC.[36] The most prominent Phoenician cities were Byblos, Sidon and Tyre, while their most famous colonies were Carthage in present-day Tunisia and Cádiz in present-day Spain. The Phoenicians are credited with the invention of the oldest verified alphabet, which subsequently inspired the Greek alphabet and the Latin one thereafter. The cities of Phoenicia were incorporated into the Persian Achaemenid Empire by Cyrus the Great in 539 BCE.[37] The Phoenician city-states were later incorporated into the empire of Alexander the Great following the Siege of Tyre in 332 BC.[37]

Medieval Lebanon

Byblos is believed to have been first occupied between 8800 and 7000 BC[38] and continuously inhabited since 5000 BC,[39] making it one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world.[40][41] It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.[42]
The Fall of Tripoli to the Egyptian Mamluks and destruction of the Crusader state, the County of Tripoli, 1289

The region that is now Lebanon, as with the rest of Syria and much of Anatolia, became a major center of Christianity in the Roman Empire during the early spread of the faith. During the late 4th and early 5th century, a hermit named Maron established a monastic tradition focused on the importance of monotheism and asceticism, near the Mediterranean mountain range known as Mount Lebanon. The monks who followed Maron spread his teachings among Lebanese in the region. These Christians came to be known as Maronites and moved into the mountains to avoid religious persecution by Roman authorities.[43] During the frequent Roman-Persian Wars that lasted for many centuries, the Sassanid Persians occupied what is now Lebanon from 619 till 629.[44]

During the 7th century the Muslim Arabs conquered Syria establishing a new regime to replace the Byzantines. Though Islam and the Arabic language were officially dominant under this new regime, the general populace nonetheless only gradually converted from Christianity and the Syriac language. The Maronite community, in particular, managed to maintain a large degree of autonomy despite the succession of rulers over Lebanon and Syria.

The relative (but not complete) isolation of the Lebanese mountains meant the mountains served as a refuge in the times of religious and political crises in the Levant. As such, the mountains displayed religious diversity and existence of several well established sects and religions, notably, Maronites, Druze, Shiite Muslims, Ismailis, Alawites and Jacobites.

During the 11th century the Druze religion emerged from a branch of Shia Islam. The new religion gained followers in the southern portion of Mount Lebanon. The southern portion of Mount Lebanon was ruled by Druze feudal families to the early 14th century. The Maronite population increased gradually in Northern Mount Lebanon and the Druze have remained in Southern Mount Lebanon until the modern era. Keserwan, Jabal Amel and the Beqaa Valley was ruled by Shia feudal families under the Mamluks and the Ottoman Empire. Major cities on the coast, Sidon, Tyre, Acre, Tripoli, Beirut, and others, were directly administered by the Muslim Caliphs and the people became more fully absorbed by the Arab culture.

Following the fall of Roman Anatolia to the Muslim Turks, the Byzantines put out a call to the Pope in Rome for assistance in the 11th century. The result was a series of wars known as the Crusades launched by the Franks from Western Europe to reclaim the former Byzantine Christian territories in the Eastern Mediterranean, especially Syria and Palestine (the Levant). The First Crusade succeeded in temporarily establishing the Kingdom of Jerusalem and the County of Tripoli as Roman Catholic Christian states along the coast.[45] These crusader states made a lasting impact on the region, though their control was limited, and the region returned to full Muslim control after two centuries following the conquest by the Mamluks.

One of the most lasting effects of the Crusades in this region was the contact between the Franks (i.e. the French) and the Maronites. Unlike most other Christian communities in the Eastern Mediterranean, who swore allegiance to Constantinople or other local patriarchs, the Maronites proclaimed allegiance to the Pope in Rome. As such the Franks saw them as Roman Catholic brethren. These initial contacts led to centuries of support for the Maronites from France and Italy, even after the fall of the Crusader states in the region.

Ottoman Lebanon and French Mandate

Fakhreddine II Palace, 17th century
1862 map drawn by the French expedition of Beaufort d'Hautpoul,[46] later used as a template for the 1920 borders of Greater Lebanon.[47][48]

During this period Lebanon was divided into several provinces: Northern and Southern Mount Lebanon, Tripoli, Baalbek and Beqaa Valley and Jabal Amel. In southern Mount Lebanon in 1590, Fakhr-al-Din II became the successor to Korkmaz. He soon established his authority as paramount prince of the Druze in the Shouf area of Mount Lebanon. Eventually, Fakhr-al-Din II was appointed Sanjakbey (Governor) of several Ottoman sub-provinces, with responsibility for tax-gathering. He extended his control over a substantial part of Mount Lebanon and its coastal area, even building a fort as far inland as Palmyra.[49] This over-reaching eventually became too much for Ottoman Sultan Murad IV, who sent a punitive expedition to capture him in 1633. He was taken to Istanbul, kept in prison for two years and then executed along with one of his sons in April 1635.[50] Surviving members of Fakhr al-Din's family ruled a reduced area under closer Ottoman control until the end of the 17th century.

On the death of the last Maan emir, various members of the Shihab clan ruled Mount Lebanon until 1830. Approximately 10,000 Christians were killed by the Druzes during inter-communal violence in 1860.[51] Shortly afterwards, the Emirate of Mount Lebanon, which lasted about 400 years, was replaced by the Mount Lebanon Mutasarrifate, as a result of a European-Ottoman treaty called the Règlement Organique. The Baalbek and Beqaa Valley and Jabal Amel was ruled intermittently by various Shia feudal families, especially the Al Ali Alsagheer in Jabal Amel that remained in power until 1865 when Ottomans took direct ruling of the region. Youssef Bey Karam,[52] a Lebanese nationalist played an influential role in Lebanon's independence during this era.

In 1920, following World War I, the area of the Mutasarrifate, plus some surrounding areas which were predominantly Shia and Sunni, became a part of the state of Greater Lebanon under the French Mandate of Syria and Lebanon. Around 100,000 people in Beirut and Mount Lebanon died of starvation during World War I.[53] In the first half of 1920, Lebanese territory was claimed as part of the Arab Kingdom of Syria, but shortly the Franco-Syrian War resulted in Arab defeat and capitulation of the Hashemites.

Map of the French Mandate and the states created in 1920

On 1 September 1920, France reestablished Greater Lebanon after the Moutasarrifiya rule removed several regions belonging to the Principality of Lebanon and gave them to Syria.[54] Lebanon was a largely Christian country (mainly Maronite territory with some Greek Orthodox enclaves) but it also included areas containing many Muslims and Druze.[55] On 1 September 1926, France formed the Lebanese Republic. A constitution was adopted on 25 May 1926 establishing a democratic republic with a parliamentary system of government.

Independence from France

Martyrs' Square in Beirut during celebrations marking the release by the French of Lebanon's government from Rashayya prison on 22 November 1943

Lebanon gained a measure of independence while France was occupied by Germany.[56] General Henri Dentz, the Vichy High Commissioner for Syria and Lebanon, played a major role in the independence of the nation. The Vichy authorities in 1941 allowed Germany to move aircraft and supplies through Syria to Iraq where they were used against British forces. The United Kingdom, fearing that Nazi Germany would gain full control of Lebanon and Syria by pressure on the weak Vichy government, sent its army into Syria and Lebanon.[57]

After the fighting ended in Lebanon, General Charles de Gaulle visited the area. Under political pressure from both inside and outside Lebanon, de Gaulle recognized the independence of Lebanon. On 26 November 1941, General Georges Catroux announced that Lebanon would become independent under the authority of the Free French government. Elections were held in 1943 and on 8 November 1943 the new Lebanese government unilaterally abolished the mandate. The French reacted by imprisoning the new government. In the face of international pressure, the French released the government officials on 22 November 1943. The allies occupied the region until the end of World War II.

Following the end of World War II in Europe the French mandate may be said to have been terminated without any formal action on the part of the League of Nations or its successor the United Nations. The mandate was ended by the declaration of the mandatory power, and of the new states themselves, of their independence, followed by a process of piecemeal unconditional recognition by other powers, culminating in formal admission to the United Nations. Article 78 of the UN Charter ended the status of tutelage for any member state: "The trusteeship system shall not apply to territories which have become Members of the United Nations, relationship among which shall be based on respect for the principle of sovereign equality."[58] So when the UN officially came into existence on 24 October 1945, after ratification of the United Nations Charter by the five permanent members, as both Syria and Lebanon were founding member states, the French mandate for both was legally terminated on that date and full independence attained.[59] The last French troops withdrew in December 1946.

Lebanon's unwritten National Pact of 1943 required that its president be Maronite Christian, its speaker of the parliament to be a Shia Muslim, its prime minister be Sunni Muslim, and the Deputy Speaker of Parliament and the Deputy Prime Minister be Greek Orthodox.[60]

Beirut in 1950

Lebanon's history since independence has been marked by alternating periods of political stability and turmoil interspersed with prosperity built on Beirut's position as a regional center for finance and trade.[61]

In May 1948, Lebanon supported neighbouring Arab countries in a war against Israel. While some irregular forces crossed the border and carried out minor skirmishes against Israel, it was without the support of the Lebanese government, and Lebanese troops did not officially invade.[62] Lebanon agreed to support the forces with covering artillery fire, armored cars, volunteers and logistical support.[63] On 5–6 June 1948, the Lebanese army – led by the then Minister of National Defence, Emir Majid Arslan – captured Al-Malkiyya. This was Lebanon's only success in the war.[64]

100,000 Palestinians fled to Lebanon because of the war. Israel did not permit their return after the cease-fire.[65] As of 2017 between 174,000 and 450,000 Palestinian refugees live in Lebanon with about half in refugee camps (although these are often decades old and resemble neighborhoods).[66] Palestinians often cannot obtain Lebanese citizenship or even Lebanese identity cards and are legally barred from owning property or performing certain occupations (including law, medicine, and engineering).[67] According to Human Rights Watch, Palestinian refugees in Lebanon live in "appalling social and economic conditions."

In 1958, during the last months of President Camille Chamoun's term, an insurrection broke out, instigated by Lebanese Muslims who wanted to make Lebanon a member of the United Arab Republic. Chamoun requested assistance, and 5,000 United States Marines were briefly dispatched to Beirut on 15 July. After the crisis, a new government was formed, led by the popular former general Fuad Chehab.

With the 1970 defeat of the PLO in Jordan, many Palestinian militants relocated to Lebanon, increasing their armed campaign against Israel. The relocation of Palestinian bases also led to increasing sectarian tensions between Palestinians versus the Maronites and other Lebanese factions.

Civil war and occupation

The Green Line that separated west and east Beirut, 1982

In 1975, following increasing sectarian tensions, largely boosted by Palestinian militant relocation into South Lebanon, a full-scale civil war broke out in Lebanon. The Lebanese Civil War pitted a coalition of Christian groups against the joint forces of the PLO, left-wing Druze and Muslim militias. In June 1976, Lebanese President Elias Sarkis asked for the Syrian Army to intervene on the side of the Christians and help restore peace.[68] In October 1976 the Arab League agreed to establish a predominantly Syrian Arab Deterrent Force, which was charged with restoring calm.[69]

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 in what became known as the Coastal Road massacre. They killed 37 and wounded 76 Israelis before being killed in a firefight with Israeli forces.[70] 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.

UNIFIL base, 1981
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 the South Lebanon Army (SLA), a Christian-Shi'a militia under the leadership of Major Saad Haddad backed by Israel. 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.[71] The PLO routinely attacked Israel during the period of the cease-fire, with over 270 documented attacks. 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.[72] Arafat refused to condemn these attacks on the grounds that the cease-fire was only relevant to Lebanon.[73]

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

In April 1980 the presence of UNIFIL soldiers in the buffer zone led to the At Tiri incident. 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 claimed 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.[74] In August 1981, defense minister Ariel Sharon began to draw up plans to attack PLO military infrastructure in West Beirut, where PLO headquarters and command bunkers were located.[75]

In 1982, the PLO attacks from Lebanon on Israel led to an Israeli invasion, aiming to support Lebanese forces in driving out the PLO. A multinational force of American, French and Italian contingents (joined in 1983 by a British contingent) were deployed in Beirut after the Israeli siege of the city, to supervise the evacuation of the PLO. The civil war re-emerged in September 1982 after the assassination of Lebanese President Bashir Gemayel, an Israeli ally, and subsequent fighting. During this time a number of sectarian massacres occurred, such as in Sabra and Shatila,[76] and in several refugee camps.[77] The multinational force was withdrawn in the spring of 1984, following a devastating bombing attack during the previous year.

In September 1988, the Parliament failed to elect a successor to President Gemayel as a result of differences between the Christians, Muslims, and Syrians. The Arab League Summit of May 1989 led to the formation of a Saudi–Moroccan–Algerian committee to solve the crisis. On 16 September 1989 the committee issued a peace plan which was accepted by all. A ceasefire was established, the ports and airports were re-opened and refugees began to return.[69]

In the same month, the Lebanese Parliament agreed to the Taif Agreement, which included an outline timetable for Syrian withdrawal from Lebanon and a formula for the de-confessionalisation of the Lebanese political system.[69] The civil war ended at the end of 1990 after sixteen years; it had caused massive loss of human life and property, and devastated the country's economy. It is estimated that 150,000 people were killed and another 200,000 wounded.[78] Nearly a million civilians were displaced by the war, and some never returned.[79] Parts of Lebanon were left in ruins.[80] The Taif Agreement has still not been implemented in full and Lebanon's political system continues to be divided along sectarian lines.

Conflict between Israel and the Lebanese resistance (mainly Hezbollah, Amal movement, and Lebanese Communist Party ) continued leading to a series of violent events, including the Qana massacre,[81][82] and to big losses.[83][84] In 2000, the Israeli forces withdrew from Lebanon .[85][82][86] It estimated that more than 17,000 civilians were killed and more than 30,000 were injured. Since then, the 25 May is considered by the Lebanese as the Liberation Day.[87][88][82]

Aftermath

Demonstrators calling for the withdrawal of Syrian forces.

The internal political situation in Lebanon significantly changed in the early 2000s. After the Israeli withdrawal from southern Lebanon and the death of former president Hafez Al-Assad in 2000, the Syrian military presence faced criticism and resistance from the Lebanese population.[89]

On 14 February 2005, former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri was assassinated in a car bomb explosion.[90] Leaders of the March 14 Alliance accused Syria of the attack,[91] while Syria and the March 8 Alliance claimed that Israel was behind the assassination. The Hariri assassination marked the beginning of a series of assassinations that resulted in the death of many prominent Lebanese figures.[nb 4]

The assassination triggered the Cedar Revolution, a series of demonstrations which demanded the withdrawal of Syrian troops from Lebanon and the establishment of an international commission to investigate the assassination. Under pressure from the West, Syria began withdrawing,[92] and by 26 April 2005 all Syrian soldiers had returned to Syria.[93]

UNSC Resolution 1595 called for an investigation into the assassination.[94] The UN International Independent Investigation Commission published preliminary findings on 20 October 2005 in the Mehlis report, which cited indications that the assassination was organized by Syrian and Lebanese intelligence services.[95][96][97][98]

On 12 July 2006, Hezbollah launched a series of rocket attacks and raids into Israeli territory, where they killed three Israeli soldiers and captured two others.[99] Israel responded with airstrikes and artillery fire on targets in Lebanon, and a ground invasion of southern Lebanon, resulting in the 2006 Lebanon War. The conflict was officially ended by the UNSC Resolution 1701 on 14 August 2006, which ordered a ceasefire.[100] Some 1,191 Lebanese[101] and 160 Israelis[102] were killed in the conflict. Beirut's southern suburb was heavily damaged by Israeli airstrikes.[103]

Demonstrations in Lebanon triggered by the assassination of the former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri on February 14, 2005

Instability and Syrian War spillover

In 2007, the Nahr al-Bared refugee camp became the center of the 2007 Lebanon conflict between the Lebanese Army and Fatah al-Islam. At least 169 soldiers, 287 insurgents and 47 civilians were killed in the battle. Funds for the reconstruction of the area have been slow to materialize.[104]

Between 2006 and 2008, a series of protests led by groups opposed to the pro-Western Prime Minister Fouad Siniora demanded the creation of a national unity government, over which the mostly Shia opposition groups would have veto power. When Émile Lahoud's presidential term ended in October 2007, the opposition refused to vote for a successor unless a power-sharing deal was reached, leaving Lebanon without a president.

On 9 May 2008, Hezbollah and Amal forces, sparked by a government declaration that Hezbollah's communications network was illegal, seized western Beirut,[105] leading to the 2008 conflict in Lebanon.[106] The Lebanese government denounced the violence as a coup attempt.[107] At least 62 people died in the resulting clashes between pro-government and opposition militias.[108] On 21 May 2008, the signing of the Doha Agreement ended the fighting.[105][108] As part of the accord, which ended 18 months of political paralysis,[109] Michel Suleiman became president and a national unity government was established, granting a veto to the opposition.[105] The agreement was a victory for opposition forces, as the government caved in to all their main demands.[108]

Over 20,000 Syrian and Palestinian refugees live in the Shatila refugee camp on the outskirts of Beirut.

In early January 2011, the national unity government collapsed due to growing tensions stemming from the Special Tribunal for Lebanon, which was expected to indict Hezbollah members for the Hariri assassination.[110] The parliament elected Najib Mikati, the candidate for the Hezbollah-led March 8 Alliance, Prime Minister of Lebanon, making him responsible for forming a new government.[111] Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah insists that Israel was responsible for the assassination of Hariri.[112] A report leaked by the Al-Akhbar newspaper in November 2010 stated that Hezbollah has drafted plans for a takeover of the country in the event that the Special Tribunal for Lebanon issues an indictment against its members.[113]

In 2012, the Syrian civil war threatened to spill over in Lebanon, causing more incidents of sectarian violence and armed clashes between Sunnis and Alawites in Tripoli.[114] According to UNHCR, the number of Syrian refugees in Lebanon increased from around 250,000 in early 2013 to 1,000,000 in late 2014.[115] In 2013, The Lebanese Forces Party, the Kataeb Party and the Free Patriotic Movement voiced concerns that the country's sectarian based political system is being undermined by the influx of Syrian refugees.[116] On 6 May 2015, UNHCR suspended registration of Syrian refugees at the request of the Lebanese government.[117] In February 2016, the Lebanese government signed the Lebanon Compact, granting a minimum of €400 million of support for refugees and vulnerable Lebanese citizens.[118] As of October 2016, the government estimates that the country hosts 1.5 million Syrians.[119]

2019–2021 crisis

On 17 October 2019, the first of a series of mass civil demonstrations erupted;[120][121][122] they were initially triggered by planned taxes on gasoline, tobacco and online phone calls such as through WhatsApp,[123][124][125] but quickly expanded into a country-wide condemnation of sectarian rule,[126] stagnant economy, unemployment, endemic corruption in the public sector,[126] legislation (such as banking secrecy) that is perceived to shield the ruling class from accountability[127][128] and failures from the government to provide basic services such as electricity, water and sanitation.[129]

Women protesters forming a line between riot police and protesters in Riad el Solh, Beirut; 19 November 2019

As a result of the protests, Lebanon entered a political crisis, with Prime Minister Saad Hariri tendering his resignation and echoing protestors' demands for a government of independent specialists.[130] Other politicians targeted by the protests have remained in power. On 19 December 2019, former Minister of Education Hassan Diab was designated the next prime minister and tasked with forming a new cabinet.[131] Protests and acts of civil disobedience have since continued, with protesters denouncing and condemning the designation of Diab as prime minister.[132][133][134] Lebanon is suffering the worst economic crisis in decades.[135][136] Lebanon is the first country in the Middle East and North Africa to see its inflation rate exceed 50% for 30 consecutive days, according to Steve H. Hanke, professor of applied economics at the Johns Hopkins University.[137] On August 4 of 2020, an explosion at the port of Beirut, Lebanon's main port, destroyed the surrounding areas, killing more than 200 people, and injuring thousands more. The cause of the explosion was later determined to be 2,750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate that had been unsafely stored, and accidentally set on fire that Tuesday afternoon.[138] Less than a week after the explosion, on August 10, 2020, Hassan Diab, the prime minister that had been designated less than a year before, addressed the nation and announced his resignation. The manifestations continued till 2021 and Lebanese kept blocking the roads with burned tires protesting against the poverty and the economic crisis. On March 11, the caretaker minister of energy warned that Lebanon is threaten with "total darkness" at the end of March if no money was secured to buy fuel for power stations.[139]

Lebanon History articles: 189