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Cities in LEBANON



Origins and Civil War

In 1920, the state of Lebanon was founded by France after British and French armies defeated Ottoman troops. The French mandate area officially became independent in 1943. In the same year, the leaders of the then most influential population groups, the Maronites and the Sunnis, agreed on the so-called National Pact. Based on the share of the population in the 1932 census, political and official positions were divided between the Christian and Muslim population groups. An allocation ratio of 6:5 was used.

In 1975, a civil war broke out that would last 15 years, during which various Christian and Islamic militias fought each other. A Syrian intervention force succeeded in restoring order. The Arab League subsequently set up the multilateral Arab Deterrent Force (ADF), consisting of 30,000 (mainly Syrian) soldiers, to prevent new hostilities between the warring parties.


In May 1991, Lebanon and Syria signed the "Treaty on Brotherhood, Cooperation and Coordination" in order to coordinate policies on political, military and economic matters, as well as internal security. This effectively institutionalised Syria's influence in Lebanon. One year later, in August 1992, parliamentary elections were held for the first time in over twenty years. However, the elections were boycotted by Christians in protest at the continued presence of Syrian troops in Lebanon. Because of this, according to them, the fairness of these elections would not be guaranteed. The elections were won by the extremely rich construction magnate Rafiq Hariri. The new Prime Minister launched an ambitious reconstruction programme, "Horizon", but the activities focused strongly on Beirut and did little to improve the living conditions of the population. After initial successes and economic growth, the economy collapsed and Hariri was forced to resign. In November 1998, he was succeeded by Salim al-Hoss. The new government failed to pull the country out of the economic malaise.

2000- 2010

The parliamentary elections in August/September 2000 were a resounding victory for former Prime Minister Hariri and his political allies. The other winner of the elections was Hezbollah, which, although an armed resistance movement, is also a legal Shi'ite political party. The Israeli withdrawal from southern Lebanon in May 2000 is widely seen in Lebanon as a credit to Hizbollah, which translated into political gains in the elections. In September 2004, Syria extended the mandate of Lebanese President Lahoud against constitutional provisions. As a result, on 2 September 2004, the UN Security Council adopted Resolution 1559, calling on all foreign troops to withdraw from Lebanon and guaranteeing Lebanon's sovereignty and political independence.

Prime Minister Hariri resigned on 20 October 2004, as a result of which his cabinet fell. Omar Karami, Prime Minister from 1990 to 1992, was appointed as Hariri's successor. The popular Rafiq Hariri, who had stood as a candidate and favourite in the May/June 2005 elections, was killed in a car bomb attack in Beirut on 14 February 2005. This dramatic event led to strong international condemnation and widespread consternation in the still-fragile Lebanon. Nationally, this was expressed in mass demonstrations in which almost all sections of the population were represented, and which were mainly directed against Syria, which still exerted great influence on its neighbour, and was seen by many as involved in, or even responsible for, Hariri's attack.

Under international pressure, the last Syrian troops and members of its secret intelligence service withdrew from Lebanon on 26 April 2005. The elections resulted in a major victory for the opposition, led by Saad Hariri - son of Rafiq Hariri - and his broad coalition. However, divisions remained, for example because the Maronite General Michel Aoun, whose party won 21 seats and is therefore considered to be the main representative of the Christians, returned from exile and refused to join the coalition. This led in part - but also together with other factors - to an impasse in the formation of the cabinet, which was finally presented after a few weeks (19 July 2005) by the new Prime Minister Fouad Siniora, former economic advisor to Rafiq Hariri and Minister of Finance. For the first time, the 24-member cabinet includes a member of Hezbollah. Under Prime Minister Siniora, attempts are being made to bridge the great divisions in the country on the basis of a national dialogue. The division mainly concerns the question of how to deal with the outstanding parts of UNSCR 1559 - in this case the disarmament of militias, i.e. Hezbollah. The dialogue does prevent the parties from turning their backs on each other completely, but there is no question of results. Hezbollah states that its own disarmament is not on the agenda as long as the Middle East conflict is not resolved. No agreement has been reached either on the position of President Lahoud, who is supported by the Shiite parties (Hezbollah and Amal) and General Aoun, who is linked to Hezbollah.

In the period following Hariri's assassination and Syria's departure, Lebanon is hit by a series of bombings. They are aimed at politicians or intellectuals belonging to the "opposition", i.e. anti-Syria (e.g. Christian leader Gibran Tueni) and are generally attributed to Syria or Lebanese interest groups connected to Syria. However, some of these attacks have no clear target and are apparently aimed at destabilising the country.

On 12 July 2006, war broke out between Lebanon and Israel when Hezbollah fighters entered Israel and kidnapped two Israeli soldiers, Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev. Initially, the non-Jewish part of the Lebanese population was critical of Hezbollah's action, which many Lebanese believed would jeopardise the social and economic development of the country. The harsh Israeli reaction increased Hizbollah's popularity and legitimacy in the course of the conflict.

The international community reacted with indignation to the unexpected (fierce) approach, but it proved impossible to bring about a ceasefire quickly. On 11 August 2006, the UN Security Council adopted Resolution 1701 to halt the violence. Resolution 1701 provides the basis for a lasting solution to the crisis in Lebanon and also the basis for the deployment of an international force in (Southern) Lebanon with a robust and clear mandate. The EU has actively contributed to the development of Resolution 1701 and, as demonstrated by its leading role in the reinforced UNIFIL and the reconstruction of Lebanon, is fully committed to the early and full implementation of this resolution. The aim of the international effort is to support the Lebanese Government in creating a stable and secure Lebanon.

In the years 2006 and 2007, turmoil continues and there is fighting between government forces and militants over the Palestinian refugee camp of Nahr al-Bared. At the end of November 2007, President Emile Lahoud resigned. On 25 May 2008 the parliament elects army chief Michel Suleiman as the new president. He in turn elected Fouad Siniora as prime minister. On 16 July 2008, Israel released Lebanese prisoners in exchange for the remains of two soldiers. Hezbollah celebrates this as a victory. In June 2009, the pro-Western Alliance of the 14th March wins 71 of the 128 seats in parliament. Saad Hariri is the new prime minister. In December 2009, Hariri succeeded in forming a government of national unity.


In February 2010, Harari expressed his concern for Israel following a remark by an Israeli minister that a war with Lebanon was likely. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel distanced himself from the minister's remarks. In August 2010, there was a border incident in which four people were killed.

In January 2011, the government falls apart after Hezbollah withdraws from the government. Najib Mikati formed a Hezbollah-dominated government in June 2011. In the summer of 2012, the Syrian conflict also made itself felt in Lebanon. Alawites and Sunnis are at each other's throats. Lebanon hosts many Syrian refugees. In September 2013, according to the United Nations, there are at least 700,00 refugees from Syria in Lebanon. In December 2013, there are several attacks in Beirut and the situation remains unsettled. In February 2014, Sunni Tammam Salam forms a power-sharing cabinet after ten months of negotiations. In April 2014, Lebanon hosts more than one million refugees from Syria. In May 2014, President Suleiman steps down and there is still no successor to him. In January 2015, measures are taken to stem the flow of refugees. In June 2016, tensions between the population and the refugees increase after bomb attacks by Syrian militants. In November 2017, Prime Minister Hariri suddenly resigns because he fears a conspiracy to kill him; a month later, he reverses this.

In 1919, there were mass demonstrations against tax and fuel increases, As a result of the protests, Lebanon entered a political crisis, with Prime Minister Saad Hariri offering his resignation. On 19 December 2019, Hassan Diab, former Minister of Education, was appointed as the next Prime Minister and charged with forming a new cabinet.

On 4 August 2020, an explosion in the port of Beirut, Lebanon's main port, destroyed the surrounding areas, killing more than 200 people and injuring thousands. It was later determined that the cause of the explosion was 2,750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate, which had been stored unsafely. This led to the fall of Diab and his cabinet. Lebanon had been without a government since Hassan Diab resigned until Najib Mikati, Lebanon's richest man, returned to lead the government in September 2021, having been prime minister twice before.


BBC - Country Profiles

CIA - World Factbook

Elmar Landeninformatie 

Grünfeld, R. / Syrië, Jordanië en Libanon

Jenkins S. & Jousiffe A. / Lebanon
Lonely Planet 

Last updated May 2024
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