Just an aide-memoire
gathered from an article by Mouna Naïm in today's Le Monde.
- 1975 : 13 April. A bus carrying Palestinian civilians was machine-gunned in Aïn el-Remaneh Street in the eastern suburbs of Beirut, setting off a 15-year civil war.
The Lebanese Army and Christian parties square off against Palestinian refugees and Muslim political parties, who form a “progressive Islamist” movement, headed by Druze political figure Kamal Jumblatt, leader of the Socialist-Progressive Party.
- The Lebanese Army and the Christians accuse the Palestinians of maintaining a state within a state enforced by the rules of the jungle since their exile from Jordan in 1970. The progressive Islamic alliance accuses the Christians of betraying the Arab cause, especially the Palestinian cause. Clashes begin in the outskirts of Beirut and spread throughout the country. The Lebanese army dissolves. Half of them become the Army of Arab Liberation, the other half joins the Christian militias.
- 1976. June. The Syrians regard Lebanon its soft underbelly exposed to Israeli aggression. Amidst the chaos, Lebanese President Elias Sarkis invites in the Syrian Army to rescue the Christians, with the approval of the Soviet Union and the United States. Israel also approves, because it means a clampdown on the Palestinians. The Israelis insist that the Syrians do not cross over the Red Line, traced by the Litani River in south Lebanon.
- The pressure off, Christians now counterattack the Islamists and Yassir Arafat asks the Arab League to deploy 30,000 Arab peacekeeping troops, of which 25,000 are Syrian. The Syrians remain after other Arab contingents abandon the effort. Twenty years later, 14,000 Syrian troops are stationed in Lebanon, with Syrian intelligence agents ruling the roost. Until its invasion of Iraq in 2003, the United States made no complaint about the presence of Syrian troops in Lebanon.
- 1977-1987 : A decade of bloodshed. Kamal Jumblatt is assassinated. His son, Walid, now accuses Syria of wanting to kill him which most Lebanese believe. When Anwar al Sadat visits Jerusalem and a separate peace is concluded with Israel, Lebanese Christian militas attempt to dislodge the Syrians. Israel becomes their supplier and mentor in South Lebanon.
- 1978. The Syrian Army and the Christian militias clash. The Israelis, already allied with the Christians, invade Lebanon, stopping at the Litani River, later withdrawing to an 800 km-long Security Zone. The UN Security Council adopts Resolution 425, demanding an immediate Israeli withdrawal. It sends in UN peacekeepers who are pulled out in 2000 after Israel agrees to heed Resolution 425.
- 1982 June. Israeli forces reach West Beirut where they intend to eliminate the Palestinian Fedayeen. Syrian troops attempt to stop the Israelis and incur heavy losses in men and matériel. The Palestinians are dispersed to the four corners of the Arab world.
- Elected under the barrel of Israeli cannons, Bashir Jamail, an ally of Israel, becomes President. Given the “green light” by the Israelis, his partisans “clean out” the Palestinian refugee camps of of Sabra and Chatilla of the remaining fedayeen. It is a massacre.
- 1983. May. Amin Jamail succeeds his brother as President and concludes a peace deal with Israel which the Lebanese Parliament refuses to ratify. Reinvigorated by the move, the Syrians, allied with dissident Palestinians and Shi’ite militias, deliver the coup de grâce to remaining Palestinian feyadeen in North Lebanon and in Beirut and broaded the territory held by its Lebanese allies.
- 1988-1989 : Amin Jamail steps down but disorder in the country prevents elections. Jamail transfers power to Christian General Michel Aoun. Prime Minister Sélim Hoss, supported by the progressive Islamist alliance, believes the presidency belongs to him.
- 1989. April. Lebanese factions sign a peace accord in the Saudi Arabian town of Taëf, which allows for a “special relationship” between Beirut and Damascus. It also provides for a phased Syrian pullout. Meanwhile, General Aoun continues to challenge the Syrians and pitiless combat between the two sides continues. Finally, Michel Aoun is exiled to France.
- 1991. Iraq invades Kuwait. Syrian President Hafez Al-Assad gets the green light from Washington to continue Syria’s hegemony over Lebanon as a condition for joining the US-led anti-Iraq coalition.