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History of Lebanon

The #Lebanese republic is located on the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea bordering Israel and Syria. The region was part of the #Ottoman Empire from 1515 to 1918. France has been involved in the region from the time of the Ottoman era. After its dissolution, the League of Nations officially granted a French mandate over Syria and Lebanon. France established ‘Greater Lebanon’ that united Mount Lebanon, a region mostly populated by #Maronite Christians, with regions of #Sunni and #Shia populations.

Officially, Lebanon gained independence in 1943 but it was not until 1946 that all French troops were withdrawn.

Lebanon, having a history of granting asylum to marginalized groups, accepted large numbers of the Palestinian refugees that lost their home in the 1948 conflict with Israel. The Palestinian Liberation Organization started operating in exile making Lebanon a target for Israeli attacks.

The Civil war of 1975 was started by an attack on a bus with Palestinians by a Christian militia. Large clashes erupted between Christian and Muslim forces, Beirut was divided into a Christian east and a Muslim west. To prevent the country from splitting, Syria sent troops in 1976. As the PLO continued attacks, Israel invaded Lebanon in 1982.

The war left approximately 150,000 people dead and forced 1 million to leave their homes.

The Ta’ef Accords of 1989 sought to end the civil war. The agreement transferred power away from the president and divided the parliament between the confessional groups of Lebanon. According to the older convention, the president has to be a Maronite Christian, the prime minister a Sunni Muslim and the role of the deputy speaker of the chamber is to be occupied by a Shia Muslim. The Accords further legalized Syrian military presence for 2 years in order to maintain stability. However, Syrian forces did not leave until 2005 when the assassination of president Rafik Hariri caused massive anti- Syrian protests. This so-called ‘Cedar revolution’ achieved the withdrawal of Syrian troops after 29 years.

However, tensions remain and caused several crises, the latest one erupting in 2020.

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