Estimated in the 3rd millennium BC. the area of today’s Lebanon was settled by the Phoenicians, who founded several city-states on the coast such as Byblos (today Jubayl), Berytos (Beirut), Sidon (Sayda) and Tyros (Sur). The Phoenician cities achieved great prosperity through the lively trade in wood, purple, glass and handicrafts. From around 1100 BC The Phoenicians began to establish commercial branches throughout the Mediterranean region (e.g. Carthage, Malaga, Malta) and became the dominant seafaring people in this region.
The decline was initiated by the Assyrians, who started in the 7th century BC. conquered the area. They were followed by the Babylonians as foreign rulers, the Persians in the 6th century. The Persian Empire was crushed by the Macedonian Alexander the Great, after his death in 323 BC. the empire he created was divided among his diadoches (successors) Ptolemy and Seleucus. Lebanon became part of the Hellenistic Seleucid Empire. After the Romans in the 1st century BC. had conquered the Middle East, the area belonged to the Roman province of Syria, which was one of the richest provinces of Rome due to the emerging coastal cities.
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After the division of the Roman Empire in 395 AD the area of what is now Lebanon belonged to the Eastern Roman Empire and was administered from Constantinople (Byzantium).
Between 634 and 640 AD the Byzantine Empire was conquered by the Islamic Arabs. The coastal and mountain regions of today’s Lebanon became a retreat for various Shiite Islamic sects such as the Druze, Karmat, Ismailite and others and for the Maronites (Christians from Syria who founded an independent patriarchate). From 1098 the trains of the Christian crusader armies from Central Europe began, which wanted to liberate the “Holy Land” (Palestine) from the hands of the unbelievers. After the conquest of Jerusalem in 1099, southern Lebanon belonged to the Christian kingdom of Jerusalem, the north later to the county of Tripoli (founded in 1109). Even after the crusaders were exposed from Jerusalem, the Principality of Tripoli (and Antioch, Tire and Tortosa) remained Christian for the time being. According to AbbreviationFinder, the Christian crusader army was finally pushed out of the region in the 13th century by the Mamluks, an Egyptian ruling dynasty (1291 case of Acre). The Mamluks ruled the area of today’s Lebanon until 1516 before they were ousted by the Ottomans (Turks). The ruler was now the Turkish sultan in Istanbul (formerly Constantinople), who as the caliph was both secular and spiritual head of the Ottoman Empire. As in other Ottoman provinces, a governor was deployed in Lebanon, under which the existing various religious communities were largely tolerated and able to act. After ongoing clashes between Druze and Maronites, the Ottomans divided Lebanon into two units: the north was under Maronite leadership, the south under Druze (Islamic).
In the middle of the 19th century, bloody battles broke out among the followers of different religions, and French troops then intervened and forced the Ottoman Sultan Abdul-Aziz to grant the region limited autonomy within the Ottoman Empire. Under a Christian governor, all religions (Druze, Sunni, Shiite, Maronite, Greek Orthodox, Greek Catholic) should be represented on a twelve-member board of directors. The coastal cities of Beirut, Tripoli and Saida were excluded from this uniform administration. By the First World War, the Maronites developed into the economically and politically leading population group in Lebanon.
During the First World War, the Ottoman rulers, who had allied themselves with Germany and Austria-Hungary, had to give up a large part of their territories, including Lebanon. According to the plans of Great Britain and France (Sykes-Picot Agreement of 1916) Lebanon, which was predominantly populated by Christians, was to be separated from Syria and administered by France.
In 1920 France was given the League of Nations mandate for Lebanon (and Syria and part of southern Turkey); six years later, the territory of Lebanon was separated from Syria in its present state borders as an independent parliamentary republic. In fact, despite its own constitution, the country remained under the administration of France. The constitution took account of all existing religious groups in parliament.
In 1936, France granted Lebanon independence within three years, and two districts (Japal Drus, Jabal Latakia) were declared Syrian territory. Given the impending world was postponed in Europe, Lebanon’s independence was. After the defeat of France, British troops and units of “Free France” (led by exiled Charles de Gaulle) occupied the territories in 1941. Lebanon was formally declared independent in November 1941.
Two years later, a Lebanese government headed by Maronite President Bishara al-Khuri began operations. It was also planned that the President would be a Maronite, the Prime Minister a Sunni and the President of Parliament a Shiite.
After the end of World War II, the British and French troops left the country. The French leadership initially tried to make the withdrawal of troops dependent on the preservation of special military and economic rights, but had to refrain from doing so after unrest in the former mandate areas and due to international pressure.
The domestic political situation in Lebanon has remained relatively stable for a decade. However, a sharp increase in Arab nationalism (Lebanon formally participated in an attempt to prevent the emergence of the newly founded state of Israel in May 1948) and a rapid increase in the Muslim population led to the conflict between the two countries in the second half of the 1950s Christians and Muslims erupted openly. In 1958, US troops intervened at the request of the Lebanese government under incumbent Christian (Maronite) President Camille Shamoun. After the impending outbreak of a civil was was prevented, the Muslim general Fuad Shebab took over the office of president.
In the late 1960s, civil war-like riots in Lebanon occurred again. In addition to the conflicts between Christians and Muslims, the PLO (Palestine Liberation Organization), founded in 1964 in the Jordanian part of Jerusalem, had gained influence in Lebanon and carried out its attacks on Israel from Lebanese territory. In 1972, Israeli troops attacked Palestinian bases in southern Lebanon. The Lebanese armed forces have failed to act against the Palestinians on their territory. In 1976 there was an open outbreak of civil war, at the beginning of which Christian associations (Forces Libanaises, FL) on the one hand and an alliance of the PLO with militant Druze on the other. Other groups such as the prosyrian Amal militia and the fundamentalist Hezbollah (“Party of God”, founded in 1982) intervened in the course of the conflict. The Syrian army and a multinational peacekeeping force (1978 to 1984) also participated, with the Syrian government supporting various groups in the course of the civil war. Israeli units occupied Lebanese territories twice (1978, 1982) in retaliation for the attacks by Palestinians operating from Lebanese territory. The Israeli government made the withdrawal of its troops dependent on the withdrawal of Syrian troops from Lebanon. The Lebanese leadership failed to resolve the conflict. President Beschir Gemayel, previously leader of the Christian militias, was assassinated shortly after taking office in 1982, and his successor Amin Gemayel was also unable to end the war.
It was not until 1989 that the Lebanese civil war parties agreed on a peace plan, which was signed in Taif in Saudi Arabia and which envisaged a curtailment of power by the Maronite president in favor of the Muslim prime minister. Syria was to remain in Lebanon with around 40,000 soldiers as a “regulatory power”. The 16-year civil was killed nearly 150,000 people and left a devastated country. After the parliamentary elections in 1992 – the first in 20 years – half of the cabinet was composed of Muslims and one of Christians. The head of government was the Sunni Rafik al-Hariri, the president was the pro-Syrian Elias Hrawi since October 1989 (until 1998, then Emile Lahoud).
Since 1985, Israeli troops in southern Lebanon have occupied an approximately 15 km wide “security zone”. In the 1990s, there were repeated struggles between the Hezbollah militia, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, and the South Lebanese Army, which was allied with Israel. In the meantime, Lebanon’s economy experienced an upswing with foreign financial aid and economic reforms. In May 2000, Israel, led by Ehud Barak, decided to withdraw from the security strip in southern Lebanon. Despite repeated Hezbollah attacks and retaliatory strikes by Israel, the Israeli army was withdrawn from the areas and replaced by a United Nations peacekeeping force (UNIFIL) in August 2000 and security forces. In 2001, sections of the Lebanese population (led by Druze leader Waldi Jumblat and Maronite Nasrallah Butros Sfeir) demanded that Syrian troops be withdrawn. To avoid conflict, the Syrian leadership pulled around 6,000 soldiers from the capital Beirut in June 2001; in May 2005, according to UN Resolution 1559, the remaining troops were withdrawn. In October 2008, Syria recognized Lebanon’s independence.To avoid conflict, the Syrian leadership pulled around 6,000 soldiers from the capital Beirut in June 2001; in May 2005, according to UN Resolution 1559, the remaining troops were withdrawn. In October 2008, Syria recognized Lebanon’s independence.To avoid conflict, the Syrian leadership pulled around 6,000 soldiers from the capital Beirut in June 2001; in May 2005, according to UN Resolution 1559, the remaining troops were withdrawn.
In the summer of 2006 there was war with Israel: in July 2006, Hezbollah kidnapped two Israeli soldiers, which led to a military operation by Israel with air strikes on Hezbollah positions in Beirut and southern Lebanon. As a result of the attacks, hundreds of people, including numerous civilians, were killed and mass exodus began. On the Israeli side as well, the Hezbollah shelling at targets in northern Israel resulted in deaths, which is why the Israeli army tried to push Hezbollah back through a ground offensive. In mid-August 2006, the ceasefire required by UN Resolution 1701 entered into force. UN troops secured the ceasefire.
From the end of 2006, the Hezbollah-led opposition launched a protest campaign against the pro-Western Lebanese government. Six ministers (including all five Shiite) resigned. The Hezbollah militia occupied large parts of Beirut in May 2008, largely paralyzing public life. 35 people were killed. After a six-month power vacuum at the head of the state, General Michel Suleiman was finally elected new president in June 2008. The Doha Agreement, which had been signed with Hezbollah shortly before, met their demands since November 2006: Hezbollah and its allies now had veto power in the “Government of National Unity” and 13 out of 30 seats at the cabinet table.
After changing governments and the resignation of his predecessor Nadschib Mikati, Prime Minister Tammam Salam managed to form a new government in February 2014 after protracted negotiations, which is supported by a broad alliance of all political forces in the country. Unanswered questions include the arming of Hezbollah, the role of Lebanon in the Middle East conflict, relations with Syria and a permanent settlement of confessional power sharing.