Lebanon (IPA: /ˈlɛbənɒn/ Arabic: لبنان Lubnān), officially the Republic of Lebanon or Lebanese Republic (الجمهورية اللبنانية), is a country in Western Asia, on the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea. It is bordered by Syria to the north and east, and Israel to the south. It is close to Cyprus through the Mediterranean Sea. Due to its sectarian diversity, Lebanon evolved in 1943 a unique political system, known as confessionalism, based on a community-based power-sharing mechanism. It was created when the ruling French mandatory powers expanded the borders of the former autonomous Ottoman Mount Lebanon district that was mostly populated by Maronites and Druze.
Lebanon is the historic home of the Phoenicians, a maritime culture which flourished for more than 2,000 years (2700-450 BC). Following the collapse of the Ottoman Empire after World War I, the five provinces that comprise present-day Lebanon were mandated to France. The country gained independence in 1943, and French troops withdrew in 1946.
LEBANON AND ISRAEL ALLIED
Hiram I (Hebrew: חִירָם, "high-born"; Standard Hebrew Ḥiram, Tiberian vocalization Ḥîrām, Arabic: حيرام), according to the Bible, was the Phoenician king of Tyre. He reigned from 980 BC to 947 BC, succeeding his father, Abibaal.
During Hiram's reign, Tyre grew from a satellite of Sidon into the most important of Phoenician cities, and the holder of a large trading empire. He suppressed the rebellion of the first Tyrean colony at Utica, near the later site of Carthage (Against Apion i:18).
The Bible says that he allied himself with King Solomon of Israel, the upcoming power of the region. Through the alliance with Solomon, Hiram ensured himself access to the major trade routes to Egypt, Arabia and Mesopotamia. The two kings also joined forces in starting a trade route over the Red Sea, connecting the Israelite harbour of Ezion-Geber with a land called Ophir (2 Chronicles 8:16,17).
Both kings grew rich through this trade and Hiram sent Solomon architects, workmen and cedar wood to build the First Temple in Jerusalem. He also extended the Tyrean harbour, enlarged the city by joining the two islands on which it was built, and built a royal palace and a temple for Melqart (Against Apion i:17).
THE COMING OF ISLAM
FROM A DISCUSSION BOARD:
an interesting introduction to this topic
Originally Posted by syrian
Look, im not an SSNPer, but the truth is, the middle east is one entity when it comes to ancient civilizations and culture (canaanites, pheonicians, arameans, syriacs, etc...)
i hate to be called an arab only because i speak arabic... i dont look like an arab, i dont think like an arab, i dont dress like an arab, i dont live like an arab... AND i dont have the same heritage as an arab... i want to be called syrian, or middle eastern, and i want people of the middle east to be called the same... i dont care about the political borders, all i care about is our heritage which defines our identity...
the arabs came here less than 1400 years ago, but that doesnt make me one... this is the land of canaan and aram, this is where trade and sciences flourished... this land hosts the most ancient cities of the world, why should we erase all that glory by adopting a foreign identity - the arabic identity??
arabs have their land... their civilization and culture are so different... they never had science, but superstition instead... they never had cities, but tribal gatherings...
we speak arabic, so what? brazil speaks portugese because of the occupation, but brazilians are not called portugese...
So you're saying when الغساسنة (Christian Arab tribes) came to Syria and Lebanon, they never mixed their blood with Canaanites ? That was an ancient civilization and its long gone, it was replaced by different tribes. The Arab tribes started coming in the second and third century and inhabited that land. Its funny how you think tribes and civilizations never change. Phoenicians, then Canaanites then a few others then Arabs. You accept all of them except for Arab because you think they are Muslim, while in fact they started off as Christians.
Originally Posted by elhakeem2jours
well said syrian, and i want to be called lebanese because we are a rare people native in the region and to our land, with our own culture that survived several islamic conquests, our own heritage, our own food, our own music, our own style, our own ingenuity around the world, our own history....
let the arabs call themselves arabs, if u feel like an arab-- by all means call yourself that! do you hear americans call themselves whites before americans? nah, calling yourself arab means you see thru the borders of the middle east and all peoples as one people. in most cases arab nationalism is closely linked with islamism (arab culture = islamic culture, created by mohammad)
i have no problem with arabs, but i do have a problem with those who feel the urge to tell others what they are.
i am lebanese, and only lebanese.....if u consider lebanese arabs, thats your choice, i am lebanese, nothing more and nothing less
etc., etc., etc.
an interesting Comment by "Danny" in response to "DNA research traces Phoenician past in Middle East. (Reuters)" from "I'm Gina Smith" at http://ginasmith.typepad.com/gina_on_gina/2007/09/dna-research-tr.html:
"I love this story. DNA research is blurring religious boundaries in Lebanon and elsewhere in the Middle East. Story excerpted below.
"BYBLOS, Lebanon (Reuters) - A Lebanese scientist following the genetic footprint of the ancient Phoenicians says he has traced their modern-day descendants, but stumbled into an old controversy about identity in his country."
etc., etc. etc.
DNA, J2 haplogroup or late John Paul II's comments when he visited Lebanon that the Christians of Lebanon should be Arabs, the fact remains that history and truth is on our side when we say:
"Lebanon at its roots is not Arab or Muslim but has in it Arabs and Muslims given the flush of Arab/Muslim conquering armies from the Arabian Peninsula towards the East Mediterranean basin and leaving behind them settlers.
Later, Muslims from North Africa and Turkey joined the first wave. Since Arabs & their offspring Islam arrived to Lebanon and this country has not had a single day of rest."
By published law Lebanon is an Arab country. Nonetheless, an intelligent observer would wonder why more than 90% of names of towns and cities are not Arabic but rather Aramaic, Phoenician, Canaanite, Amorite, etc.
Though the REVISED constitution (1989) says that Lebanon is Arab in Identity and Belonging, the 1st consititution does not mention that. Of course, the revision is a whorish twist to truth and history and was forced on Christians by Arab countries, namely Saudi Arabia and Syria.
Arabs can do some things but are unable to clear their prints. Why? These can bring an ammendment to the Lebanese constitution but it is declaration of war if any attempt is done to ammend the National Anthem, which is more important. The Anthem does not mention directly, tacitely or indirectly that we Arabs, which at least the natives of Lebanon are not.
The melody of the Anthem has nothing to do with Arab art or culture, as compared to Anthems of Arab countries.
If an observer examines the Lebanese flag and its Art, and if one removes the Christmas Tree, the Cedar Tree, from its midst, one would think he is examining the flag of Austria. Red White REd.
For goodness sake, Arabs are known to claim what is not theirs and re-register it as their own. Why? Well, in Islam they believe that "Allah" the God of the Muslims is the Cheater of cheaters ie. if need be." Qur'an Sura III 54.
In conclusion, Arabs were successful in forcing their language on us, but, they have never will never be able to force their culture on us.
Posted by: Danny September 20, 2007 at 12:33 AM
Islamic Arab rule [in Damascus, Syria from which Lebanon was ruled]
Historically, Syria included Jordan, Israel and Lebanon as well as the area now known as Syria.
After the death of the prophet Muhammad, the Arab fighters began to spread Islam through battles and faith preaching. Under the Caliph Omar Bin Al Khattab, Syria was taken over form the Byzantines, in 636 the Muslims fought against the Byzantines in the battle of Yarmuk (on the river Yarmuk).
Damascus was conquered by the Rashidun Caliphate during the reign of Umar by forces under Khaled ibn al-Walid in 634 CE. Immediately thereafter, the city's power and prestige reached its peak when it became the capital of the Umayyad Empire, which extended from Spain to India from 661 to 750. In 744, the last Umayyad caliph, Marwan II, moved the capital to Harran in the Jazira, and Damascus was never to regain the political prominence it had held in that period.
After the fall of the Umayyads and the establishment of the Abbasid caliphate in 750, Damascus was ruled from Baghdad, although in 858 al-Mutawakkil briefly established his residence there with the intention of transferring his capital there from Samarra. However, he soon abandoned the idea. As the Abbasid caliphate declined, Damascus suffered from the prevailing instability, and came under the control of local dynasties.
AS FOR LEBANON ITSELF,
The pagan Canaanites, the early Lebanese, became Christian. Christianity flourished in Lebanon and by the close of the second century Tyre had become the seat of a Christian Bishop as has Sidon, whose Bishop attended the council of Nicea in 325 in which the Nicene Creed was formulated, furthermore in the year 335 a church council was held in Tyre. At about the same time, Frumentius, a Tyrian missionary introduced Christianity to Ethiopia. From early in the 5th Century and throughout the 6th, through the works of the disciples of St. Maron the people of Lebanon, the Phoenicians, joined the Maronite Church.
For many years the Maronite Lebanese worked the land, terraced the mountains built their villages and expanded their cities. Soon a human tidal wave was not only to change the demographics of Lebanon but was also to change the history of the civilized world.
In a little know area of a Byzantine province in 570 AD was born, to a camel trading father, a child known to history by his honorific name Mohammed, or 'highly praised'. The religion founded by Mohammed in Arabia was that of Islam, and he is regarded by his followers as a prophet. The book he, an unschooled man produced, was written by one of his followers and is considered by the Islam (Muslims) to be the literal word of God told to Mohammed by the Angel Gabriel. By the time he died in 632, Mohammed had converted the Arabian peninsula, mainly by the sword, to Islam.
[The eastern shore of the Mediterranean was predominantly Christian from the time of the Roman imperial conversion in the early fourth century until Islamic invaders arrived in the mid-seventh century.
In 633, a year after Mohammed's death, in a valley just south of the Dead Sea, a group of Arabian Muslims fought their first battle outside of Arabia against the Byzantines. By 637 almost the entire Middle East had fallen into Arab hands. The victory of Islam was in three parts: Islam the state; Islam the religion; and Islam the language, Arabic.
Lebanon, however, remained a Christian island in a sea of Islam. It is in Lebanon that Islam the state did not govern, Islam the religion did not convert, and Islam the language did not take over from Aramaic Syriac for over a thousand years, and even then never as a spoken language but as the written one.
[color emphasis mine. lw]
In Lebanon today there is a huge difference between the spoken Lebanese and the written Arabic, Lebanese being a mixture rich in Syriac. A great part of the coastal population of Lebanon joined their fellow Christian countrymen high in the mountains out of Arab reach. The mountains offered no attraction to the desert Arabs, agriculture was considered below their dignity, and and they knew little of industry, and even less about maritime trade. The Arabs did not realize the strategic importance of Lebanon and they left it to itself and so opened the way for Byzantine naval raids. Such incursions were a prime reason why an inland seat of government, Damascus, was chosen by the Arabs. As a result of the coastal inhabitants of Lebanon refusing to convert and moving to the mountains the Lebanese coast was left undefended and so it became necessary for Muawiyah the Caliph, in 663, to transplant Persians and Arabians to the Lebanese coast so as to provide a measure of protection against naval incursions by the Byzantines.
By the end of the 7th century the Arabs and the Persians, newcomers to an ancient land, began to settle on the Lebanese coast and in the Bekaa valley and the native Lebanese moved deeper into the mountain.
[color emphasis mine, lw]
The transplantation of outsiders into Lebanon in 663 was not the only one to occur in Lebanon's long history. Lebanon's refusal to be assimilated so infuriated the Mamluks that in the years following the departure of the Crusaders from Lebanon the Mamluks launched heavy military reprisals against Lebanon. In 1307 the Mamluks under al-Nasir Muhammad went so far as to occupy the coastal strip between Beirut and Tripoli and divide it between three hundred transplanted and newly introduced nomadic tribes from north east Persia. The Mamluks hoped that the settling of these thousands of pro Mamluk nomads would not only provide a measure of protection against Mongol attack or Crusader raids from Cyprus but they hoped that such a step would over time change the very orientation of Lebanon itself. These measures however failed to reorientate Lebanon and the Lebanese remained a thorn in the side of the Mamluk established order.
Over the many years that were to follow the Arab invasion, the religion of the Muslim and the mainly Maronite Christians, coupled with the Maronite siege mentality, kept the two peoples firmly apart as they had very little in common. The sea crossing and mountain dwelling Maronites share nothing in the way of culture with the desert Arab, even their language was different, the Maronites speaking Aramaic (Syriac) well into the 19th century.
Marriage between the Shiite Muslim Persians and the Sunni Muslin Arabs was at times acceptable, but for the Christians of Lebanon marriage outside of one's own village was rare, and marriage between Maronite and Muslim was non-existent, even today it is extremely uncommon. The Muslim and Christian blood lines thus remained pure, even the most modern of the Lebanese are still in touch with their ancestral village and have a good knowledge of their forefathers. The resistance of Lebanon to absorption ensured it maintained an individual identity and remained a separate entity.
The history of Lebanon as a separate entity from its neighbours began many thousands of years ago, long before the modern state was born. In fact it is doubtful whether any country in the Middle East, apart from Egypt, can claim such a long and continuous history as a separate political entity. Certain unique features had appeared as far back as the Byzantine Empire, but the modern Lebanese entity emerged in the late 16th century during the rain of Fakhr al-Din II when within its territory an evolving form of political authority continued without interruption to our own time, giving Lebanon and the Lebanese a separate and distinct identity and a strong sense of nationality.
Since Arabs are a Semitic people originally inhabiting the Arabian peninsula, who spread throughout the Middle East, N. Africa and Spain in the 7th and 8th centuries A.D., its is clear that a large part of the Muslim population of Lebanon are of Arab origin.
There is no doubt however that when the Arab arrived in Lebanon, it was already inhabited by the Maronites who are of Canaanite origin, and not Arab. The Canaanites had lived in Lebanon for many thousands of years before the arrival of the Arab, and Lebanon was touched by Christianity some 600 years before being touched by the Arab and Islam.
It would seem that any country with a dual Canaanite and Arab identity should consider itself truly blessed. With the infusion of Greek, Persian, and Armenian elements, whose contribution of the evolution of Lebanon has been nothing short of remarkable, Lebanon's identity becomes truly multi-faceted.
etc., etc., etc.
MOHAMMEDANS IN LEBANON TODAY
Islam in Lebanon is divided between four Muslim sects; Shiites, Sunnis, Alawites, and Ismailis including the Druze. All but Ismailis enjoy proportional representation in parliament.
Muslims (including Druze) account for 59.7% of the total population of Lebanon, where 39% are Christians. About 25% of the Lebanese population is Sunni, concentrated largely in coastal cities. Shi'is - about 35%  of the total population of Lebanon - live mostly in the northern area of the Beqaa Valley and southern Lebanon. A religious data in 1985 suggests that the number of Muslims has risen, with 75% compared with Christians at 25%.. By the 1980s Shi'is became a large confessional group in Lebanon, leading to demands for better educational and employment opportunities and redistribution of power based on actual numbers. Druze constitute about 5 percent of the population. Alawis are numerically insignificant but have risen in importance since the Gulf War of 1990-1991 due to the growing influence of Syria, where Alawis dominate the government. Ismailis number only a few hundred and play no significant political role. Religious officials of each sect maintain jurisdiction over personal status law. The distribution of political power is based on religious affiliation: the president must be Maronite Catholic Christian, the speaker of the parliament must be Shiite Muslim and the prime minister must be Sunni Muslim.
THE SHI'ITES IN LEBANON - THEN AND TODAY
There is no certainty as to when the Shi'a community first established itself in Lebanon, though they were well settled across the Levant by the tenth century. Later still Shi'a emirates were establlished in Tyre though these collapsed at the time of the First Crusade in 1099. After the fall of the Crusader kingdoms, the Shi'a peoples, who had withdrawn to the hinterland of Lebanon, were persecuted by the new conquerors, the Sunni Mamelukes. People were forced out of the mountainous areas of Kisrawan where they had taken refuge in the wake of the Crusaders, moving through the Beqaa plain, to new strongholds in Jezzanine and Jabal Amil, in what is now the south and east of Lebanon. During the time of the Ottoman Empire the Shi'a were largely ignored, though they found themselves competing for scarce resources with the expanding community of Maronite Christians.
During most of the Ottoman period the Shi'a largely maintained themselves as 'a state apart', though they maintained contact with the Safavid dynysty, which established Shi'a Islam as the state religion of Persia. These contacts made them all the more suspect to the Ottoman Sultan, who was frequently at war with the Persians, as well as being, in the role of Caliph, the leader of the majority Sunni community Shi'a Lebanon, when not subject to political repression, was generally neglected, sinking further and further into the economic background.
Towards the end of the eighteenth century the Comte de Volmy was to describe the Shi'a as a distinct society, outside the main currents of Lebanese life; and so they were perceived by their Sunni, Druze and Maronite neighbours, right into the twentieth century. It was by default that they found themselves as part of the new state of Grand Liban, created by the French in September 1920. The Sunni had attempted to resist the French mandate; and when they were defeated, refused to participate in the administration of what they considered to be an artificial political entity. Sunni opposition had aimed at the creation of a 'greater Syria', where the Shia would have been a permanent minority. But in the new state of Lebanon they acquired both an independence and a far greater political significance in relation to the size of their community. This was further emphasised by French colonial policy, which sought to reach out to the Shi'a, with the intention of preventing a possible alliance with the Sunni.
After independence in 1943, although the Shi'a remained part of Lebanon's delicate confessional and political balancing act, their homelands were still economically among the most backward areas. Many of them gravitated towards the slums of Beruit, progressively becoming more radicalised in the process; they also became deeply resentful at the affluence of the Sunni and Christian middle classes, prospering in the liberal atmosphere of the 1950s. In 1959 the Shi'a acquired a more determined and unique voice, when Musa al-Sadr arrived from Qom to take up the position of Mufti. In 1967 he established a Supreme Islamic Shi'a Council, regulating the affairs of the community, and giving it as high a profile in the state as the corporate bodies set up by the Maronite, Sunni and Druze. People who had been carried along by left-wing and secular currents were slowly drawn back into a reinvigorated Islam, many joining Amal, the militia founded by Sadr in 1974. Although Sadr disappeared under mysterious circumstances in 1978, his influence, and his radical message, lived on, contributing later to the rise of Hezbollah. The Lebanese Civil War, and Israeli intervention in southern Lebanon, also went a long way towards consolidataing a new and more radical Shi'a identity.
LEBANON: Radical Islam Comes to Town
By Mona Alami
TRIPOLI, Lebanon, Jul 14 (IPS) - In the centre of one of Tripoli's squares in north Lebanon, a large statue has been erected inscribed with the word 'Allah' in Arabesque calligraphy. The statue reflects the city's reality, especially in light of the recent rise in Salafism, a radical form of Islam.
In Abi Samra on one of Tripoli's hills, men with long beards, dressed in white dishdashas -- a style unusual for Lebanon -- walk along whitewashed buildings, attesting to the growing grip Islamists have on the city.
"Salafism was founded in the sixties in Lebanon by Sheikh Salem el-Chahal," says Sheikh Bilal Chaaban, head of the Tawhid movement (another radical Islamist faction, separate from Salafism). After the death of its founder, Salafism branched into various factions, one of which is headed by the founder's son, Dai Islam el-Chahal.
"During his lifetime, Sheikh Said Chaaban, founder of Tawhid, was supported by other Salafists. After his death, however, both movements drifted apart, with the Tawhid still clinging to the dream of establishing a Muslim state in northern Lebanon," says Moustapha Allouch, MP.
Other small Salafist schools also emerged in Tripoli, such as the Siraj Mounir Boukhari and Safwan Zoabi movements.
"Salafists believe in a strict interpretation of the Quran and in practising Islam as it was at the time of the prophet Muhammad and his disciples," says Sheikh Omar Bakri, a radical cleric who was expelled from Britain in 2005 for his alleged links with al-Qaeda. According to the cleric, Salafism is essentially built on three pillars: belief in one god, the 'daawa' or the missionary task, and 'jihad'.
"Most Salafists, however, only apply the first two principles of true Islam without fulfilling the third, the jihad. True Salafism thus does not exist in Lebanon," he says.
Lebanese Salafism is of a doctrinal and missionary nature that has been allowed to grow because of the country's complex and diverse religious undercurrent (Lebanon, a country of four million, officially recognises 18 religious communities). In Tripoli, Salafist factions rely on a network of mosques, NGOs and schools, and receive financing from various Arab countries, such as Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Kuwait.
The armed bodyguards surrounding the headquarters of some Islamic and Salafist organisations, and the relative opulence of the homes of the clerics reflect the growing affluence and number of such extremists flowing into the city. "The allegiance of Salafist factions to the foreign powers that fund them has promoted division among their ranks, as they reflect the alliances or dissensions of their foreign allies," says Bakri.
The intricate political and social fabric within the various Salafist movements is deeply divided, as with the rest of Lebanon. Not only are Islamic factions in Tripoli manipulated by foreign powers, but they are also pawns in the hands of local politicians, who use them in their political game.
"By radicalising people, political factions can guarantee a larger base of supporters in the upcoming 2009 parliamentary elections. Salafists, like many others, are lured by false Messiahs," says Sheikh Chaaban, referring to the role of politicians in the ongoing violent conflict in Tripoli between Sunnis (including radical Islamists) and a pro-Syrian minority.
Different sources interviewed by IPS report that most Salafists seem to follow the government's majority bloc, while other radical Sunni factions, such as Tawhid, are sponsored by either Syria or Iran, and hence, support the opposition.
"Most Salafists are allied to the Saudis and, thus, aligned with American Middle East policy. They maintain excellent relations with the government and the Hariri family," says Bakri. The Hariris are a powerful Lebanese political clan with strong ties to Saudi Arabia. Saad Hariri, son of slain prime minister Rafik Hariri, heads the majority parliamentary coalition in Lebanon.
According to a source, who chose to remain anonymous due to the topic's sensitivity, many Salafist preachers are on the payroll of Arab embassies located in Lebanon. Bakri says this support can be partly explained by Sunnis' growing fear of Lebanese Shias, represented by Hezbollah.
Bakri believes that although Fateh el-Islam (a terrorist group that battled the Lebanese army at the Nahr el-Bared Palestinian refugee camp in Tripoli for over three months in 2007) might have been spawned by Syrian intelligence, it was then probably hijacked by local political factions from both sides of the divide. "This can be clearly observed in the series of bombings orchestrated by Fateh el-Islam, as some were condemned by their leader Chaker el-Absi while others were condoned, indicating conflict within the organisation."
As for al-Qaeda's possible hand in Lebanon's growing Salafist movement, the country's diverse sectarian landscape and traditional allegiance of Sunnis to the government has in fact hindered its influence. Although the organisation might have many staunch supporters who believe in the ideology it advocates, it has not necessarily been able to achieve an infrastructure.
According to IPS sources, most Salafist movements in Tripoli have regular contacts with the police, military or intelligence, and are being supplied with weapons. Allouch believes that most Islamist factions are now armed.
To curb the risk of a violent outbreak, the MP states that Saad Hariri worked on convincing Salafists to contribute to the project of state building, but this work was hindered by the May 7 events (when a demonstration organised by the opposition Shia Hezbollah and Amal parties turned into a one-week war that further exacerbated divisions between Sunnis and Shias). "Many Sunnis, who are aware that al-Qaeda will only bring a spiralling wave of violence, feel they are in need of an army to defend themselves against Hezbollah," says Allouch.
Hezbollah is currently the only Lebanese faction officially permitted to retain heavy weaponry, which could constitute the need for self-defence in the minds of some Salafists. Sheikh Abou Bakr Chahal, son of Sheikh Salem Chahal, believes the third aspect of Salafism, jihad, can be practised in certain threatening circumstances and under the banner of legitimate defence. "A re-enactment of the May 7 events could certainly prompt a new jihad," he warns. (END/2008)
SYRIA IN LEBANON
from Free Lebanon
In 1988, President Amin Gemayel's term of office was nearing its end , and the different Lebanese factions could not agree on a candidate to be his successor. Consequently, when his term expired on September 23rd of that year, he appointed Army Commander General Michel Aoun as Lebanon's Prime Minister. General Aoun formed a government that worked toward the reunification of all parts of Lebanon, freeing Lebanon from all foreign armies, and the restoration of democracy and freedom in Lebanon. Meanwhile, Gemayel's acting prime minister, Salim al Huss, also continued to act as the de facto prime minister. As a result, Lebanon was divided between a Syrian-backed government in west Beirut, and the constitutionally legal government of General Aoun in east Beirut.
In March 1989, an attempt by Prime Minister General Michel Aoun to close all illegal seaports, and stop all kinds of drug production and smuggling, led to what has come to be known as "Hareb al Tahreer" or Liberation War. Syrian forces in the occupied parts of Lebanon opened fire on the liberated areas in order to bring down the Lebanese government's agenda. Lebanon's army under the command of Prime Minister General Michel Aoun defended the liberated areas against the Syrian attacks. Shelling by the Syrians and their counter-parts caused nearly 1000 deaths and several thousand injuries, and further destruction of Lebanon's economic infrastructure.
In May 1989, the Arab League empowered a High Committee on Lebanon, composed of Saudi King Fahed, Algerian President Benjidid, and Moroccan King Hassan, to work toward a solution in Lebanon. In July 1989, the committee issued a report accusing Syria of assailing Lebanon's freedom and independence. After further discussions, the committee arranged for a cease-fire in September, followed by a meeting of Lebanese parliamentarians in Taef, Saudi Arabia.
After a month of intense discussions, the Lebanese deputies were forced and bribed by Syria to agree on a Charter of National Reconciliation also known as the Taef Agreement. In this agreement Syria would redeploy its soldiers in Lebanon, rather than withdrawing. The Lebanese population residing within the liberated parts of Lebanon opposed the Taef Agreement, as it violates national sovereignty. For this, Prime Minister Aoun issued a decree in early November dissolving the Lebanese parliament, calling for elections under the supervision of the United Nations.
In November the dissolved parliament met at the Qleiat Air Base in northern Lebanon, where they approved the Taef Agreement and elected Rene Moawad as a president. Moawad was assassinated on November 22 by a bomb planted in his armored car, although he was under strong Syrian protection (guess who killed him!!!). The dissolved parliament met on November 24 in the Beeqa Valley and elected Elias Hrawi to replace him.
The Syrians renewed their attacks on the liberated Lebanese areas. Meanwhile, hundreds of Lebanese citizens rallied around the Lebanese Presidential Palace (Beit el Shaab) to show their support of Prime Minister General Michel Aoun, and to defend it against Syrian attacks. On October 13, 1990, a Syrian-led military operation, in which fighter planes were used by the Syrians for the first time in Lebanon, invaded the liberated areas of Lebanon. Prime Minister Michel Aoun was forced to take refuge in the french embassy. The French President, Francois Mitterand, declared that General Aoun's safety was a matter of honour to France, and negotiated Prime Minister General Michel Aoun's safe departure to France along with members of his government.
Today Lebanon is still occupied by over 40,000 Syrian soldiers, contrary to what the dissolved parliament had agreed upon in the Taef Agreement. The government in power in Lebanon is a puppet in the hands of Syria, denying people freedom of speech. There are daily arrests without warrants. There is an outcry as a result of the terrorizing methods employed by the Syrian intelligence service against the Lebanese citizens, coupled with the deteriorating economic situation in Lebanon. Prime Minister General Michel Aoun is still in France, where he heads a number of international organizations, working peacefully toward the achievement of a free Lebanon.
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