Lebanon. Following the sign of Syria, in October, Lebanon’s parliament elected Commander-in-Chief Emile Lahoud as new president. He succeeded Elias Hrawi, who has held the post since the end of the war in 1990. All 118 parliamentarians present voted for Lahoud. Among the ten absentee were especially notable supporters of the drus leader Walid Jumblatt, who did not want to see a military in the presidential post. The election of Lahoud followed the prevailing system according to which the President is a Christian Maronite, the Prime Minister of Sunni Muslim and the Speaker of Parliament Shiam.
According to Countryaah, the capital of Lebanon is Beirut. Prime Minister Rafiq al-Hariri resigned at the end of November, according to political sources following a power struggle with the new president. The new Prime Minister, 67-year-old Salim al-Huss, who is well regarded in finance circles, was appointed. He has a political past from the Civil War of 1975-90, when he served for some time as Prime Minister.
Israel decided in April to accept UN resolution number 425, which states that the country should withdraw from the so-called security zone in southern Lebanon. Since the resolution was passed in the Security Council in 1978, Israel had demanded that Lebanon first make peace with Israel, but now was the condition that L. would deploy military in the southern part of the country to protect Israel from attacks by Iran-backed guerrilla Hizbullah (God’s party). The reversal was due to severe Israeli losses in southern Lebanon. But Lebanon, like Syria controlling Lebanon, rejected the Israeli expulsion and demanded an unconditional withdrawal. The fighting in the area continued. Just over twelve days in November, seven Israeli soldiers were killed, and the issue of withdrawal was frequently debated in Israel at the end of the year.
The clashes in Beka Valley that began in 1997 between the military and former Hezbollah leader Sheikh Subhi Tufayli with followers continued in January. Tufayli led an action he called “the hungry revolution”. When the military tried to arrest him on January 30, a fire followed with six dead. Tufayli fled but was indicted in his absence for attacking the state’s internal security.
In May, the country’s first public execution in 15 years. Two men convicted of murder were hanged in front of 1,500 spectators.
A number of anti-Syrian Libyan politicians were killed in 2005 by particularly professional assaults, and in the summer, Syria withdrew its military from the country following strong anti-Syrian demonstrations. Last fall, the UN commission of inquiry into the Hariri attack, led by German judge Detlef Mehlis, published its first report, pointing in the direction of Syria as the attack’s backbone. Later, however, two of Mehlis’ crown witnesses jumped off, declaring that they had never made such statements to Mehlis.
In December, Lebanese politician Gebran Tueni was killed by an attack outside Beirut. It happened the same night Mehlis published his report.
If Syria were to stand behind the attacks in Lebanon, it can be seen that the government of Damascus every time shot itself in the foot. Other observers pointed to other possible backers. Some were inclined to believe that there were elements within the Syrian intelligence that wanted to force Assad away from his resilient course towards the United States. European intelligence sources criticized Mehlis for not investigating relations between the United States, Israel and right-wing Lebanese. These were the circles that benefited most from the attacks in Lebanon that weakened Syria. Acc. European intelligence sources could be the goal of the alliance to deploy a heavily right-wing Lebanese government, which would at the same time strike against the Hezbollah party, which enjoyed significant support in especially the southern part of the country.
Following the February attack, Karami withdrew from the Prime Minister’s post in early March. At the same time, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad declared that Syria immediately withdrew its troops from the Bekaa Valley, near the border with Syria, and the two countries’ governments agreed on a timetable for full Syrian escape from Lebanon before the May elections. In Beirut, Hezbollah organized a huge demonstration in support of Syria and in protest against foreign interference in Lebanon’s internal affairs. The demonstration was several times larger than the demonstrations that had been organized in the capital in the preceding weeks with demands for Syrian escape.
The May election was won by the newly formed anti-Syrian Rafik Hariri Martyr list, which got 72 of the seats, followed by the pro-Syrian Resistance and Development coalition which got 35 seats. The biggest surprise of the election, however, was the Aoun Alliance, which got 21 seats.
On June 30, Parliament appointed Sunnite Fouad Siniora as new prime minister. He had been Minister of Finance in Hariri’s 5 governments. He was now to lead the first government without a Syrian presence in the country since the civil war. The anti-Syrian Future Bloc in Parliament (with 36 seats) led by Saad Hariri, son of the slain Rafik Hariri, supported the appointment of Siniora. At the same time, the pro-Syrian Shiite, Nabih Berri, was appointed chairman of parliament during the first session following the May elections.
Political elite take the reins again
Saad al-Hariri is once again asked to form a government, less than a year after he was forced out of the prime minister’s post by a powerful popular wave of protests (see 21 October 2019 and 29 October 2019). The protest movement’s criticism that the constitution confirms and gives power to a traditional political elite has not led to any decisive changes during the past year. And now the next government has an even more in-depth crisis to deal with: the treasury is rattling increasingly empty as a result of the corona pandemic and the devastation following the bombing in Beirut in August. The night before the appointment of Hariri, due to the strong support of parties in parliament, President Aoun complained in a televised speech that reforms had failed to materialize despite political leaders agreeing to change the system (see 26 September 2020).). Hariri promises to try to form a government characterized by expert knowledge, in line with demands from France as well.
Border negotiations between Lebanon and Israel
Lebanon and Israel have agreed on a framework for UN-backed negotiations with US mediation on the disputed sea border between the countries. The talks will start on October 14. Out in the Mediterranean, there is natural gas that both want to extract. There is also no recognized land boundary between them, just a standstill line called the “blue line”. Several wars have been fought over the years and a functioning peace agreement has been lacking since Arab-Israeli fighting in the 1940s. The blue line was marked by the UN in 2000, when Israel withdrew from southern Lebanon after 22 years of occupation.