Lebanon; key historical events

See also Israel for events relating to the Palestinian State

Page last modified 11/8/2020


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4/8/2020, A huge double explosion devastated Beirut. An explosion and fire in the docks area was followed by a much larger detonation as 3,000 tons of ammonium nitrate fertiliser ignited; the fertiliser had been stored there for some six years The detonation was reportedly caused by a welder. There were at least 145 dead and 5,000 injured.

2020, Lebanese financial crisis. Lebanese banks had offered unfeasibly high interest rates, up to 14%, to US Dollar depositors. The Lebanese Central Government had also borrowed form these banks at too-high rates. However Lebanon lacked a solid industrial production base to pay back these loans, or maintain the high rates to Dollar depositors. Public (Government-owed) debt rose to 86 billion US Dollars, the 3rd highest ratio to GDP in the world. The political elite came to be perceived as plundering, through tax, from ordinary citizens, who started a tax revolt. In 2020 the banks imposed capital flight controls ands the Lebanese Lira, pegged at too high a rate to the US Dollar, plummeted 75%. Inflation rose. There was a run on the banks by Lebanese depositors. The economy imploded, the wealthiest and the most talented workers, fled abroad. and unemployment soared; the poor suffered the most. Outsiders worried that, with little social protection in place, Iran would get an outpost on the Mediterranean, near Europe and next to Israel.

6/2020, Protests in Lebanon as currency crashed and many fell into poverty.

1/2020, Protests in Lebanon against government corruption as economy fails. Saad Hariri administration replaced by Hassan Daab.

11/4/2017, Samir Frangieh, Lebanese leftist politician (born 12/4/1945) died.

2012, Clashes in Lebanon between Sunni and Alawaite Muslims. In Beirut and Tripoli.

25/1/2011, Arab Spring protests in Lebanon,

6/2009, Pro Westerm government elected in Lebanon, headed by Saad Hariri.

2006, Hizbollah kidnapped 2 Israeli soldiers. Israel attacked Lebanon in a month-long offensive. UN peacekeepers stationed along Lebanon-Israeli border.

26/4/2005, Syria withdrew the last of its 14,000 soldiers from Lebanon, ending a 29-year military occupation of that country.

14/2/2005, Rafik Hariri, Prime Minister of Lebanon, killed by a car bomb. Anti-Syria protests in Lebanon followed, and Syrian troop0s forced to depart (26/4/2005). Reprisals in the form of assassinations of anti-Syrian Lebanese politicians, but Saad Hariri (son of the murdered Lebanese Prime Minister) won elections and succeeded in forming a pro-Western, anti-Syria, Government.

2004, UN calaled for all foreign troops to leave Lebanon. PM Rafik Hariri resigned in protest at the extension of President Lahoud’s term by three years.

2000, Israel withdrew its troops from southern Lebanon, a region it had occupied since 1983.

10/2000, Rafik Hariri became Prime Minister,

1998, Emile Lahoud became President.

1992, First elections in 20 years. Rafiq al Hariri became Prime Minister.

4/12/1991. American correspondent Terry Anderson was freed by Islamic Jihad after 2,454 days in captivity. Held since 16/3/1985, he was the longest-held kidnap victim in Lebanon.

18/11/1991, Terry Waite was released from captivity in Lebanon (see 20/1/1987), along with another hostage, Tom Sutherland.

21/10/1991. The American Jesse Turner was released after five years as a hostage in Lebanon.

8/8/1991. Hostage John McCarthy came back to the UK after 5 years and 3 months kidnapped in Beirut.

13/10/1990, Syrian forces invaded Lebanon and ousted General Michel Aoun’s government. This consolidated Syria’s 14-year occupation of Lebanon.

24/8/1990, The Irish hostage Brian Keenan was released from Beirut.

9/7/1990. Israeli jets struck at Hezbollah positions in southern Lebanon.

23/4/1990, Robert Polhill, aged 55, kept hostage in Beirut for 39 months, was released. Libya’s Colonel Gaddaffi had called for all Western hostages to be released. Radical groups such as Abu Nidal held more captives.

1989, Aoun attempted to oust Syrian and other militia groups from Beirut. The Taif Agreement was signed, to end the Lebanese Civil war; however in 1990 Syria forced Aoun to seek refuge in the French embassy in Beirut.

22/11/1989, A bomb exploded in West Beirut near the motorcade of the Lebanese President, Rene Moawad, killing him and 23 others.

23/10/1989, 62 members of the Lebanese Parliament agreed to an equal power distribution between Christians and Muslims.

24/9/1989. The Arab League negotiated a ceasefire in Lebanon.

1988, President Amime Gemayel left office, but presidential elections failed to produce a clear successor. Gemayel installed an ‘interim military government’ led by Michel Aoun. However Aoun only controlled eastern Beirut; in western Beirut there was a rival Syrian-backed administration led by Salim Huss.

1987, Lebanese Prime Minister Rashid Karani was assassinated, and Salim Huss took over.

20/1/1987. Terry Waite, envoy of the Archbishop of Canterbury, was taken hostage in Lebanon. He was not released until 18/11/1991. His captors knew he was linked to the Irangate scandal and believed he was a CIA spy. In fact he had been sent by the Archbishop of Canterbury to negotiate the release of other hostages in Lebanon.

19/5/1985, Shi’ite Muslim militia attempted to drive out the Palestinians from the Lebanese refugee camps of Sabra, Shatila and Bourj-el-Barajneh, near Beirut.

16/3/1985, American journalist Terry Anderson was kidnapped in Lebanon, see 4/12/1991.

14/3/1985, As the situation in Lebanon deteriorated, the USA evacuated its officials from the country.

4/9/1984. A large car bomb killed 23 at the US Embassy in Beirut.

6/2/1984, President Gemayel of Lebanon ordered a 24-hour curfew, as Shi’ite Muslim and Drize militias overran West Beirut. United States peacekeeping forces had just departed, opening the way to militia conflict.

20/12/1983, The PLO were forced out of Lebanon. The Syrian Army forced Yasser Arafat and 4,000 supporters to leave Tripoli, under arrangement of safe passage out by the UN.

4/9/1983, In Lebanon, civil war broke out in the Chouf Mountains following Israel’s withdrawal.

20/7/1983, The Israeli Cabinet agreed on a partial withdrawal of troops from Lebanon, to south of the Chouf Mountains. Israel had wanted a total withdrawal, but only on condition that Syria also withdrew from the country; it refused to do so.

15/2/1983, The Christian Phalangist militia withdrew from Beirut, allowing the Lebanese Government control over the city.

18/4/1983, The US Embassy in Beirut was hit by a car bomb, killing 63 people.

18/9/1982, Christian Phalangist militiamen entered West Beirut refugee camps and massacred 800 Palestinians.

5/8/1983, A bomb killed 15 at a Lebanese mosque.

9/6/1982, Israeli forces invading Lebanon were just 3 kilometres south of Beirut Airport and had reached the Beirut to Damascus Highway, where they were fighting against Syrian forces.

15/12/1981, A car bomb destroyed the Iraqi Embassy in Beirut, killing 61 people. This was the first modern suicide bombing. Syria was blamed.

13/8/1978, A large bomb in Beirut killed 150 Palestinians.

13/6/1978, Israel withdrew from the 6 mile deep zone of southern Lebanon it had occupied since 14/3/1978. However rather than handing control of the territory to UN forces it handed over to Christian forces.

14/3/1978, Israeli forces, under Operation Litani, invaded Lebanon. This was in retaliation for a PLO bus hijacking on 11/3/1978, which killed 34 Israelis. Israeli forces occupied a 6 mile deep strip of territory into Lebanon.

20/6/1976, Unrest in Lebanon following the murder of the US ambassador forced the evacuation of hundreds of Western tourists to Syria by the US military. Lebanese President Suleiman Franjieh called in for troops from Syria to help restore order. These troops sided with the Christians, but were unable to stop Palestinian attacks.

17/6/1976, The US Ambassador to Lebanon, Francis Meloy, was assassinated in Beirut. Washington advised all US citizens to leave Lebanon.

22/1/1976, Ceasefire agreement in Lebanon.

15/9/1975. Civil war broke out in Beirut between Christians and Muslims.

13/4/1975. Fighting broke out in Beirut between Christians and Moslems. The fighting was sparked by a Christian Phalangist attack on a Palestinian bus in Ain El Remmeneh, killing 27. This led to 13 years of civil war in Lebanon.

10/4/1973, Israeli special forces completed an operation in Lebanon to attack terrorist targets there.

27/2/1972, Israel attacked south Lebanon in reprisal for Palestinian raids.

1967, Palestinians started to use Lebanon as a base for attacks on Israel. Many Palestinian refugees had fled to Lebanon following the Six-Day War 1967. In 1968 Israel attacked Beirut Airport in retaliation.

3/5/1964, In the Lebanese general election, Independent candidates won the majority of seats, on a voter turnout of 53.0%.

15/7/1958, US troops landed near Beirut to protect US lives and property during rioting. There were conflicts between Maronite Christians amd Muslims. Lebanese President Camille Chamoune requested US troops to help preserve order.

1948, Several thousand Palestinian refugees arrived in southern Lebanon after the establishment of the State of Israel.

10/3/1946. Britain and France began to withdraw from Lebanon.

11/11/1943. French troops arrested the Lebanese government after it declared itself independent.

1/9/1920. France proclaimed the creation of the state of Lebanon, with Beirut as its capital.

31/8/1920, Under the decree of General Giraud, France enlarged the Sanjak of Lebanon (Mount Lebanon) at Syria’s expense, adding Tripoli, Sidon, Tyre and the Bekaa plain. Greater Lebanon now had a small Christian majority, but the Muslim population had a higher birth rate. Lebanon became a French ‘Mandate’; this was not a colonial system, but intended as an interim administration by France until Lebanon was able to form a stable independent State.

3/4/1900, Camille Chamoun, President of Lebanon 1952–58, was born in Deir el Qamar (died 1987).

1516, The Ottoman Turks conquered Lebanon.


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