History of Lebanon
Contemporary Lebnaon (2001 AD - 2004 AD)
August 7 th Events
In the new millennium, the Syrian army and intelligence members still continue to occupy Lebanon, devastating its people. Hundreds of Lebanese have been arrested, abducted, tortured, imprisoned and killed; moreover, many of them have even been subjected to chemical and biological experiments in Syrian prisons. (for Details)
In August 7 and 8, 2001, the Lebanese Maronite-Catholic Patriarch Nasrallah Peter Sfeir sponsored a historic reconciliation between Druze and Christian former militias that had confronted each other in fierce battles during the war in Lebanon.
The Syrian regime and its proxy government in Lebanon were not pleased with the reconciliation, which was seen as a potential threat to the influence of the Syrian regime in Lebanon. Security forces in occupied Lebanon arrested hundreds of Lebanese opposition activists and leaders from their homes and businesses.
Males and females aging between 16 and 77 were abducted and detained without legal charges. Around a hundred of them were sent to martial courts with political charges; some spent years in jail.
People from Lebanon and the world were astonished by scenes of civilians protected by Syrian troops and their proxy regime in Lebanon, attacking Lebanese students who were protesting, in what later became known as the "Events of August 7 th".
Millions of Lebanese descendants around the world were moved by the devastation and the active Lebanese movements in occupied Lebanon. Lebanese organizations, exiled Premier and individuals around the world struggled to bring international attention to the small occupied country of Lebanon.
Remarkable efforts were shown in the United States of America, France, the United Kingdom, Canada and Australia.
September 11 th Attacks and Lebanon
The terrorist attacks on the Twin Towers and other targets in the United States of America rearranged the priorities of the most powerful countries and drew attention to some previously neglected cases such as the Lebanese crisis.
The deterioration of democracy in Lebanon, the freedom that some extremist Palestinian militia enjoyed in protected zones, and the uncontrolled fund transactions in the free-market-Lebanon became major concerns in the global war against terrorism.
With more pressure from local and international groups, the Syrian regime tried to shape up its image in Lebanon; it announced partial redeployments from several areas around and north of Beirut. However, these steps were not convincing at any level to either local opposition groups or the international community.
The opposition groups and parties were growing stronger because of the illegal aspect of the continuous Syrian control over Lebanon, and the negative social and economical consequences it brought to Lebanon.
In 2002, after the death of a legislator in the Syrian-controlled parliament of Lebanon, a bi-election took place.
The Syrian regime planned to appoint a legislator through a phony election process. However, the opposition groups wanted to prove their strength and planned to run Gabriel Murr against the Pro-Syrian candidate Mirna Murr, and since the elections were taking place in one district only, this would make it harder to manipulate the results.
The pro-Syrian regime was so confident of its victory because of the deceiving techniques it employs, such as forcing citizens to fill their voting ballots in public, and allowing the illegal naturalized citizens to vote. Despite all the illegal methods used, the Anti-Syrian candidate won the highest number of votes with about 45% while the pro-Syrian candidate received 43% of the votes.
The Pro-Syrian government in Lebanon annulled the results, and appointed a third candidate who got only 2% of the votes for the empty seat. Furthermore, it shut down completely the Murr television station (MTV) and Radio Mount-Lebanon, owned by the Anti-Syrian candidate, and sent hundreds of families to unemployment.
Syria Accountability and Lebanese Sovereignty Restoration Act of 2003
The Lebanese lobbying groups in the United States managed to draft a bill with the American legislators supporting the freedom of Lebanon. The Syria Accountability and Lebanese Sovereignty Restoration Act was passed by the United States Congress, and signed by President George W. Bush in 2003.
The act called “to halt Syrian support for terrorism, end its occupation of Lebanon, stop its development of weapons of mass destruction, and cease its illegal importation of Iraqi oil and illegal shipments of weapons and other military items to Iraq”.
It finally restored the importance of supporting Lebanon’s independence by stating that “the full restoration of Lebanon's sovereignty, political independence, and territorial integrity is in the national security interest of the United States.”
The French government and several other European states followed the United States’ steps calling for a full Syrian withdrawal of its army and security forces from Lebanon. However, the Syrian regime kept trying to release the pressure by announcing partial redeployments in Beirut suburbs.
UN Security Council Resolution 1559 of 2004
The International community was growing convinced that the Syrian regime did not play any positive role in Lebanon, not to mention its negative role in supporting the ex-dictator regime of Saddam Hussein, and the insurgents in Iraq against the new Iraqi government.
The Syrian control of Lebanon was very obvious when the Syrian government wanted to renew the expired term of the Syrian-appointed president in Lebanon Emile Lahoud. The Syrian regime found in Lahoud an ally that no one could match, so they worked to amend the Lebanese constitution which prevents the re-election of presidents.
The United States and France drafted a resolution that was adopted by the United Nations Security Council on September 2, 2004 as Resolution 1559. It supported a free and fair presidential election in Lebanon to be conducted according to Lebanese constitutional rules, devised without foreign interference or influence, and called upon all forces to withdraw from Lebanon.
The resolution called also for the disbanding and disarmament of all Lebanese and non-Lebanese militias in the country.
The Syrian regime ignored the resolution and forced the puppet parliament in Lebanon to amend the constitution of Lebanon and extend the Pro-Syrian’s president term for three more years despite the wide public opposition to Lahoud.
The Secretary General of the United Nations Kofi Annan reported to the Security Council in the end of September 2004. His report stated that the Syrian regime refuses to pull its troops and security forces from Lebanon, and that neither the Syrian government nor its proxy government in Lebanon is working to disarm the militias in the country such as Hezbollah and the radical Palestinian militias.
Growing Opposition to Syrian Occupation
The United Nations Resolution showed a regional and international interest in the case of our small Lebanon. Arabic media sources from several Arabic countries broke the conventional taboo of criticizing other Arabic regimes.
Terms such as “pro-Syrian government in Lebanon”, “Pro-Syrian president of Lebanon” and “Syrian-appointed president” were utilized in the Arabic media joining the international community in describing the Syrian homogony over Lebanon. Voices from Jordan and the Arabian Gulf countries called openly on Syria to implement Resolution 1559.
By the end of 2004, the public opposition to the Syrian occupation and its proxy regime in Lebanon grew substantially and attracted many political leaders including even some of those who were previously allied with the Syrian regime such as prominent Muslim-Sunni leader Rafik Hariri, and Druze leader Walid Juomblat.
The Lebanese opposition built a wide Christian-Muslim opposition front and decided to participate in the general elections expected in May 2005 benefiting form the international attention to the Lebanese cause.
The conflict regarding resolution 1559 in Lebanon remained ongoing between those who are hoping to implement it, and those who are afraid of loosing their major power in the country – their martial force. As the resolution calls for full withdrawal of Syrian forces, and the disarming of Hezbollah and radical militias, the latter three parties are striving to prevent its implementation so they can maintain an exceptional power through the use of physical control.
The Lebanese who oppose the Syrian occupation and support the UN resolution 1559, faced physical and mental persecution from the pro-Syrian regime in Lebanon, and had to face the armed forces who oppose the resolution.
The task was not easy with hundreds of Lebanese fearing the fate of those who were killed in Lebanon or those who have been in Syrian prisons for more than twenty years; imprisoned, tortured and killed.