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Yearbook 2008

Lebanon. Violence between rival groups escalated at the beginning of the year. Wissam Eid, a senior police officer who investigated the political murders of recent years, was killed on January 25 by a car bomb east of Beirut. Seven youths were killed in the same month when stone-throwers protesting recurrent power outages collapsed with police and military in the Shiite-dominated suburb of Chiah south of Beirut. The violence also spread to Sayda and Syr (Tyros), among others.

2008 Lebanon

According to Countryaah reports, new street battles erupted on May 8 between the Shiite Muslim Hizbullah guerrilla and its ally Amal and the Future Movement, the leading party in the ruling March 14 coalition. Hizbullah took control of western Beirut and surrounded several of the Future Movement's TV and newspaper houses. Prime Minister Fouad Sinioras and the drus leader Walid Jumblatt's home were also surrounded. On May 10, the fighting spread to Tripoli in the north. Hizbullah took control of several villages and towns in the Chouf Mountains and secured a link between its stronghold in Beka Valley and the coastal road. On May 13, the total death toll was set at 81.

The following day, a delegation from the Arab League led by Qatar's Prime Minister Hamad bin Jassem bin-Jadr intervened. The parties laid down their arms and reached an agreement in just four days. L's Parliament convened and elected May 25 Army Chief Michel Suleiman as new President, a post that has been empty since November 2007 when former President Emile Lahoud's term expires. On July 11, a new government was formed, still under Siniora but with a third of the ministerial posts reserved for Hizbullah, giving them veto rights on important issues. Parliament approved the government on August 12. A dialogue was initiated between 14 of the country's rival parties. One difficult question concerned Hizbullah's weapons - the Western-friendly alliance wanted them to be submitted and the army given a monopoly on defending the country, but Hizbullah said that the army did not have that capacity. The United States assisted L. with large sums of military assistance. Parliament voted on September 30 through a new electoral law that stipulated that future elections should be held for one day (rather than as before for several), that the electoral districts be expanded to cover the entire country by five major districts and that media coverage of elections should be limited.

The rest of the year was relatively calm, except in and near Tripoli where sporadic fighting broke out in July and a total of 21 people were killed in two blast attacks in August and September. Saleh Aridi, an influential member of the pro-Syrian Lebanese Democratic Party, was killed on August 10 by a car bomb outside Beirut.

Suleiman made an official visit to Syria on August 13-14. He and Syrian President Bashar al-Asad announced that the two countries would establish full diplomatic relations, which meant Syria's first formal recognition of L's sovereignty. Among other things, they also agreed that the border between the countries should be marked and guarded. At the same time, with reference to the fact that L's army could not control the border, Syria had mobilized 10,000 soldiers on its side of the border. On October 15, diplomatic relations were established.

Lebanon and Israel exchanged Lebanese prisoners against dead Israelis on two occasions in June and July (see Israel). Among the released Lebanese were Samir al-Qantar, a member of the Palestinian Liberation Front and sentenced to multiple life sentences for his participation in a bloody raid in Israel in 1979. He was received as a hero in L.A. and welcomed by leading politicians from all camps.


Beirut, the capital of Lebanon; approximately 2.2 million in the metropolitan area (2014). Beirut is located on the Mediterranean coast; until the Lebanese civil war in 1975, it was the commercial, cultural and political center of the Middle East. They talked about Lebanon as "Middle East Switzerland" and Beirut as "Middle East Paris". With its many hotels, casinos and nightclubs, the city was also a popular tourist destination for Europeans and Arabs alike. As a result of the civil war and the disintegration of Lebanon, Beirut has lost this importance.

The city, which is partly on a peninsula, had before the beginning of the civil war 1.4 million. residents. Since then, many have fled temporarily or permanently, and new population groups have moved in from other areas of the country. As in the rest of Lebanon, the population is divided into clearly distinct ethnic and religious groups. The eastern part of the city is predominantly Christian, the west predominantly Muslim. The two boroughs are separated by the so-called "green line", which has for a long period served as a completely closed border. Outside the city are large Palestinian refugee camps with displaced people from the Arab-Israeli wars.

Following the end of the civil war, which had left much of the city deserted, in 1990 the Lebanese government presented in 1991 a comprehensive and ambitious plan for Beirut's reconstruction, which included included the construction of a new neighborhood on an artificial island in the Mediterranean. The end of the Civil War set in motion a construction boom that gave the city a new and modern look and transformed the city during the 1990's. However, the boom slowed down in the late 1990's.


Beirut. Volunteers remove the bodies after the massacre at the Sabra refugee camp in 1982. Hundreds of Palestinian children and women were killed in the Shatila and Sabra refugee camps when Christian phalangists went crazy.

From early on, Beirut has had a cosmopolitan feel with close links across the Mediterranean. The city is mentioned in tablets from al-Amarna in Egypt; for approximately year 15 BC it was founded as a Roman veteran colony under the name of Colonia Julia Felix Berytos. In the following years, it was richly decorated with buildings that Jewish kings had erected. Berytos was the center of silk fabrication and trade and from the mid-200th century. to 600-tKr. seat of a recognized Roman law school. The city was destroyed by earthquakes in 500 AD.

In 635 the city was occupied by the Arabs. The Crusaders conquered Beirut in 1110, but in 1291 were driven out of the Egyptian Mamluk dynasty. From 1512 to 1920, Beirut was a provincial city in the Ottoman Empire and again made big money on trade. The important silk export to Europe led to a social ascent for the Christian Maronites, who moved to Beirut and became competitors to the Sunni Muslim merchant families.

Beirut became the capital of the new state of Lebanon in 1946 and flourished in the following decades as the financial city of the oil countries. The move to the city was great, not least by South Lebanese Shia Muslims and exiled Palestinians. In 1975, the Lebanese civil war broke out, and soon Beirut was split between an Eastern Christian and a Western Muslim. The border, "the green line", passed through the Martyrs Square, the old town center, which was shot in ruins. In 1982, Israel bombed Beirut and occupied the city, while Christian phalangists massacred in the Palestinian refugee camps of Sabra and Shatila. The poor suburbs of South Beirut now became a factor of power as the home of Hezbollah Islamic resistance group. The 1989 al-Taif agreement brought peace to Beirut under Syria's oversight.

Following Syria's withdrawal in the spring of 2005, there was a transition of optimism in the city as a result of the so-called cedar revolution aimed at Syria. However, numerous political assaults as well as Israeli bombings in the summer of 2006 have severely dampened developments.


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