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Lebanon (Gorbachev MkII)


17 March

The Chairman of State Security, Viktor Chebrikov, confirms the order to sell weapons to factions involved with the civil war in Lebanon. The weapons are focused exclusively into the hands of the leading Shi’a faction, the Amal Movement led by Nabih Berri, and its allied Progressive Socialist Party, led by Walid Jumblatt of the Druze. Over the next twelve months, they will step up their campaign against the Palestinian Liberation Organisation, Hezbollah and the Rejectionist Front. The move is aimed at reducing the influence of Iran in the long-running conflict and, by ousting the Palestinians, to remove justification for forcing Israel to withdraw from south Lebanon.

22 April

President Chadli Bendjedid of Algeria has a state visit of the United States of America, where he expresses a view, privately, that the Palestinian Liberation Organisation should be allowed to weaken until it is forced to leave Lebanon. Both Israeli and Syrian intervention supports the removal of the Palestinian faction in the civil war.

24 April

There are running street battles between the Amal Movement/Progressive Socialist Party coalition and Hezbollah, an Amal rebel faction, in East Beirut. Also involved are elements of various Palestinian and Sunni militia, who are driven off, or, in the case of Murabitan, its headquarters destroyed. Prime Minister Rashid Karami threatens to resign over his failure to control the violence, but he is convinced by the Syrian President, Hafez Assad, to stay on.

2 May

The Israeli Defence Forces commence a staged withdrawal from the Bekaa Valley. Syria has agreed not to attempt to move its forces into the valley, establishing a neutral zone between the foreign forces in Lebanon. The deputy leader of Fatah, Khalil al-Wazir, is assassinated with the explosion of a boat on Beirut’s harbour.

8 May

In their worst setback since the 1983 Chouf Mountain offensive, Lebanese Christians begin to flee to Jezzine as the forces of the Amal Movement and the PSP take control of the heights over Sidon and advance into the neutral zone left by the second stage of the Israeli pullout. About thirty thousand Christian refugees will eventually flee across the border into Israel for protection.

26 May

A car bomb detonates in Beirut, killing one of the Hezbollah leadership, Mohammed Hussein Fadallah. In retaliation, Hezbollah, through the Islamic Jihad front, that the CIA agent held by the group, William Buckley, has been executed.

3 June

The last Israeli troops leave Lebanon after three years of war. Prime Minister Shimon Peres orders the release of numerous Lebanese and Palestinian fighters in order to secure the release of Israeli POW’s. They are flown directly into Beirut, where they make their way into the Palestinian camps. In Beirut, Hezbollah faces an increasingly determined attack and these releases add a new round to the bloodletting.

4 June

The Amal Movement and the forces of the PSP begin to cooperate with the Lebanese Army in an attack upon Palestinian positions in Beirut. Lebanese President Amin Gemayel invites the Syrians to intervene; however, Syrian President Hafez Assad expresses his concern about “re-opening that can of worms” and states that Syria will maintain the right to intervene, but will not exercise that right immediately.

14 June

The South Lebanese Army, an Israeli-backed militia, kidnaps members of the UN Peacekeeping Forces and alleges that the United Nations is conspiring with the Amal Movement. US Secretary of State George Schultz, who is meeting Israeli Defence Minister Yitzhak Rabin in New York, is profoundly embarrassed by the accusation and is unwilling to hear Rabin’s demands that the Palestinian territories must become part of Jordan under any peace deal rather than having independence.

14 June

The Soviet Union earns kudos for its part in the capture of three Hezbollah terrorists at Athens Airport. One of the terrorists, Imad Magniyah, is deported to the United States to stand trial in connection with the 1982 bombing of the American Embassy in Beirut. Found guilty, he will be sentenced to death in April, 1986, and will be executed the following year.

26 June

Members of the US Central Intelligence Agency make contact with the Lebanese Minister of Justice and reputed leader of the Amal Movement militia, Nabih Berri. The Americans have been watching Berri closely due to his access to Soviet arms. He tells the Americans that he is working towards a formal alliance with the Druze militia of Progressive Socialist Party leader, Walid Jumblatt, and the Lebanese Forces, led by Samir Geagea and Elie Hobeika.

10 July

Nabih Berri, leader of the Amal Movement, announces the release of large numbers of Israeli and American hostages in return for the release of some of his fighters from Atlit Prison. He privately requests that Israel continue to hold on to members of the Hezbollah militia and that they arrange a meeting between himself and US National Security Advisor, Robert McFarlane. He wishes to insist to McFarlane that the Soviet Union and frontline Arab states must be involved in a general Mid-East peace conference.

30 August

After a twelve-day death toll from bombings and shootings that totals over three hundred thirty people, three of the warring factions in the Lebanese Civil War sign a ceasefire agreement. However, low-scale fighting will continue and reheat the war over the coming months.

30 September

On the day that Presbyterian Minister Rev. Benjamin Weir is released by his captors in Lebanon, Soviet Foreign Minister Eduard Schevardnadze and Iranian Prime Minister Mir-Hossein Mousavi hold talks in Resht to promote rapport between the Soviet Union and Islamic groups in Lebanon. Both men express the belief that there will be further releases of hostages and they issue a joint statement condemning Kuwait for its recent decision to execute Mustafa Badreddin, one of the Islamic Jihad leadership.

5 October

Syrian President Hafez Assad, having recently announced the deployment of more Syrian troops to Lebanon to enforce the previously-signed ceasefire, declares the removal of Lebanese President Amine Gemayel by Syrian forces and states that he is currently en route to Switzerland. Elie Hobeika takes on the tenuous position of President of Lebanon.

11 October

Following the murder of Soviet consul Arkadi Katakov in Beirut, Soviet Secretary General Mikhail Gorbachev states that he holds Israel responsible, claiming that the recent attack on PLO headquarters has promoted instability in Lebanon. At the same press conference, Gorbachev reveals recent discussions with Nicaraguan Defence Minister Ortega have indicated that the war in Nicaragua will be over within the next six months and has estimated that at least two-thirds of the rebels have been captured or killed.

21 October

A warrant is issued for the arrest of Samir Geagea, who had until now previously shared the leadership of the Lebanese Forces with the new Lebanese President, Elie Hobeika. Acting President Hobeika states that he will retain Prime Minister Rashid Karami for the interim and calls for the various parties to work towards a peaceful election to be held in April, 1986.

17 November

Samir Geagea is arrested. With his removal, Acting President Elie Hobeika of Lebanon states that he is “modestly hopeful” that there can be peace after the years of chaos.

25 November

The deputy head of the Amal Movement, Husayn Al-Musawi, is assassinated in Beirut. Rev Terry Waite, the peace envoy of the Archbishop of Canterbury to Lebanon, announces the murder of all Islamic Jihad hostages in Lebanon in response. No party ever claims responsibility for the attack.


10 January

Violent Lebanese confrontations break out once again in Tyre, Sidon and in the capital, Beirut. Israeli and Syrian intervention is threatened, and Israel begins to launch air strikes on Sidon to weaken the Palestinian Liberation Organisation, who are quickly re-establishing themselves across the country.

16 January

Syrian rockets are fired on Israeli warplanes flying against Palestinian fighters, who have been attacking the South Lebanese Army, an Israeli-backed militia. Israeli Defence Minister Yitzhak Rabin states that the attacks against Lebanese territory will continue until life returns to normal in northern Israel.

24 January

President Elie Hobeika of Lebanon states that Palestinian refugees have twenty-eight days to leave his country. The Syrian-sponsored peace deal is holding and the President is keen to prevent further military intervention by Israel that might destabilise his government and re-establish sovereignty within his own borders. However, it provokes a humanitarian crisis in Beirut as various factions decide to take to northern Africa and others decide to stay and fight the Lebanese government.

1 February

Lebanese factions loyal to former President Amin Gemayel detonate a bomb in a crowded shopping centre, killing thirty, but other pro-government militias have systematically rounded up and killed nearly four hundred known Gemayel supporters in just four months. Most of these militia do not have government control or backing, but are former militia released by the peace agreement, and now “doing their part” to restore order to the street.

21 February

“Night of the Camps”. Large Palestinian groups inside Lebanon are killed as thousands of Syrian troops march into Lebanon. The Islamic Resistance Front, and thus the position of Iran in the conflict, is virtually eliminated. Over the coming few days, the Palestinian Liberation Organisation will finally be forced to evacuate the city of Beirut and flee to Tunisia. It is noted that the PLO have two hydrofoils, with a combined passenger capacity of three hundred, to evacuate most of their top brass. These hydrofoils are equipped with armour plating and guns. Many Palestinians flee, once again refugees, but this time, headed to Tunisia. There is fury across the region at Syria’s action and President Elie Hobeika invites Syria to withdraw its forces.

26 February

Days after the explusion of the PLO, Lebanese President Elie Hobeika is advised by President Hafez Assad of Syria that his forces will remain in northern Lebanon to assist him in eliminating the threat posed by Hezbollah. Syria has allied itself to Speaker Nabih Berri and Prime Minister Karami, both of whom are promoting constitutional reform. A refugee community of Palestinians and Lebanese begins to build in Tunis and Baghdad respectively. It is a significant loss for Iran, who has now been eliminated as a factor in the Lebanese insurgency.

27 February

Israeli armed forces return to Lebanon. Defence Minister Yitzhak Rabin admits that with Syrian troops blatantly moving into Lebanon, the Knesset had no choice. The Israeli army occupy the governorates of the South and Nabatieh, stating that to proceed further would be to provoke deliberate confrontation with Syrian forces. UN Secretary General Javier Perez de Cuellar calls upon both Syria and Israel to withdraw their forces from Lebanon. King Hussein of Jordan admits his peace plan is in tatters.

3 April

Israeli and Syrian air forces clash over Sidon, with a Syrian jet shot down in the harbour before the Syrians withdraw. The city has been under occupation by Israeli-backed forces for the last six weeks, as part of an attempt by Israel’s Prime Minister, Shimon Peres, to force the Syrians to remove their own occupation force and this is regarded as just another testing of Israel’s resolve. Israeli Defence Minister Yitzhak Rabin warns that Syria is conspiring to remove Rashid Karami as the Prime Minister of Lebanon, due to his demands that the 1985 peace deal be re-negotiated to include Sunni Muslims.

15 May

President Elie Hobeika reports on the campaign to restore order to the Palestinian camps. While he admits that many have died or been displaced, all Palestinians outside the camps have been disarmed. The legal status of Palestinians will be that of foreign residents whenever they leave the camps. The heavy calibre weapons in the Palestinian camps have been removed and, where cooperation was achieved, compensation paid to the owners. Light weapons remain restricted within the camps. He states that he is currently negotiating with various surviving members of the factions to introduce a two-step takeover of the camp security.

10 August

President Elie Hobeika of Lebanon expresses a desire to attend any Mid-East peace summit, arguing that Syrian and Israeli interference is the cause for ongoing violence, delays in holding elections and his country’s ongoing civil war. He expresses confidence that an agreement on Lebanon to restore a stable government is possible.

19 August

Lebanese parliamentary speaker, Nabih Berri, meets Fench Foreign Minister, Roland Dumas. There is potential emerging for a settlement with Israel and Syria for the withdrawal of their forces. Berri wants France to bear primary responsibility for a likely expanded UN mission in Lebanon, owing to traditionally good ties between the Amal militia and French peacekeepers. Israel’s Prime Minister Shimon Peres expresses clear dissatisfaction with a French solution.

26 September

A shoot-out on the Rue de Rennes results in the destruction of a BMW and the death of two men, who are later determined to be Lebanese Maronite Marxists. French intelligence operatives state they have uncovered plans for five bombings across Paris and have penetrated a terrorist organisation based in Paris.

21 October

An agreement for peace in Lebanon falls apart, both due to the Syrian walkout from the talks and the capture of an Israeli pilot who has been downed today in Lebanon by rockets fired by Amal militia. Soviet Secretary General Mikhail Gorbachev expresses his “great disappointment” over the breakdown, expressing hope that it will not prevent “ongoing positive outcomes” from the last two days of the summit at Reykjavik.

4 November

Lebanese Prime Minister Rashid Karami announces that agreement has been achieved for the release of the remaining seven US hostages in Lebanon. It appears as though Karami is attempting to distance his country from the recent Syrian stand in Reykjavik, and to provide a signal that there is unity within the various Lebanese factions for an agenda of peace.

5 November

Terry Waite, the special emissary of Archbishop Robert Runcie of Canterbury, meets with Syrian President Hafez Assad to convince him to take additional steps to end the hostage crisis in Lebanon. Trusted by Muslims and Christians of all persuasions, including the Pope and Libyan President Muammar Gaddafi, Waite persuades Assad to arrange the release of remaining hostages held by groups supported by Syria.


1 January

A Libyan diplomat in Lebanon is murdered by Shia groups loyal to the memory of Imam Moussa Sadr.

16 January

An attempt to assassinate Lebanese Deputy Prime Minister Camille Chamoun during a journey through East Beirut fails. Most suspect that the action has been sponsored by the unstable Syrian government, which is trying to eliminate any voice of opposition in Lebanon.

20 January

Responding to the recent attack on Camille Chamoun, the Israelis begin a campaign to remove Syria from Lebanon. Just six months after their withdrawal, the Israeli Defence Force stage air strikes on Syrian installations throughout the country, using the element of surprise. They also occupy the city of Tyre once again.

24 January

The Israelis surround the city of Beirut. Having occupied Sidon, and eliminated large number of anti-aircraft batteries, fighters and helicopters, they are being supported by Lebanese anti-Syrian factions. Over the next two months, Israel and their Lebanese allies will work together to destroy Syrian assets within the country.

6 February

Walid Jumblatt, leader of the Lebanese Druze militia, announces that he is acting as an envoy to bring Hezbollah into the political process. President Elie Hobeika states that, if successful, it will clear the way for elections that he has promised since seizing control in October, 1985. He expresses the hope that the Lebanese people will be able to endorse his continued leadership in June.

12 February

Talks open in Rome between Israeli and Lebanese foreign ministers, both hoping to reach a resolution that will end the conflict in Lebanon. There is no substantial progress from the meeting.

13 February

The US Sixth Fleet, including the USS Nimitz and the USS John F Kennedy, arrive off the coast of Lebanon in the eastern Mediterranean. Defense Secretary Dick Cheney arrives in Haifa shortly thereafter for confidential talks with Israeli government members. International concern is expressed that President Reagan may once again be moving to intervene in Lebanon.

17 February

Israeli Defence Minister Yitzhak Rabin states that the air war over Lebanon has come to an end, with the Israeli Air Force establishing dominance over the zone. The number of jets lost by Syria continues to remain uncertain, with both countries giving widely divergent figures.

19 February

Lebanese President Elie Hobeika takes credit for the recent fall in food prices, the result of a more stable supply situation within Beirut itself. The fall has contributed to lower inflation and a sense of greater prosperity, which citizens are connecting to the interim government and the removal of Syrian forces.

28 February

Israel claims victory in its five-week campaign in Lebanon, having wiped out hundreds of tanks and APC’s, as well as claiming as many as four thousand Syrian casualties. It states that order will be maintained in the nation and the ceasefire “forcefully applied” if necessary. Nabih Berri, the chairman of the parliament, states that those Lebanese killed in the fight, estimated to be about two hundred, are martyrs who “stood fast against foreign oppression”. Prime Minister Rashid Karami and Druze leader Walid Jumblatt are invited to Tel Aviv to talk with Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres to determine what Peres has called “the Lebanese transition to peace and democracy”.

8 March

As 7,500 Israeli troops enter into Beirut with the intention of restoring order, Israeli Defence Minister Yitzhak Rabin states, “Every armed man, no matter his faith, party or movement, will be regarded as an enemy of the people of Beirut”. He says that, once the militia have begun a process of disarmament, Israel will withdraw its forces “permanently and without further condition”. Non-violent protests are held throughout the city, participants chanting “Death to America! Death to Syria! Death to Israel!”

18 March

Israeli soldiers break into the American University in Beirut and remove fifteen students with links to Iran. Despite recent destruction of public images of the late Ayatollah Khomeini, the towering General Moshe Levi addresses the students and promises to them that, in future, their freedom of political expression, provided it is not violent, will be protected by the Israeli Army.

22 March

There is a ceasefire in Lebanon, leaving Syrian forces in the north of the country, near Tripoli and in a strip of the southern Beqaa Valley adjoining the Golan Heights and the demilitarised UN zone in Syria. The remainder of Lebanon is now under Israeli occupation, and most of it at peace, save for persistent violence in Sidon and parts of West Beirut (west of the Parliament building and around the US Embassy). The Israelis are conducting a street-by-street purge of West Beirut and have stated that they soon expect to have it under control.

11 June

Long-time Lebanese militant, Samir Geagea, is sentenced to death in a Beirut courtroom. His sentence is carried out in early August with little ceremony.

28 August

Syrian President Abdul Halim Khaddam visits Beirut, where he holds talks with Lebanese President Elie Hobeika. At the end, Khaddam declares that Syria has committed to a non-aggression pact with Lebanon. He insists that it is now time for Israel to commence a full withdrawal of all forces in order to allow the long-delayed elections in Lebanon, promised over two years ago. He also states that the power struggle between Iran and Syria within Lebanon has now been brought to a close.

22 September

Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres announces that Israel is on the verge of an agreement with Lebanon, which will allow the end of the eighteen-month occupation and bring to an end the twelve-year civil war. Violence has been sporadic during the occupation; however, the gradual elimination of Syrian and Iranian sponsored factions has allowed relative peace for the last few years.

4 December

Israeli soldiers shutting down a military camp outside Marjayoun, the capital of Lebanon’s Nabatieh Governate, are attacked without warning by a guerrilla. Six soldiers and several civilian workers are killed before the gunman is taken down. No group claims responsibility and the suicide attack is soon regarded as the act of a lone lunatic.


25 March

Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres announces that the remnants of the Israeli Army in Lebanon have begun their withdrawal, with French troops, operating under UN auspices, taking their place. He states that Israel will not, however, abandon the regions around Mount Hermon, of which there is disputed sovereignty between Israel, Syria and Lebanon and no historically valid mapping. On the same day, David Levy, leader of the Likud Party of Israel, is displaced in a party room coup. He is replaced by Ariel Sharon, who is vehemently critical of the peace process, which he describes as the “surrender of national sovereignty”.

30 September

After six months of peaceful stability, the constitutional term of Lebanese President Elie Hobeika, based on the legal fiction that he was continuing the rule of ex-President Amine Gemayel, expires. In the interests of “preventing a re-lapse into violence and anarchy”, Hobeika declares a suspension of the Constitution to allow for his continued rule. Many citizens are prepared to tolerate the actions and those who are not are held from action by the presence of French troops on the ground in Lebanon. He also expresses doubt that the National Assembly has the capacity to agree on his successor.

6 December

After a number of diplomatic missives by the French, Lebanese President Elie Hobeika makes a pledge to hold an election for a new Parliament before the end of 1989. He expresses the coming year will see the end of fourteen years of civil conflict and a final resolution between all the remaining factions on the future of the country.


6 January

The surviving members of the 1972 Lebanese Parliament, meeting in Paris, sign a treaty to formally end the civil war in that country, provide for full demilitarisation and equality between Christian and Muslim citizens. President Elie Hobeika calls on the Parliament to return to Beirut and to decide upon a new head of state, the power of the position being substantially reduced under the terms of peace.

23 January

The 1972 Lebanese Parliament elects Rene Moawad as the new President of Lebanon. Outgoing President Elie Hobeika flies out to his Paris apartment and will later live in the United States, teaching at Harvard on Middle East politics. Moawad states that he will seek to establish a new alliance between Lebanon and Syria.

14 March

President of Lebanon Rene Moawad travels to Damascus to discuss the new Iraqi-Syrian War with the Syrian leadership. He emerges to declare his support for Syria and “its assured victory”, and suggests that the “a decade of endless aggression” by Iraq means that the region would benefit if the rump of Iraq came under foreign control.

13 April

Lebanese President Rene Moawad institutes new electoral regulations, which forbids confessional parties from contesting any election for the National Assembly. He states that religious parties encourage continued factionalism and that Lebanese people need to begin identifying themselves by something other than their sect. The declaration is opposed by Subhi al-Tufayli, leader of Hezbollah, who claims the new rules are directed at his organisation.

24 May

Grand Mufti Sheikh Hassan Khaled of Lebanon meets with Pope John Paul II in Rome, where the former is awarded an Order of St Gregory the Great for contribution to peace in the Middle East. President Rene Mouawad declares a national holiday in Lebanon to celebrate the occasion for a man much beloved by both Christians and Muslims.

1 December

General Michel Aoun, the former coup leader and commander in the Lebanese Civil War, is killed with his family in a private villa outside Marseilles. It is uncertain who is responsible for the grisly massacre and the lack of physical evidence will lead French police to conclude that the murderers are untraceable.

See Also

timelines/lebanon_from_gorbachev_mk2.txt · Last modified: 2012/06/24 08:23 by Petike