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The Arab-Israeli War of broke out when five Arab nations invaded territory in the former Palestinian mandate immediately following the announcement of the independence of the state of Israel on May 14, In , and again on May 14, , the United States had offered de facto recognition of the Israeli Provisional Government, but during the war, the United States maintained an arms embargo against all belligerents. Under the resolution, the area of religious significance surrounding Jerusalem would remain under international control administered by the United Nations. The Palestinian Arabs refused to recognize this arrangement, which they regarded as favorable to the Jews and unfair to the Arab population that would remain in Jewish territory under the partition.

The United States sought a middle way by supporting the United Nations resolution, but also encouraging negotiations between Arabs and Jews in the Middle East. Fighting began with attacks by irregular bands of Palestinian Arabs attached to local units of the Arab Liberation Army composed of volunteers from Palestine and neighboring Arab countries. These groups launched their attacks against Jewish cities, settlements, and armed forces. The goal of the Arabs was initially to block the Partition Resolution and to prevent the establishment of the Jewish state.

The Jews, on the other hand, hoped to gain control over the territory allotted to them under the Partition Plan. After Israel declared its independence on May 14, , the fighting intensified with other Arab forces joining the Palestinian Arabs in attacking territory in the former Palestinian mandate.

This action was followed by the invasion of the former Palestinian mandate by Arab armies from Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, and Egypt. Saudi Arabia sent a formation that fought under the Egyptian command. The strike of fishermen at Sidon in February could also be considered the first important episode that set off the outbreak of hostilities. That event involved a specific issue: the attempt of former President Camille Chamoun also head of the Maronite-oriented National Liberal Party to monopolize fishing along the coast of Lebanon.

The injustices perceived by the fishermen evoked sympathy from many Lebanese and reinforced the resentment and antipathy that were widely felt against the state and the economic monopolies. The demonstrations against the fishing company were quickly transformed into a political action supported by the political left and their allies in the Palestine Liberation Organization PLO. The state tried to suppress the demonstrators, and a sniper reportedly killed a popular figure in the city, the former Mayor of Sidon , Maarouf Saad.

Many non-academic sources claim a government sniper killed Saad; however, there is no evidence to support such a claim, and it appears that whoever had killed him had intended that what began as a small and quiet demonstration to evolve into something more. The sniper targeted Saad right at the end of the demonstration as it was dissipating.


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Farid Khazen, sourcing the local histories of Sidon academics and eyewitnesses, gives a run-down of the puzzling events of the day that based on their research. Other interesting facts that Khazen reveals, based on the Sidon academic's work including that Saad was not in dispute with the fishing consortium made up of Yugoslav nationals. In fact, the Yugoslavian representatives in Lebanon had negotiated with the fisherman's union to make the fisherman shareholders in the company; the company offered to modernize the Fisherman's equipment and buy their catch, give their fisherman's a union and annual subsidy.

Saad, as a union representative and not the mayor of Sidon at the time as many erroneous sources claim , was offered a place on the company's board too. There has been some speculation that Saad's attempts to narrow the differences between the fishermen and the consortium, and his acceptance of a place on the board made him a target of attack by the conspirator who sought a full conflagration around the small protest.

The events in Sidon were not contained for long. The government began to lose control of the situation in In the run-up to the war and its early stages, militias tried to be politically-orientated non-sectarian forces, [ citation needed ] but due to the sectarian nature of Lebanese society, they inevitably gained their support from the same community as their leaders came from.

In the long run almost all militias openly identified with a given community. The two main alliances were the Lebanese Front, consisting of nationalist Maronites who were against Palestinian militancy in Lebanon, and the Lebanese National Movement, which consisted of pro-Palestinian Leftists. Throughout the war most or all militias operated with little regard for human rights, and the sectarian character of some battles, made non-combatant civilians a frequent target.

As the war dragged on, the militias deteriorated ever further into mafia -style organizations with many commanders turning to crime as their main occupation rather than fighting.

Lebanese Civil War

Outside support: Notably from Syria or Israel. Other Arab governments and Iran also provided considerable funds. Alliances would shift frequently. Local population: The militias, and the political parties they served, believed they had legitimate moral authority to raise taxes to defend their communities. Road checkpoints were a particularly common way to raise these claimed taxes.

Such taxes were in principle viewed as legitimate by much of the population who identified with their community's militia. Furthermore, many people did not recognize militia's tax-raising authority, and viewed all militia money-raising activities as mafia-style extortion and theft. Smuggling: During the civil war, Lebanon turned into one of the world's largest narcotics producers [ citation needed ] , with much of the hashish production centered in the Bekaa valley.

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But much else was also smuggled, such as guns and supplies, all kinds of stolen goods, and regular trade — war or no war, Lebanon would not give up its role as the middleman in European-Arab business. Many battles were fought over Lebanon's ports, to gain smugglers access to the sea routes. These were known as "cantons" Swiss-like autonomous provinces. The Progressive Socialist Party's territory was the "Civil Administration of the Mountain", commonly known as the "Jebel-el-Druze" a name which had formerly been used for a Druze state in Syria. The Marada area around Zghorta was known as the "Northern Canton".

Maronite Christian militias acquired arms from Romania and Bulgaria as well as from West Germany, Belgium and Israel, [16] and drew supporters from the larger Maronite population in the north of the country, they were generally right-wing in their political outlook, and all the major Christian militias were Maronite -dominated, and other Christian sects played a secondary role.

Palestine - HISTORY

Initially, the most powerful of the Maronite militias was the National Liberal Party which is also known as Ahrar who were politically led by the legendary president of Lebanon Camille Chamoun and military led by Dany Chamoun who was assassinated in the , the military wing of the Kataeb Party or Phalangists , which remained under the leadership of the charismatic William Hawi until his death. With the help of Israel, the LF established itself in Maronite-dominated strongholds and rapidly transformed from an unorganized and poorly equipped militia into a fearsome army that had now its own armor, artillery, commando units SADM , a small Navy, and a highly advanced Intelligence branch.

Meanwhile, in the north, the Marada Brigades served as the private militia of the Franjieh family and Zgharta , which became allied with Syria after breaking with the Lebanese Front in The Lebanese Forces split with the Tigers in In January , Geagea and Hobeika's relationship broke down over Hobeika's support for the pro-Syrian Tripartite Accord , and an internal civil war began.

Hobeika formed the Lebanese Forces — Executive Command which remained allied with Syria until the end of the war. The group took its name from his middle name, Nemr , meaning "tiger". Although several Lebanese militias claimed to be secular , most were little more than vehicles for sectarian interests. The SSNP was generally aligned with the Syrian government, although it did not ideologically approve of the Ba'athist government however, this has changed recently, under Bashar Al-Assad, the SSNP having been allowed to exert political activity in Syria as well. Their initial goal was to be a bulwark against PLO raids and attacks into the Galilee, although they later focused on fighting Hezbollah.

The officers tended to be Christians with a strong commitment to fighting the SLA's enemies, while most of the ordinary soldiers were Shia Muslims who frequently joined for the wages and were not always committed to the SLA fight against the PLO and Hezbollah [ citation needed ]. The SLA continued to operate after the civil war but collapsed after the Israeli army withdrew from South Lebanon in Many SLA soldiers fled to Israel, while others were captured in Lebanon and prosecuted for collaboration with Israel and treason.

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Eleven PKK fighters died in the conflict. This militia was led by revolutionary fighter Monte Melkonian and group-founder Hagop Hagopian. Melkonian was field commander during these battles, and assisted the PLO in its defense of West Beirut.

The Palestinian movement relocated most of its fighting strength to Lebanon at the end of after being expelled from Jordan in the events known as Black September. The umbrella organization, the Palestine Liberation Organization PLO —by itself undoubtedly Lebanon's most potent fighting force at the time—was little more than a loose confederation , but its leader, Yassir Arafat , controlled all factions by buying their loyalties.

Arafat's control of funds, channeled directly to him by the oil producing countries like Saudi Arabia, Iraq, and Libya meant that he had little real functional opposition to his leadership and although ostensibly rival factions in the PLO existed, this masked a stable loyalty towards Arafat so long as he was able to dispense financial rewards to his followers and members of the PLO guerrilla factions.

Unlike the Lebanese people, the Palestinians were not sectarian. Christian Palestinians supported Arab Nationalism during the civil war in Lebanon and fought against the Maronite Lebanese militias. The PLO mainstream was represented by Arafat's powerful Fatah , which waged guerrilla warfare but did not have a strong core ideology, except the claim to seek the liberation of Palestine. As a result, they gained broad appeal with a refugee population with conservative Islamic values who resisted secular ideologies.

The small Druze sect, strategically and dangerously seated on the Chouf in central Lebanon, had no natural allies, and so were compelled to put much effort into building alliances. However, many Druze in Lebanon at the time were members of the non-religious party, the Syrian Social Nationalist Party. It built a powerful private army, which proved to be one of the strongest in the Lebanese Civil War of to It conquered much of Mount Lebanon and the Chouf District.

Its main adversaries were the Maronite Christian Phalangist militia, and later the Lebanese Forces militia which absorbed the Phalangists. His son Walid succeeded him as leader of the party. From the Israeli withdrawal from the Chouf in to the end of the civil war, the PSP ran a highly effective civil administration, the Civil Administration of the Mountain, in the area under its control. Tolls levied at PSP militia checkpoints provided a major source of income for the administration.

PSP armed members were accused of several massacres that took place during that war. The PSP is still an active political party in Lebanon. Its current leader is Walid Jumblatt.

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It is in practice led and supported mostly by followers of the Druze faith. The Shi'a militias were slow to form and join in the fighting. Initially, many Shi'a had sympathy for the Palestinians and a few had been drawn to the Lebanese Communist Party , but after s Black September , there was a sudden influx of armed Palestinians to the Shi'a areas. South Lebanon's population is mainly Shi'a and the Palestinians soon set up base there for their attacks against the Israelis. The Palestinian movement quickly squandered its influence with the Shi'ite, as radical factions ruled by the gun in much of Shi'ite-inhabited southern Lebanon, where the refugee camps happened to be concentrated, and the mainstream PLO proved either unwilling or unable to rein them in.

The Palestinian radicals' secularism and behaviour had alienated the traditionalist Shi'ite community; the Shi'a did not want to pay the price for the PLO's rocket attacks from Southern Lebanon. The PLO created a state within a state in South Lebanon and this instigated a fury among Lebanon's Shi'a, who feared a retaliation from the Israelis to their native land in the South. The state of Lebanon, which always avoided provoking Israel, simply abandoned southern Lebanon.


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Many of the people there migrated to the suburbs of Beirut, which are known as "poverty belts". The young Shi'a migrants, who had not participated in the prosperity of prewar Beirut, joined many Lebanese and some Palestinian organizations. After many years without their own independent political organizations, there suddenly arose Musa Sadr 's Amal Movement in — Its Islamist ideology immediately attracted the unrepresented people, and Amal's armed ranks grew rapidly.

Amal fought against the PLO in the early days. Later a hard line faction would break away to join with Shi'a groups fighting Israel to form the organization Hezbollah , also known as the National Resistance, who to this day remains the most powerful and organised force of Lebanon and the Middle East. Hezbollah was created as a faction split from Amal Movement, and an Islamist organization which deemed Amal to be too secular. Hezbollah's original aims included the establishment of an Islamic state in Lebanon. Hezbollah and its leaders were inspired by Ayatollah Khomeini 's revolution and therefore in emerged as a faction set on resisting the Israeli occupation of Lebanon, and its forces were trained and organized by a contingent of Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.

Support was greatly met by both military training and funding support. Some Sunni factions received support from Libya and Iraq , and a number of minor militias existed due to a general reluctance on the part of Sunnis to join military organisations throughout the civil war. The more prominent groups were secular and holding a Nasserist ideology, or otherwise having pan-Arab and Arab nationalist leanings. A few Islamist ones emerged at later stages of the war, such as the Tawhid Movement that took its base in Tripoli, and the Jama'a Islamiyya, which gave a Lebanese expression of the Muslim Brotherhood in terms of political orientations and practice.

The main Sunni-led organization was the al-Murabitun , a major west-Beirut based force. Al-Murabitoun, led by Ibrahim Kulaylat , fought with the Palestinians against the Israelis during the invasion of There is also the Tanzim al-Nassiri in Sidon that was formed through the followers of Maaruf Saad, and who rallied later behind his son Mustafa Saad, and now are led by Usama Saad.

The Armenian parties tended to be Christian by religion and left-wing in outlook, and were therefore uneasy committing to either side of the fighting.