The brutal Lebanese Civil War in photographs, 1975-1989


The Lebanese Civil War was an internal Lebanese affair and a regional conflict involving multiple regional and international actors. It revolves around some of the issues that dominated regional politics in the Middle East in the late 20th century, including the Palestine–Israel conflict, Cold War competition, Arab nationalism, and political Islam.

The conflict over these issues is linked to long-standing disagreements among Lebanon's political elite and parts of the population over sectarian division of power, national identity, social justice, and Lebanon's strategic alliances.

According to the most reliable statisticians, Labaki and Abu Razeli (1994), during 15 years of fighting, approximately 90,000 people lost their lives. However, it is possible that the actual number is more than 100,000.

Of the 90,000 people killed, around 20,000 are those who were abducted or disappeared, and who should be presumed dead as they have not been accounted for. About 100,000 people were badly injured, and about one million people, or two-thirds of the Lebanese population, experienced displacement.

In addition to the large number of dead, much of Lebanon's infrastructure was destroyed, as well as Lebanon's reputation as an example of inter-communal coexistence in the Arab Middle East.

The Lebanese Civil War was one of the most devastating conflicts of the late 20th century. It left many political and social legacies that make it paramount to understand why it included so many instances of mass violence.

The establishment of the State of Israel and the displacement of a million Palestinian refugees to Lebanon during the exodus of 1948 and 1967 contributed to a shift in the demographic balance in favor of the Muslim population.

The Cold War had a powerful disintegrative effect on Lebanon, closely linked to the polarization that preceded the 1958 political crisis as the Maronites sided with the West while leftists and pan-Arab groups sided with the Soviet-aligned Arab countries.

Fighting began in 1975 between Maronite and Palestinian forces (mainly from the Palestine Liberation Organization), then leftist, pan-Arabist and Muslim Lebanese groups formed an alliance with the Palestinians.

During the battle, alliances changed rapidly and unpredictably. Furthermore, foreign powers such as Israel and Syria joined the war and fought alongside various factions. Peacekeeping forces such as the Multinational Force in Lebanon and the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon were also deployed in Lebanon.

The question of memory of the civil war is a serious one for many Lebanese, who have come together to debate the war and create public commemorations in the post-war period. In their view, war has continued through other means in the post-war period, and the periodic periods of violent conflict that have occurred in Lebanon since the 1990s are directly related to the civil war.

The Taif Agreement that ended the war in 1989 failed to resolve or even address the main conflicts of the war, including the sectarian division of power in Lebanon, the Palestinian refugee issue, the presence of Syrian forces on Lebanese soil, and Syrian tutelage. and Hezbollah's status as the only armed militia.

The 2005 assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik al-Hariri, the 2006 war between Hezbollah and Israel, and ongoing political instability in the country have increased the feeling among many Lebanese that political violence is endemic to their politics.

Since the end of the war, Lebanon has held several elections, most militias have been weakened or disbanded, and the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) have extended the authority of the central government over approximately two-thirds of the country. .

Following a ceasefire that ended the Israeli–Lebanese conflict on 12 July 2006, the army moved in to capture and control southern areas of Lebanon for the first time in three decades. Lebanon still bears deep wounds from the civil war.

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