Lebanon: Founded 100 Years Ago as Greater Lebanon
A century ago France created Greater Lebanon, the foundation for the modern-day state of Lebanon which is now mired in a deep political and economic crisis.
- Greater Lebanon -
In 1916, the secret Sykes-Picot accords divides up zones of influence in the Middle East. France runs Lebanon and Syria, Britain takes charge of Iraq, Jordan and Palestine.
A conference in San Remo in 1920 hands Britain and France mandates to run the remains of the Ottoman Empire.
That year, on September 1 at a ceremony in Beirut, France proclaims the birth of Greater Lebanon.
- Independence -
Twenty-three years later, on November 22, 1943, the country becomes independent.
A "national pact" lays out a power-sharing agreement between Christians and Muslims that is still in place today.
But it will carry the seeds of internal conflict fueled by the interference of foreign powers.
- Civil strife -
A five-month civil war breaks out in 1958 when Muslims, backed by Egypt and Syria, take up arms against the pro-Western regime of president Camille Chamoun.
Chamoun appeals to the United States for help and Washington sends troops to suppress the revolt. Successful, they leave Lebanon three months later.
- Palestinians take root -
After the Arab defeat in the 1967 Six-Day War, the first Palestinian bases are established in south Lebanon on the border with Israel and Syria.
In 1969, Lebanon legalizes the armed Palestinian presence on its soil under the Cairo Accord.
Following the bloody Black September clashes in Jordan in 1970, Yasser Arafat's Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) retreats to Lebanon.
- Civil war -
In 1975, a 15-year-long civil war begins with Christian militias battling Palestinians, who are backed by leftists and Muslim forces.
The following year the Syrian army intervenes, with U.S. approval, after an appeal by embattled Christian forces.
In 1982, Israel invades and besieges Beirut. Arafat and 11,000 Palestinian fighters evacuate the capital.
In September that year, a Christian militia massacres at least 1,000 people in the Palestinian camps of Sabra and Shatila in Beirut.
The war ends in 1990. More than 150,000 people were killed in the conflict and 17,000 went missing.
- Syrian domination -
Syria's military and political presence is cemented in a 1991 treaty between Damascus and Beirut.
Israel maintains its occupation of southern Lebanon, withdrawing only in 2000, following armed resistance spearheaded by Hizbullah.
In 2005, former prime minister Rafik Hariri is killed in a bombing attack in Beirut along with 21 others. Those opposed to Syria blame Damascus, which denies any role.
Mass demonstrations lead to all Syrian troops withdrawing from Lebanon the same year, ending a 29-year deployment.
- Israel vs Hizbullah -
In 2006, a conflict breaks out between Israeli forces and Lebanon's powerful Shiite movement Hizbullah, founded in 1982 during the civil war with support from Iran.
The unrest follows Hizbullah's capture of two Israeli soldiers from the southern Lebanon border area.
The devastating 34-day war costs Lebanon around 1,200 lives, mostly civilians.
- Syria war -
In 2013, two years after the start of Syria's civil war, Hizbullah says it has intervened in support of the Damascus government.
Syria's conflict entrenches Lebanon's divided political blocs.
- Anti-regime unrest -
In 2019 protests break out, sparked by a government plan to tax online phone calls made via apps.
The unrest turns into a nationwide revolt involving hundreds of thousands of people cutting across sectarian lines, against the perceived ineptitude and corruption of the ruling class.
On August 4, 2020, a deadly explosion in the port of Beirut ravages entire neighborhoods of the capital, further battering a country living through its worst economic crisis for decades.