Lebanon. After intense contradictions within the government on how to handle the country’s economic crisis, Prime Minister Rafiq al-Hariri demanded resignation on April 15. However, President Emile Lahoud commissioned him to form a new government. The new government, presented April 17, was considered the most Syria-friendly in a long time.
After almost a year of relatively calm, several clashes occurred during the late summer and autumn. Israeli military advanced their positions against the slopes of Hermon Mountain. The Shiite Muslim Hizbullah guerrillas attacked the Israelis, killing a 16-year-old boy in northern Israel on August 10. On October 6, Hizbullah attacked an Israeli border patrol and killed an Israeli border soldier, and on December 9, the Israeli military killed two guerrillas.
According to Countryaah.com, Lebanon Independence Day is November 22. Iranian President Mohammad Khatami was welcomed by tens of thousands of cheering Shi’ites when he visited Beirut on May 13. It was the first visit to L. by an Iranian president since the Iranian revolution of 1979.
Eight people were sentenced to prison on May 5 for between 3 and 15 years for cooperating with the al-Qaeda terror network. In December, 27 men were sentenced to prison for involvement in a series of acts of terrorism against American fast-food restaurants. One man, who was convicted in his absence, was given a life sentence and two others were given 20 years.
Most of the country’s public servants struck on October 23 in protest of the government’s plans for further cuts and increased VAT in the 2004 budget. The budget deficit was US $ 32 billion and unemployment 20%.
In September 2002, to improve water supply, the Lebanese government began withdrawing water from the Wazzani border. It prompted Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to declare that the water issue could give rise to war between the two countries.
In April 2003, Prime Minister Hariri filed his resignation petition. It was characterized by some observers as a tactical request, for he was promptly asked by Parliament to go ahead and form a new government.
In September 2003, Belgium decided to suspend the investigation into Ariel Sharon’s role in the massacres of the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps in Beirut in 1982. In October, the Arab League characterized Israel’s permanent attack on Lebanon as an expression of state terrorism.
In November, the United States Congress passed economic and diplomatic sanctions against Syria accused of house Iraqi terrorists and of violating Lebanon’s sovereignty. This prompted all political parties in Lebanon to express their support for Syria. They feared that Syria could become a new target for US military aggression.
On May 27, 2004, the military launched a demonstration in the slum town of Hay al-Sellom on the outskirts of Beirut. The demonstration took place in protest of oil price rises and four protesters were killed as a result of the soldiers’ warning shots against the 600 demonstrators. The protests paralyzed public transport, schools and businesses across the country. Beirut Airport was also closed for 3 hours. The protesters demanded a reduction in the price of gasoline of US $ 10-17 for every 20 liters. According to the protesters, the continued increase in gasoline prices would cause trucks to be replaced by horses that would also replace working vehicles. Hay al-Sellom is considered a bastion for Hezbollah. In recent months, there have been numerous protests against Lebanon’s economic policy. OPEC ‘
In September, Parliament voted 96 against 29 to extend Lahoud’s term by another 3 years. In the same month, 4 ministers resigned in protest against the constitutional amendment that had allowed Lahoud’s term to be extended.
In October, Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri and his entire cabinet resigned after several weeks of political uncertainty. Hariri had been prime minister for 10 out of the previous 12 years and was Lahoud’s main political rival. The government had been paralyzed since parliament passed the controversial constitutional amendment that extended Lahoud’s mandate. The constitutional change came after direct pressure from Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Hariri had initially opposed the extension of the presidential term for another 3 years, but ended up bowing to Syrian pressure.
That same month, Omar Karami was appointed by Lahoud as new prime minister. In November, the new prime minister lost a vote of confidence in parliament by 59 against 24 votes. 23 failed.
Hariri was killed in February 2005 by a violent bomb attack in Beirut. In a matter of hours, the United States had blamed all the attacks on Syria and demanded with France that the country withdraw its military from Lebanon. In fact, many factors pointed to the assault being carried out by a foreign power. “This is done by an intelligence service, not a small group,” stated Middle East analyst Rime Allaf of the Royal Institute of International Affairs in London. However, an analysis of who benefits from the attack indicated that Syria was unlikely to be behind. The attack isolated the country, intensified US pressure and was likely to accelerate the time it finally had to withdraw its troops from the country. Some analysts in the Arab world also identified Israel as the most likely backer. Israel had earlier – in the 1970s and ’80s – carried out numerous political assaults in Lebanon, benefited from US intensified pressure on Syria, and hoped to weaken its main enemy in Lebanon: Hezbollah. The US’s quick and precise response to the attack could indicate that the superpower was informed in advance.