Flag of Lebanon
  1. Lebanon Main Page
  2. Warring Factions Within Lebanon and Regional Conflicts Make Peace Impossible
  3. Continuing Conflict with Israel Leads to the Formation of Hezbollah
  4. Israeli Attacks and Syrian Meddling Continue
  5. Syrian Occupation Ends, but Syrian Influence Continues
  6. A Failed Israeli Attack Increases Hezbollah's Power
  7. Terrorism Within Lebanon Leads to a Troubled Government
  8. Hezbollah Flexes Its Muscle and Gains a Greater Stake in the Government
  9. Pro-Western Coalition Maintains Its Majority in Parliament
  10. Lebanon Dragged into War in Syria
  11. Prime Minister Mikati Resigns
  12. Civil War in Syria Spills over into Lebanon
Syrian Occupation Ends, but Syrian Influence Continues

A UN Security Council resolution in Sept. 2004 demanded that Syria remove the troops it had stationed in Lebanon for the past 28 years. Syria responded by moving about 3,000 troops from the vicinity of Beirut to eastern Lebanon, a gesture that was viewed by many as merely symbolic. As a result, Prime Minister Rafik Hariri (1992–1998, 2000–2004), largely responsible for Lebanon's economic rebirth in the past decade, resigned. On Feb. 14, 2005, he was killed by a car bomb. Many suspected Syria of involvement and large protests ensued, calling for Syria's withdrawal from the country. After two weeks of protests by Sunni Muslim, Christian, and Druze parties, pro-Syrian prime minister Omar Karami resigned on Feb. 28. Several days later, Syria made a vague pledge to withdraw its troops but failed to announce a timetable. On March 8, the militant group Hezbollah sponsored a massive pro-Syrian rally, primarily made up of Shiites. Hundreds of thousands gathered to thank Syria for its involvement in Lebanon. The pro-Syrian demonstrations led to President Lahoud's reappointment of Karami as prime minister on March 9. But an anti-Syrian protest—twice the size of the Hezbollah protest—followed. In mid-March, Syria withdrew 4,000 troops and redeployed the remaining 10,000 to Lebanon's Bekaa Valley, which borders Syria. In April, Omar Karami resigned a second time after failing to form a government. Lebanon's new prime minister, Najib Mikati—a compromise candidate between the pro-Syrian and anti-Syrian groups—announced that new elections would be held in May. On April 26, after 29 years of occupation, Syria withdrew all of its troops.

In May and June 2005, Syria held four rounds of parliamentary elections. An anti-Syrian alliance led by Saad al-Hariri, the 35-year-old son of assassinated former prime minister leader Rafik Hariri, won 72 out of 128 seats. Former finance minister Fouad Siniora, who was closely associated with Hariri, became prime minister.

On Sept. 1, four were charged in the murder of Rafik Hariri. The commander of Lebanon's Republican Guard, the former head of general security, the former chief of Lebanon's police, and the former military intelligence officer were indicted for the Feb. 2008 assassination. On Oct. 20, the UN released a report concluding that the assassination was carefully organized by Syrian and Lebanese intelligence officials, including Syria's military intelligence chief, Asef Shawkat, who is the brother-in-law of Syrian president Bashar Assad.

Next: A Failed Israeli Attack Increases Hezbollah's Power
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