Background Notes: Lebanon

PA/PC Source: Office of Public Communication, Bureau of Public Affairs Date: Dec 15, 199012/15/90 Category: Country Data Region: MidEast/North Africa Country: Lebanon Subject: Cultural Exchange, Resource Management, Military Affairs, History, International Organizations, Trade/Economics, Regional/Civil Unrest [TEXT] Official Name: Republic of Lebanon

PROFILE

Geography
Area: 10,452 sq. km. (4,015 sq. mi.); about half the size of New Jersey. Cities: Capital-Beirut (pop. 1.1 million); Other cities- Tripoli (240,000), Sidon (110,000), Tyre (60,000), Zahleh (55,000). Terrain: Narrow coastal plain backed by the Lebanon Mountains, the fertile Biqa' Valley, and the Anti-Lebanon Mountains, which extend to the Syrian border. Land-61% urban, desert, or waste; 21% agricultural; 8% forested. Climate: Typically Mediterranean, resembling that of southern California. Temperatures rarely exceed 30C (85F) during the summer, but humidity is high.
People
Nationality: Noun and adjective-Lebanese (sing. and pl.). Population (1989 est.): 3.3 million. Annual growth rate (1989 est): 1.1%. Ethnic groups: Arab 93%, Armenian 6%, other 1%. Religions: Christian (Maronite, Greek Orthodox, Greek Catholic, Roman Catholic, Protestant, Armenian Apostolic, other), Muslim (Sunni, Shi'a, other), and Druze. Languages: Arabic (official), French, English, Armenian. Education: Years compulsory-5. Attendance- 93%. Literacy-75%. Health: Infant mortality rate-50/1,000 (1989). Life expectancy-male, 65 years; female, 70 years. Work force: (650,000 in 1985): Agriculture-11%. Industry, commerce, services- 79%. Government-10%.
Government
Type: parliamentary republic. Independence: 1943. Constitution: May 26, 1926 (amended). Branches: Executive-president (chief of state, elected by simple majority of parliament for 6-year term), Council of Ministers (appointed). Legislative-unicameral parliament (108- member National Assembly elected for 4-year renewable terms; last parliamentary elections in 1972). Judicial-secular and religious courts; combination of Ottoman, civil, and canon law; no judicial review of legislative acts. Administrative subdivisions: 5 provinces, each headed by a governor: Beirut, North Lebanon, South Lebanon, Mount Lebanon, and Biqa'. Political parties: Organized along sectarian lines around individuals whose followers are motivated by religious, clan, and ethnic considerations. Suffrage: Males over 21; females over 21 with elementary education. Central government budget (1989 estimate): $298.1 million. Extra-budgetary expenses (1989 estimate): $567.7 million. Defense (1984 projected): $30.6 million, or 15% of government budget. Deficit (1989 estimate): $772.5 million. Flag: Two horizontal red bands bordering a broader white band on which a green and brown cedar tree is centered. Economy GDP: No reliable current figure available; 1985-$1.8 billion. Annual growth rate: Varies with security situation but negligible over the 1974-81 period; it has probably declined since mid-1982. Avg. inflation rate (1988 est.): 155%. Natural resources: Limestone. Agriculture (33% of GDP in 1984): Products-citrus fruit, produce. Land-108,000 hectares under cultivation. Industry (13% of GDP): Types-cement production, light industry, refining. Trade (1986): Exports-$1 billion (f.o.b.-1987). Major markets-Saudi Arabia, Switzerland, Jordan, Kuwait, US. Imports-$1.5 billion (c.i.f- 1987). Major suppliers-Italy, France, US. Official exchange rate (November 1990): 675-750 Lebanese pounds=US$1. Fiscal year: Calendar year.
Membership in International Organizations
UN and several of its specialized agencies, such as WHO, IMF, IBRD; Arab League, Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), Nonaligned Movement, Group of 77, INTELSAT, INTERPOL, Islamic Development Bank.

GEOGRAPHY

Lebanon, on the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea, is bounded on the north and east by Syria and on the south by Israel. Its principal topographic features are a narrow coastal plain behind which are the high Lebanon Mountains, the fertile Biqa' Valley, and the Anti-Lebanon Mountains extending to the Syrian border. The Litani River, which flows into the sea north of Tyre, is Lebanon's main river and the only river in the Arab Near East that does not cross a national boundary. The Hasbani River, one of the sources of the Jordan River, rises within Lebanon.

PEOPLE

The population of Lebanon comprises Christians and Muslims. No official census has been taken since 1932, reflecting the political sensitivity in Lebanon over confessional (religious) balance. Although there are no reliable or official figures, it has become increasingly accepted in recent years that Muslims outnumber Christians. It is widely believed that at least two- thirds of the population is Muslim and Druze. Shi'a Muslims make up the single largest religious group. Various Christian sects make up the remainder of the population. Claims since the early 1970s by Muslims that they are in the majority contributed to tensions preceding the 1975-76 civil strife and, currently, are the basis of demands for a more powerful Muslim voice in the government. Many Christian sects are represented in Lebanon, including Maronite, Greek Orthodox, Greek Catholic, Armenian Apostolic, Roman Catholic, and Protestant. The Maronites, who are affiliated with the Roman Catholic Church, make up the largest Christian group. Muslims include members from the Sunni and Shi'a sects, the latter now constituting the largest religious community in Lebanon. Adherents to the Druze sect, a group deriving from Shi'a Islam but differing greatly from it, constitute another significant minority. With no official figures available, it is estimated that 600,000-900,000 persons fled the country during the 1975-76 civil strife. Although some returned, continuing instability in the late 1970s, the 1982 Israeli invasion, and renewed internal conflict in 1983-84 and 1989-90 sparked further waves of emigration, adding to uncertainty over population figures. Many Lebanese still derive their living from agriculture. The urban population, concentrated mainly in Beirut and Tripoli, is noted for its commercial enterprise, but chronic instability in much of the country has had a strong negative impact on both agriculture and commerce. Lebanon has a higher proportion of skilled labor than any other Arab country.

HISTORY

Lebanon is the historical home of the Phoenicians, Semitic traders who based a maritime culture there for more than 2,000 years (c. 2700-450 BC). In later centuries, Lebanon's mountains were a refuge for Christians, and the Crusaders established several strongholds there. Following the collapse of the Ottoman Empire after World War I, the five Ottoman provinces that had comprised present-day Lebanon were mandated to France by the League of Nations. The country gained independence in 1943, and French troops were withdrawn in 1946. Lebanon's history from independence through 1988 can be defined largely in terms of its presidents, each of whom shaped Lebanon by his personal brand of politics: Sheikh Bishara al-Khoury (1943-52), Camille Chamoun (1952-58), Fuad Shihab (1958-64), Charles Helou (1964-70), Suleiman Franjiyah (1970-76), Elias Sarkis (1976-1982), and Amine Gemayel (1982-88). From the end of the term of Amine Gemayel in September 1988 until the election of Rene Moawad in November 1989, Lebanon had no president. The terms of the first two presidents ended in political turmoil. In 1958, during the last months of President Chamoun's term, an insurrection broke out, aggravated intensely by external factors. In July 1958, in response to the Lebanese government's appeal, US forces were sent in to help and were withdrawn in October 1958, after the inauguration of President Shihab and a general improvement in the internal and international aspects of the situation. President Franjiyah's term saw the outbreak of full-scale civil conflict in 1975. Prior to 1975, difficulties had arisen over the large number of Palestinian refugees in Lebanon and the presence of Palestinian fedayeen (commandos). Frequent clashes involving Israeli forces and the fedayeen endangered civilians in south Lebanon and unsettled the country. Following minor skirmishes in the late 1960s and early 1970s, serious clashes erupted between the fedayeen and Lebanese government forces in May 1973. Coupled with the Palestinian problem, Muslim and Christian differences grew more intense, with occasional clashes between sectarian private militias. The Muslims were dissatisfied with what they considered to be an inequitable distribution of political power and social benefits. In April 1975, after shots were fired at a church where a consecration was taking place, a busload of Palestinians was ambushed by gunmen in the Christian sector of Beirut, an incident widely regarded as the spark that touched off the civil strife. Palestinian fedayeen forces joined the predominantly leftist-Muslim side as the fighting persisted, and fighting eventually escalated and spread to most parts of the country. Elias Sarkis was elected president in 1976. In October of that year, Arab summits in Riyadh and Cairo set forth a plan to end the war. The resulting Arab Deterrent Force (ADF), composed largely of Syrian troops, moved in at the Lebanese government's invitation to separate the combatants, and most fighting ended soon thereafter. In mid-1978, clashes between the ADF and the Christian militias erupted. The Arab foreign ministers, at a meeting in Bayt ad-Din, Lebanon, created the Arab Follow-Up Committee, composed of Lebanon, Syria, Saudi Arabia, and Kuwait, to end fighting between the Syrians and Christians. After the Saudi ambassador was wounded in December 1978, the committee did not meet again formally until June 1981, when it was convened to begin addressing issues of security and national reconciliation starting with the Zahleh crisis. (The crisis began in April 1981, when a confrontation arose between Syrian troops and a Christian militia.) The situation in Zahleh was resolved in late June 1981, but the committee was unsuccessful in making progress toward a broader political settlement and has been inactive since November 1981. Israeli-Palestinian fighting in July 1981 was ended by a cease-fire arranged by President Reagan's special envoy, Philip C. Habib, and announced on July 24, 1981. The cease-fire was respected during the next 10 months, but a string of incidents led to the June 6, 1982, Israeli ground attack into Lebanon to remove PLO (Palestine Liberation Organization) forces. Israeli forces moved quickly through south Lebanon, reaching and encircling west Beirut by mid-June and beginning a 2-1/2-month siege of Palestinian and Syrian forces in the city. Throughout this period, which saw sustained, heavy Israeli air, naval, and artillery bombardments of west Beirut, Ambassador Habib worked actively to arrange a settlement. In August, he was successful in bringing about an agreement for the evacuation of Syrian troops and PLO fighters from Beirut. The agreement also provided for the deployment of a three-nation Multinational Force (MNF) during the period of the evacuation, and by late August, US Marines, as well as French and Italian units, had arrived in Beirut. Following the conclusion of the evacuation, these units departed. The Marines left on September 10. In spite of the invasion, the Lebanese political process continued to function, and Bashir Gemayel was elected president in August, succeeding Elias Sarkis. On September 14, however, only 9 days before he was to assume the presidency, Bashir Gemayel was assassinated when a bomb exploded while he was addressing a meeting in east Beirut. Subsequently, Israeli troops entered west Beirut, beginning September 15. On September 16-18, Lebanese militiamen massacred hundreds of Palestinian civilians in the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps in west Beirut. Bashir Gemayel's brother, Amine, was elected president by a unanimous vote of the parliament on September 21. He took office on September 23, beginning the effort to restore stability and economic prosperity to Lebanon and to win the withdrawal of all foreign forces. To assist in this undertaking, MNF forces returned to Beirut at the end of September, their presence serving as a symbol of support for the government. In February 1983, a small British contingent joined the US, French, and Italian MNF troops in Beirut. President Gemayel and his government placed primary emphasis on the withdrawal of Israeli, Syrian, and Palestinian forces from Lebanon, and in late 1982, Lebanese-Israeli negotiations commenced with US participation. On May 17, 1983, an agreement was signed by the representatives of Lebanon, Israel, and the United States that provided for Israeli withdrawal. Syria, however, in spite of earlier assurances, declined to discuss the withdrawal of its troops, effectively stalemating further progress. Faced with continuing Syrian opposition to the Lebanon-Israel agreement, the Lebanese government announced on March 5, 1984, that it was canceling its unimplemented agreement with Israel. Although the general security situation in Beirut remained calm through late 1982 and the first half of 1983, a move by Christian militiamen into the Druze-controlled Shuf area southeast of Beirut following the Israeli invasion led to a series of Druze- Christian clashes of escalating intensity beginning in October 1982. When Israeli forces unilaterally withdrew from the Shuf at the beginning of September 1983, a full-scale battle erupted with the Druze, backed by Syria, pitted against the Christian Lebanese Forces militia (LF) as well as the Lebanese army. A cease-fire that followed very active US and Saudi efforts to bring the fighting to an end was concluded on September 26 and left the Druze in control of most of the Shuf. Casualties were estimated to be in the thousands. As it became clear that the departure of the US Marines was imminent, the Gemayel government came under increasing pressure from Syria and its Muslim allies to abandon the May 17 accord. The virtual collapse of the Lebanese army in February 1984, following the defection of many of its Muslim and Druze units to opposition militias, was a further blow to the government's viability. His options rapidly dwindling, Gemayel agreed to abrogate the accord; the Marines were withdrawn in March. Syria, however, proved unable to turn matters decisively to its advantage. Further national reconciliation talks at Lausanne under Syrian auspices failed. A new "government of national unity" under Prime Minister Rashid Karami was declared in April 1984 but made no significant progress toward solving Lebanon's internal political crises or its growing economic difficulties. The situation was exacerbated by the deterioration of internal security. The opening rounds of the savage "camps war" in May 1985-a war that flared up twice in 1986-pitted the Palestinians living in refugee camps in Beirut, Tyre, and Sidon against the Shi'ite Amal militia, which was concerned with resurgent Palestinian military strength in Lebanon. Eager for a solution in late 1985, Syria began to negotiate a "tripartite accord" on political reform among the leaders of various Lebanese factions, including the LF. Syrian hopes were dashed, however, when the accord was opposed by Gemayel and the leader of the LF was overthrown by his hardline anti-Syrian rival, Samir Ja'ja', in January 1986. Syria responded by inducing the Muslim government ministers to cease dealing with Gemayel in any capacity, effectively paralyzing the government. In 1987, the Lebanese economy worsened, and the pound began a precipitous slide. On June 1, Prime Minister Karami was assassinated, further compounding the political paralysis. Salim al-Huss was appointed acting prime minister. As the end of President Gemayel's term of office neared, the different Lebanese factions could not agree on candidates to be his successor. Consequently, when his term expired on September 23, 1988, he appointed Army Commander General Michel Aoun as interim prime minister. Gemayel's acting prime minister, Salim al-Huss, also continued to act as de facto prime minister. As a result of the conflicting claims and interests, Lebanon was divided between an essentially Muslim government in west Beirut and an essentially Christian government in east Beirut. The working levels of many ministries, however, remained intact and were not immediately affected by the split at the ministerial level. In February 1989, General Aoun attempted to close illegal ports run by the LF. This led to several days of intense fighting in east Beirut and an uneasy truce between Aoun's army units and the LF. In March, an attempt by Aoun to close illegal militia ports in predominantly Muslim parts of the country led to a 6-month period of shelling of east Beirut by Muslim and Syrian forces and shelling of west Beirut and the Shuf by the Christian units of the army and the LF. This shelling caused nearly 1,000 deaths, several thousand injuries, and further destruction to Lebanon's economic infrastructure. In January 1989, the Arab League appointed a six-member committee on Lebanon, led by the Kuwaiti foreign minister. At the Casablanca Arab summit in May, the Arab League empowered a Higher Committee on Lebanon-composed of Saudi King Fahd, Algerian President Bendjedid, and Moroccan King Hassan-to work toward a solution in Lebanon. The Higher Committee issued a report in July 1989 saying that its efforts had reached a "dead end" and blamed Syrian intransigence for the blockage. After further discussions, the committee arranged for a seven-point cease-fire in September, followed by a meeting of Lebanese parliamentarians in Taif, Saudi Arabia. After a month of intense discussions, the deputies informally agreed on a Charter of National Reconciliation, also known as the Taif agreement. The deputies returned to Lebanon at the Qleiat Air Base in northern Lebanon in November, where they approved the Taif agreement on November 4, and elected Rene Moawad, a Maronite Christian deputy from Zghorta in north Lebanon, president on November 5. General Aoun, claiming powers as interim prime minister, issued a decree in early November dissolving the parliament and did not accept the ratification of the Taif agreement or the election of President Moawad. President Moawad was assassinated on November 22 by a bomb that exploded as his motorcade was returning from ceremonies celebrating Lebanese Independence Day. The parliament met on November 24 in the Biqa' Valley and elected Elias Hrawi, a Maronite Christian deputy from Zahleh in the Biqa' Valley, to replace him. President Hrawi named a prime minister, Salim al-Huss, and a cabinet on November 25. Despite widespread international recognition of Hrawi and his government, General Aoun refused to recognize Hrawi's legitimacy, and Hrawi officially replaced Aoun as army commander in early December. In late January 1990, General Aoun's forces attacked positions of the LF in east Beirut in an apparent attempt to remove the LF as a political force in the Christian enclave. In the heavy fighting that ensued in east Beirut and its environs, over 900 people died and over 3,000 were wounded. The National Assembly in August 1990 approved, and President Hrawi in September 1990 signed into law, constitutional amendments embodying the political reform aspects of the Taif agreement. These amendments gave some presidential powers to the Council of Ministers, expanded the National Assembly from 99 to 108 seats, and equally divided those seats between Christians and Muslims (see GOVERNMENT section below). In October 1990, a joint Lebanese-Syrian military operation against General Aoun forced him to capitulate and take refuge in the French embassy.
GOVERNMENT
A series of amendments has substantially altered the constitution of 1926. Among the more significant is Article 95, which provides that the confessional communities of Lebanon shall be equitably represented in public employment and in the composition of the cabinet but that such a measure is not to impair the general welfare of the state. This article supplements the National Covenant of 1943, an unwritten agreement that established the political foundations of modern Lebanon. The covenant provides that public offices shall be distributed among the recognized religious groups and that the three top positions in the governmental systems shall be distributed as follows: -- The president is to be a Maronite Christian; -- The prime minister, a Sunni Muslim, and -- The president of the National Assembly, a Shi'a Muslim. The Taif agreement, the political reform aspects of which were signed into law in September 1990, further modified the constitution to permit greater power-sharing and put in writing many of the provisions of the National Pact. Constitutionally, the president has a strong and influential position. The president appoints the Council of Ministers and designates one of them to be prime minister. The president also has the authority to promulgate laws passed by the National Assembly, to issue supplementary regulations to ensure the execution of laws, and to negotiate and ratify treaties. Presidential elections are held every 6 years, most recently in 1989. The National Assembly was elected in 1972 for a 4-year term. Since then, with elections rendered impossible by the hostilities in Lebanon, the assembly has been extending its mandate. Therefore, it has not been able to replace the deputies who have died since 1972-25 out of 99. The Taif agreement of 1989 expanded the parliament from 99 to 108 seats and provided for the equal division of seats between Christians and Muslims. The initial expansion of seats to 108 and the replacement of deceased members was to be by appointment. The National Assembly, only sporadically active since 1975, is elected by adult suffrage based on a system of proportional representation for the confessional groups of the country. Most deputies do not represent political parties as they are known in the West, nor do they form Western-style groups in the assembly. Political blocs are usually based on confessional and local interests or on personal allegiance rather than on political affinities. The assembly traditionally has played a significant role in financial affairs, since it has the responsibility for levying taxes and passing the budget. It also exercises political control over the cabinet through formal questioning of ministers on policy issues and by requesting a confidence debate. Lebanon's judicial system is based on the Napoleonic Code. Juries are not used in trials. The Lebanese court system has three levels-Courts of First Instance, Courts of Appeal, and the Court of Cassation. There also is a system of religious courts having jurisdiction on personal status matters within their own communities.
Principal Government Officials
President-Elias Hrawi Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs-Salim al-Huss Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Labor-Michel Sassine Other Ministers Telecommunications and Posts-George Saade National Economy, Commerce-Nazih Bizri Finance-Ali al-Khalil Justice, Information-Edmond Rizk Industry and Petroleum-Soren Khanamerian Public Health, Tourism-Abdullah al-Rasi National Defense-Albert Mansour Interior-Elias al-Khazen Hydroelectric Resources, Housing and Cooperatives-Nabih Berri Public Works-Walid Junblatt Education-Omar Karami Agriculture-Moshen Dalloul Ambassador to the United States-Nassib Lahud Ambassador to the United Nations-Khalil Mekkaoui Lebanon maintains an embassy in the United States at 2560 28th Street, NW, Washington, DC 20008, tel. (202) 939-6300. There also are three consulates general in the United States: 1959 East Jefferson, Suite 4A, Detroit, MI 48207, tel. (313) 567-0233/0234; 7060 Hollywood Blvd., Suite 510, Los Angeles, CA 90028, tel. (213) 467-1253/1254; and 9 East 76th Street, New York, NY l0021, tel. (212) 744-7905/7906 and 744-7985.

POLITICAL CONDITIONS

In addition to its indigenous political groupings, Lebanon contains branches of almost all other political parties of the Arab world. These cover the political spectrum from far left to far right, from totally secular to wholly religious. The Arab Christians and Muslims generally look to particular political parties and leaders, according to the sect to which they belong. The Palestinian refugees, numbering about 400,000 and predominantly Muslim, constitute an important and sensitive minority. Unlike the huge umbrella organizations found in the United States, Lebanese political parties are generally vehicles for powerful leaders whose followers are often of the same religious sect. The interplay for position and power among these leaders and groups produces a political tapestry of extraordinary complexity for the Western observer. In the past, this system worked to produce a viable democracy. Recent events, however, have upset the delicate Muslim-Christian balance and resulted in a tendency for Christians and Muslims to group themselves for safety into distinct zones. All factions have called for a reform of the political system. Some Christians favor political and administrative decentralization of the government, with separate Muslim and Christian sectors operating within the framework of a confederation. Muslims, for the most part, prefer a unified, central government with an enhanced share of power for themselves commensurate with their percentage of the population. The reforms of the Taif agreement moved in this latter direction.

DEFENSE

From the 1975-76 fragmentation of the Lebanese Armed Forces under the strains of confessional strife to 1985, the United States supported the efforts of the Lebanese government to rebuild its military. This support totaled over $100 million. Internal strife in early 1984 produced fresh confessional splits in the Lebanese Armed Forces. As a result, lethal US military assistance was eliminated in 1985. Military training of armed forces personnel from all confessions continued until the evacuation of American personnel from Beirut in 1989.

ECONOMY

Before the outbreak of the civil war in 1975, Lebanon was considered the financial and commercial capital of the Middle East. Because of its location, Christian-Muslim population, and mercantile heritage, it was regarded as a bridge between the West and the Middle East. The preeminence of Lebanon in the region's commercial services seemed to confirm this perception. The civil war did much to weaken this traditional Lebanese commercial leadership. In the intervening years, the war has inflicted massive damage on Lebanon's economic infrastructure. Beirut, the Shuf, and southern Lebanon have been particularly hard hit. Industry, housing, roads, telecommunications, public health facilities, and electrical and water-supply systems will require major reconstruction to attain pre-civil war development levels. During periods of relative tranquility in 1977, 1978, and 1980, the economy grew rapidly. But with renewed outbursts of fighting, the spurts of economic growth stalled. No reliable statistics on growth rates since the outbreak of the war exist, but the consensus is that the economy has expanded only marginally. In recent years, growth rates have probably been negative, given the heavy fighting in 1988-90 that resulted in the destruction of much of the economic infrastructure of Beirut and its environs. There continues to be some resilience in the economy, but steady recovery will be possible only if a durable cease-fire can be maintained. Industrial production also has been severely reduced as a result of destruction of most industrial areas, especially Shuwayfat on the southeast edge of Beirut. Agriculture also has suffered greatly, especially in southern Lebanon. A disturbing phenomenon is the increased production of and trafficking in drugs, particularly cannabis and opiates. The service sector, particularly banking, is the most important sector of the Lebanese economy. Although 15 years of strife have weakened this area, the banking industry has maintained its vitality throughout the difficult years. Large numbers of the Lebanese professional class have emigrated. The remittances they supply to the country are needed to assist in the balance of payments, but their services would benefit Lebanon directly if the security situation permitted them to return. Despite the long years of fighting, the country's external debt position is surprisingly strong. Lebanon holds 9.22 million troy ounces of gold and a large amount of foreign exchange reserves for a country its size (more than $1.1 billion as of September 1989, excluding the value of its gold holdings). Thus far, Lebanese financial officials have managed to keep external public debt to a minimum-an estimated $200 million in 1989. Total external debt was $935 million as of December 1988.

FOREIGN RELATIONS

Lebanon's foreign policy reflects its geographic location, the composition of its population, and its reliance on commerce and trade. Lebanon hopes to regain its status as a bridge between the West and the Middle East. Its basic goal is to maintain good relations with many countries. Fundamentally pro-West, it follows a more-or-less neutral and generally cautious line in its relations with communist countries. Lebanon seeks to maintain the best possible relations with all other Arab states. It did not participate in the 1967 or 1973 Arab- Israeli war but sides with other Arab states on the question of a Middle East peace settlement. Although there has been no confrontation between the Israeli and Lebanese armies since 1948, and Lebanon's southern border with Israel is uncontested, Israeli forces have twice invaded Lebanon to strike at Palestinian forces. In March 1978, the Israeli army moved up to the Litani River. UN Security Council Resolution 425 was passed, calling for Israeli withdrawal and the creation of the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), charged with maintaining peace. A former Lebanese army officer, Sa'd Haddad, developed a "buffer zone" along the border with Israel after the Israelis withdrew. In June 1982, Israeli forces again entered Lebanon, and remained in the south in a "security zone" patrolled by the Israeli Defense Forces and the self-styled "Army of South Lebanon" commanded by a Lebanese, General Antoine Lahd.

US-LEBANESE RELATIONS

The United States seeks to maintain its traditionally close ties with Lebanon, to help preserve its independence, sovereignty, national unity, and territorial integrity, and to promote its political stability and economic development. The United States also supports the withdrawal of all foreign forces from Lebanon and the disbandment of armed militias. The United States believes that a peaceful, prosperous, and stable Lebanon can make an important contribution to stability and peace in the Middle East. The United States supports the programs of the central government to restore security and unity to Lebanon and to rebuild that country's national institutions. The US commitment has remained unchanged in the face of such terrorist acts as the bombings of the US embassy in April 1983 and the Marine headquarters in October 1983. One measure of US concern and involvement has been an expanding program of relief and rehabilitation assistance which, since 1975, has totaled more than $250 million. This support reflects not only humanitarian concerns and historical ties but the importance the United States attaches to the restoration of a sovereign, independent, unified Lebanon. Current funding is used to support the activities of US and Lebanese private voluntary organizations engaged in humanitarian relief programs. The United States also has helped finance construction of the American University Hospital in Beirut and has assisted the American University of Beirut by financing part of its operating budget and by providing scholarships to some of its students. In September 1989, all American officials at the US embassy in Beirut were withdrawn when the adequate safety and effectiveness of the mission could not be guaranteed. The United States continued its close cooperation with the government of Lebanon through contacts with Lebanese officials in other locations. The new US ambassador returned to Beirut in November 1990.
Principal US Officials
Ambassador-Ryan C. Crocker Deputy Chief of Mission-Charles Brayshaw Chief, Political/Economic/Commercial Section-Lois Aroian Consul-vacant Administrative Officer-vacant The US embassy operates from an annex located in Awkar, Lebanon (tel. 402-200).

FURTHER INFORMATION

These titles are published as a general indication of material published on this country. The Department of State does not endorse unofficial publications. Binder, Leonard. The Ideological Revolution in the Middle East. New York: John Wiley and Sons, 1964. Politics in Lebanon. New York: John Wiley and Sons, 1966. Bulloch, John. Death of a Country: The Civil War in Lebanon. London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1977. Faris, Hani A. Beyond the Lebanese Civil War: Historical Issues and the Challenges of Reconstruction. Washington, DC: Center for Contemporary Arab Studies, Georgetown University, April 1982. Friedman, Thomas L. From Beirut to Jerusalem. New York: Farrar, Straus, Giroux, 1989. Hitti, Philip K. A Short History of Lebanon. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1965. Hudson, Michael C. The Precarious Republic: Political Modernization in Lebanon. New York: Random House, 1968. Khalidi, Walid. Conflict and Violence in Lebanon: Confrontation in the Middle East. Cambridge: Harvard University, Center for International Affairs, 1979. Murray, George T. Lebanon: The New Future. Beirut: Thomas Rizk, 1974. Qubain, Fahim I. Crisis in Lebanon. Washington, DC: Middle East Institute, 1961. Salem, Elie Adib. Modernization Without Revolution: Lebanon's Experience. Bloomington, Indiana: Indiana University Press, 1973. Salibi, Kamal S. The Modern History of Lebanon. New York: Praeger, 1965. Crossroads to Civil War in Lebanon: 1958-1976. Delmar, N.Y.: Caravan, 1976. A House of Many Mansions: The History of Lebanon Reconsidered. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1988.

TRAVEL ADVISORY

The Department of State has determined that the situation in Lebanon has become so dangerous for Americans that no US citizen can be considered safe from terrorist acts. In light of this determination, the Secretary of State has exercised his authority to invalidate US passports for travel to, in, and through Lebanon. Using a US passport for travel to Lebanon would constitute a violation of Section 1544 of Title 18, US Code, and may be punishable by a fine and/or prison term. Exceptions to this restriction may be granted to professional journalists and to others for compelling humanitarian considerations or if travel is determined to be in the national interest. Exceptions will be scrutinized carefully on a case-by- case basis in light of the level of threat to the prospective traveler's safety. Requests for exceptions should be forwarded in writing to the following address: Mr. Harry L. Coburn, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Passport Services, US Department of State, Washington, DC 20520, Attn.: Office of Citizenship Appeals and Legal Assistance. The request for an exception must be accompanied by substantiating documentation according to the category under which an exception is sought. Additional information may be obtained by calling the Office of Citizenship Appeals and Legal Assistance (tel. 202-326-6180). Published by the United States Department of State -- Bureau of Public Affairs -- Office of Public Communication -- Washington, DC -- December 1990 -- Editor: Marilyn J. Bremner Department of State Publication 7816. Background Notes Series -- This material is in the public domain and may be reprinted without permission; citation of this source is appreciated. For sale by the Superintendent of Documents, US Government Printing Office, Washington, DC 20402.(###)