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Lebanon’s fragility: The case of the Civil War 1975-1990

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  1. Introduction.
  2. The French decoupage of the Levant in 1920.
    1. The National Pact of 1943.
  3. The 1958 crisis.
  4. The dramatic transformation.
  5. The civil war in 1975.
    1. The triggering of the civil war.
  6. The domestic fragility.
  7. Palestinian movement.
  8. Supranational essence of pan-Arabism.
  9. Weakenning of the state.
  10. Conclusion.
  11. Bibliography.

The states of the Arab East have always experienced challenging political and social issues mainly inherited from their creation by Great Powers after the collapse of the Ottoman Empire. Indeed, the Western organizational model of the time, i.e. nation-state, poorly fitted the regional realities. The concept had no historical antecedent in the political culture of Islam and neglected the sectarian component of the area. Lebanon was no exception. Since its independence in 1943, the country's growing instability ultimately led to the breakout of the civil war in 1975, which only really ended with the Taif Agreement fourteen years later. 1975 underlined a major shift in the perception of Lebanon abroad . Once thought as a liberal and tolerant state, dealing relatively efficiently with a deeply multi-confessional society, it became the symbol of political instability and radicalism.

[...] fact, the enlargement to regions mainly inhabited by both Sunni and Shiite communities was likely to undermine any attempt of political coherence. Indeed, the territory then defined gathered eighteenth recognized sects[4]. The National Pact of 1943, by which Lebanon became independent, established a confessional democracy as the political system of the country. The system then created was certainly peculiar; however it acknowledged the division into several religious communities and did not deny the Ottoman legacy. Indeed, religion remained considered as the main locus of communal identity[5]. [...]

[...] ?Regional Conflicts, Regional Solutions: The Case of Lebanon? in Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science. Vol.518 (1991): 82-94. Dekmejian, Richard Hair. ?Consociational Democracy in Crisis, The Case of Lebanon? in Comparative Politics. Vol.10, no.2 (1978): 251-265. El-Khazen, Farid. The Breakdown of the State in Lebanon, 1967-1976. Cambridge: Harvard University Press Evron, Yair. War and Intervention in Lebanon. Baltimore: The John Hopkins University Press Fisk, Robert, Pity the Nation: Lebanon at War. London: A.deutch Kelidar, Abbas. ?States Without Foundations: The Political Evolution of State and Society in the Arab East? in Journal of Contemporary History. [...]

[...] The situation worsened to ultimately trigger the civil war of 1975. Two sides were facing each other. The leaders in the defence of the Status quo were definitely the Maronite Phalange, under Bashir Gemayel authority, and the paramilitary forces related to historical Maronite families, such as the one of Camille Chamoun. They were facing groups from different sectarian inclinations. Although unified in the conflicts their aims slightly diverged. The militias related to Kamal Junblat's National Movement sought to recast the political structure in favour of the Shiia, and of the Druze community in particular. [...]

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