Lebanon. According to countryaah, Beirut is the capital and one of the major cities within the country of Lebanon. Former Prime Minister Rafiq al-Hariri was assassinated in a blast attack in Beirut on February 14. Another 22 people were killed in the same attack. The murder came to affect the entire region. al-Hariri had resigned from the prime minister’s post in October 2004 following a conflict with the pro-Syrian president Emile Lahoud over the Syrian presence in the country. The Lebanese opposition was therefore quick to point out Syria and Lahoud as responsible for the murder. Large crowds at the Martyr Square in Beirut demanded Lahoud’s departure. Of the 128 members of Parliament, 40 also gathered around a declaration calling for a Syrian withdrawal from Lebanon. During March, international pressure on Syria increased, while Sunnis, Druze and Christians united in their demand for Syria to leave Lebanon. In April, Syria gave way and called home its 15,000 soldiers and intelligence agents from Lebanon after nearly 30 years. A UN delegation confirmed on May 24 that the withdrawal was complete.
- Also see abbreviationfinder.org for how the acronym LE stands for the country of Lebanon and other meanings of this two-letter abbreviation.
After the UN determined in a first report after the assassination that Syria bore the greatest responsibility for the political tension preceding the assassination, the Security Council in Resolution 1595 in April decided to set up an independent murder investigation based in Lebanon. The investigation was led by the German prosecutor Detlev Mehlis. In late August, at the request of Mehlis and his co-workers, Lebanese police arrested four pro-Syrian generals accused of involvement in the murder. UN investigators noted in a report Oct. 21 that the professional execution of the attack, along with the intensive contacts between high-ranking people in the pro-Syrian establishment in the Lebanon days surrounding the assassination, led the tracks directly to the Lebanese and Syrian governments.
The murder led to domestic political turmoil. Between February and May a couple of different governments succeeded, and parliamentary elections were held in four rounds between May 29 and June 19. The regional divide was obvious. In Beirut, the Syrian-critical Future Movement led by the murdered son Saad al-Hariri, in southern Lebanon won the pro-Syrian movements Hizbullah and Amal; in France, and in northern Lebanon won the Syrian-critical alliance between al-Hariris and drus leader Walid Jumblatt’s parties. In total, the Syrian-critical bloc took 72 of Parliament’s 128 seats, while the Hizbullah-Amal alliance took 35 seats and Aoun’s party, along with some smaller support parties, took 21 seats.
Throughout the year, Christian residential areas in and around Beirut were exposed to bomb attacks on at least 14 occasions. At least six people were killed and many more were injured. Among the dead were the well-known Syrian-critical journalist Gibran Yueni and several other leading Syrian critics.
On several occasions during the year, unrest was reported in the border area between Lebanon, Syria and Israel. The riots mainly concerned the control of the so-called Shaba farms which formally belong to Syria but which were occupied by Israel in 1967 and which both Lebanon and Syria now claimed were Lebanese land and therefore should have been covered by the Israeli withdrawal from Lebanon 2000.
Despite, among other things, The EU and Denmark’s claim that they wanted to help refugees from the civil war in Syria in the “neighborhoods”, at the end of 2016, the UN Refugee Program in Lebanon stated that the program had only a funding rate of 52%. The international donors shone with their absence. This helped to sharpen the refugee situation in Lebanon, as the refugees and the Lebanese government had to deal with the problems themselves. In January, Beirut Airport police rejected 100 Syrian refugees trying to travel to Turkey. They were sent back to Syria in violation of the Refugee Convention. A May 2015 government decision continued to hinder UNHCR from registering newly arrived refugees.
In 2016, the courts handed down 107 death sentences in terror-related cases. However, no death sentence was enforced since 2004.
During a visit to Saudi Arabia in November 2017, Hariri surprisingly resigned as prime minister. Allegedly because Saudi Arabia had warned him of plans to attack him if he returned to Lebanon. After 10 days, however, it was revealed that Hariri was already detained at the Saudi Arabia landing and confiscated his cellphone by Saudi intelligence. While his father had his own fortune and probably had relations with Saudi Arabia, but not in the pocket of the dictatorship, Saad Hariri was politically totally dependent on Saudi Arabia. It immediately sparked rumors that he was partly detained in Saudi Arabia against his will, and his resignation aimed to create political chaos in Lebanon with the aim of weakening Hezbollah’s and thus indirectly Iran’s role in the country. Both Saudi Arabia and Israel fear Hezbollah (Iran), along with Russia and the Syrian forces, has been fighting the jihadists in Syria. israelin 2017 planned a new attack war against Lebanon. Saudi Arabia subsequently ordered all Saudi nationals to leave Lebanon. The Lebanese army responded to the Saudi allegation of assassination plans against Hariri, saying that all the intelligence it possessed had no plans against Hariri. Hariri’s allies in Lebanon also joined in with the other parties’ concern that his freedom was limited by the Riyadh regime.
After 2 weeks in Saudi Arabia, Hariri was allowed to move on. He first traveled around France and Egypt to seek support before returning to Beirut on Lebanon’s National Day on November 22. For his resignation to be formally accepted, it had to be handed over to President Aoun. It didn’t happen. Hariri remained the country’s prime minister, despite the Saudi attempt to oust him.