Why did the Israelis invade Lebanon?
Israel invaded South Lebanon so that it could stop the Palestinian attacks at the Israeli Northern borders. The Shiites of the South were as dissatisfied as the Israelis and the Christian Lebanese with the Palestinians operations from South Lebanon. The Palestinians had almost controlled the South of Lebanon, making the Shiites life in their villages subject to continuous attacks by Israel. This was a result of the Cairo Agreement that allowed the Palestinians to operate in Lebanon as a militia launching attacks on Israel from South Lebanon. The Shiites were threatened by the Arab Nationalists movements which were mainly Palestinians and Lebanese Sunnis, where both wanted Lebanon to be part of a Pan-Arab state. The Arab Nationalists demand for Lebanon to join the United Arab Republic in 1958 caused Lebanon to go through a civil strife, which led the US to send its Marines to Lebanon.
The Lebanese-Palestinian Civil War 1975-1990
â€¢ The beginning of 1975-76 war was a result of a fight between the Palestinians and the Phalanges Party related to the PLO freedom fighters operations from Lebanon.
â€¢ The civil war was precipitated by the Lebanese National Movement (the left) support of the Palestinians, which brought about the collapse of the Government.
â€¢ In 1976 some of the Maronite groups sought the help of the Syrians against the ascendant Palestinian-leftists coalition.
â€¢ The Syrian support of the Christians was not altruistic and was due to several factors:
o The Palestinians armed presence in Lebanon decreased Syrian influence on the Lebanese political scene.
o Syria feared a potential Israeli intervention to protect Israelâ€™s northern borders.
o Syria preferred a balance of power among Lebanese contending groups so that it could control them all.
â€¢ In 1978 Camp David Accords purported to give the Palestinians autonomy rather than self-determination. Palestinians were not even direct participants in the talks the decision was made on behalf of them without their consent.
â€¢ Israel was closely watching the situation in Lebanon, following a Palestinian attack inside Israel in March 11, 1978, Israel launched operation Litani. The invasion was designed to insulate the area between the Israeli border and the Litani River from further Palestinian attacks, forming six miles deep security belt on Lebanese territory along Israeli border.
â€¢ There were multiple outcomes of the Israeli invasion of Lebanon;
o A more enduring alliance between Israel and the Lebanese Christians
o Christian opposition to Palestinian armed presence and the demand to dissolve the Cairo and the Riyadh agreements
â€¢ The Syrian deployment in Lebanon negotiated with intermediaries with Israel was not to include surface to air missiles. Five years after Syria entered Lebanon it deployed SAM in the Bekaâ€™a valley during battles with the Lebanese forces in Zahleh, by controlling the Bekaa valley Syria multiplied its options in threatening Israelâ€™s northern borders and it made it extremely difficult for Israel to cross Lebanon and attack Syria.
â€¢ Israel invaded Lebanon in 1982, controlling the whole costal region.
o The Israeli invasion of Lebanon was the main cause of the radicalization of the Shiites in Lebanon.
o Shiites resistance from Amal Movement and Hezbollah was the main force for driving Israel out of Lebanon and the impetus behind the annulment of the Israeli Lebanese Accords 1983.
o When Israel invaded Lebanon, the Shiites were assisting the Israelis as they were determined on getting the PLO out of the south.
o The turning point was when Israel sided with its Christian ally the South Lebanese Armey, instead of dealing with Amal. Israel failed in recruiting Shiites in amongst the SLA, where the Shiites did not exceed 10% of the total South Lebanese militia.
o Israelâ€™s iron fist towards the Shiites, alienated them and provoked resistance that took form of boycott of Israeli goods, protest meetings and finally armed resistance.
Looking at this sequence of events I would like to view the Israeli invasion of Lebanon from the perspective of a Lebanese Shiite. It was the Shiites in the South who were alienated by the Israeli alliance with the Lebanese Christian Militias in the South. Syria decided to allow the Shiite Islamist revolutionary government in Iran to dispatch around 1,000 Pasdaran (members of the Revolutionary Guards) to the Beqaa Valley of eastern Lebanon, an area occupied by Syrian forces, so that Iran could mobilize the Lebanese Shiites of the South to Liberate Lebanon from the Israeli occupation and not to liberate the Palestinians in Palestine. The Palestinians just like the Israelis sought the alienation of the Shiites with the Palestinians alliance with the Arab Nationalists, who sought to overthrow existing governments. However, in todayâ€™s realities Iran is fighting its war against the US and against Israel, by mobilizing the Shiites in Lebanon to argue the Palestinians question, since there are approximately 400,000 Palestinians in Lebanon that the Shiites are unanimous on refusing to nationalize them as Lebanese citizens, this position is shared by a majority of Christians. Nationalizing the Palestinians will artificially increase the Sunni population of Lebanon giving them a majority over the Christians and the Shiites. The Lebanese Shiites problem has nothing to do with the Palestinians and the liberation of Palestine. The Shiites have been historically politically and economically marginalized by the Lebanese government. This on its own makes Hezbollahâ€™s achievements in the south very significant.
Unlike Islamist organizations, Hezbollah has an organizational structure with visible political and military head-staff. This point has evident consequences on the way the party functions. Hezbollah has a judiciary council, a trade unions and social desk, education and institutions department a political council and a defense military operations.
In year 2000 they had 56 hospitals with a total number of beneficiaries of 409,281 around the Biq'a Beirut and South Lebanon, between 2000-01 they provided 10582 students with education aide, between token, financial and scholarships, and 10 schools, between South Lebanon, Beq'a and Beirut. They have a TV station a Radio station and News papers and Journals. Hezbollah has a social structure of a welfare government that could not just disappear the next day. The question of disarmament of Hezbollah is a more complex issue than the Lebanese government restoring its sovereignty over all the Lebanese territories as per the directions of Resolution 1559, since it involves the Shiites self-defence against two threats their internal possible marginalization and an aggression by Israel.
The Shiites, however, want a solution to the Palestinians refugee problem and that solution could not be nationalizing them as Lebanese citizens.
Hezbollah has a popular support shared by Lebanese Shiites as well as Sunnis and Christians as the resistance that made the liberation of the South possible. From the Shiites perspective, Hezbollah is the welfare government that maintained their survival for the past 20 years almost. Hezbollah helped giving back to the Shiites of South Lebanon and the Bekaâ€™a valley their social cultural and territorial independence from two threats that historically sought their alienation and assimilation. The first is the Christian government in Lebanon, and the second is Israel in its possible alliance with the Christians against them, both a perceived threat to the Lebanese Shiites.
So how could Israel presume that a peace with Lebanon is possible while alienating the Lebanese Shiite population, who claim being the largest minority in the State of Lebanon, a state composed of religious minorities?
Kobani, Agnes 1991, G. U.S. Intervention in Lebanon, 1958 and 1982, Presidential Decision Making, Library on Congress: 53-77
Salem Paul, Super Powers and Small States: An Overview of American Lebanese Relations http://www.lcps-lebanon.org/pub/brev...lembr5pt1.html
Ehteshami, Anoushiravan, Hinnebusch, Raymond A. Syria and Iran, 1997, Middle Powers in a penetrated regional system: Routledge:120-125
Gambill Gary C. Ziad K, Abdelnour,2002 Hezbollah: Between Tehran and Damascus, Middle East Intelligence Bulletin http://www.meib.org/articles/0202_l1.htm
Hamzeh, Ahmed Nizar. 2004. In the Path of Hezbollah, Syracuse University Press: 49-59