Lebanon Politics and History

At the mediation of French President N. Sarkozy , Lebanon and Syria announced in July 2008 that they would establish diplomatic relations with one another.

The March 14 alliance around S. al-Hariri emerged victorious from the parliamentary elections in June 2009. Hariri became the new head of government at the head of a cabinet of national unity. Hezbollah and its allies withdrew their ministers from the government in 2011 after a political dispute over the UN tribunal’s indictment against several Hezbollah members for the attack on Rafik al-Hariri. The Hezbollah candidate Najib Mikati (* 1955) was tasked with forming a new cabinet. He took over the post of prime minister in June 2011 at the head of a government dominated by the March 8 Pro-Syrian Alliance. The civil war in Syria increasingly influenced Lebanese domestic politics from 2012 onwards. After a dispute over a new electoral law and the extension of the head of the secret service, Najib Mikati announced his resignation on March 22, 2013. On April 6, 2013, the parliamentarians agreed on the Sunni Tammam Salam as the new head of government. At first he did not manage to form a new government. The formation of the cabinet could not be completed until February 15, 2014. Parliament expressed its confidence in the new government, in which all the major political forces except the Forces Libanaises group, took part, on March 20, 2014. On January 16, 2014, the trial of the attack on R. al-Hariri began before the UN Special Tribunal in the absence of the defendants. In the meantime, internal tensions related to the Syria conflict persisted. Supporters and opponents of the Syrian Assad regime repeatedly fought heavy fighting.

In view of the poor security situation, also due to attacks by Hezbollah, the members of parliament decided on November 5, 2014 to postpone the elections, which had already been postponed from 2013 to 2014, to June 2017. The office of President remained vacant after M. Suleiman’s term of office on May 24, 2014, because the main political forces could not agree on a successor. Prime Minister T. Salam was appointed interim head of state. After 45 unsuccessful attempts, Parliament finally elected the former ruler General M. Aoun as the new president on October 31, 2016. With the formation of a new government on November 3rd, 2016, S. al-Hariri instructed. Almost all of the country’s important political forces took part in the cabinet he had put together. The new government was sworn in on December 19, 2016.

On November 4, 2017, S. al- Hariri, while in Saudi Arabia, announced his resignation as Prime Minister, referring to plans to attack him. After stopping in Paris and Cairo, he returned to Beirut on November 21, 2017 and accepted President Aoun’srequest to remain in office for the time being. Finally, on December 5, 2017, he officially revoked his resignation. There had previously been speculation that Saudi Arabia had forced him to resign.

In the parliamentary elections on May 6, 2018, Hezbollah, Amal and their allies achieved a clear majority with 69 of the 128 seats in parliament. In contrast, the alliance around al-Hariri future movement had to accept the loss of twelve seats. Not least because of the complicated electoral law, which was changed in 2017 in favor of proportional representation, the turnout was only 49.2%.

Since October 17, 2019, there have been nationwide protests, which led to Prime Minister S. al-Hariri’s resignation on October 29, 2019. The university professor and former Minister of Education Hassan Diab (* 1959) announced the new cabinet on January 22nd, 2020. A political deadlock that had lasted for months came to an end. The government was made up of numerous experts, including six women. The protesters had called for an independent government of experts and took to the streets again after the cabinet was introduced because the political elite had been involved in the occupation.

On August 4th, 2020, according to aceinland, a severe explosion occurred in the port of the Lebanese capital. First, after a first explosion, a cloud of smoke rose and shortly afterwards a violent detonation triggered a pressure wave with tremendous destructive power. Experts counted the explosion as one of the largest non-nuclear explosions in history. Over 170 people were killed and 6,000 injured. Extensive damage to the houses in the districts around the port has left 200,000–300,000 people homeless. Infrastructure such as the state power station, some hospitals and grain silos have been destroyed. Initially, there was speculation about a terrorist act or political background. The cause of the explosion was soon identified. Since 2014, 2,750 t of ammonium nitrate have been stored unsecured in a hangar in the port. This explosive can be used to make explosives and fertilizers. The competent authorities were aware of the problem, but ignored the danger. president Michel Aoun and Prime Minister Hassan Diab were last informed about the dangerous chemicals at the end of July 2020. The political and economic crisis in the bankrupt country, which has not been able to service its foreign debt since March 2020, worsened and the supply situation for the people worsened. The international donor conference pledged 250 million euros in emergency aid to Lebanon.

After demonstrations and allegations of corruption, the government announced its resignation on August 10, 2020, after individual ministers had already resigned from their offices. Long-term aid from the international community is tied to demands for comprehensive reforms to be carried out in the state apparatus.

Lebanon Politics and History

About the author