You are on page 1of 21

Phoenicians

Chapter 28
The Civil War – 1st Phase (1975)
There is no dispute that economic growth within a single state creates sound
political and social relationships, this through the creation of common interests
among its citizens from all regions and sects. In the same way, attempts at
balanced regional economic development, which the Lebanese state undertook
during the 1950s, and which gained in momentum in the 1960s, that included the
peripheral regions, and including the Muslim majorities increased the state’s
legitimacy and status in those areas.
As the economic conditions improved so did their populations knowledge base of
their social conditions and as they moved forward, they began to realize that the in-
place economic mechanisms were not sufficient in their share of the wealth of
Lebanon. In their (even if only partial) exposure to the disparities between Lebanon
and its neighbors and observing their growth only brought the matters closer to the
surface.
Thrown into this mix of dissatisfaction and the feeling of being left-behind, was
the PLO, who were granted full control over the refugee camps in southern
Lebanon, and as seen they soon had the effective rule of the entire region. As
fighters in the PLO fled Jordan after the Black September destruction of the PLO’s
apparatus there, the PLO’s presence became overbearing too many of the
inhabitants of the region. The PLO operated as a law unto themselves and quickly
alienated the conservative Shi’a villagers. In this manner, same as in Jordan where
they had lost their welcome, Muslim support in Lebanon began to erode.
A left-wing opposition also began evolving within “Fatah1”, as radical veteran
fighters from Jordan flooded into the PLO’s ranks, so much so this caused worry
even for Yasser Arafat.
Not to be deterred Arafat set about building a “state-within-the-state” in
southern Lebanon, his goal? To create a “secure” base for his PLO headquartered
in the Bekaa Valley and West Beirut. Gradually but surely the Lebanese authorities
were being pushed into “irrelevancy” when it came to his actions. Harsh Israeli
retribution after the Palestinian “raids” from what was now termed “FatahLand” did

1
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fatah
nothing to endear the civilian Shi’a and Christian population to the Palestine
guerrillas.
The PLO was welcomed by the Sunnis – who equated them as a natural ally in
sectarian terms – and by the Druze. As a matter of record, a personal friendship
developed between Yasser Arafat and the charismatic Druze leader “Kamal
Jumblatt”, who not only headed the “Progressive Socialist Party2”, he also organized
the Lebanese National Movement (“LNM”). Many of the Rejectionist Front 3
organizations joined the leftist “LNM” as soon as possible, with even some of the
“Fatah” joining. It is noted that Arafat was not willing to commit his Palestinians to
any intra-Lebanese conflict – and to alienate potential supporters among the
Christians and their foreign allies.
In my opinion to call the upcoming conflict in Lebanon a “Civil War” in a sense
that it was contained within the political base of the Lebanese Government and its
citizens prompting, is not a fair or correct statement. It was a war that was the
direct result of the unrest in the entire Middle East, and as in the past – the
countries involved in the unrest chose to do their battling in Lebanon. In addressing
the “conflict” in my day-to-day accounting of the action I have included news items
from around the globe (concerning the Middle East), whereas you’ll notice that
Egypt and it’s “negotiations” with Israel play an important role in the political
climate in the region. This ongoing political relationship as it progresses becomes a
major issue with Syria, who from the beginning has been mixing it up in Lebanon
since its independence in 1943 whereas they feel they were shortchanged in the
political divisions of the land by the British and the French.
Throughout the spring of 1975, minor clashes between the “LNM” and the
“Phalange4”, and the ineffective national government wavering between the need
to maintain order and cater to its constituency. The pot spilled over during a late
morning in the month of April in Beirut.
On April 13th, 1975, it is said in most records, that PLO gunmen in a speeding
car fired on a group of Phalangist leaders leaving Church in Christian suburb of Ayn

2
The party was founded on 5 January 1949, and registered on 17 March the same year, under notification N°789. The founders
comprised six individuals, all of different backgrounds. The most notable of these was Kamal Jumblatt (Walid Jumblatt's father).
The others were Farid Joubran, Albert Adeeb, Abdallah Alayli, Fouad Rizk, and Georges Hanna

3
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rejectionist_Front
4
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kataeb_Party
ar-Rummeneh, in Beirut killing four people, in what was believed to be an attempt
on Pierre Gemayel. They blamed the attack on the Palestinians.
Hours later, led by members of the Gemayel family the Phalangists’ pulled a bus
to the side of the road carrying Palestinian workers back to the refuges camps, they
were ordered from the bus at gunpoint and then had their throats slit; 27 died that
afternoon.
BBC news filed a report on the incident as quoted:
At least 17 people have been killed and 30 wounded in an “ambush” by right-
wing Lebanese forces on a bus carrying Palestinians in Beirut. Reports are confused
but it appears the Lebanese Phalangist gunmen attacked the bus, killing at least 14
and injuring about 20 more, as it drove through a Christian suburb of Beirut,
The trouble began earlier when Palestinian guerrillas, driving jeeps through the
district of Ain al-Roummaneh reportedly opened fire on the congregation outside a
Maronite Christian Church. Christian Phalangist leader, Pierre Gemayel, was
attending Mass at the church and his Phalangist supporters on guard outside
“seized” one of the jeeps and a scuffle broke out.
When the “bus” passed, the Phalangist gunmen who were staked out around the
church raked it with gunfire. Most of the dead were Palestinians.
Another report gives the following account by Robert Maroun Hatem.
The entire “eastern” neighborhood of Ain al-Roummaneh/Furn el Shebbak was
excited at the fact the “Chief Sheikh Pierre Gemayel” was scheduled to inaugurate a
new Church. To the Christian population, “Sheikh Pierre” was the figurehead of the
Christian Lebanese people, the man who opposed the “Cairo Agreement” and stood
up against the Palestinian armed
presence in Lebanon. That Sunday
morning was under heavy fog and a
warm-hot day promised.
At 11 A.M. that morning, as the
ceremony ended and people were leaving
the Church, a “white Fiat” sped by from
the Muslim Shiite side of the sector, light
machine gun fire racked the departing
crowd killing these two men. “Joseph Abou Assi”, the Sheikh’s personal bodyguard
– Abou was a notable Kataeb member, loved and respected by all. He was called
the “Chief of Al Sakhra” (The Rock Group) that was assigned to protect the “inner
circle”, including Pierre Gemayel, and Pierre, Faud and Hilmy El Shartouni. The
crowd fled the area, leaving the streets deserted.
At 12:30 PM, a bus filled with armed Palestinians defiantly drove down the same
street, windows down and heads out the windows they were “scoffing” at our
disarray and anger, inviting provocation. The silence was shattered by machine gun
fire, windows shattered in the bus, its metal side punched with holes and the
passengers on the bus dead, when it finally stopped.
The War in Lebanon had been born.
On December 28th, 1986, “Abd al-Rahim Ahmad” of the Palestinian ALF did
confirm that those on the bus were indeed armed Palestinian ALF members.

As news of the killing flowed through the streets of Beirut, Palestinian militias
including the radical “Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine 5” (“PFLP”) went
on a rampage through Beirut. Armed clashes with the Phalange flared up across
the city and soon the Lebanese National Movement militias entered the battle
fighting alongside the Palestinians.
During this 1st week of fighting, at one particular Palestinian checkpoint with
hundreds of people (cars were backed up) watching, a single man was executed.
The man and his executors stood on open ground at the side of “Avenue Sami al-
Solh”, along with another Lebanese Maronite guarded by the Fedayeen armed with
AK47s. The captive’s hands were tied behind their back, the one that was singled
out for special attention. Around his neck with caution, they hung sticks of
explosives, the motorists looked on with uneasy terror, praying and waiting for the
special police in their “red berets” to make an appearance – they never showed.
One witness amongst the hundreds, Janet Wakin (American wife of businessman
George Wakin) said, “the victim stood still, with a strange quietness and dignity.”
Done with their placement of the explosives, they set the fuse going and ran from
the man, who continued to stand there, quite still, until the explosion. Not only was
he decapitated, but the rest of his body was blown to pieces.

5
The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) is a Marxist-Leninist, nationalist Palestinian political and military
organization, founded in 1967.
Into the middle of the crisis stepped “Elias Sarkis” becoming the newly elected
President on Sept 23rd, 1976 – and as can be seen with very limited power or
authority over the war raging inside his country.
On December 6th, 1975 (Saturday), the four bodies of members of the Phalange
Party were found in an abandoned car outside the state-owned electric plant in
Christian-dominated East Beirut. They had been killed with axes, and their bodies
mutilated.
The Phalange’s militia in the city went into a frenzied rage, blaming the killings
on the LNM. Phalange forces attacked the Muslims throughout Christian-dominated
East Beirut, indiscriminately firing into crowds. Tens or hundreds of Muslim
hostages were snatched off the streets of Beirut, killed or later released for ransom.
Fighters said to be led by “Joseph Saad”, whose son was one of the four found
murdered, began erecting checkpoints on major roads across the city, passing cars
and pedestrians were stopped and ordered to show identification cards. Any
Palestinians (who were stateless and had no ID cards, or Muslims (Lebanese ID
cards at the time showed religious affiliations) were killed on the spot.
In this action, several hundred people were killed in over a period of a few hours,
most of them civilians. Estimations put the total from anywhere between 200 and
600 victims. The Phalange headquarters released a communiqué the next day
claiming the revenge was supposed to have been “limited” to hostage-taking, but
had escalated into a mass killing because of “hysteria” and “elements who would
not listen to orders of their superiors.” End of statement!
Immediately following the LNM attacked the Phalange checkpoints, major battles
spread like wildfire across the capital and over much of the surrounding countryside
– it was a real war.

There were many of these militias’ involved in the Lebanon Civil War, and some
at times switched flags during the term of the “conflict”, as it is sometimes labeled
in kinder circles in-country. In that respect as late as January 10th, 2007 an article
published in the “International Herald Tribune”, written by Hassan M. Fattah
screamed the headline, “Lebanon’s history textbooks sidestep its civil war.” In his
article he quotes the former director of the Education Center for Research and
Development “Nemer Frayha” as saying, “America used the school to create a
melting pot; we use it to reinforce sectarian identity at the expense of national
identify.”
In support of this statement, “Nabil Haydar” put forth the same thought when he
said, “people must become self-starters instead of blaming their government, civic
responsibilities and rights must be taught to students at the ‘elementary’ and
‘secondary’ levels. Universities can only play a complementary role in continuing
the civic educational process”
In an article published in the Beirut Daily Star on January 22 nd, 2007 with a
glaring title, “Schools in Lebanon get a failing grade”, you ought to look it up.
In the news account, the World Bank is quoted as stating, “Even the highest-
quality schools in Lebanon are not producing competitive students at the
international levels – evidence suggests that Lebanon might be losing its human
capital edge. The trend, if true, can be reversed, however, through a long and deep
reform of the educational section.”
I was equally surprised to find out that Lebanon is one of the only middle-income
societies that “does not” offer free compulsory primary schooling to all citizens for
9-years. And that over 60% of the Lebanese students are currently enrolled in
private schools – with an annual fee of $1,800 and that according to government
figures the average family in Lebanon pays between 11 and 25% of their annual
household income on education for their children. In other words, nothing has
changed, in some cases they still have their head in the sand.
Pre-civil war, continuing, militias were born like wildflowers after a spring rain, I
start with the big ones and how they morphed into fighting machines the
government had no control of, but first the reason for their birth.
Constitutionally guaranteed, Christian control of the government had come
under increasing fire from Muslims and other secular left-wind groups in the 1960s,
leading the Muslims to join forces as the Lebanese National Movement (“LNM”).
The LNM called for taking a new “census” (last one in 1932) and the subsequent
drafting of a new governmental structure that would reflect the actual population
balance.
This was seen as a mortal threat for the Christians (especially the Maronite)
power structure in Lebanon. It must be pointed out that the “alliances” were much
more complicated and complex than just the “Muslims” against/versus “Christians”,
and is perceived by many outside of the politics in Lebanon.
The two sides were “unable” to reconcile their conflicts of interest and this was
the beginning of the militias, first for self-protection, but as things escalated (and
the differences and split showed up in the Lebanese regular army), the events
rapidly eroded the authority of the central government.
Remember, the Lebanese army was from the start of the “conflict”, not only
being the smallest in the Middle East, it was also made up of troops based on a
“fixed-ratio” of religions. And, it was a Christian controlled army, with Christian
officers and its troops split on the fixed-ratio between Muslims and Christians. Later
on it was the “desertion” of the Muslim contingents who had lost their trust in the
Christian officers that caused its complete disintegration.
Throughout the war most (or) all militias operated with little regard for human
rights and the sectarian character of some battle, made “non-combatant” civilians a
frequent target. As the war progressed the militias fell further into a mafia-style
operation with some commanders slipping into a life of crime as their primary pre-
occupation, rather then engaging in the war.
Finances for the war effort were obtained in one or all of the following ways:
1. Outside support (Alliances would shift frequently)
a. Rivaling Arab governments – Iran or Israel
b. Super Powers, with strings attached
2. Local population
a. Extortion
b. Theft
c. Bank Robberies
d. Random Check Points
1d. Customs would be collected (common practice on all sides)
e. During “cease-fires) most militias operated as the local mafia
3. Smuggling
a. During the war Lebanon morphed into the worlds largest narcotics
produces – such as “hashish” from the Bekaa Valley
b. Guns and supplies, and other kinds of stolen goods, War or no War,
it seemed Lebanon would not give up its role as the middleman in
European-Arab business.
c. Many battle were fought over the control of Lebanon’s “access”
ports
Christian Militias
They acquired their arms from Romania, Bulgaria as well as from West Germany,
Belgium and Israel, and drew their supporters from the larger and poorer Christian
population located in the northern section of the country.
They were “generally” right-wing in their political outlook, where it was found
that some militias were formed under “early” impulses from European Fascism.
All the “major” Christian militias were Maronite-dominated, with other Christian
sects having a secondary role.
The most powerful of their militias was that of the “Kataeb Social Democratic
Party6” (or) the “Phalange”, led by “Bachir Gemayel”. The Phalange went on to
assist in the founding of the “Lebanese Forces7” in 1977, who were led by “Samir
Geagea” in 1986.
A smaller force was the extremist “Guardians of the Cedars”, founded by
“Etienne Saqr (Sakr or Sacre), later expelled from the country, tried in absentia and
sentenced to death for working with the Israeli’s near the end of the war.
These militias quickly established strongholds in the Christian-dominated East
Beirut (also at the sites of many government buildings) whereas in the north, the
Marada Brigades served as the “private” militia of the Franjieh family and Zgharta8.
Shi’a Militias
The Shi’s militias were slow to form and participate in the fighting, where,
initially many Shi’s had shown sympathies to the Palestinian cause and the
Lebanese Communist Party9 these slowly diminished after “Black September”, and
there was a sudden influx of armed Palestinians to the Shi’a regions. The radical
factions of the Palestinian immigrants ruled by the gun in much of Shi’a inhabited
southern Lebanon, and soon wore out their welcome in those regions of the Shi’a
having alienated the traditionalist Shi’a community. After years without their own
political organization, in 1974-1975 the birth of the “Musa Sadr Amal Movement10”
surfaced. (Their origins began with the Lebanese cleric of Iranian origin “Iman Musa
al-Sadr11”)
6
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kataeb
7
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lebanese_Forces
8
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zgharta
9
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lebanese_Communist_Party
10
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amal_Movement
11
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Musa_al-Sadr
Its moderate Islamist ideology immediately attracted the urban poor, and its
armed ranks grew rapidly. Later, in the early 1980s, a hardliner faction would break
away to join with other Shi’a groups fighting Israel to form the “Hezbollah12”, who to
this day remain the most powerful militia in Lebanon. Hezbollah was initially aided
and trained by Iran and since the late 1980s has been receiving backing from Syria.
Sunni Militias
Some Sunni groups received their support from Libya and Iraq, and of the
number of minor ones, the more prominent ones were considered with a “Nasserist”
or otherwise pan-Arab or Arab nationalist direction – and a few Islamist.
The primary Sunni-led organization was the “al-Murabitun13” – to compensate for
a small force on the battlefield, the Sunni leadership turned early in the war to the
PLO, which was dominated by Palestinian Sunnis, keep in mind the PLO had a Greek
Orthodox minority.
The Druze
The Druze, strategically located in the Chouf14 in central Lebanon, had no natural
allies, and so put a tremendous effort into building alliances. Under the leadership
of the Jumblatt family (1st Kamal Jumblatt-LMN15 leader) and then his son “Walid
Jumblatt” the Progressive Socialist Party16 (“PSP”) served as an effective Druze
militia, constructing excellent ties to the Soviet Union mainly, and with Israel when
it invaded Lebanon, and after Israel withdrew a relationship with Syria was
established.
Non-Religious Groups
Although several Lebanese militias professed to be secular17, most were little
than vehicles for their sectarian18 interests. In this there existed a number of non-
religious groups, most setup exclusively on the far-left.
One was the pro-Moscow Lebanese Communist Party (“LCP19”) and the more
radical and independent Communist Action Organization (“COA20”). Another was,

12
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hezbollah
13
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Al-Murabitun
14
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chouf_District
15
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lebanese_National_Movement
16
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Progressive_Socialist_Party
17
Secularism generally refers to an ideology that promotes the secular (as opposed to the religious) particularly within the public
sphere
18
rigidly adhering to a particular set of doctrines and intolerant of other views
19
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lebanese_Communist_Party
20
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Communist_Action_Organization
the Syrian Social National Party, (“SSNP21”), which promoted the concept of a
Greater Syria rather than Pan-Arab or Lebanese nationalism. It was generally
aligned with the Syrian government, although it did not approve of “Hafef al-
Assad’s” Ba’thist regime.
The Palestinians
The Palestinian movement had relocated most of its fighting strength to Lebanon
by the end of 1970, this after wearing out their welcome in Jordan in the event
known as Black September. Within in this movement sat the PLO, by itself
Lebanon’s most potent fighting force, and consider it was little more than a “loose”
confederation, with its leader “Yasser Arafat22” proving to be “unable” to control
some factions within the movement.
This condition undermined both the PLO’s operational strength and the
sympathy of the Lebanese for the PLO, as the organization’s image in Lebanon was
increasingly deterred by the radical forces whose “Communist Revolutionary Order”
were no more than forceful rhetoric in support of their “protection rackets”. In
other words, the PLO could not be considered to be a “coherent organization”.
The mainstream PLO, represented by Arafat’s powerful Fatah guerrillas, initially
hesitated to take sides in the Lebanese struggle, but was eventually dragged into
open conflict by more radical Palestinian groups.
The “dragging” into the Civil War of Lebanon was encouraged by a number of
different entities that included factions of the radical Arab States, such as Syria, Iraq
and Libya – ones that screamed Arab socialist and Marxist-Leninist doctrine. Among
the “loudest” was the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (“PFLP 23”) an
outgrowth of the Arab Nationalist Movement24 founded in 1953 by Doctor George
Habash, a Palestinian Christian from Lydda/Lod in Palestine – the family had been
forced into exile after the 1948 Arab-Israeli war --- he received his doctorate at the
American University of Beirut graduating in 1951. A splinter of the “PFLP”, the
Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (“DFLP25”) was also a big
encouragement factor in the PLO’s participation in the war.

21
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Syrian_Social_Nationalist_Party
22
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yassir_Arafat
23
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Popular_Front_for_the_Liberation_of_Palestine
24
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arab_Nationalist_Movement
25
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Democratic_Front_for_the_Liberation_of_Palestine
Lesser roles were played by the Palestinian Liberation Front (“PLF”) and another
splinter group of the “PFLP”, the Syrian-aligned Popular Front for the Liberation of
Palestine-General Command (“PFLP-GC”), as if things were not already complicated
enough the Ba’thist systems of Syria and Iraq both set up Palestinian “puppet”
organizations within the PLO.
The as-Sa’iqa26 was a Syrian-controlled militia operating in parallel by the Arab
Liberation Front (“ALF”) under Iraqi command. The Syrian government could also
count on the Syrian brigades of the Palestinian Liberation Army (“PLA”) which was
“formally” but not “functionally” the PLO’s regular army. Some PLA units sent by
Egypt were under PLO control, but “never” played the same dominant role as the
heavily armed “Syrian” backed forces.
In 1974, added to Arafat’s multi-problems was the near-formal “breakup” of the
PLO, when he and the leadership of the Fatah put forth the “Ten Points Program 27”
that had its focus on making a two-state solution, to the Palestinian National Council
(“PNC”).
Under furious accusations of treason, many of the PLO’s hard line “anti-Israel”
parties simply walked out of the organization. These organizations with the backing
of the Iraqi’s, and later the Syrian’s and the Libyan’s backing, formed the
Rejectionist Front28, screaming a no-compromise line towards Israel.
The defectors included the PFLP, the PFLP-GC, the PLF, as-Sa’iqa, ALF and
several others, and discontent began to grow in the Fatah – this split effectively
prevented any organizational unity in the crucial states of the PLO’s involvement in
the Lebanese Civil War.

All these different factions can be said to have kept the Civil War alive far past
its effective date, turning Lebanon into one large battleground – it is now realized
that it is not entirely correct to state that the war pitted these groups against each
other just because of the religious beliefs and maybe you’ll be able to see it is a war
that really gets it birth after the formation of the state of Israel in 1948 – maybe?
A serious confrontation involving the PLO guerrillas erupted on March 25th,
1970 in the Maronite town of “Kahhaleh (on the road to Damascus from Beirut)”

26
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/As-Sa%27iqa
27
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ten_point_plan
28
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rejectionist_Front
and spread immediately to the suburbs of Beirut – they lasted over three days, and
had (up until that time) unprecedented confessional overtones.
It all began during a funeral procession that was being escorted by the PLO
through the village to Damascus to bury a Palestinian commando officer, was fired
on by the villagers. On their way back, the Palestinian had reinforced their convoy
with more troops and more arms – they again were attacked in Kahhaleh coming
under heavy fire through the main road in town – gunfire was exchanged for 45-
minutes with several casualties reported.
Immediately after the incident – attempts at reconciliation started, with Kamal
Jumblatt (in his capacity as Minister of the Interior), conferring with delegations
representing the Palestinians and representatives from Kahhaleh.
Despite these efforts, the fighting spread to other areas around the Palestinian
camps in the areas of “Dikwaneh” and “Harit Hreik”. The locations were populated
by middle/lower class Christians, where guerrillas had previously set up roadblocks
and harass the Christians as they went to an fro doing their business outside of the
regions.
In Dikwaneh, where the Tal-Zatar camp was located, Palestinian guerrillas raided
the local office of the Phalange Party where they “kidnapped” Pierre Gemayel’s
younger son “Bashir”, who at this time was
not yet directly involved in party politics.
Although Bashir and his two companions
were released the same day from a Fatah
office on “Hamra Street”, the symbolic
significance of the episode was clear.
From that day forward Bashir Gemayel
would get heavily involved in the politics in Lebanon.
September 5th, 1972 – Black September group (PLO) begins the Olympic Games
kidnapping.29
September 19th, Black September sends letter bomb to Ami Shechori in London
killing him.

29
Luttif Afif (1937? or 1945? – September 6, 1972), possible true name Muhammad Massalha, alias Issa, was the leader of the
group of Palestinian terrorists who invaded the Munich Olympic Village on September 5, 1972 and took as hostage nine
members of Israel’s Olympic team after killing two members who resisted.
On April 10th, 1973, Israeli commandos infiltrated Beirut in a daring raid and
attacked Palestinian centers in the heart of the capital, killing three prominent PLO
leaders:
1. Kamal Nasir – Poet and the PLO official spokesman
2. Muhammad al-Najjar – Head of the Higher Political Committee for Palestinian
Affairs in Lebanon, member of the PLO Executive Committee and Fatah
Central Committee
3. Kamal Udwan – Member of the Fatah Central Committee
The absence of the Lebanese Army during the Israeli attack angered Lebanese
Muslims, whereas Prime Minister “Saib Salam” claimed that Army commander
General Alexander Ghanim – a Maronite – had disobeyed orders by not resisting the
Israeli raid, and he threatened to resign unless General Ghanim was stripped of his
rank – he did retain his rank, (until Sept 1975 being replaced by Hanna Said), Salam
did resign and was succeeded by a series of ineffective Prime Ministers.
On April 14th, 1973 – the United States-owned oil terminus30 at “Zahrani”
(Sidon) was bombed, allegedly by the PFLP-GC, and on April 27th, three men were
arrested with explosives at Beirut airport, where an additional bomb was found the
next day, and on April 30th several armed DFLP members were arrested as they
drove past the US Embassy --- in a nutshell the friction was increasing between the
guerrillas and the security forces was rising to a rapid boil.
In response to the security forces effective action, two Lebanese soldiers were
kidnapped on May 1st, January 1973 which finally forced the Lebanese Army into
action with the PLO. The refugee camps are surrounded and attacked by the Army.
In response to Palestinian shelling of the airport, the Lebanese Air Force was
ordered into action against the “Burj al-Barajina” camp in Beirut. A state of
emergency was declared throughout the country.
The PLO appealed to international allies for support. Algeria, Libya, and Syria
promptly condemned the Lebanese government’s actions, and all three – together
with Kuwait, Egypt, Morocco, Iraq, the UAE, and the Arab League offered to
mediate.
Egypt and Syria – who were planning the October-1973 Arab-Israeli War, put
forth an extra plea, being anxious to contain the conflict, and put pressure on

30
Trans-Arabian Pipeline Company, a joint venture by Standard Oil of New Jersey (Esso), Standard Oil of California
(Chevron), The Texas Company (Texaco) and Socony-Vacuum Oil Company (Mobil)
Lebanon. On May 8th the border between Syria and Lebanon was closed by Syria,
the two forces inside Syria (Fatah, Sa’iqa) moved from Syria to a few kilometers
inside Lebanon. Forcing Lebanon into some serious ways to end the fighting.
After some 17-hours of negotiating on May 17th, the two sides had reached an
agreement, it was labeled the “Melkart Protocol” – it stated that the PLO had to
respect the “Independence, stability, and sovereignty” of Lebanon, and yet it also
gave the PLO virtual autonomy, including the right to maintain its own militia in
certain areas of Lebanon. This was radically different than the “Cairo Agreement”
which preserved the “exercise of full power in all regions and in all circumstanced
by ‘Lebanese’ civilian and military authorities.”
Lebanese Muslims believed that under the “Melkart Agreement” Palestinian
refuges in Lebanon had been accorded a “greater” degree of self-determination
than even some Lebanese “citizens”, and inspired by this they organized politically
and militarily along with “encouraged” by the Palestinians tried to obtain similar
concession from the central government.
Druze leader “Kamal Jumblatt” established the Lebanese National Movement
(formerly the Front for Progressive Parties and National Forces) as an umbrella
group made up of anti-governmental forces.
Following the 1969 events, Kataeb (Phalange) Party members were involved in
“occasional” military training, this changed in 1973 after the confrontations
between them and the PLO forces. They acquired heavy weapons and engaged
extensively in organized training – the Phalange Party was the most organized of
the Christian-based units having a para-military structure and a large following in
various sections of the country – as noted analysis and author “Frank Stoakes”
remarked, “it had become a valuable auxiliary of the state,” and was ready to come
to its defense in times of crisis.
Other groups began to organize militarily, notably “Chamoun’s” National Liberal
Party and a small elitist group of young professionals called “al-Tanzim31”, led by Dr.
Fouad Chemail and Georges Adouan.
All the participants in Lebanon lagged far beyond the PLO in similar military and
security infrastructure as they had limited financial resources. Whereas the leftist
and Muslim-based parties that operated closely with the PLO received heavy
financial and military support from Arab countries, most notably Libya, Syria and
Iraq. Christian-based groups (for the most part) relied mainly on “private” financial
support and received (beginning in 1973) military training and light weapons from
the Lebanese army. At the beginning of 1975, it is estimated that over 350,000
Palestinian refugees are in Lebanon.

Pre-1975 the military balance in the country was in favor of the PLO:
1. PLO organization (22,900 troops)
a. Fatah – 7,000
b. Sa’iqa – 4,500
c. Al-Rashidiye camp - 7,300
d. Ayn al-Helweh camp - 4,500
e. Tal al Zaatar camp - 3,225
f. Shatile camp - 2,500
g. Nahr al-Band camp - 1,700
h. Al-Burj al-Shimali camp - 1,625
i. Borj al-Barajneh camp - 1,300
2. Lebanese Army (19,000) 50% fighting force – rest administrative
3. Kataeb Party - 8,000
4. Lebanese Communist Party - 5,000
5. Progressive Socialist Party - 5,000
6. Syrian Social Nationalist Party - 4,000
31
This small party was founded in 1969 in the wake of major clashes between the Palestinian forces in Lebanon and the
Lebanese army (which was aided by right-wing militias). Its founders split off from the Lebanese Phalanges party in protest
against its leadership's reluctance to engage in nationwide military training and arming of the Lebanese population to engage in
full-scale war against the Palestinians in Lebanon. Since its inception, this party has exhibited a fixation with the militarization of
the Lebanese in order to "defend Lebanon." This ostensibly secretive program was made public in 1973 when the Organization
participated in clashes between Palestinian forces, on the one hand, and the coalition of Lebanese army troops and rightwing
militias, on the other. With the split the Lebanese army early in the war, Al Tanzim attempted to incorporate defectors from the
army into its ranks. The Lebanese Al Tanzim also accepted members from outside the army, mostly from the upper and
professional classes. It fielded its own military force of about 1500 troops. The Organization was absorbed into the Lebanese
Forces in 1977.
7. National Liberal Party - 4,000
8. Leftist/Nationalist/Muslim based parties (LNM) had over 18,700 militiamen
coupled with the PLO showed a total of anti-government forces around
41,600 men
9. The Christian-based units made up a total force of 12,000, and after the
breakup of the Lebanese Army – this number decreased – the anti-
government forces numbered 46,000 and the Christian-based number was
15,000 – both sides had increased, although the ratio was worse for the
Christians.
Prior to the spark(s) that set the reality of war on the Lebanese people, other
events are said to have added to the upcoming disruption of Lebanon.
May 16th – 1974: Israeli Air Force bombed “seven” Palestinian refugee camps
and villages in southern Lebanon killing at least 27-people and leaving 138 injured.
The attack was in “retaliation” for yesterday’s hostage crisis as a school in “Ma’alot”
near the Lebanon border in which 18-teenages were killed and 70 wounded.
Worst hit by the Israeli fighter-bombers were the crowded refugee camps of “Ein
El Helweh” near the city of Sidon and Nabatieh. An official announcement from the
IDF said the planes had been aiming at offices and training bases used by the
Popular Democratic Front led by “Nayef Hawatmeh” and the Popular Front under
the command of “Ahmed Jibril”.

In common references on the Internet there are sites available that lay out some
special events happening during the year in Lebanon, I have gone to a universal
news archive and went thought each day of each month, noting news worthy items
that have to do with the overall conditions in the Middle East. Some news worthy
items it can easily be determined of their direct cause and effect on the events in
Lebanon – while the recorded instances are noted on the Lebanese Civil War pages,
the events leading to these actions are not conclusive in detailing what led to their
occurrences. I’m not saying they were left out on purpose just as I’m not saying I
am taking the noted references to the event leading up to their happening as noted
by the International press is accurate, all I am saying is that the reader must draw
his own conclusions or opinion of their effect in Lebanon.
Some events (dates) will back track in most times to the event with a correction
on a following date – in some instances it may take a week or two before the
correction or another fact is discovered that facilitates the correction – this is
common. When I am able to remember (if the events are not too far about, or my
family of editors discovered the change) it is made during the day the event happen
in “captions” – the constant reference to the Middle East peace process involving
Egypt and Israel is noted more often than any other political moves because their
peace process, like the war in Lebanon has a lot to do with the fate of the
Palestinians, which has been the focal point of most of the Middle East since Israel
was made a state in 1948.

January 2nd – USA Secretary of State “Henry Kissinger” says military action
cannot be ruled out in the Middle East – blames the conditions of the region on oil.
Israeli troops cross the Lebanese border and raid two towns, four Arab civilians
and one Lebanese soldier are killed during the raid.
On January 3rd, 1975 the country of Israel bombed selected areas in South
Lebanon, killing six civilians, five wounded and during an excursion of Israel forces,
six were taken prisoner and 13-homes were destroyed. The Lebanese army and the
Fedayin (Muslim freedom fighters) twice repelled the Israeli incursion attempts.
There is also fighting between Israel and Lebanon along the border, Israel
reports it lost one officer and seven soldiers are wounded
Lebanon protests to UN Security Council and ask other Arab country’s for
weapons.
Two bombs explode in Egyptian and Jordan embassies in Damascus, Syria four
are reported wounded – Arab and Communist group “may be” responsible.
On January 6th, 1975 the Lebanese army attack and succeed in controlling the
old town of “Tripoli”, where it is said many outlaws has been hiding for the past six
months – two civilians died, twelve wounded and seventy-five were arrested.
Israel charges “Palestinians” from Syria are “reinforcing” guerrillas in Lebanon –
Israeli Defense Minister “Shimon Peres” warns both countries that any Syrian
attempt to gain a foothold in Lebanon will an act of aggression. Lebanese
government denies the charge.
In the Beirut region on the 7th of January, 25,000 private school teachers went on
strike this affected over 200,000 students, they were claiming the “amendment” of
their pay scale and teachers’ dismissal law was unfair. The minimum salary for a
teacher was 250 Lebanese pounds per month.
Jan 8th – Israeli Foreign Minister “Yigal Allon” flies to US to discuss next step in
Israel, as Egypt’s President Sadat says Israel must agree to “withdraw” from East
Jerusalem of other Israeli-occupied Arab territories before Middle East peace talks
can resume in Geneva.
Jan 9th – Secretary of State Kissinger (USA) raised the “remote” possibility of
United States military intervention in the Middle East – an another surprise
announcement the State Department reveals a sale of squadron of Jet Fighters to
Saudi Arabia. The Saudis plan to spend $756 million on the transaction. Rival TV
network reports a value in the $3/$4 billion range.
Jan 10th – Israelis are still making raids across the border against Arab guerrillas.
It is also reported that Syrian President Assad is visiting Lebanon with Lebanese
President Suleiman Franjieh for mutual defense conferences, both Syria and
Lebanon are afraid Israel will take over South Lebanon – it is said the residents are
in fear of losing everything, including their lives.
The Lebanese Foreign Minister reports his government will ask for a high-level
conference of all Arab Nations to discuss problem.
The government of “India” recognizes the PLO as the only representatives of
Palestinians – they authorize the opening of office in New Delhi.
The 70th Patriarch “Paul Peter Meoushi” dies of a heart attack at the age of 81
on January 11th, 1975 – Saturday.
Jan 13th – Israeli troops cross border twice – destroying five houses and shelling
outskirts of several towns. Two Lebanese are wounded; in nearby town a
demonstration is organized protesting the inability of Lebanese Army’s failure to
stop raids.
Jan 14th – Saudi Arabia’s “King Faisal” touring Middle East says he’ll help Syria
“financially” in its struggle against Israel – UN Secretary General “Kurt Waldheim”
warns the Middle East situation is extremely serious, and there may be a withdrawal
of fall peace-keeping forces in the region – in DC, Marvin Kalb reports the possibility
of further Israeli – Egyptian relations and future agreement looks good.
Jan 15th – Israelis cross border once more and fight with PLO, PLO claim that
Israelis shell two gunboats in Lebanon – it is said by Israelis that raids will continue
considering the situation inside Lebanon.
Jan 16th – Another Israeli attack across border against PLO bases. Israeli artillery
fires across the Lebanese border for its 5 th consecutive day, Lebanese army returns
fire briefly (for the 1st time this year) – whereas they hope to force PLO out of
Southern Lebanon.
In Damascus a bomb explodes near hotel where “some” of Saudi Arabian King
Faisal’s delegation is staying. It is mentioned that King Faisal and President Assad
do not agree on methods of running a government – they agree that Arabs must be
“unified” in their approach to the Middle East problem.
Jan 17th – President Ford White House confirms that U.S. has supplied Lebanon
with two-dozen “mobile” rocket launchers in recent months. Lebanese refugees
bitter at United States for supplying Israelis with up-to-date modern warfare
materials, whereas the small Lebanese Army is reluctant to challenge the Israelis. It
is also noted that there is a growing support across the region to supply
sophisticated equipment to army upgrading its readiness.
Kissinger due back in Middle East accepted invitation (in principle) Israeli Foreign
Minister Yigal Allon makes announcement, and he expresses assurances that U.S.
won’t sell out Israel.
January 20th, Lebanese Army barracks in Tyre is hit by 8-rockets fired from
nearby Palestinian camp.
United States asking British for occasional use of their airfield facilities on
“Masirah Island” – British-run airbase at entrance to Persian Gulf.
Jan 23rd – President Anwar Sadat says Egypt and Syria to go to war if attacked by
Israel – Israeli Prime Minister “Itzhak Rabin” rejects Sadat’s demands to pull back on
three fronts within next 3-months.
Jan 24th – Ford White House and Pentagon deny report that three Army divisions
are being prepared as “expeditionary” force to the Middle East.
After stormy debates and demonstrations most schools reopened their doors on
January 27, 1975 in Lebanon.
President Sadat goes to France to purchase military supplies, he meets with
French President “Valery Giscard d’Estaing” who is more than willing to sell him the
newest in rockets, fighter planes, tanks, nuclear reactors –Saudi Arabia says they
will assist along with other Arab nations with financial aid for the purchase.
Jan 28th – Israel Defense Minister Shimon Peres says Israel has agreed to pull its
troops back to new defense line on Sinai, 35-miles east of Suez Canal – but it insists
on keeping oil fields and “strategic” mountain passes that Egypt is demanding they
turn over.
In South Lebanon the Israelis have stepped up their campaign against the PLO,
whereas the Lebanese farmers are caught in the middle –one farmer “Aref Khoury”
says, “we live in a constant shadow of fear”.
Syria brags that they are in a much “stronger military position” then when the
October War broke out, and as a demand for a permanent peace settlement the
turning over of the “Golan Heights” – it is note that although there is some progress
in Sinai – there is none in reference to Syria.
Jan 29th – PLO gives tour of their detention camp in Damascus, where 70 men are
being held for discipline – including five-men who tried to hijack a British airliner.
On January 30th, 1975 15,000 citizens demonstrated in Beirut expressing their
“solidarity” with the people of Southern Lebanon – which had gone through regular
attacks.
Jan 31st – International news reports on the increase of “Belly Dancing” in
Lebanon, contributing it to greater social freedom – they show large Belly Dancing
school in Beirut – interview with “Nadia Gamal” who says that Belly Dancing good
for women’s body and her mind.

The month of January Israel is hard after the PLO’s positions in South Lebanon,
and the PLO responds in like fashion…the Israelis accuse Syria of supplying
Palestinians (PLO Members) to reinforce the PLO forces in Syria – there is no answer
to this accusation. After a particular heavy raid by the Israelis the Lebanese
government protests to the UN and sends out a general call for “arms” from other
Arab countries. The reader should be reminded that when there is a historical
reference to the “government” it usually refers to the government of the Prime
Minister.
US Secretary of State Kissinger raises the possibility of the US intervening in the
Middle East in the press – the next day Syrian President Assad is meeting with the
President of Lebanon (and his government) to have a “mutual defense” conference
in dealing with Israel, couching their meeting based on the fear of the residents in
Southern Lebanon.
In a strange turn of events (maybe) King Faisal pledges to help Syria in financing
their military expenditures in fighting Israel, and when he and entourage visit
Damascus the hotel where his group is staying is bombed. (Israel-?)
And then the US Government acknowledges it has furnished Lebanon with some
rocket launchers, three days later the PLO fires three rockets into an Army barracks
at Tyre. In Damascus King Faisal goes home and then President Assad’s
government “brags” they are stronger than they were during the October war.
President Sadat goes to France to buy a military stockpile, and in Israel Peres
says that Israel will pull back to old lines in Sinai. What a month!