Status Quo Side: Government
Non-Status Quo Side: United National Front
Region: Middle East
Conflict Type: External Intervention
Issues in Dispute: Ethnic, Governance, Strategic
A 1943 National Covenant provided for political and religious balance in government and public institutions between Christians and Muslims, and Western and Arab cultures. President Camille Chamoun, a Maronite Christian, polarized these factions by keeping ties with Britain and France after Suez [see SUE] and accepting the Eisenhower Doctrine aimed at blocking Soviet penetration of the Middle East. Pro-Nasserites, i.e. those who approved Epypt's links with the USSR, formed a United National Front to oppose an expected unconstitutional Chamoun bid for reelection in 1958. The Front denied the validity of the government's victory in the June 1957 Parliamentary elections.
Rising opposition led to riots and street fighting allegedly provoked by Egypt and Syria. The US sent arms. Tensions escalated after Egypt and Syria formed the United Arab Republic (UAR) in February 1958 and invited Lebanon to join.
The Front called a general strike protesting assassination of a prominent leftist. Rioting spread from Tripoli to Beirut. Clashes became widespread. The Army Commander Fuad Chehab kept the Army relatively uncommitted. Chamoun sought Western aid and, in the Arab League and UNSC, alleged armed infiltration. The UNSC sent observers (UNOGIL) to prevent illegal movement of troops or arms into Lebanon. The July 14 Iraqi coup, which ousted the US-backed Hashemite monarchy, prompted the dispatch of US forces to defend US lives and Lebanese independence. The landings were peaceful and clearly the crisis had been exaggerated. On the domestic side the situation crisis eased as Chamoun made way for Fuad Chehab as President. On August 8 US troops began to leave as the UNGA took up the matter. New violence from the right began in September.
A compromise Cabinet eased the crisis. US troops had left by October 25. The June 1960 elections reinstated the earlier political balance.
The confilct broke out into civil war in 1975 [see LBN].
Copyright © 1999 Lincoln P. Bloomfield and Allen Moulton