Times of Trouble

Flashpoints in Modern Lebanese History

View of Beirut, Lebanon, with palm and pine trees in the foreground (Aline Talatinian / iStockphoto)
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1992 — Business mogul Rafik Hariri is elected Prime Minister, ushering in a period of economic growth and relative political stability.

2005 — Hariri is killed in a car bombing, and many suspect Syrian agents. Massive public protests catalyze the withdrawal of Syrian troops from Lebanon.

2006 — Hezbollah fighters kidnap two Israeli soldiers, launching a bloody 34-day war.

2007 — The president's term expires, and the post remains vacant for the next 6 months because the divided parliament cannot agree on a successor.

May 2008 — Parliament moves to reassign a Hezbollah-backed airport security official and shut down the group's private phone network. Hezbollah calls the moves "a declaration of war" and seizes much of Beirut by force, prompting fears of another civil war. Peace talks brokered by Qatar are successful but represent a major power shift in favor of Hezbollah, which emerges with parliamentary veto power. Michel Suleiman is elected president and reappoints Fouad Siniora as prime minister.

About Amanda Fiegl

Amanda Fiegl is a former assistant editor at Smithsonian and is now a senior editor at the Nature Conservancy.

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