SYRIA AND THE CIVIL WAR IN LEBANON IN 1975 – 76
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After 1970 the PLO, driven out of Jordan, made Lebanon its operational base. It did not want to enter the civil war, but it sided with any group that espoused Arab nationalism and wanted to liberate Palestine. It was a Maronite militia’s attacks on the Palestinians that sparked the fighting in April 1975, committing the PLO to the Arab nationalist side. The Lebanese conflict was also a struggle between a privileged class of landowners and merchants trying to preserve the status quo and a large mass of poor people (mainly Muslim) striving for more equality. The two main Lebanese parties of the conflict were the Phalanges, a largely Maronite force, and the Lebanese National Movement which was mainly Muslim. The Muslim side won the support of the PLO. One puzzling aspect of this civil war was Syria’s 1976 policy shift. At first President Eafi al-Asad backed the rebels both morally and materially. He managed to get the Christians to accept a cease-fire, but the Muslim Lebanese, abetted by the PLO, rejected his proposed compromise. This rejection made Eafi al-Asad change sides and his forces battered the Muslims and the PLO into submission by the autumn of 1976.
193 – 213
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