Lebanon

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Overview

Lebanon was once a jewel of the Middle East, a key destination for travelers from the region and all over the world. But beginning in the mid-1970s, the country was torn apart by sectarian violence that pitted Muslims and Christians, and eventually, Lebanon was pulled into the Arab-Israeli conflict as, first, the PLO and then later Hezbollah used the country as a staging ground to carry out attacks against Israel, which borders Lebanon to the south. The use of Lebanon by terrorist groups resulted in several invasions by Israel’s military, including 1978, 1982 and 2006, which only added to the destruction and internal turmoil that Lebanese have had to endure. From the 1980s until very recently, the Syrian government inserted itself into Lebanon’s governmental affairs, culminating in the 2005 Cedar Revolution which resulted in Syria’s withdrawal, both militarily and to some extent, politically, from the country. Hezbollah, however, continues to play a significant role in Lebanese affairs and has gained considerable support from the local population in key areas, much to the consternation of Israel.


The United States has been very involved in Lebanon’s troubles. US Marines were dispatched in 1958 to help shore up support for a pro-Western government and again in 1983 to help Christian factions battle their Muslim rivals. This decision by the Reagan administration to choose sides produced horrific results, as more than 200 Marines lost their lives in one of the most deadly and high-profile terrorist car bombings of the 1980s. Numerous American citizens fell hostage to terrorists during the decade, some being held for months and even years. Each time Israel invaded Lebanon, the US stood by its ally, often in the face of international condemnation of the attacks. After the withdrawal of Israel’s forces in 2006, the Bush administration sought to fortify Lebanon’s military (in the hope it can mitigate Hezbollah’s power) through arms sales, despite concerns voiced by Israeli officials and even some within the Pentagon and the State Department.
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Basic Information

Lay of the Land: Located in southwest Asia, Lebanon is a strip of land along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea. Its principal topographic features are a narrow coastal plain behind which are the high Lebanese Mountains, the fertile Beqaa Valley, and the anti-Lebanon Mountains extending to the Syrian border.

 
Population: 4.0 million
 
Religions: Sunni Muslim 28%, Shi'a Muslim 28%, Maronite Christian 22%, Greek Orthodox 8%, Druze 6%, Greek Catholic 4%, Buddhist 2.1%, Baha'i 0.1%, non-religious 1.8%.
 
Ethnic Groups: Arab 95%, Armenian 4%, other 1%.
 

Languages

: North Levantine Arabic 92.4%, Arabic (official), Armenian 5.5%, Northern Kurdish 1.8%, French (official) 0.4%, English 0.008%.

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History

Lebanon was originally occupied by the Phoenicians, Semitic traders whose maritime culture flourished for more than 2,000 years from 2700-450 BC. In later centuries, Lebanon’s mountains were a refuge for Christians, and Crusaders established several strongholds in the region.

 
After World War I and the collapse of the Ottoman Empire, France was given a League of Nations mandate over Lebanon and its neighbor Syria. France divided them in 1920 into separate colonial administrations, drawing a border that separated mostly Muslim Syria from the mixed religious communities in Lebanon, where Maronite Christians were then dominant.
 
Lebanon gained its independence in the 1940s in a series of stages. Although independence was declared in 1941, most of the powers held by the French were not turned over to the new Lebanese government until January 1944. The evacuation of French troops was completed in 1946.
 
Christian and Muslim groups agreed to share power, with a Maronite Christian as president, a Sunni Muslim as prime minister, and a Shiite as national assembly speaker. This cooperation worked until civil war broke out in 1958, when Muslim factions led by Kamal Jumblat and Saeb Salam revolted against the Lebanese government headed by President Camille Chamoun, a Maronite Christian favoring close ties to the West. At Chamoun’s request, President Dwight Eisenhower sent US Marines to Lebanon to reestablish the government’s authority.
 
Peace was restored and maintained until 1975, when a bloody civil war broke out. This time another foreign power, Syria, became involved in Lebanese affairs. It is estimated that 40,000 Lebanese were killed and 100,000 wounded between March 1975 and November 1976. At that point, Syrian troops intervened at the request of the Lebanese and brought large-scale fighting to a halt.
 
Exacerbating Lebanon’s problems was the presence of Palestinian guerrillas staging raids on Israel from Lebanese territory. With Lebanon’s government unable (or unwilling, in the eyes of the Israelis) to halt the PLO attacks, Israel decided to attack PLO strongholds in Lebanon, first in 1978, and again in 1982. The 1978 attack was short-lived, lasting only a few months, until the UN Security Council created a 6,000-man peacekeeping force for the area called UNIFIL.
 
The second Israeli invasion came on June 6, 1982, after an assassination attempt by Palestinian terrorists on the Israeli ambassador in London. Israel was determined to drive the PLO out of Lebanon for good, and sent its Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) deep into Lebanon. Israeli warplanes bombed PLO locations throughout Lebanon, including Beirut, and there were constant fears that Israel would become engaged in full-scale war with Syria, which stationed forces in Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley.
 
Lebanon’s civil strife grew worst after its president, Bashir Gemayel, was killed by a bomb that destroyed the headquarters of his Christian Phalangist Party. Following his assassination, Christian militiamen massacred about 1,000 Palestinians in the Israeli-controlled Sabra and Shatila refugee camps, while IDF forces stood by. The massacre in the refugee camps prompted the return of a multinational peacekeeping force, which included hundreds of US Marines. Its mandate was to support the central Lebanese government, but the United States was seen as supporting the Christian factions over their Muslim rivals. 
 
A total of 241 US Marines and about 60 French soldiers were killed, most of them in suicide bombings of the American and French military compounds on October 23, 1983. The multinational force withdrew in the spring of 1984. In 1985, the majority of Israeli troops withdrew from the country, but Israel left some troops along a buffer zone on the southern Lebanese border, where they engaged in ongoing skirmishes with terrorist groups. Hezbollah, or “Party of God,” was formed in response to Israel’s assault on Lebanon, with financial backing from Iran.
 
In July 1986, Syrian observers took up a position in Beirut to monitor a peacekeeping agreement. The agreement broke down and fighting between Shiite and Druze militia in West Beirut became so intense that Syrian troops mobilized in February 1987. In 1991 a treaty of friendship was signed with Syria, which in effect gave Syria control over Lebanon’s foreign relations. In early 1991, the Lebanese government, backed by Syria, regained control over the southern part of the country and disbanded various militias, effectively ending the 16-year civil war, which left Lebanon’s infrastructure and industry in tatters.
 
In May 2000, Israel withdrew its troops after 18 consecutive years of occupation in southern Lebanon. The following summer, Syria withdrew nearly all of its 25,000 troops from Beirut and surrounding areas. About 14,000 troops, however, remained in the countryside. With the continuation of Israeli-Palestinian violence in 2002, Hezbollah again began building up forces along the Lebanese-Israeli border.
 
In August 2004, Syrian officials insisted that Lebanon’s pro-Syrian president, Émile Lahoud, remain in office beyond the constitutional limit of one six-year term. Despite public outrage from many Lebanese, the Lebanese parliament agreed to Syria’s demands and permitted Lahoud to serve for three more years.
 
A UN Security Council resolution in September 2004 demanded that Syria remove its troops from Lebanon. Syria agreed to only a partial relocation of its forces from the vicinity of Beirut to eastern Lebanon. In response, Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri resigned. On February 14, 2005, he was killed by a car bomb. Many suspected Syria of being behind the assassination, and large protests ensued, calling for Syria’s complete withdrawal from the country.
 
After two weeks of protests by Sunni Muslim, Christian, and Druze parties, Prime Minister Omar Karami (backed by Syria) resigned. On March 8, Hezbollah sponsored a massive pro-Syrian rally that greatly outnumbered previous anti-Syrian protests. Hundreds of thousands gathered to thank Syria for its involvement in Lebanon. The pro-Syrian demonstrations led to President Lahoud’s reappointment of Karami as prime minister. But then more anti-Syrian protests erupted, twice the size of the Hezbollah protest.
 
Eventually, Syria withdrew 4,000 troops and redeployed the remaining 10,000 to Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley. Karami resigned a second time after failing to form a government. Lebanon’s new prime minister, Najib Mikati (a compromise candidate between the pro-Syrian and anti-Syrian groups) announced that new elections would be held. Finally, on April 26, 2004, after 29 years of occupation, Syria withdrew all of its troops from Lebanon.
 
In May and June 2005, parliamentary elections resulted in the ascension of an anti-Syrian alliance led by Saad al-Hariri, the 35-year-old son of former Prime Minister Hariri. Former Finance Minister Fouad Siniora, who was closely associated with Hariri, became prime minister. Later that year, four individuals were charged in the murder of the senior Hariri. The commander of Lebanon’s Republican Guard, the former head of general security, the former chief of Lebanon’s police, and a former military intelligence officer were indicted for the assassination. In October 2005, the UN released a report concluding that the assassination was carefully organized by Syrian and Lebanese intelligence officials, including Syria’s military intelligence chief, Asef Shawkat, the brother-in-law of Syrian President Bashar Assad.
 
On July 12, 2006, Hezbollah fighters entered Israel and captured two Israeli soldiers. In response, Israel launched a major military attack, bombing the Lebanese airport and other major infrastructures, as well as parts of southern Lebanon. Hezbollah, with the help of Iran, retaliated by launching hundreds of rockets and missiles into Israel. After a week of fighting, Israel made it clear that its offensive in Lebanon would continue until Hezbollah was routed. Although much of the international community demanded a ceasefire, the United States supported Israel’s effort to destroy Hezbollah’s military power. But Hezbollah proved a much more formidable foe than anticipated. On August 14, a UN-negotiated cease-fire went into effect, with a 15,000-member peacekeeping force prepared to step in between the two warring sides. About 1,150 Lebanese, mostly civilians, and 150 Israelis, mostly soldiers, died in the 34 days of fighting. More than 400,000 Lebanese were forced from their homes by the fighting. Almost immediately, Hezbollah began organizing reconstruction efforts and handed out financial aid to families who had lost their homes, shoring up loyalty from Shiite civilians.
 
Sectarian violence in Lebanon continued in November 2006 when Pierre Gemayel, minister of industry and member of the Maronite Christian political dynasty, was assassinated. Protesters blamed Syria and its Lebanese allies. These protests were followed by sustained demonstrations by Hezbollah supporters. Tens of thousands of demonstrators, led by the Hezbollah leader Sheik Hassan Nasrallah, occupied the center of Beirut and called for the resignation of the Lebanese coalition government.
 
In June 2007, an anti-Syrian Member of Parliament, Walid Eido, was killed in a bombing in Beirut. In September, another anti-Syrian lawmaker, Antoine Ghanem of the Christian Phalange Party, was assassinated. The assassinations were followed by the killing of Gen. François al-Hajj, a top Lebanese general who was poised to succeed army chief Gen. Michel Suleiman.
 
Hezbollah legislators boycotted the session of Parliament in 2007 when lawmakers were to vote on a new president. The Hezbollah faction wanted the governing coalition to put forward a compromise candidate. Parliament adjourned the session and rescheduled elections. A caretaker government, led by Prime Minister Fouad Siniroa, took over after President Lahoud’s term expired.
 
Tensions in Lebanon peaked after the assassination of a top Hezbollah military commander, Imad Mugniyah, in a car bombing in Damascus, Syria. Some suspected that Mossad, the Israeli secret intelligence agency, was behind the killing of Mugniyah, who was wanted for orchestrating a series of bombings and kidnappings in the 1980s and 1990s. Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah called for an “open war” against Israel in response to Mugniyah’s death.
 
Sectarian violence between the Shiite-dominated Hezbollah and Sunnis broke out in May 2007 after the government shut down a telecommunications network run by Hezbollah, calling it illegal, and attempting to dismiss a Hezbollah-backed head of airport security. Members of Hezbollah took control of large swaths of western Beirut, forced a government-supported television station off the air, and burned the offices of a newspaper loyal to the government. After a week of violence, in which 65 people died, the government rescinded its plans concerning both the telecommunications network and the head of airport security. In return, Hezbollah agreed to dismantle roadblocks that paralyzed Beirut’s airport. The government concessions were seen as a major victory for Hezbollah.
 
After several days of negotiations, Hezbollah and the government reached a deal that resulted in Hezbollah withdrawing from Beirut. In return, the government agreed that Parliament would vote to elect Gen. Michel Suleiman, commander of Lebanon’s army, as the new president. Hezbollah also gained veto power within a newly formed cabinet.
 
Lebanon – History (Global Security.org)
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Lebanon's Newspapers
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History of U.S. Relations with Lebanon

Before the 1975 Civil War, Lebanon enjoyed generally good official relations with the United States. In large measure, these ties were promoted by the sizable Lebanese-American community. One incident that weakened these relations was the United States role in the 1958 Civil War. At that time, the administration of President Dwight D. Eisenhower dispatched a unit of US Marines to aid the government of President Shamun, whose regime was under pressure from Muslim factions to strengthen ties with Egypt and Syria. The Marines were never engaged in battle and were withdrawn soon after their arrival. Even so, many Lebanese and other Arab states viewed the United States action as interference in Lebanon’s internal affairs.

 
In the early 1980s, the US became deeply involved in Lebanon’s civil war. The Reagan administration sought to bolster the presidency of Amin Jumayyil and broker a treaty between Lebanon and Israel. The shelling of Druze and Shiite population centers by the USS New Jersey convinced most Lebanese Muslims that the United States had taken the Christian side in the conflict. Soon the US found itself the target of numerous terrorist attacks, not only on the compound housing US Marines but also the kidnapping of American citizens.
 
On June 14, 1985, a TWA airliner, Flight 847 en route from Athens to Rome, was hijacked by Hezbollah militants. The hijackers demanded the release of Shiite prisoners held in Kuwait, Israel, and Spain. Over the next two weeks, the airliner flew back and forth between Beirut and Algiers, releasing some passengers while holding others. At one point a United States Navy diver on board the plan was murdered. Seven American passengers who had Jewish-sounding surnames were taken off the jet and sequestered in Beirut by the terrorists. Then, in response to suspicions that the United States was planning a military rescue of the hostages, the terrorists moved the remaining passengers off the airplane and hid them throughout Beirut.
 
The deadlock was finally broken through a series of complex and controversial political maneuvers. The United States, determined not to concede to the terrorists’ demands, refused to publicly ask Israel to release its Shiite prisoners but did acknowledge that it would welcome such a move. The hostages were ultimately freed on June 30. On July 1, Israel announced that it was ready to release the Shiite detainees from its prison. Over the next several weeks, Israel released over 700 Shiite prisoners, but Israel denied that the prisoners’ release was related to the hijacking.
 
Many other Americans were seized by terrorists in Lebanon during the 1980s. American University of Beirut President David Dodge was abducted by Shiite terrorists in 1981 and freed in 1982. Terry Anderson, chief Middle East correspondent for the Associated Press, was one of six hostages who were held for more than two years. American television correspondent Charles Glass was seized on June 17, 1987 and later escaped. On October 3, 1985, the Islamic Jihad Organization claimed to have killed the CIA’s Beirut chief, William Buckley, who was purportedly taken to Iran where he was tortured and killed. Frank Regier, engineering professor at the American University of Beirut, was freed after several months in captivity by Amal militiamen. On February 14, 1985, American journalist Jeremy Levin escaped from his captors in the Biqa Valley.
 
1983-1991: Target America (PBS Frontline)
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Current U.S. Relations with Lebanon

Noted Lebanese-Americans

Casey Kasem is a radio personality and voice actor, most famous for hosting the radio program American Top 40 and giving voice to Shaggy in Scooby-Doo. He was born in 1933 to Lebanese Druze parents. Kasem is a prominent figure in promoting understanding of the Arab-American community and was honored as “Man of the Year” in 1996 by the American Druze Society.
 
Ralph Nader is a political activist and former Independent and Green Party candidate for President of the United States. Nader was born to Nathra and Rose Nader, who immigrated from Zahle, Lebanon. As a consumer advocate, Nader was instrumental in implementing traffic safety laws, such as the seat belt. He is also an active environmentalist and humanitarian.
 
Kathy Najimy is an actress most known for her role as Olive in the TV series “Veronica’s Closet” and for the voice of Peggy in King of the Hill. She also had roles in The Wedding Planner (2001), Rat Race (2001), and WALL-E (2008). Najimy was born to Lebanese parents Samia and Fred Najimy and raised Catholic. She is an activist for AIDS, women’s rights, and animal rights. Najimy was named Ms. Magazine’s Woman of the Year in 2004.
 
Tony Shalhoub is an actor best known as the star of the detective-drama Monk. He also had roles in Men in Black (1997), Gattaca (1997), Star Trek -Galaxy Quest (1999), Spy Kids (2001), Men in Black 2 (2002), and Cars (2006). Shalhoub is the son of a Lebanese father, who immigrated to the United States at the age of ten, and a second-generation Lebanese-American mother. He has won three Emmy Awards, two Screen Actors Guild Awards, and a Golden Globe.
 
The United States likes to point to its support of UN Security Council Resolution 1559, which calls for the disarming of all militias and the deployment of the Lebanese Armed Forces throughout Lebanon, as an example of its concern for stability in Lebanon. But historically the US has not backed other UN resolutions that called for the removal of Israeli forces while they occupied parts of Lebanon. The reality is, when push comes to shove, American policy continues to place greater importance on the US-Israeli relationship than the US-Lebanese one.
 
The US has provided significant amounts of financial support over the years to Lebanon, albeit to help repair the destruction brought on in part by Israel’s numerous invasions. From 1975 to 2005, Washington funneled $400 million to Beirut to help with relief, rehabilitation, and recovery programs. In the wake of the latest Israeli excursion into Lebanon, in 2006, the US substantially stepped up its aid efforts, pledging more than $1 billion in additional assistance for the 2006 and 2007 fiscal years. Some of current funding is used to support the activities of US and Lebanese private voluntary organizations engaged in rural and municipal development programs nationwide, improve the economic climate for global trade and investment, and enhance security and resettlement in south Lebanon. The US also supports humanitarian de-mining and victims’ assistance programs.
 
The United States also has assisted the American University of Beirut and the Lebanese American University with budget support and student scholarships. Assistance also has been provided to the Lebanese-American Community School and the International College.
 
The US resumed the International Military Education and Training program in Lebanon in 1993 to help bolster the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) and reinforce the importance of civilian control of the military. Sales of excess defense articles resumed in 1991 and have allowed the LAF to enhance both its transportation and communications capabilities, which were severely degraded during the civil war. Security assistance to both the LAF and the Internal Security Forces (ISF) increased significantly after the 2006 war.
 
A total of 440,279 people identified themselves as being of Lebanese ancestry in the 2000 US census. Lebanese Christians were the first Arab-speaking immigrants to America, beginning in the 1870’s, and peaking in 1914 at 9,023. Immigration slowed with the restrictive Immigration Quota Act in 1929, and only picked up 1975, when the civil war in Lebanon drove out a new wave of immigrants. Lebanese have settled all over the US, forming communities in Detroit, New York, Boston, Houston, and Los Angeles.
 
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Where Does the Money Flow

The US signed a trade pact with Lebanon in 2006, the Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA), which may serve as a stepping stone to a full free-trade agreement at some point in the future.

 
The US ranks as Lebanon’s fourth-largest source of imported goods. US exports to Lebanon are led by passenger cars (new and used), which catapulted from $32 million in 2003 to $564 million in 2008. The next leading exports are fuel oil, which rose from $6.3 million to $321 million, parts and accessories of vehicles, which jumped from $3.8 million to $34 million, and corn, of which Lebanon imported $31 million in 2008.
 
US imports from Lebanon aren’t nearly as profitable. One top American purchase, jewelry, averaged $16 million a year between 2003 and 2007, but dropped to $9 million in 2008. Imports of stone, sand, cement and lime reached $17.9 million in 2008, a large increase from $1.9 million in 2004. The US also imported $8.6 million worth of furniture and household items in 2008, down from $12.7 million in 2007.
 
The US enjoys a substantial trade surplus with Lebanon, in 2008 exporting $1.46 billion to only $99 million in imports.
 
More than 160 offices representing US businesses currently operate in Lebanon, including Microsoft, American Airlines, Coca-Cola, FedEx, UPS, General Electric, Parsons Brinkerhoff, Cisco, Eli Lilly, and Pepsi Cola.
 
The US sold $5.9 million in defense articles and services to Lebanon in 2007.
 
The US gave $634.2 million in aid to Lebanon in 2007, including $585.5 million in supplemental funding. The budget allotted the most funds to Stabilization Operations and Security Sector Reform ($287.2 million), Macroeconomic Foundation for Growth ($253 million), and Humanitarian Assistance: Protection, Assistance and Solutions ($19.1 million). The 2008 budget estimate decreased aid to $58.2 million. 
 
The 2009 budget will raise funding levels to $142.4 million and will distribute the most aid to Stabilization Operations and Security Sector Reform ($64.8 million), Rule of Law and Human Rights ($18 million), and Economic Growth: Environment ($8 million). The United States plans to increase military aid to Lebanon to $189.1 million from the $90.7 million initially allocated for the 2009 fiscal year for military equipments and training expenses for the Lebanese army.
 
The U.S. also funds development in Lebanon through USAID, the United States Agency for International Development. Two checks for a total of $100,000 were presented to two Lebanese organizations, Association Centre Mar Semaan and Safadi Foundation, on December 30, 2008. On March 6, 2009, the USAID and the Lebanon Mission Director Denise A. Herbol presented $1,229,012 to Dr. Joseph Jabbra, president of the Lebanese American University to finance scholarships for deserving students.  This funding will support more than 476 students as they pursue their educations. USAID also presented $25,750 to John Johnson, President of the International College on that day. This amount is part of the $500,000 grant International College received from USAID in 2007-2008.
 

USAID Press Releases

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Controversies

Was Car Bombing Targeted at US Ambassador?

In January 2008 a car bomb attack on a US embassy convoy in Beirut killed three Lebanese civilians and injured dozens. The Counterterrorism Blog speculated that the attack may have been a signal to the US: Stay out of Lebanese Affairs. The blog based its argument on the timing of the attack, coming just as the United States Ambassador, Jeffrey Feltman, an ardent voice for Lebanon’s shift away from Syria and towards the US, was set to leave his post and be replaced by incoming ambassador Michele Sison. “Given the operational capabilities and extensive intelligence networks of the groups that most likely perpetrated this outrage … it’s difficult to imagine that this was a failed operation,” wrote David Schenker. “An alternative and perhaps more convincing explanation is that this attack intentionally missed the ambassador.”
A Message for Departing Ambassador Feltman (by David Schenker, Counterterrorism Blog)
 
Bush Administration Rearms Lebanese Army Despite Concerns
Since the 2005 Cedar Revolution that forced Syria out of Lebanon, the Bush administration had sold substantial amounts of military equipment to help fortify the Lebanese army into a solid fighting force. Among the hardware sold to Lebanon are new American Humvees and trucks, rifles and grenade launchers. The shipments represent the first major American military assistance to Lebanon since the 1980s and are meant to build an armed force that could help stabilize Lebanon’s fractured state, fight a rising terrorist threat and provide a legitimate alternative to the Shiite militant group Hezbollah.
 
So far, none of the military deliveries have been large enough to require a formal notification to Congress. But some officials within the Pentagon and State Department have expressed concern about extensive military aid to a country so recently free of Syrian control and in which Hezbollah, which has close Syrian and Iranian ties, has continued to gain political power. Officials in Israel are concerned as well and have been lobbying for a lower level of US support to remove the possibility that American tanks and helicopters might one day be used against it.
 
These doubts, and the contrast with the robust American military aid to Israel, have provoked some anger in Lebanon. A television comedy depicted American envoys handing out socks and toy airplanes to Lebanese generals.
U.S. Resupplies Lebanon Military to Stabilize Ally (by Robert F. Worth and Eric Lipton)
 
US Gains Access to Lebanese Bank Records to Thwart Terrorism
A US-led effort in 2003 to crack down on the bank accounts of militant groups, including Hamas, created controversy in Lebanon among politicians, Palestinians, and militants. In September Lebanon’s central bank asked all Lebanese banks to disclose the accounts of six leaders of Hamas and five associations linked to the group. The central bank investigation sparked accusations from a former central bank governor, and from the current information minister, that the government was threatening the country’s bank secrecy policies.

Probe of Bank Records Prompts Controversy in Lebanon, Jordan

(Voice of America News)

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Human Rights

Lebanon’s struggles with human rights largely stems from militant groups and a weak government’s inability to deter or punish their actions. The government is also unable to provide satisfactory prison conditions or protection for basic civil rights. The rights of women and refugees are also a continuing problem.

 
Arbitrary or Unlawful Deprivation of Life
According to the State Department, the government has not committed any “politically motivated killings,” but militant groups have. Militant groups continued efforts to terrorize the public and political figures, including through a series of car bombings. On June 13, 2007, a car bomb explosion killed Member of Parliament Walid Eido and his elder son Khaled, along with nine others. On September 19, a car bomb explosion killed MP Antoine Ghanem and eight others. Both MPs were part of the pro-government “March 14” coalition, and several political allies of the two MPs charged that the Syrian government was responsible for the assassinations, which Syria strongly denied. On December 12, 2007, a car bomb killed Lebanese Army Forces (LAF) Chief of Operations Brigadier General Francois el-Hajj along with his bodyguard.
 
The news website Al-Mustaqbal reported that Judge Sa'id Mirza brought charges against Lebanese citizen Ibrahim Hasan Awadah and Syrian citizens Firas Abd al-Rahman, Mahmoud Abd al-Karim Imran, and Izzat Muhamad Tartusi for the 2005 attempted assassination of the defense minister and incoming deputy prime minister Elias Murr, which injured Murr and killed one person.
 
Security forces found the bodies of two youths affiliated with Progressive Socialist Party leader Walid Jumblatt, a Druze Muslim allied with the government, after they went missing a few days earlier. Security forces arrested five suspects, four Lebanese and one Syrian, and charged them with planning the kidnapping.
 
Torture
Torture is not explicitly outlawed in Lebanon and the Human Rights Watch (HRW) and the Lebanese Center for Human Rights (CLDH) report torture as a common practice. The two groups called for an investigation into allegations of torture and ill-treatment of nine detainees awaiting trial before a military court.
 
In October 2006 the nongovernmental human rights organization Support of Lebanese in Arbitrary Detention (SOLIDA) issued a report documenting the various types of torture allegedly practiced at the Ministry of Defense between 1992 and 2005. Torture methods included physical abuse, sleep deprivation, and prolonged isolation.
 
The Lebanon government acknowledged that violent abuse of detainees sometimes occurred during preliminary investigations conducted at police stations or military installations, in which suspects were interrogated without an attorney. Such abuse occurred despite national laws that prevent judges from accepting confessions extracted under duress.
 
For example, in June 2007, five Australian-Lebanese citizens were arrested for suspicion of supplying arms to Fatah al-Islam, a radical Sunni Islamist group. Some members of the group were beaten or forced to stand long periods of time. Injuries included damage to someone’s knee and a broken jaw. At the end of 2008, charges against two of the prisoners were dropped and the rest remained in custody.
 
Arbitrary Arrest and Detention
The Lebanese government and military officials have arbitrarily arrested and detained people without warrant. According to Internal Security Force (ISF) statistics, “of the 4,686 persons held in prison, 2,780 had not been convicted of crimes.”
 
Militant groups also have their role in arbitrary arrests. For example, in August 2008, two Brazilian journalists working on a story about a restaurant in a Hezbollah stronghold were detained by Hezbollah members and interrogated for five hours. In September, Hezbollah also detained five employees from LebanonFiles.com, who were conducting a survey, and interrogated them for six hours.
 
Civil Rights
Although the law provides for freedom of press and the freedom to criticize the government, journalists are often subject to intimidation. For example, according to the State Department, in May 2008, “Hizballah-led opposition fighters forced the pro-March 14 Future News television station and Radio al-Sharq to stop their transmission for four days. Using the LAF as an interlocutor, the gunmen threatened that if the employees did not suspend transmission, they would destroy the buildings. Management suspended transmission, at which point the gunmen entered the premises and cut all cables in the studio to guarantee no rebroadcast. Hizballah gunmen also set fire to the Future News archives building, destroying all records. On the same day, the gunmen also burned parts of March 14 majority leader Saad Hariri's Al-Mustaqbal newspaper offices as well as the Armenian radio station Sevan, located in the same building.”
 
Protection of Refugees
Lebanese law doesn’t provide for the protection of refugees, which is a problem for the many Palestinian and Iraqi refugees on Lebanese soil. Limited services are provided and refugees are not granted Lebanese citizenship and have unstable legal status.
 
From May to September 2007, during a conflict between Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) and Fatah al-Islam, an estimated 42 civilians in the Nahr al-Barid refugee camp and 168 LAF soldiers were killed. Some human rights groups criticized the LAF’s disproportionate use of heavy weapons during the conflict, claiming that the army shelled the camp in an indiscriminate manner once the camp had been evacuated.Also, Human Rights Watch reported that LAF and security forces arbitrarily detained and physically abused some Palestinian men fleeing the fighting in Nahr al-Barid refugee camp.
 
According to international humanitarian organizations, a significant number of people still remain displaced from the 1975-90 Civil War and as a result of the Israeli invasions and occupation of part of southern Lebanon that ended in 2000.
 
Women’s Rights
There is societal discrimination against women. The law doesn’t prohibit domestic violence, but there are no official figures of its occurrence. Women also have difficulty holding public office. Another problem is honor crimes in which men who kill their wives or other female relatives have their sentences reduced if they provide evidence that the murder was committed in reaction to the victim’s socially inacceptable sexual conduct.
 

Amnesty International

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Debate
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Past Ambassadors

George Wadsworth
Appointment: Oct 9, 1942
Presentation of Credentials: Nov 19, 1942

Termination of Mission: Left post, Feb 1, 1947
Note: Also accredited to Syria; resident at Beirut.
 
Lowell C. Pinkerton
Appointment: Jan 13, 1947
Presentation of Credentials: Mar 6, 1947
Termination of Mission: Left post, Apr 24, 1951
 
Harold B. Minor
Appointment: Sep 19, 1951
Presentation of Credentials: Oct 18, 1951
Termination of Mission: Left post, Aug 10, 1953
Note: Commissioned during a recess of the Senate. Legation Beirut was raised to Embassy status Aug 27, 1952.
 
Raymond A. Hare
Appointment: Jul 28, 1953
Presentation of Credentials: Sep 29, 1953
Termination of Mission: Left post, Oct 1, 1954
 
Donald R. Heath
Appointment: Feb 4, 1955
Presentation of Credentials: Mar 9, 1955
Termination of Mission: Left post, Jan 4, 1958
 
Robert McClintock
Appointment: Dec 23, 1957
Presentation of Credentials: Jan 15, 1958
Termination of Mission: Left post, Aug 29, 1961
Note: Commissioned during a recess of the Senate; recommissioned after confirmation on Jan 27, 1958.
 
Armin H. Meyer
Appointment: Oct 27, 1961
Presentation of Credentials: Jan 12, 1962
Termination of Mission: Left post, Apr 19, 1965
Note: Commissioned during a recess of the Senate; recommissioned after confirmation on Jan 30, 1962.
 
Dwight J. Porter
Appointment: Mar 18, 1965
Presentation of Credentials: Jun 22, 1965
Termination of Mission: Left post, Sep 12, 1970
 
William B. Buffum
Appointment: Sep 21, 1970
Presentation of Credentials: Oct 13, 1970
Termination of Mission: Left post, Jan 17, 1974
 
G. McMurtrie Godley
Appointment: Feb 13, 1974
Presentation of Credentials: Mar 15, 1974
Termination of Mission: Left post, Jan 13, 1976
 
Francis E. Meloy, Jr.
Appointment: May 1, 1976
Termination of Mission: Assassinated at post, Jun 16, 1976
Note: Had not presented credentials prior to his assassination.
 
Richard B. Parker
Appointment: Feb 10, 1977
Presentation of Credentials: Feb 15, 1977
Termination of Mission: Left post, Oct 1, 1978
 
John Gunther Dean
Appointment: Oct 2, 1978
Presentation of Credentials: Oct 10, 1978
Termination of Mission: Left post, Jun 23, 1981
 
Robert Sherwood Dillon
Appointment: Jun 19, 1981
Presentation of Credentials: Jun 26, 1981
Termination of Mission: Oct 11, 1983
 
Reginald Bartholomew
Appointment: Oct 7, 1983
Presentation of Credentials: Oct 27, 1983
Termination of Mission: Left post, May 16, 1986
 
John Hubert Kelly
Appointment: Aug 18, 1986
Presentation of Credentials: Aug 27, 1986
Termination of Mission: Left post, Sep 17, 1988
 
John Thomas McCarthy
Appointment: Aug 12, 1988
Presentation of Credentials: Nov 19, 1989
Termination of Mission: Superseded, Oct 30, 1990
Note: Arrived at post Sep 24, 1988, after the expiration of President Amin Gemayel's term of office on Sep 22, 1988. After the withdrawal of all U.S. personnel from Beirut on Sep 6, 1989, McCarthy resided in Washington, D.C. He visited Lebanon Nov 18–19, 1989, to present his credentials to President Rene Moawad.
 
Ryan Clark Crocker
Appointment: Oct 30, 1990
Presentation of Credentials: Nov 29, 1990
Termination of Mission: Left post, Aug 14, 1993
 
Mark Gregory Hambley
Appointment: Nov 22, 1993
Presentation of Credentials: Dec 23, 1993
Termination of Mission: Left post, Sep 14, 1994
 
Note: The following officers served as Charges d'Affaires ad interim Sep 1994–Feb 1996: Vincent M. Battle (Sep–Oct 1994), and Ronald L. Schlicher (Oct 1994–Feb 1996).
 
Richard Henry Jones
Appointment: Dec 19, 1995
Presentation of Credentials: Feb 2, 1996
Termination of Mission: Left post Jul 8, 1998
 
David Michael Satterfield
Appointment: Aug 3, 1998
Presentation of Credentials: Sep 23, 1998
Termination of Mission: Left post Jun 10, 2001
 
Vincent Martin Battle
Appointment: Aug 7, 2001
Presentation of Credentials: Sep 12, 2001
Termination of Mission: Left post Aug 16, 2004
 
Jeffrey D. Feltman
Appointment: May 12, 2004
Presentation of Credentials: Aug 25, 2004
Termination of Mission: 2008
 

Former U.S. Ambassadors to Lebanon

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Lebanon's Ambassador to the U.S.
ambassador-image Chedid, Antoine

 

Antoine Chedid has served as Lebanon’s ambassador to the United States since July 2007.
 
Chedid is a legal graduate from the French University of Saint Joseph/School of Law. He speaks fluent Arabic, French and English.
 
Chedid entered the Foreign Service in 1978 and was posted overseas in the United States and Greece. As a young diplomat, he held the positions of assistant to the Secretary General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, consul, press attaché and political officer at the Lebanese embassy in Washington between 1979 and 1984.
 
He was consul general in Los Angeles, California between 1984 and 1986, then served as presidential adviser for American affairs between 1989 and 1991 and as head of the America Desk Office in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. From 1991 to 1998, Chedid served as consul general in New York, followed by his appointment as ambassador to Greece from 1998-2000.
 
From November 2001 until June 2007, he served as head of the Bureau of International Organizations, Conferences and Cultural Relations at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Beirut.
 

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Lebanon's Embassy Web Site in the U.S.
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U.S. Ambassador to Lebanon

Hale, David
ambassador-image

A longtime Middle East expert will serve as the next ambassador to Lebanon, President Barack Obama announced on June 24, 2013. David Hale, a career member of the Senior Foreign Service who has served in Beirut twice before, has been special envoy for Middle East peace since June 2011, having served as deputy special envoy under his predecessor, former Sen. George J. Mitchell (D-Maine), from 2009 to 2011. If confirmed by the Senate, Hale would succeed Maura Connelly, who has served in Beirut since August 2009.

 

Born circa 1961, David Maclain Hale earned a B.S. in Foreign Service at the Georgetown University School of Foreign Service in 1983.

 

Joining the Foreign Service in 1984, Hale served early career assignments at the embassy in Manama, Bahrain; the consulate in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia; and as a political officer at the U.S. Mission to the U.N. in New York. He also studied Arabic at the Foreign Service Institute’s Field School in Tunisia, and served his first tour at the embassy in Beirut as a political officer from 1992 to 1994.

 

In Washington, Hale served as executive assistant to Secretary of State Madeleine Albright from 1997 to 1998.

 

He served his second tour in Lebanon as deputy chief of mission at the embassy from 1998 to 2001, returning to Washington to serve as director of the Office of Israel and Palestine Affairs from 2001 to 2003.

 

Hale then served an extended tour at the embassy in Amman, Jordan, from 2003 to 2008, first as deputy chief of mission from 2003 to 2004, as charge d’affaires from 2004 to 2005, and as ambassador from 2005 to 2008.

 

From 2008 to 2009, Hale was a deputy assistant secretary of state in the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs.

-Matt Bewig

 

To Learn More:

Official Biography

Ambassador David Hale, SFS ’83 (Georgetown School of Foreign Service)

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Previous U.S. Ambassador to Lebanon

Sison, Michele
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A native of Virginia, Michele J. Sison is the first Filipino-American ambassador from the United States. Her mother is Veronica Sison and her father, Pablo B. Sison was originally from Pangasinan, a province in the Philippines. She was confirmed by the US Senate on August 1, 2008 as the United States Ambassador to Lebanon. She arrived in Beirut on February 5, 2008 as Chargé d’Affaires. She served as ambassador until August 7, 2010.

 
Sison earned her BA in political science from Wellesley College and also attended the London School of Economics.
 
A career member of the Senior Foreign Service (Class of Minister-Counselor), Sison has served in Washington, Port-au-Prince, Haiti (1982-1984), Lome, Togo (1984-1988), Cotonou, Benin (1988-1991), Douala, Cameroon (1991-1993), and Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire (1993-1996). She served as consul general at the US Consulate General in Chennai, India (1996-1999) and as Deputy Chief of Mission and Chargé d’Affaires at the US Embassy in Islamabad, Pakistan (1999-2002).
 
Sison served as Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary in the Bureau of South Asian Affairs before being appointed ambassador to the United Arab Emirates, where she served from August 2004 through January 2008.
 
Sison has two daughters, Alexandra Katherine Knight and Jessica Elizabeth Knight, both in college. She is separated from her husband, Jeffrey Jones Hawkins.

 

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Overview

Lebanon was once a jewel of the Middle East, a key destination for travelers from the region and all over the world. But beginning in the mid-1970s, the country was torn apart by sectarian violence that pitted Muslims and Christians, and eventually, Lebanon was pulled into the Arab-Israeli conflict as, first, the PLO and then later Hezbollah used the country as a staging ground to carry out attacks against Israel, which borders Lebanon to the south. The use of Lebanon by terrorist groups resulted in several invasions by Israel’s military, including 1978, 1982 and 2006, which only added to the destruction and internal turmoil that Lebanese have had to endure. From the 1980s until very recently, the Syrian government inserted itself into Lebanon’s governmental affairs, culminating in the 2005 Cedar Revolution which resulted in Syria’s withdrawal, both militarily and to some extent, politically, from the country. Hezbollah, however, continues to play a significant role in Lebanese affairs and has gained considerable support from the local population in key areas, much to the consternation of Israel.


The United States has been very involved in Lebanon’s troubles. US Marines were dispatched in 1958 to help shore up support for a pro-Western government and again in 1983 to help Christian factions battle their Muslim rivals. This decision by the Reagan administration to choose sides produced horrific results, as more than 200 Marines lost their lives in one of the most deadly and high-profile terrorist car bombings of the 1980s. Numerous American citizens fell hostage to terrorists during the decade, some being held for months and even years. Each time Israel invaded Lebanon, the US stood by its ally, often in the face of international condemnation of the attacks. After the withdrawal of Israel’s forces in 2006, the Bush administration sought to fortify Lebanon’s military (in the hope it can mitigate Hezbollah’s power) through arms sales, despite concerns voiced by Israeli officials and even some within the Pentagon and the State Department.
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Basic Information

Lay of the Land: Located in southwest Asia, Lebanon is a strip of land along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea. Its principal topographic features are a narrow coastal plain behind which are the high Lebanese Mountains, the fertile Beqaa Valley, and the anti-Lebanon Mountains extending to the Syrian border.

 
Population: 4.0 million
 
Religions: Sunni Muslim 28%, Shi'a Muslim 28%, Maronite Christian 22%, Greek Orthodox 8%, Druze 6%, Greek Catholic 4%, Buddhist 2.1%, Baha'i 0.1%, non-religious 1.8%.
 
Ethnic Groups: Arab 95%, Armenian 4%, other 1%.
 

Languages

: North Levantine Arabic 92.4%, Arabic (official), Armenian 5.5%, Northern Kurdish 1.8%, French (official) 0.4%, English 0.008%.

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History

Lebanon was originally occupied by the Phoenicians, Semitic traders whose maritime culture flourished for more than 2,000 years from 2700-450 BC. In later centuries, Lebanon’s mountains were a refuge for Christians, and Crusaders established several strongholds in the region.

 
After World War I and the collapse of the Ottoman Empire, France was given a League of Nations mandate over Lebanon and its neighbor Syria. France divided them in 1920 into separate colonial administrations, drawing a border that separated mostly Muslim Syria from the mixed religious communities in Lebanon, where Maronite Christians were then dominant.
 
Lebanon gained its independence in the 1940s in a series of stages. Although independence was declared in 1941, most of the powers held by the French were not turned over to the new Lebanese government until January 1944. The evacuation of French troops was completed in 1946.
 
Christian and Muslim groups agreed to share power, with a Maronite Christian as president, a Sunni Muslim as prime minister, and a Shiite as national assembly speaker. This cooperation worked until civil war broke out in 1958, when Muslim factions led by Kamal Jumblat and Saeb Salam revolted against the Lebanese government headed by President Camille Chamoun, a Maronite Christian favoring close ties to the West. At Chamoun’s request, President Dwight Eisenhower sent US Marines to Lebanon to reestablish the government’s authority.
 
Peace was restored and maintained until 1975, when a bloody civil war broke out. This time another foreign power, Syria, became involved in Lebanese affairs. It is estimated that 40,000 Lebanese were killed and 100,000 wounded between March 1975 and November 1976. At that point, Syrian troops intervened at the request of the Lebanese and brought large-scale fighting to a halt.
 
Exacerbating Lebanon’s problems was the presence of Palestinian guerrillas staging raids on Israel from Lebanese territory. With Lebanon’s government unable (or unwilling, in the eyes of the Israelis) to halt the PLO attacks, Israel decided to attack PLO strongholds in Lebanon, first in 1978, and again in 1982. The 1978 attack was short-lived, lasting only a few months, until the UN Security Council created a 6,000-man peacekeeping force for the area called UNIFIL.
 
The second Israeli invasion came on June 6, 1982, after an assassination attempt by Palestinian terrorists on the Israeli ambassador in London. Israel was determined to drive the PLO out of Lebanon for good, and sent its Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) deep into Lebanon. Israeli warplanes bombed PLO locations throughout Lebanon, including Beirut, and there were constant fears that Israel would become engaged in full-scale war with Syria, which stationed forces in Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley.
 
Lebanon’s civil strife grew worst after its president, Bashir Gemayel, was killed by a bomb that destroyed the headquarters of his Christian Phalangist Party. Following his assassination, Christian militiamen massacred about 1,000 Palestinians in the Israeli-controlled Sabra and Shatila refugee camps, while IDF forces stood by. The massacre in the refugee camps prompted the return of a multinational peacekeeping force, which included hundreds of US Marines. Its mandate was to support the central Lebanese government, but the United States was seen as supporting the Christian factions over their Muslim rivals. 
 
A total of 241 US Marines and about 60 French soldiers were killed, most of them in suicide bombings of the American and French military compounds on October 23, 1983. The multinational force withdrew in the spring of 1984. In 1985, the majority of Israeli troops withdrew from the country, but Israel left some troops along a buffer zone on the southern Lebanese border, where they engaged in ongoing skirmishes with terrorist groups. Hezbollah, or “Party of God,” was formed in response to Israel’s assault on Lebanon, with financial backing from Iran.
 
In July 1986, Syrian observers took up a position in Beirut to monitor a peacekeeping agreement. The agreement broke down and fighting between Shiite and Druze militia in West Beirut became so intense that Syrian troops mobilized in February 1987. In 1991 a treaty of friendship was signed with Syria, which in effect gave Syria control over Lebanon’s foreign relations. In early 1991, the Lebanese government, backed by Syria, regained control over the southern part of the country and disbanded various militias, effectively ending the 16-year civil war, which left Lebanon’s infrastructure and industry in tatters.
 
In May 2000, Israel withdrew its troops after 18 consecutive years of occupation in southern Lebanon. The following summer, Syria withdrew nearly all of its 25,000 troops from Beirut and surrounding areas. About 14,000 troops, however, remained in the countryside. With the continuation of Israeli-Palestinian violence in 2002, Hezbollah again began building up forces along the Lebanese-Israeli border.
 
In August 2004, Syrian officials insisted that Lebanon’s pro-Syrian president, Émile Lahoud, remain in office beyond the constitutional limit of one six-year term. Despite public outrage from many Lebanese, the Lebanese parliament agreed to Syria’s demands and permitted Lahoud to serve for three more years.
 
A UN Security Council resolution in September 2004 demanded that Syria remove its troops from Lebanon. Syria agreed to only a partial relocation of its forces from the vicinity of Beirut to eastern Lebanon. In response, Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri resigned. On February 14, 2005, he was killed by a car bomb. Many suspected Syria of being behind the assassination, and large protests ensued, calling for Syria’s complete withdrawal from the country.
 
After two weeks of protests by Sunni Muslim, Christian, and Druze parties, Prime Minister Omar Karami (backed by Syria) resigned. On March 8, Hezbollah sponsored a massive pro-Syrian rally that greatly outnumbered previous anti-Syrian protests. Hundreds of thousands gathered to thank Syria for its involvement in Lebanon. The pro-Syrian demonstrations led to President Lahoud’s reappointment of Karami as prime minister. But then more anti-Syrian protests erupted, twice the size of the Hezbollah protest.
 
Eventually, Syria withdrew 4,000 troops and redeployed the remaining 10,000 to Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley. Karami resigned a second time after failing to form a government. Lebanon’s new prime minister, Najib Mikati (a compromise candidate between the pro-Syrian and anti-Syrian groups) announced that new elections would be held. Finally, on April 26, 2004, after 29 years of occupation, Syria withdrew all of its troops from Lebanon.
 
In May and June 2005, parliamentary elections resulted in the ascension of an anti-Syrian alliance led by Saad al-Hariri, the 35-year-old son of former Prime Minister Hariri. Former Finance Minister Fouad Siniora, who was closely associated with Hariri, became prime minister. Later that year, four individuals were charged in the murder of the senior Hariri. The commander of Lebanon’s Republican Guard, the former head of general security, the former chief of Lebanon’s police, and a former military intelligence officer were indicted for the assassination. In October 2005, the UN released a report concluding that the assassination was carefully organized by Syrian and Lebanese intelligence officials, including Syria’s military intelligence chief, Asef Shawkat, the brother-in-law of Syrian President Bashar Assad.
 
On July 12, 2006, Hezbollah fighters entered Israel and captured two Israeli soldiers. In response, Israel launched a major military attack, bombing the Lebanese airport and other major infrastructures, as well as parts of southern Lebanon. Hezbollah, with the help of Iran, retaliated by launching hundreds of rockets and missiles into Israel. After a week of fighting, Israel made it clear that its offensive in Lebanon would continue until Hezbollah was routed. Although much of the international community demanded a ceasefire, the United States supported Israel’s effort to destroy Hezbollah’s military power. But Hezbollah proved a much more formidable foe than anticipated. On August 14, a UN-negotiated cease-fire went into effect, with a 15,000-member peacekeeping force prepared to step in between the two warring sides. About 1,150 Lebanese, mostly civilians, and 150 Israelis, mostly soldiers, died in the 34 days of fighting. More than 400,000 Lebanese were forced from their homes by the fighting. Almost immediately, Hezbollah began organizing reconstruction efforts and handed out financial aid to families who had lost their homes, shoring up loyalty from Shiite civilians.
 
Sectarian violence in Lebanon continued in November 2006 when Pierre Gemayel, minister of industry and member of the Maronite Christian political dynasty, was assassinated. Protesters blamed Syria and its Lebanese allies. These protests were followed by sustained demonstrations by Hezbollah supporters. Tens of thousands of demonstrators, led by the Hezbollah leader Sheik Hassan Nasrallah, occupied the center of Beirut and called for the resignation of the Lebanese coalition government.
 
In June 2007, an anti-Syrian Member of Parliament, Walid Eido, was killed in a bombing in Beirut. In September, another anti-Syrian lawmaker, Antoine Ghanem of the Christian Phalange Party, was assassinated. The assassinations were followed by the killing of Gen. François al-Hajj, a top Lebanese general who was poised to succeed army chief Gen. Michel Suleiman.
 
Hezbollah legislators boycotted the session of Parliament in 2007 when lawmakers were to vote on a new president. The Hezbollah faction wanted the governing coalition to put forward a compromise candidate. Parliament adjourned the session and rescheduled elections. A caretaker government, led by Prime Minister Fouad Siniroa, took over after President Lahoud’s term expired.
 
Tensions in Lebanon peaked after the assassination of a top Hezbollah military commander, Imad Mugniyah, in a car bombing in Damascus, Syria. Some suspected that Mossad, the Israeli secret intelligence agency, was behind the killing of Mugniyah, who was wanted for orchestrating a series of bombings and kidnappings in the 1980s and 1990s. Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah called for an “open war” against Israel in response to Mugniyah’s death.
 
Sectarian violence between the Shiite-dominated Hezbollah and Sunnis broke out in May 2007 after the government shut down a telecommunications network run by Hezbollah, calling it illegal, and attempting to dismiss a Hezbollah-backed head of airport security. Members of Hezbollah took control of large swaths of western Beirut, forced a government-supported television station off the air, and burned the offices of a newspaper loyal to the government. After a week of violence, in which 65 people died, the government rescinded its plans concerning both the telecommunications network and the head of airport security. In return, Hezbollah agreed to dismantle roadblocks that paralyzed Beirut’s airport. The government concessions were seen as a major victory for Hezbollah.
 
After several days of negotiations, Hezbollah and the government reached a deal that resulted in Hezbollah withdrawing from Beirut. In return, the government agreed that Parliament would vote to elect Gen. Michel Suleiman, commander of Lebanon’s army, as the new president. Hezbollah also gained veto power within a newly formed cabinet.
 
Lebanon – History (Global Security.org)
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Lebanon's Newspapers
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History of U.S. Relations with Lebanon

Before the 1975 Civil War, Lebanon enjoyed generally good official relations with the United States. In large measure, these ties were promoted by the sizable Lebanese-American community. One incident that weakened these relations was the United States role in the 1958 Civil War. At that time, the administration of President Dwight D. Eisenhower dispatched a unit of US Marines to aid the government of President Shamun, whose regime was under pressure from Muslim factions to strengthen ties with Egypt and Syria. The Marines were never engaged in battle and were withdrawn soon after their arrival. Even so, many Lebanese and other Arab states viewed the United States action as interference in Lebanon’s internal affairs.

 
In the early 1980s, the US became deeply involved in Lebanon’s civil war. The Reagan administration sought to bolster the presidency of Amin Jumayyil and broker a treaty between Lebanon and Israel. The shelling of Druze and Shiite population centers by the USS New Jersey convinced most Lebanese Muslims that the United States had taken the Christian side in the conflict. Soon the US found itself the target of numerous terrorist attacks, not only on the compound housing US Marines but also the kidnapping of American citizens.
 
On June 14, 1985, a TWA airliner, Flight 847 en route from Athens to Rome, was hijacked by Hezbollah militants. The hijackers demanded the release of Shiite prisoners held in Kuwait, Israel, and Spain. Over the next two weeks, the airliner flew back and forth between Beirut and Algiers, releasing some passengers while holding others. At one point a United States Navy diver on board the plan was murdered. Seven American passengers who had Jewish-sounding surnames were taken off the jet and sequestered in Beirut by the terrorists. Then, in response to suspicions that the United States was planning a military rescue of the hostages, the terrorists moved the remaining passengers off the airplane and hid them throughout Beirut.
 
The deadlock was finally broken through a series of complex and controversial political maneuvers. The United States, determined not to concede to the terrorists’ demands, refused to publicly ask Israel to release its Shiite prisoners but did acknowledge that it would welcome such a move. The hostages were ultimately freed on June 30. On July 1, Israel announced that it was ready to release the Shiite detainees from its prison. Over the next several weeks, Israel released over 700 Shiite prisoners, but Israel denied that the prisoners’ release was related to the hijacking.
 
Many other Americans were seized by terrorists in Lebanon during the 1980s. American University of Beirut President David Dodge was abducted by Shiite terrorists in 1981 and freed in 1982. Terry Anderson, chief Middle East correspondent for the Associated Press, was one of six hostages who were held for more than two years. American television correspondent Charles Glass was seized on June 17, 1987 and later escaped. On October 3, 1985, the Islamic Jihad Organization claimed to have killed the CIA’s Beirut chief, William Buckley, who was purportedly taken to Iran where he was tortured and killed. Frank Regier, engineering professor at the American University of Beirut, was freed after several months in captivity by Amal militiamen. On February 14, 1985, American journalist Jeremy Levin escaped from his captors in the Biqa Valley.
 
1983-1991: Target America (PBS Frontline)
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Current U.S. Relations with Lebanon

Noted Lebanese-Americans

Casey Kasem is a radio personality and voice actor, most famous for hosting the radio program American Top 40 and giving voice to Shaggy in Scooby-Doo. He was born in 1933 to Lebanese Druze parents. Kasem is a prominent figure in promoting understanding of the Arab-American community and was honored as “Man of the Year” in 1996 by the American Druze Society.
 
Ralph Nader is a political activist and former Independent and Green Party candidate for President of the United States. Nader was born to Nathra and Rose Nader, who immigrated from Zahle, Lebanon. As a consumer advocate, Nader was instrumental in implementing traffic safety laws, such as the seat belt. He is also an active environmentalist and humanitarian.
 
Kathy Najimy is an actress most known for her role as Olive in the TV series “Veronica’s Closet” and for the voice of Peggy in King of the Hill. She also had roles in The Wedding Planner (2001), Rat Race (2001), and WALL-E (2008). Najimy was born to Lebanese parents Samia and Fred Najimy and raised Catholic. She is an activist for AIDS, women’s rights, and animal rights. Najimy was named Ms. Magazine’s Woman of the Year in 2004.
 
Tony Shalhoub is an actor best known as the star of the detective-drama Monk. He also had roles in Men in Black (1997), Gattaca (1997), Star Trek -Galaxy Quest (1999), Spy Kids (2001), Men in Black 2 (2002), and Cars (2006). Shalhoub is the son of a Lebanese father, who immigrated to the United States at the age of ten, and a second-generation Lebanese-American mother. He has won three Emmy Awards, two Screen Actors Guild Awards, and a Golden Globe.
 
The United States likes to point to its support of UN Security Council Resolution 1559, which calls for the disarming of all militias and the deployment of the Lebanese Armed Forces throughout Lebanon, as an example of its concern for stability in Lebanon. But historically the US has not backed other UN resolutions that called for the removal of Israeli forces while they occupied parts of Lebanon. The reality is, when push comes to shove, American policy continues to place greater importance on the US-Israeli relationship than the US-Lebanese one.
 
The US has provided significant amounts of financial support over the years to Lebanon, albeit to help repair the destruction brought on in part by Israel’s numerous invasions. From 1975 to 2005, Washington funneled $400 million to Beirut to help with relief, rehabilitation, and recovery programs. In the wake of the latest Israeli excursion into Lebanon, in 2006, the US substantially stepped up its aid efforts, pledging more than $1 billion in additional assistance for the 2006 and 2007 fiscal years. Some of current funding is used to support the activities of US and Lebanese private voluntary organizations engaged in rural and municipal development programs nationwide, improve the economic climate for global trade and investment, and enhance security and resettlement in south Lebanon. The US also supports humanitarian de-mining and victims’ assistance programs.
 
The United States also has assisted the American University of Beirut and the Lebanese American University with budget support and student scholarships. Assistance also has been provided to the Lebanese-American Community School and the International College.
 
The US resumed the International Military Education and Training program in Lebanon in 1993 to help bolster the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) and reinforce the importance of civilian control of the military. Sales of excess defense articles resumed in 1991 and have allowed the LAF to enhance both its transportation and communications capabilities, which were severely degraded during the civil war. Security assistance to both the LAF and the Internal Security Forces (ISF) increased significantly after the 2006 war.
 
A total of 440,279 people identified themselves as being of Lebanese ancestry in the 2000 US census. Lebanese Christians were the first Arab-speaking immigrants to America, beginning in the 1870’s, and peaking in 1914 at 9,023. Immigration slowed with the restrictive Immigration Quota Act in 1929, and only picked up 1975, when the civil war in Lebanon drove out a new wave of immigrants. Lebanese have settled all over the US, forming communities in Detroit, New York, Boston, Houston, and Los Angeles.
 
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Where Does the Money Flow

The US signed a trade pact with Lebanon in 2006, the Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA), which may serve as a stepping stone to a full free-trade agreement at some point in the future.

 
The US ranks as Lebanon’s fourth-largest source of imported goods. US exports to Lebanon are led by passenger cars (new and used), which catapulted from $32 million in 2003 to $564 million in 2008. The next leading exports are fuel oil, which rose from $6.3 million to $321 million, parts and accessories of vehicles, which jumped from $3.8 million to $34 million, and corn, of which Lebanon imported $31 million in 2008.
 
US imports from Lebanon aren’t nearly as profitable. One top American purchase, jewelry, averaged $16 million a year between 2003 and 2007, but dropped to $9 million in 2008. Imports of stone, sand, cement and lime reached $17.9 million in 2008, a large increase from $1.9 million in 2004. The US also imported $8.6 million worth of furniture and household items in 2008, down from $12.7 million in 2007.
 
The US enjoys a substantial trade surplus with Lebanon, in 2008 exporting $1.46 billion to only $99 million in imports.
 
More than 160 offices representing US businesses currently operate in Lebanon, including Microsoft, American Airlines, Coca-Cola, FedEx, UPS, General Electric, Parsons Brinkerhoff, Cisco, Eli Lilly, and Pepsi Cola.
 
The US sold $5.9 million in defense articles and services to Lebanon in 2007.
 
The US gave $634.2 million in aid to Lebanon in 2007, including $585.5 million in supplemental funding. The budget allotted the most funds to Stabilization Operations and Security Sector Reform ($287.2 million), Macroeconomic Foundation for Growth ($253 million), and Humanitarian Assistance: Protection, Assistance and Solutions ($19.1 million). The 2008 budget estimate decreased aid to $58.2 million. 
 
The 2009 budget will raise funding levels to $142.4 million and will distribute the most aid to Stabilization Operations and Security Sector Reform ($64.8 million), Rule of Law and Human Rights ($18 million), and Economic Growth: Environment ($8 million). The United States plans to increase military aid to Lebanon to $189.1 million from the $90.7 million initially allocated for the 2009 fiscal year for military equipments and training expenses for the Lebanese army.
 
The U.S. also funds development in Lebanon through USAID, the United States Agency for International Development. Two checks for a total of $100,000 were presented to two Lebanese organizations, Association Centre Mar Semaan and Safadi Foundation, on December 30, 2008. On March 6, 2009, the USAID and the Lebanon Mission Director Denise A. Herbol presented $1,229,012 to Dr. Joseph Jabbra, president of the Lebanese American University to finance scholarships for deserving students.  This funding will support more than 476 students as they pursue their educations. USAID also presented $25,750 to John Johnson, President of the International College on that day. This amount is part of the $500,000 grant International College received from USAID in 2007-2008.
 

USAID Press Releases

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Controversies

Was Car Bombing Targeted at US Ambassador?

In January 2008 a car bomb attack on a US embassy convoy in Beirut killed three Lebanese civilians and injured dozens. The Counterterrorism Blog speculated that the attack may have been a signal to the US: Stay out of Lebanese Affairs. The blog based its argument on the timing of the attack, coming just as the United States Ambassador, Jeffrey Feltman, an ardent voice for Lebanon’s shift away from Syria and towards the US, was set to leave his post and be replaced by incoming ambassador Michele Sison. “Given the operational capabilities and extensive intelligence networks of the groups that most likely perpetrated this outrage … it’s difficult to imagine that this was a failed operation,” wrote David Schenker. “An alternative and perhaps more convincing explanation is that this attack intentionally missed the ambassador.”
A Message for Departing Ambassador Feltman (by David Schenker, Counterterrorism Blog)
 
Bush Administration Rearms Lebanese Army Despite Concerns
Since the 2005 Cedar Revolution that forced Syria out of Lebanon, the Bush administration had sold substantial amounts of military equipment to help fortify the Lebanese army into a solid fighting force. Among the hardware sold to Lebanon are new American Humvees and trucks, rifles and grenade launchers. The shipments represent the first major American military assistance to Lebanon since the 1980s and are meant to build an armed force that could help stabilize Lebanon’s fractured state, fight a rising terrorist threat and provide a legitimate alternative to the Shiite militant group Hezbollah.
 
So far, none of the military deliveries have been large enough to require a formal notification to Congress. But some officials within the Pentagon and State Department have expressed concern about extensive military aid to a country so recently free of Syrian control and in which Hezbollah, which has close Syrian and Iranian ties, has continued to gain political power. Officials in Israel are concerned as well and have been lobbying for a lower level of US support to remove the possibility that American tanks and helicopters might one day be used against it.
 
These doubts, and the contrast with the robust American military aid to Israel, have provoked some anger in Lebanon. A television comedy depicted American envoys handing out socks and toy airplanes to Lebanese generals.
U.S. Resupplies Lebanon Military to Stabilize Ally (by Robert F. Worth and Eric Lipton)
 
US Gains Access to Lebanese Bank Records to Thwart Terrorism
A US-led effort in 2003 to crack down on the bank accounts of militant groups, including Hamas, created controversy in Lebanon among politicians, Palestinians, and militants. In September Lebanon’s central bank asked all Lebanese banks to disclose the accounts of six leaders of Hamas and five associations linked to the group. The central bank investigation sparked accusations from a former central bank governor, and from the current information minister, that the government was threatening the country’s bank secrecy policies.

Probe of Bank Records Prompts Controversy in Lebanon, Jordan

(Voice of America News)

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Human Rights

Lebanon’s struggles with human rights largely stems from militant groups and a weak government’s inability to deter or punish their actions. The government is also unable to provide satisfactory prison conditions or protection for basic civil rights. The rights of women and refugees are also a continuing problem.

 
Arbitrary or Unlawful Deprivation of Life
According to the State Department, the government has not committed any “politically motivated killings,” but militant groups have. Militant groups continued efforts to terrorize the public and political figures, including through a series of car bombings. On June 13, 2007, a car bomb explosion killed Member of Parliament Walid Eido and his elder son Khaled, along with nine others. On September 19, a car bomb explosion killed MP Antoine Ghanem and eight others. Both MPs were part of the pro-government “March 14” coalition, and several political allies of the two MPs charged that the Syrian government was responsible for the assassinations, which Syria strongly denied. On December 12, 2007, a car bomb killed Lebanese Army Forces (LAF) Chief of Operations Brigadier General Francois el-Hajj along with his bodyguard.
 
The news website Al-Mustaqbal reported that Judge Sa'id Mirza brought charges against Lebanese citizen Ibrahim Hasan Awadah and Syrian citizens Firas Abd al-Rahman, Mahmoud Abd al-Karim Imran, and Izzat Muhamad Tartusi for the 2005 attempted assassination of the defense minister and incoming deputy prime minister Elias Murr, which injured Murr and killed one person.
 
Security forces found the bodies of two youths affiliated with Progressive Socialist Party leader Walid Jumblatt, a Druze Muslim allied with the government, after they went missing a few days earlier. Security forces arrested five suspects, four Lebanese and one Syrian, and charged them with planning the kidnapping.
 
Torture
Torture is not explicitly outlawed in Lebanon and the Human Rights Watch (HRW) and the Lebanese Center for Human Rights (CLDH) report torture as a common practice. The two groups called for an investigation into allegations of torture and ill-treatment of nine detainees awaiting trial before a military court.
 
In October 2006 the nongovernmental human rights organization Support of Lebanese in Arbitrary Detention (SOLIDA) issued a report documenting the various types of torture allegedly practiced at the Ministry of Defense between 1992 and 2005. Torture methods included physical abuse, sleep deprivation, and prolonged isolation.
 
The Lebanon government acknowledged that violent abuse of detainees sometimes occurred during preliminary investigations conducted at police stations or military installations, in which suspects were interrogated without an attorney. Such abuse occurred despite national laws that prevent judges from accepting confessions extracted under duress.
 
For example, in June 2007, five Australian-Lebanese citizens were arrested for suspicion of supplying arms to Fatah al-Islam, a radical Sunni Islamist group. Some members of the group were beaten or forced to stand long periods of time. Injuries included damage to someone’s knee and a broken jaw. At the end of 2008, charges against two of the prisoners were dropped and the rest remained in custody.
 
Arbitrary Arrest and Detention
The Lebanese government and military officials have arbitrarily arrested and detained people without warrant. According to Internal Security Force (ISF) statistics, “of the 4,686 persons held in prison, 2,780 had not been convicted of crimes.”
 
Militant groups also have their role in arbitrary arrests. For example, in August 2008, two Brazilian journalists working on a story about a restaurant in a Hezbollah stronghold were detained by Hezbollah members and interrogated for five hours. In September, Hezbollah also detained five employees from LebanonFiles.com, who were conducting a survey, and interrogated them for six hours.
 
Civil Rights
Although the law provides for freedom of press and the freedom to criticize the government, journalists are often subject to intimidation. For example, according to the State Department, in May 2008, “Hizballah-led opposition fighters forced the pro-March 14 Future News television station and Radio al-Sharq to stop their transmission for four days. Using the LAF as an interlocutor, the gunmen threatened that if the employees did not suspend transmission, they would destroy the buildings. Management suspended transmission, at which point the gunmen entered the premises and cut all cables in the studio to guarantee no rebroadcast. Hizballah gunmen also set fire to the Future News archives building, destroying all records. On the same day, the gunmen also burned parts of March 14 majority leader Saad Hariri's Al-Mustaqbal newspaper offices as well as the Armenian radio station Sevan, located in the same building.”
 
Protection of Refugees
Lebanese law doesn’t provide for the protection of refugees, which is a problem for the many Palestinian and Iraqi refugees on Lebanese soil. Limited services are provided and refugees are not granted Lebanese citizenship and have unstable legal status.
 
From May to September 2007, during a conflict between Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) and Fatah al-Islam, an estimated 42 civilians in the Nahr al-Barid refugee camp and 168 LAF soldiers were killed. Some human rights groups criticized the LAF’s disproportionate use of heavy weapons during the conflict, claiming that the army shelled the camp in an indiscriminate manner once the camp had been evacuated.Also, Human Rights Watch reported that LAF and security forces arbitrarily detained and physically abused some Palestinian men fleeing the fighting in Nahr al-Barid refugee camp.
 
According to international humanitarian organizations, a significant number of people still remain displaced from the 1975-90 Civil War and as a result of the Israeli invasions and occupation of part of southern Lebanon that ended in 2000.
 
Women’s Rights
There is societal discrimination against women. The law doesn’t prohibit domestic violence, but there are no official figures of its occurrence. Women also have difficulty holding public office. Another problem is honor crimes in which men who kill their wives or other female relatives have their sentences reduced if they provide evidence that the murder was committed in reaction to the victim’s socially inacceptable sexual conduct.
 

Amnesty International

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Debate
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Past Ambassadors

George Wadsworth
Appointment: Oct 9, 1942
Presentation of Credentials: Nov 19, 1942

Termination of Mission: Left post, Feb 1, 1947
Note: Also accredited to Syria; resident at Beirut.
 
Lowell C. Pinkerton
Appointment: Jan 13, 1947
Presentation of Credentials: Mar 6, 1947
Termination of Mission: Left post, Apr 24, 1951
 
Harold B. Minor
Appointment: Sep 19, 1951
Presentation of Credentials: Oct 18, 1951
Termination of Mission: Left post, Aug 10, 1953
Note: Commissioned during a recess of the Senate. Legation Beirut was raised to Embassy status Aug 27, 1952.
 
Raymond A. Hare
Appointment: Jul 28, 1953
Presentation of Credentials: Sep 29, 1953
Termination of Mission: Left post, Oct 1, 1954
 
Donald R. Heath
Appointment: Feb 4, 1955
Presentation of Credentials: Mar 9, 1955
Termination of Mission: Left post, Jan 4, 1958
 
Robert McClintock
Appointment: Dec 23, 1957
Presentation of Credentials: Jan 15, 1958
Termination of Mission: Left post, Aug 29, 1961
Note: Commissioned during a recess of the Senate; recommissioned after confirmation on Jan 27, 1958.
 
Armin H. Meyer
Appointment: Oct 27, 1961
Presentation of Credentials: Jan 12, 1962
Termination of Mission: Left post, Apr 19, 1965
Note: Commissioned during a recess of the Senate; recommissioned after confirmation on Jan 30, 1962.
 
Dwight J. Porter
Appointment: Mar 18, 1965
Presentation of Credentials: Jun 22, 1965
Termination of Mission: Left post, Sep 12, 1970
 
William B. Buffum
Appointment: Sep 21, 1970
Presentation of Credentials: Oct 13, 1970
Termination of Mission: Left post, Jan 17, 1974
 
G. McMurtrie Godley
Appointment: Feb 13, 1974
Presentation of Credentials: Mar 15, 1974
Termination of Mission: Left post, Jan 13, 1976
 
Francis E. Meloy, Jr.
Appointment: May 1, 1976
Termination of Mission: Assassinated at post, Jun 16, 1976
Note: Had not presented credentials prior to his assassination.
 
Richard B. Parker
Appointment: Feb 10, 1977
Presentation of Credentials: Feb 15, 1977
Termination of Mission: Left post, Oct 1, 1978
 
John Gunther Dean
Appointment: Oct 2, 1978
Presentation of Credentials: Oct 10, 1978
Termination of Mission: Left post, Jun 23, 1981
 
Robert Sherwood Dillon
Appointment: Jun 19, 1981
Presentation of Credentials: Jun 26, 1981
Termination of Mission: Oct 11, 1983
 
Reginald Bartholomew
Appointment: Oct 7, 1983
Presentation of Credentials: Oct 27, 1983
Termination of Mission: Left post, May 16, 1986
 
John Hubert Kelly
Appointment: Aug 18, 1986
Presentation of Credentials: Aug 27, 1986
Termination of Mission: Left post, Sep 17, 1988
 
John Thomas McCarthy
Appointment: Aug 12, 1988
Presentation of Credentials: Nov 19, 1989
Termination of Mission: Superseded, Oct 30, 1990
Note: Arrived at post Sep 24, 1988, after the expiration of President Amin Gemayel's term of office on Sep 22, 1988. After the withdrawal of all U.S. personnel from Beirut on Sep 6, 1989, McCarthy resided in Washington, D.C. He visited Lebanon Nov 18–19, 1989, to present his credentials to President Rene Moawad.
 
Ryan Clark Crocker
Appointment: Oct 30, 1990
Presentation of Credentials: Nov 29, 1990
Termination of Mission: Left post, Aug 14, 1993
 
Mark Gregory Hambley
Appointment: Nov 22, 1993
Presentation of Credentials: Dec 23, 1993
Termination of Mission: Left post, Sep 14, 1994
 
Note: The following officers served as Charges d'Affaires ad interim Sep 1994–Feb 1996: Vincent M. Battle (Sep–Oct 1994), and Ronald L. Schlicher (Oct 1994–Feb 1996).
 
Richard Henry Jones
Appointment: Dec 19, 1995
Presentation of Credentials: Feb 2, 1996
Termination of Mission: Left post Jul 8, 1998
 
David Michael Satterfield
Appointment: Aug 3, 1998
Presentation of Credentials: Sep 23, 1998
Termination of Mission: Left post Jun 10, 2001
 
Vincent Martin Battle
Appointment: Aug 7, 2001
Presentation of Credentials: Sep 12, 2001
Termination of Mission: Left post Aug 16, 2004
 
Jeffrey D. Feltman
Appointment: May 12, 2004
Presentation of Credentials: Aug 25, 2004
Termination of Mission: 2008
 

Former U.S. Ambassadors to Lebanon

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Lebanon's Ambassador to the U.S.
ambassador-image Chedid, Antoine

 

Antoine Chedid has served as Lebanon’s ambassador to the United States since July 2007.
 
Chedid is a legal graduate from the French University of Saint Joseph/School of Law. He speaks fluent Arabic, French and English.
 
Chedid entered the Foreign Service in 1978 and was posted overseas in the United States and Greece. As a young diplomat, he held the positions of assistant to the Secretary General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, consul, press attaché and political officer at the Lebanese embassy in Washington between 1979 and 1984.
 
He was consul general in Los Angeles, California between 1984 and 1986, then served as presidential adviser for American affairs between 1989 and 1991 and as head of the America Desk Office in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. From 1991 to 1998, Chedid served as consul general in New York, followed by his appointment as ambassador to Greece from 1998-2000.
 
From November 2001 until June 2007, he served as head of the Bureau of International Organizations, Conferences and Cultural Relations at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Beirut.
 

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Lebanon's Embassy Web Site in the U.S.
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U.S. Ambassador to Lebanon

Hale, David
ambassador-image

A longtime Middle East expert will serve as the next ambassador to Lebanon, President Barack Obama announced on June 24, 2013. David Hale, a career member of the Senior Foreign Service who has served in Beirut twice before, has been special envoy for Middle East peace since June 2011, having served as deputy special envoy under his predecessor, former Sen. George J. Mitchell (D-Maine), from 2009 to 2011. If confirmed by the Senate, Hale would succeed Maura Connelly, who has served in Beirut since August 2009.

 

Born circa 1961, David Maclain Hale earned a B.S. in Foreign Service at the Georgetown University School of Foreign Service in 1983.

 

Joining the Foreign Service in 1984, Hale served early career assignments at the embassy in Manama, Bahrain; the consulate in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia; and as a political officer at the U.S. Mission to the U.N. in New York. He also studied Arabic at the Foreign Service Institute’s Field School in Tunisia, and served his first tour at the embassy in Beirut as a political officer from 1992 to 1994.

 

In Washington, Hale served as executive assistant to Secretary of State Madeleine Albright from 1997 to 1998.

 

He served his second tour in Lebanon as deputy chief of mission at the embassy from 1998 to 2001, returning to Washington to serve as director of the Office of Israel and Palestine Affairs from 2001 to 2003.

 

Hale then served an extended tour at the embassy in Amman, Jordan, from 2003 to 2008, first as deputy chief of mission from 2003 to 2004, as charge d’affaires from 2004 to 2005, and as ambassador from 2005 to 2008.

 

From 2008 to 2009, Hale was a deputy assistant secretary of state in the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs.

-Matt Bewig

 

To Learn More:

Official Biography

Ambassador David Hale, SFS ’83 (Georgetown School of Foreign Service)

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Previous U.S. Ambassador to Lebanon

Sison, Michele
ambassador-image

A native of Virginia, Michele J. Sison is the first Filipino-American ambassador from the United States. Her mother is Veronica Sison and her father, Pablo B. Sison was originally from Pangasinan, a province in the Philippines. She was confirmed by the US Senate on August 1, 2008 as the United States Ambassador to Lebanon. She arrived in Beirut on February 5, 2008 as Chargé d’Affaires. She served as ambassador until August 7, 2010.

 
Sison earned her BA in political science from Wellesley College and also attended the London School of Economics.
 
A career member of the Senior Foreign Service (Class of Minister-Counselor), Sison has served in Washington, Port-au-Prince, Haiti (1982-1984), Lome, Togo (1984-1988), Cotonou, Benin (1988-1991), Douala, Cameroon (1991-1993), and Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire (1993-1996). She served as consul general at the US Consulate General in Chennai, India (1996-1999) and as Deputy Chief of Mission and Chargé d’Affaires at the US Embassy in Islamabad, Pakistan (1999-2002).
 
Sison served as Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary in the Bureau of South Asian Affairs before being appointed ambassador to the United Arab Emirates, where she served from August 2004 through January 2008.
 
Sison has two daughters, Alexandra Katherine Knight and Jessica Elizabeth Knight, both in college. She is separated from her husband, Jeffrey Jones Hawkins.

 

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