Syria and Lebanon, 1943-1975

by Philip Khoury
published in MER134

In their final years under French rule, Syria and Lebanon entered into an unprecedented cooperation in order to free themselves from France. The liberal nationalist regimes in Damascus and Beirut reinforced one another’s demands for complete political independence without first having to sign treaties with France. Support for their position came from Britain, the United States and, in 1945, from the newly founded Arab League. The Syrian nationalists appeared to have reconciled themselves to the integrity and sovereignty of a greater Lebanon, as established by the French in 1920, although after independence Damascus refused to establish formal diplomatic relations with Beirut.

Syria in Lebanon

by William Harris
published in MER134

Preeminent influence in Lebanon, both on the central government and between the various factions, is critical for Syria from defensive and offensive strategic perspectives, whatever one considers Syria’s role to be in the pan-Arab arena or in the Arab-Israeli conflict.

From the defensive perspective, Lebanon covers the entire western flank of southern Syria, offering immediate access to the Damascus and Homs regions. Since Lebanon’s descent into chaos beginning in 1975, Syria has been particularly concerned about three contingencies:

Becoming Armenian in Lebanon

by Joanne Randa Nucho
published in MER267

Each year in April, the municipality of Burj Hammoud, a densely populated residential and commercial city just east of Beirut, hosts a three-day festival called Badguer, the Armenian word for “image.” Free and open to the public, the event has variously been staged in an old concrete factory, a blocked-off street and other sites. In 2012, Badguer was held at La Maison Rose, a newly opened cultural center for Armenian artists and craftsmen. Like the annual celebration, La Maison Rose is part of a local effort to promote “our living Armenian cultural patrimony.”

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Syria's Disabled Future

by Edward Thomas | published May 14, 2013

Jamal is not yet a teenager. His school closed in 2011, soon after the Syrian revolution turned into an armed conflict, and his father found him a factory job. One day in 2012 as he returned from work there was a battle going on in the main street near his home. Jamal immediately started carrying wounded children smaller than he is to shelter in a mosque. Then Syrian army reinforcements arrived, clearing the streets with gunfire and hitting Jamal in the spine. The youngsters who took him to the hospital advised him to say that “terrorists” had caused his injury. But Jamal did not want to lie -- he told the doctors that a soldier had fired the bullet. The doctors told him to shut up and say it was the terrorists. But they treated him anyway.

Books on Lebanon

by Carolyn L. Gates
published in MER149

Wade R. Goria, Sovereignty and Leadership in Lebanon 1943-1976, (London: Ithaca Press, 1986).

Helena Cobban, The Making of Modern Lebanon, (Boulder: Westview Press, 1985).

CERMOC, Mouvements Communautaires et Espaces Urbains au Machreq

published in MER140

Mouvements communautaires et Espaces urbains au Machreq (Beirut: Centre d’Etudes et de Recherches sur le Moyen-Orient Contemporain, 1985).

One of the tragic ironies of the protracted Lebanese crisis is the fate of CERMOC and of Michel Seurat, one of the authors represented in this volume. Suerat was kidnapped in May 1985, and the Islamic Jihad group announced in early March that they had executed him as “an enemy of God.” CERMOC, located directly on the Green Line near Beirut’s Museum Crossing, has been unable to function for the last year. Both Seurat and CERMOC are victims of the social crisis which they sought to understand and relate in this important book.

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Ajami, The Vanished Imam

by As'ad AbuKhalil
published in MER144

Fouad Ajami, The Vanished Imam: Musa al-Sadr and the Shia of Lebanon (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1986).

Fissures in Hizballah's Edifice of Control

by Mona Harb , Lara Deeb | published October 30, 2012

On August 15, Beirut awoke to the news that more than 20 alleged members of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) had been captured by a group calling itself “the military wing of the al-Miqdad family.” The group had sent footage to the al-Mayadin television network, which was quickly picked up by other local and international channels. In the clip, men dressed in camouflage and black ski masks, and gripping Kalashnikovs, surrounded two prisoners seated in a dark room. A man with his back to the camera posed questions to the prisoners, who replied that they worked for the FSA, on orders from Khalid al-Dahir, a Lebanese parliamentarian affiliated with the Future Movement, the Sunni-majority political party led by Saad al-Hariri.

Iran and Lebanon

A Conversation with Ahmad Baydoun

by Irene Gendzier
published in MER156

What are current relations between Iran and Lebanon? What has been the import of Iran’s revolution on Lebanon’s Shi‘i community? These were the questions we put to Ahmad Baydoun, poet, man of letters and professor of history at the Lebanese University, in Boston in late October.

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"We Discovered Our Nation When It Was Nearly No More"

An Interview with Elias Khoury

by Barbara Harlow
published in MER162

Elias Khoury is a Lebanese novelist, writer and critic. A lecturer at the American University of Beirut and the cultural editor of the Beirut daily al-Safir, Khoury is also a frequent contributor to literary and cultural journals throughout the Arab world. An English translation of his second novel, Al-Jabal al-Saghir (Little Mountain), has just been published (University of Minnesota, 1989). Barbara Harlow spoke with him in Austin, Texas, in November 1989.

Could you articulate some of the changes that you’ve seen over the last decade and a half, particularly as a writer working in the midst of the civil war?

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