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Lebanon: A Conflict of Minorities

9 April 1986

Through its short existence as an independent state, Lebanon has been divided by religious, political and ethnic loyalties; a division fuelled by internal militia groups and Great Power struggles.

This report traces Lebanon’s complex history, detailing key events and players. The report explains how Lebanon’s ruling elite became increasingly unrepresentative of it’s people, living in the ‘belt of misery’ around the big cities and in the impoverished countryside. Further, the pressures of cold war politics and the arrival of scores of Palestinian refugees are highlighted as major factors in the polarization which led to the bitter 1975-76 civil war.

For years, Israeli invasions have wrecked any hopes of national reconstruction and reconciliation. However, in this updated report, the renowned Middle East specialist David McDowall, discusses today’s Syrian and Israeli dimensions, clearly explaining the issues facing Lebanon as its people’s future continues to hang in the balance.

Please note that the terminology in the fields of minority rights and indigenous peoples’ rights has changed over time. MRG strives to reflect these changes as well as respect the right to self-identification on the part of minorities and indigenous peoples. At the same time, after over 50 years’ work, we know that our archive is of considerable interest to activists and researchers. Therefore, we make available as much of our back catalogue as possible, while being aware that the language used may not reflect current thinking on these issues.


David McDowall