Mon, 21 Sep 2020

Timeline: Lebanon Since 2005

Voice of America
05 Aug 2020, 08:05 GMT+10

BEIRUT - Lebanon, whose capital Beirut was rocked on Tuesday by huge explosions that killed dozens, is mired in its worst economic crisis in decades and unprecedented social unrest.

A timeline since 2005:

Assassination of Rafik Hariri

A massive suicide bomb tears through former prime minister Rafic Hariri's armored convoy on the Beirut seafront on Feb. 14, 2005, killing him and 21 other people.

Opposition leaders blame Syria, but Damascus denies any role. Lebanon's powerful Shiite movement Hezbollah is also heavily suspected.

Amid a groundswell of protests, Syrian troops quit Lebanon on April 26 after a 29-year deployment which had peaked at 40,000 troops.

A U.N. tribunal trying the four suspects accused of the assassination is set to deliver its verdict this coming Friday. Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah has refused to hand over the defendants.

Hezbollah vs. Israel

In July 2006, Hezbollah captures two Israeli soldiers, sparking a 34-day war with Israel that costs nearly 1,400 lives - 1,200 of them Lebanese.

Israeli troops withdraw from southern Lebanon in October and the Lebanese army, aided by a U.N. force, deploys into the border region after a 40-year absence.

Hezbollah in government

In May 2008, a week of clashes between Hezbollah-led militants and government supporters in Beirut and other regions leaves nearly 100 dead.

After talks to avoid renewed civil war, Lebanon in July 2008 forms a 30-member national unity government in which Hezbollah and its allies have a veto.

In June 2009, an anti-Syrian alliance led by Rafic Hariri's son Saad Hariri wins legislative elections, and he is appointed prime minister.

After months of stalemate with the Hezbollah-led camp, he is only able to form a government in November.

In January 2011, Hezbollah forces the collapse of the unity government. In June, a new Hezbollah-dominated government is formed.

Enters the Syria war

In April 2013, Hezbollah confirms its fighters have deployed to Syria to fight in the country's conflict on the side of President Bashar al-Assad.

In the following years it sends thousands of its militants across the border, with military and financial aid from regional Shiite heavyweight Iran.

Hezbollah wins elections

In October 2016, Hezbollah-backed former general Michel Aoun becomes president, ending a 29-month political vacuum caused by disagreement in the deeply divided parliament.

Saad Hariri is reappointed prime minister.

In May 2018, Hezbollah and its allies dominate the first legislative elections since 2009.

Hariri's Future Movement loses a third of its seats, but he is designated premier for a third term.

Negotiations to form a new government drag on until late January 2019, with Hariri blaming Hezbollah.

Austerity, protests

In September, hundreds of people protest in Beirut over the deteriorating economy and increasingly difficult living conditions, largely caused by the fall of the Lebanese pound.

On October 17, unprecedented cross-sectarian street protests rock Beirut, with demonstrators railing against austerity measures, official corruption and poor infrastructure.

On October 29, Hariri announces he is submitting the resignation of his government.

New government

On December 19 little-known academic Hassan Diab, backed by Hezbollah, is named prime minister - and immediately rejected by protesters.

On January 21, 2020, a new government is unveiled, made up of a single political camp, the pro-Iranian Hezbollah and its allies, who have a parliamentary majority.

On April 30, Lebanon, having defaulted on its sovereign debt for the first time in its history, adopts a plan to rescue the economy and vows reforms.

But talks with the International Monetary Fund launched in mid-May aimed at securing crucial aid stall.

On August 3, Lebanon's foreign minister resigns in protest at the government's mishandling of the crisis.

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