Hafez al-Assad in 1976

As’ad Abukhalil writes: People of my generation cannot (and should not) forgive and forget. What happened in 1976 changed the course of contemporary Lebanese history and prolonged the agonizing years of the civil war. In 1976, the PLO-Lebanese National Movement (LNM) coalition was on its way to defeat the pro-Israeli Phalanges militias in Lebanon, after they were the ones who started the civil war on behalf of Israel and the US.

According to Newsweek magazine at the time, the PLO-LNM joint forces controlled more than 80 percent of Lebanese territory. They reached all the way to Oyoun el-Siman in Mount Sannine and Kamal Jumblatt famously told Abdul-Halim Khaddam that the next meeting would be held in Bikfaya (the stronghold of the Phalanges and the birth place of the Gemayyels).

Arafat was forced to join the offensive after his senior lieutenants made it clear that they would not go along with his policy of neutrality in a war that aimed at defeating the PLO in Lebanon. Some senior Fatah leaders, like Abu Salih, would take advantage of Arafat’s absences from Lebanon to provide weapons to the Lebanese factions. Arafat was very restrained in his policies and Jumblatt often complained about the quality of weapons that Arafat provided.

In 1976, the Syrian regime intervened militarily in Lebanon on the side of the Phalanges and Israel. The record is available (from Henry Kissinger’s memoirs to the memoirs of Israel leaders): Syria and Israel reached an understanding in Lebanon.

The understanding was that Syrian troops would enter Lebanon to defeat Israel’s enemies provided that the Syrian troops stay north of the Litani river.

The Syrian troops strictly adhered to the agreement all the way until their humiliating withdrawal from Lebanon in 2005. Never once did Syrian troops dare cross south of the Litani river no matter how brutal and savage Israeli attacks on South Lebanon were. The Syrian regime intervened to smash a promising revolutionary movement that would have changed the map of the Arab East. [Continue reading…]

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