Lebanon Table of Contents
For Lebanon's first three decades or so of independence, the outstanding feature of its foreign policy was its amicable relations with numerous countries. In the early 1970s, about eighty diplomatic representatives were accredited to Beirut. Not surprisingly, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs was one of the largest and most important ministries in the Council of Minister.
Before the 1975 Civil War, foreign relations were based to a large extent on the National Pact. Under this covenant, Lebanon had to walk a thin line between the desires of the Christian communities to associate more closely with the West and the wishes of the Muslim communities to underscore Lebanon's Arab identity. Indeed, when major crises struck, as they did in 1958 and in the late 1960s, they were primarily generated by these sensitive foreign policy issues. Try though Lebanon did to walk this line, its geographic location near the center of the Arab-Israeli dispute has prevented it from striking what, for a pluralistic society, was a very difficult balance.
During the 1975 Civil War and afterward, the central government was only one of many domestic actors involved in the making of foreign policy. It shared this role with the various alliances and militias that were formed. In the late 1970s and throughout the 1980s, as central authority deterioriated, external actors, including Syria, Israel, Iran, and the Palestinians, also seized foreign-policy-making roles, although the first two were by far the most influential.
Data as of December 1987