Country Listing

Lebanon Table of Contents


Soviet Union

Lebanon's ties to communist nations have been amicable but lacking in depth. Its relations to the West and regional states have always been stronger. Although the Soviet Union maintained a visible diplomatic presence in Lebanon both before and after the 1975 Civil War, it has never exerted as much influence as has the United States or France.

Two major factors have limited the Soviet Union's influence in Lebanon. First, socialism has had little appeal to those who have benefited from the free-market economy. Second, the antireligious nature of Soviet communism is repugnant to Christians and Muslims alike.

During the 1975 Civil War, the Soviet Union kept a low profile, although it provided some military support to its leftist allies. When Syria intervened on the Christian side in 1976, the Soviet Union had the difficult task of trying to maintain good relations with Syria, its major regional ally, while at the same time sympathizing with the cause of the Lebanese left.

Lebanon has had no lack of parties displaying leftist orientations and Soviet influence. In addition to secular movements, the Soviet Union has traditionally been involved with Palestinian groups. Perhaps its greatest influence has been in the LCP; but, as noted, the significance of this party has never been great (see Political Parties and Groupings , this ch.).

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On the Lebanese political system and the events that provide the larger context of the 1975 Civil War, the following sources arte the most useful: Michael Hudson's The Precarious Republic, Leonard Binder's Politics in Lebanon, Michael Suleiman's Political Parties in Lebanon, Enver M. Khoury's The Crisis in the Lebanese System, John Entelis's Pluralism and Party Transformation in Lebanon, Tabitha Petran's The Struggle over Lebanon, Roger Owen's Essays on the Crisis in Lebanon, Augustus Richard Norton's Amal and the Shi'a, Samir Khalaf's Lebanon's Predicament, B.J. Odeh's Lebanon: The Dynamics of Conflict, Walid Khalidi's Conflict and Violence in Lebanon, Elie Salem Adib's Modernization Without Revolution, Fouad Ajami's The Vanished Imam, David C. Gordon's The Republic of Lebanon, David Gilmour's Lebanon: The Fractured Country, and Wade Goria's Sovereignty and Leadership in Lebanon, 1943- 1976.

For descriptions and discussions of the 1975 Civil War see Kamal S. Salibi's Crossroads to Civil War, Itamar Rabinovich's The War for Lebanon, 1970-1985, Marius Deeb's The Lebanese Civil War, P. Edward Haley and Lewis Snider's Lebanon in Crisis, and Helena Cobban's The Making of Modern Lebanon. (For further information and complete citations, see Bibliography.)

Data as of December 1987