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Lebanon Table of Contents


The Multinational Force Withdrawal

Although the Lebanese Army had beaten the Druze forces on the battlefield, it was a Pyrrhic victory because the army was discredited if not defeated. Approximately 900 Druze enlisted men and 60 officers defected from the army to join their coreligionists. The Lebanese Armed Forces chief of staff, General Nadim al Hakim, fled into Druze territory, but he would not admit he had actually defected. Thus, the army again had split along confessional lines. Furthermore, the army had halted the Druzes only with United States armed intervention.

For its part, the United States had clearly inherited Israel's role of shoring up the precarious Lebanese government. On September 29, 1983, the United States Congress, by a solid majority, adopted a resolution declaring the 1973 War Powers Resolution to apply to the situation in Lebanon and sanctioned the United States military presence for an eighteen-month period.

Although the MNF remained in Lebanon after the October 1983 suicide truck bombings, the situation of the United States and French contingents was precarious (see Suicide Bombings , this ch.). In early February 1984, Shia Amal militiamen clashed with the Lebanese Army in the southern suburbs of Beirut and after four days of heavy fighting gained control over Beirut International Airport, evicted the army from West Beirut, and reestablished the Green Line partitioning the capital. The decisive defeat of the army on two key fronts led to its gradual disintegration, as demoralized soldiers defected to join the opposition. United States Marines stationed near Beirut International Airport were surrounded by predominantly Shia militia groups. As the security environment in Lebanon deteriorated, Britain, France, Italy, and the United States decided to withdraw their MNF contingents.

Data as of December 1987