Lebanon Table of Contents
The withdrawal of the MNF left Syria as the dominant force in Lebanon, and Syria acted rapidly to consolidate its grip on Lebanese affairs. It pressured Jumayyil to abrogate the May 17 Agreement, and he did so on March 6, 1985. This event led to the resignation of the Council of Ministers and its replacement by a new government of national unity headed by Rashid Karami.
Syria hammered out yet another security accord, the Bikfayya Agreement of June 18. Muslim and Druze cabinet ministers had insisted on the creation of a military command council to replace the post of commander in chief of the armed forces, a proposal that was opposed by Christian cabinet ministers, who perceived it as a dilution of their control over the military. A compromise was reached providing for the continuation of the post of commander in chief, to be held by a Maronite as before, but also the establishment of a multiconfessional six-man military command council to have authority over appointments at the brigade and division levels (see Organization and Command Structure , this ch.). Major General Ibrahim Tannus, the army commander, was replaced by Major General Michel Awn (also seen as Aoun), who was somewhat more acceptable to Muslims. Furthermore, a new intelligence agency, the National Security Council, was established, with the stipulation that it be headed by a Shia Muslim. A Shia general, Mustafa Nasir, was named as the first director of the new agency. Nevertheless, the Maronite-commanded military intelligence apparatus remained intact as a separate but parallel institution. The agreement also called for a cease-fire, the withdrawal of heavy artillery and militiamen from the streets of East Beirut and West Beirut, the dismantling of barricades along the Green Line, and the reopening of the airport and port. The agreement formally took effect on June 23 and was implemented by July 6, 1985.
Optimistic predictions that the Bikfayya Agreement would end Lebanon's chronic conflict were dashed as sporadic battles and terrorist attacks resumed. The accord was criticized vehemently by elements among the Maronites as Druze, Shia, and Sunni militia fought one another in West Beirut. Armed Shias stormed and burned the Saudi Arabian embassy on August 24. On the same day, the Lebanese National Resistance Front, an umbrella organization fighting Israel in southern Lebanon, fired two rocket-propelled grenades at the British embassy. On September 20, in a replay of the April 1983 attack, a suicide vehicle bomber attacked the new United States embassy building in East Beirut, killing eight and wounding dozens. The mounting tension in Lebanon was exacerbated by Israeli air raids against Palestinian guerrilla camps of the Abu Musa faction. The Bikfayya Agreement suffered another blow on August 23, when General al Hakim, the newly appointed Druze chief of staff of the Lebanese Armed Forces, died in an accidental helicopter crash. And, on August 30 Maronite patriarch and Phalange Party founder Pierre Jumayyil died of a heart attack, setting the stage for a power struggle in the Christian community.
Syria, determined to implement the security plans it had sponsored, attempted to restore order. It curbed the activities of the Iranian Pasdaran and Hizballah in Baalbek in the Biqa Valley, and it quelled the fierce fighting in the northern port city of Tripoli between the pro-Syrian Arab Democratic Party and the Sunni fundamentalist Tawhid (Islamic Unification Movement).
Data as of December 1987