Lebanon in the 1990’s

At the end of the bloody civil war that devastated the country between 1975 and 1990, the Lebanese political order reached a gradual stabilization in the early nineties, based on the Ṭā᾽if agreement reached in 1989 by the various Lebanese factions on the acceptance of hegemony of Syria. The dominant role of Damascus was enshrined in numerous bilateral agreements, starting with the Treaty of Friendship, Cooperation and Coordination of May 1991, with which the two countries created common bodies at the highest levels, with competences in the economic, political and military fields. The contrasts between the religious communities of the Lebanon remained alive, despite the cautious progress made by the normalization process, and the serious element of tension continued to be the Israeli occupation of the so-called security zone.

According to Harvard Shoes, the anti-Israel actions of the Palestinian and Lebanese guerrillas were responded to by deep and repeated incursions by Tel Aviv forces in southern Lebanon. Of particular violence were the Israeli raids carried out in July 1993 and April 1996, which collectively caused the deaths of about 300 civilians. During 1996, the worsening of regional relations, caused among other things by the victory of the right in the Israeli political elections in May, was followed by a further upsurge in tension in southern Lebanon, while the suspension of the peace process for the Middle East pushed away the solution to the problem of Palestinian refugees settled in the country.

Internally, in October 1995, with a constitutional amendment, the National Assembly extended the term of office of the President of the Republic from six to nine years, for which the possibility of running for a second time was not foreseen. Supported by Syrian leaders, this extension had been proposed by Prime Minister R. al-Ḥarīrī since May, as an element of stability necessary for the reconstruction of the country, while sectors of the political world had condemned it as unconstitutional and undemocratic. The position of the prime minister was strengthened by the results of the political consultations of August-September 1996: characterized by numerous irregularities, they nevertheless recorded a higher turnout than in the 1992 elections.(the Christian community found itself divided on the advisability of a new boycott) and they attributed the majority of the seats to candidates close to the prime minister. In November 1996, al-Ḥarīrī was therefore confirmed as the head of a new executive who continued his efforts to revive the country’s economy, trying in particular to promote a strong commitment of the private sector in the reconstruction work. The policy of the Ḥarīrī government, opposed to a secularization of the country – claimed by many – and in favor of a tightening of censorship on the media (in January 1998 a monopoly of state television was established on television news), seemed to follow, with the formation in December 1998 of a new coalition cabinet led by S. al-Ḥoss and hegemonized by the reformist area to the detriment of the confessional and military blocs, a new phase, inspired by economic liberalization, a relaxation of censorship and a fight against class corruption manager who in 1999 led to a series of trials and convictions of politicians.


Lebanon is a Western Asian state. The population, which according to a 2005 estimate was equal to 3,577,000 residents (the last official statistical survey dates back to 1970), it has grown at a modest rate (1 % in the period 2000-2005) with a significant reduction compared to the past. At the beginning of 2005, there were about 400,000 Palestinian refugees in the country. In the same year, as regards religion, the breakdown was as follows: 59.7 % Muslims (divided into Shiites, Sunnis, Druze etc.), 39 % Christians (Catholics, Maronites, Greek Orthodox, etc.), 1, 3 % others.

After being the main financial center in the Middle East, following several years of severe economic crisis, Lebanon is trying to redefine its role in an unstable region. A moderate economic recovery began to take shape in 2003, confirming itself in 2004 (+ 6 %). Partly linked to the new flow of capital from the Gulf countries, which following the attacks of 11 September 2001in New York and Washington they had deserted the western squares to refocus themselves in the Middle East, this recovery affected various sectors: in particular, banking activities benefited, whose deposits represent the equivalent of more than three times the national GDP, tourism, which in 2004 reached its record of admissions with 1.3 million visitors (mostly from the Gulf countries), and the real estate sector. The public deficit is being reduced, which in November 2002 was able to be restructured thanks above all to the mobilization of the international community led by France, but which nevertheless continues to weigh on the economy (in 2004 it represented almost 160% of GDP). Consequently, even if investor confidence has returned and the Lebanese pound continues to be pegged to the dollar, in order to consolidate the economic recovery, the government will have to carry out the structural reforms envisaged in agreement with international organizations.

Lebanon in the 1990's