Syria Table of Contents

Consistent with the Assad Doctrine, Syria stridently and successfully opposed the May 17, 1983, accord between Israel and Lebanon that would have normalized relations between the two countries. The February 26, 1984, withdrawal of United States Marines from Beirut, the June 1985 phased Israeli retreat from Lebanon, and the abrogation by the Lebanese government of the accord left Syria the dominant foreign power in Lebanon.

Emboldened by these victories, Syria attempted to capitalize on its position and impose a "Pax Syriana" on Lebanon. On December 28, 1985, it summoned representatives of three of Lebanon's factions--the Christians, Shias, and Druzes--to Damascus to sign the Tripartite Accord. The Tripartite Accord was essentially a new Lebanese constitution, drafted by Syria, that called for the elimination of the old confessional formula and replaced it with a new system of majority rule and minority representation. The Tripartite Accord guaranteed Lebanese sovereignty and independence. However, Chapter 4 of the accord stressed that Lebanon "must not allow itself to be the gateway through which Israel can deliver any blow to Syria" and called for "strategic integration" between Syria and Lebanon. The Syrian blueprint for Lebanon's future thus sustained Syrian suzerainty over Lebanese security affairs and sanctioned the continued deployment of Syrian troops in Lebanon. However, Syria's ambitious initiative failed when the Lebanese Christian community rebelled against the agreement and ousted Elie Hobeika, the Christian signatory.

As a result, Syria reverted to its previous policy toward Lebanon, a balancing act that it had pursued since its 1976 intervention in the civil war. The re-infiltration of PLO guerrillas into southern Lebanon and the reappearance of Israeli advisers in Christian East Beirut indicated that Lebanon was reverting to a situation similar to that before the 1982 Israeli invasion, and battle lines were being drawn for a rematch.

More about the Government of Syria.

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Source: U.S. Library of Congress