To Israel’s north and Syria’s west, along the Mediterranean Sea, lies Lebanon, a country of four million people not even three-quarters the size of Connecticut. If it existed under more peaceful conditions, it would certainly be an attractor to historians and archaeologists eager to explore the remnants of civilizations that grew up in the area 4,000 years ago. But its history is more complicated than that. A part of the Ottoman empire since the final decade of the 16th century, it became a French mandate after WW I. The French rule only lasted until WW II.
On this day, November 22, in 1943, taking advantage of France’s occupation by Germany, Lebanon declared their independence.
Split among multiple ethnicities, the Lebanese National Pact, established around the time of independence, mandated a division of government duties by group. The President would always be a Maronite; the Prime Minister always Sunni, and the president of the National Assembly always Shi’a. That division, always tentative, resulted in a drawn-out civil war in the 1980s and continued to be a problem after the war.