Lebanon since 2005 : An overview of developments


Lebanon’s former prime minister Rafik Hariri was assassinated in 2005, his son Saad came to power in 2009 in a turbulent period for the politically fractured country.

After Saad Hariri offered to resign Tuesday following nearly two weeks of demonstrations, here is an overview of developments since 2005.

Assassination –

A massive suicide bomb tears through Rafik Hariri’s armored convoy on the Beirut seafront in February 2005, killing him and 22 other people.

Opposition leaders blame Syria but Damascus denies any role. Lebanon’s powerful Iran-backed movement Hezbollah is also heavily suspected.

Amid a groundswell of protests, Syrian troops quit Lebanon on April 26 after a 29-year deployment which had peaked at 40,000 troops.

Hezbollah vs Israel

In July 2006, Hezbollah captures two Israeli soldiers, leading to a 34-day war with Israel that costs nearly 1,400 lives, including 1,200 Lebanese.

Israeli troops withdraw from southern Lebanon in October and the Lebanese Army — aided by a U.N. force — deploys into the border region after a 40-year absence.

Hezbollah in government

In May 2008, clashes between Hezbollah-led militants and government supporters in Beirut and other regions leave nearly 100 dead in one week.

After talks to avoid renewed civil war, Lebanon in July 2008 forms a 30-member national unity government in which Hezbollah and its allies have 11 seats, giving them veto power.

In June 2009, an anti-Syrian alliance led by Saad Hariri wins legislative elections and he is appointed prime minister.

After months of stalemate with the Hezbollah-led camp, he is only able to form a government in November.

In January 2011, Hezbollah and its allies force the collapse of the unity government. In June, a new Hezbollah-dominated government is formed.

Enters the Syria war

In April 2013, Hezbollah says its fighters have intervened in the war in Syria on the side of President Bashar al-Assad.

It goes on to send thousands of fighters into the conflict, with military and financial aid from Shiite power Iran.

Hariri resigns, backtracks

In October 2016, Hezbollah-backed former general Michel Aoun becomes president, ending a 29-month political vacuum caused by disagreement in the deeply divided parliament.

Saad Hariri is reappointed prime minister.

In November 2017, Hariri announces from Saudi Arabia that he is resigning, citing the grip of Iran and its ally Hezbollah on Lebanon, and threats to his life.

Tensions soar between Lebanon and Saudi Arabia, which is suspected of having forced the resignation. France intervenes and Hariri withdraws his resignation.

Hezbollah and allies win elections

In May 2018, Hezbollah and its allies dominate the first legislative elections since 2009.

Hariri’s al-Mustaqbal Movement loses a third of its seats but he is designated premier for a third term.

Negotiations to form a new government drag on to late January 2019, Hariri blaming Hezbollah.

Austerity, protests

In May 2019, hundreds of retired security personnel protesting over feared pension cuts try to storm the government’s headquarters.

In July, parliament passes an austerity budget aimed at rescuing the economy, which is crumbling under massive debt.

In September, hundreds of people protest in Beirut over the deteriorating economy and increasingly difficult living conditions.

October 17 sees the start of two weeks of unprecedented street protests against issues from austerity measures to poor infrastructure.

On October 29, Hariri announces he is submitting the resignation of his government