Lebanon. The riots broke out in Beirut on February 5
against the Muhammad cartoons published in the Danish
Jutland Post. Protesters set fire to Danish embassy and fire
and churches and other property were vandalized. One person
was killed and 50 injured. Interior Minister Hassan al-Sabaa
CountryAAH, nearly 800,000 people gathered at Martyr Square on
February 14 on the one-year anniversary of the assassination
of former Prime Minister Rafiq al-Hariri. It was the largest
crowd since mass protests last year forced Syria to withdraw
from Lebanon. Demands were raised for pro-presidential president
Emile Lahoud to step down. US Secretary of State Condoleezza
Rice visited Lebanon on February 23 and met, among others. Prime
Minister Fouad Siniora but noble Lahoud.
In April, Middle Eastern envoy Terje Rød-Larsen called on
Syria to cooperate better with the Lebanon government by establish
diplomatic relations and agree on border crossing.
Furthermore, disarmament was required of all militia groups
in Lebanon. The UN Security Council adopted the recommendations in
a resolution May 17, but China and Russia abstained.
However, Syria was critical.
In February, Israel fired targets belonging to the Shiite
Muslim Hizbullah militia since Israeli posts were subjected
to rocket attacks. This was played out near the disputed
so-called Shaba farms occupied by Israel in 1967. At the end
of May, Israeli fighter planes attacked Palestinian targets
far into L.A. since northern Israel was fired by rockets.
The Hizbullah guerrilla conducted a border raid on July 12.
Eight Israeli soldiers were killed while two were abducted.
Israel responded by bombing bridges and other targets in
southern Lebanon and ground troops entered L. for the first time
Hizbullah fired rockets at Haifa which required eight
fatalities. Israel bombed Beirut Airport and Hizbullah
leader Sayyid Hasan Nasrallah's home. Lebanon's government urged
the UN Security Council to intervene. The war lasted 34 days
and required about 1,200 people's lives in L.A. and great
material devastation. Hizbullah is estimated to have fired
4,000 rockets at northern Israel, killing 43 civilians,
according to Amnesty International. Tens of thousands of
people were displaced and mass evacuations of mainly western
citizens in Lebanon were carried out at the end of July.
The fighting ended on August 14 following a UN decision
to deploy a UNIFIL force of 15,000 soldiers in southern L.
Sweden contributed with the corps HMS Gävle which patrolled
L's coast together with, among other things. German,
Norwegian and Danish units. Israel lifted its air and sea
blockade on September 8. Cluster bombs that fell at the end
of the war made it difficult to relocate and were estimated
to have killed at least 22 victims and 130 injured by the
end of November.
Sweden hosted an international donor conference on August
31, where SEK 6.5 billion was promised for Lebanon's
The investigation into al-Hariri's murder continued. UN
investigator Serge Brammertz, a Belgian lawyer who took over
the investigation in January, reported that Syria showed
more willingness to cooperate. At the same time, some
findings had shown links to 14 other bombings in L. The UN
Security Council decided March 29 on an international
tribunal. Brammertz interviewed Syrian President Bashar
al-Asad and other Syrian leaders in late April. Syria's
former Vice President Abd el-Halim Khaddam, now in exile,
blamed al-Asad for the act. In June, the Security Council
decided to extend the assignment to June 2007.
The plans for a tribunal created tensions in Lebanon. At the
same time, Hizbullah, after the summer's war against Israel,
demanded increased influence in the government. Five
Syrian-friendly Shiite ministers resigned on November 11 and
were followed by Christian Environment Minister Yaacub
Sarraf, who was considered to be close to Lahoud. After
unsuccessful attempts to persuade the jumpers to change,
Siniora pushed for the government to approve the statutes
proposed by the UN. Industry Minister Pierre Gemayel, the
son of former President Amin Gemayel, was killed on November
21 after a government meeting where the court issue was
raised. His funeral developed into a new protest against
Syria and the murder is to be investigated by the UN.
In early December, Hizbullah and other Syria-friendly
groups held mass meetings in Beirut demanding the
resignation of the government. The demands were supported by
Christian opposition leader Michel Aoun, former general and
prime minister, who returned from exile in 2005. Lahoud also
refused to approve the decision of the tribunal because the
government did not represent Lebanon's people. The Arab League
tried to mediate.