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 resigned afterwards.
According to CountryAAH, major public holidays in Lebanon include Independence Day (November 22) and New Year (January 1). 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 since 2000.
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 Lebanon. Sweden contributed with the corps HMS Gävle which patrolled Lebanon’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 reconstruction.
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 Lebanon. 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.