Friday, 19 October 2007

US bases for Lebanon?

A report in al-Safir newspaper on Thursday confirms all the worst fears about US intentions for Lebanon.

The US wants to set up a string of military bases in Lebanon.

Apprently a Pentagon delegation headed by undersecretary of defense Eric Edelman met with top-ranking Lebanese officials to dicuss gaining "a foot-hold in the strategic region of northern Lebanon".

The delegation held meetings with Lebanese PM Siniora, defense minister Elias Murr and army chief Michel Suleiman.

The Pentagon tabled a request to establish bases in order to counterballance "Russian presence in northern Syria", and according to one report, "the US policymakers are exploring new strategies to counter Russian show of military might."

So that's it, a return to the Cold War in which Lebanon becomes a battleground for Russian/US inperialism.

Apparently the US want a string of bases: one in the Christian region of Bsharri; one in the Bekaa (to cover Baalbek and the Hermel); and one in the plains of Damour south of Beirut.

Futhermore the US Air Force want to use the airstrip at Qoleiat, and two naval bases near Tripoli.

Al-Safir notes that the Americans also want radar stations in Qornet Sawda, Barouk and Dahr al-Baidar.

Apart from the fact that the area around Tripoli is "Salafi central"—and no doubt will become a protracted Iraq-like battleground between US troops and Lebanese/Palestinians— all the bases are less about the Russian Bear and more about encircling Hizbollah areas.

So we will have battles in the north, centre and south.

The report also reveals that the US wants the Lebanese army to abandon its neutrality towards the resistance and Syria— and no doubt a reassessment of Lebanese relations to Israel.

Along with this the US is a doubling military aid to the Lebanese army from $270 million to $500 million.

This shoddy deal shows that the March 14 movement (the ones that harp on about "independence") are setting the country on a path to a grim, bloody and violent future.

The Middle East is now on the verge of several wars. Israel round II on Lebanon; US attack on Iran; US-Israeli attack on Syria; a Turkish invasion on Northern Iraq; Israeli reoccupation of the Gaza Strip; a gloves off fight for control of Lebanon; and now a US occupation of Lebanon.

Will the troops be landing at the beach in Khalde?

Thursday, 18 October 2007

Tram to el-Mina 1920s

The postcard shows a tram on the main line from Tripoli to the port of el-Mina. There was also a short local line in Tripoli.

Tram Car 1908

The tram system opened on 19 April 1908, and by 1931 there were 12 km of track and 75 cars. The postcard shows one of the early models. The last tram ran in September, 1965.

Train carriage 2000

Abandoned in Jounieh

Education 1938

The New Way

"A direct sound-method for learning to read the Arabic language for beginners." An Arabic language reader for elementary school second grade. Printed in Sidon in 1938.

Return to Nahr al-Bared

A vert good report from New TV/al-Jadid on the plight of Palestinians returning to Nahr al-Bared camp. The report, translated by Mosaic TV, is the sixth item.

Wednesday, 17 October 2007

Palestinian rights 2007

Amnesty International has published a damming report on the rights of Palestinian refugees (or lack of) in Lebanon.

The rights group note:

'Today, all 12 official refugee camps in [Lebanon] suffer from serious problems— no proper infrastructure, overcrowding, poverty and unemployment. [Lebanon] has the highest percentage of Palestine refugees who are living in abject poverty and who are registered with the Agency's "special hardship" programme.

'Most Palestinian refugees in Lebanon have had little choice but to live in overcrowded and deteriorating camps and informal "gatherings" —unofficial camps that lack basic infrastructure. The land allocated to official refugee camps has barely changed since 1948, despite a fourfold increase in the number of registered refugees.

'Residents have been banned from bringing building materials into some camps, preventing the repair, expansion or improvement of homes, although recently there has been some relaxation of the ban. Those who defy the law face fines and imprisonment as well as demolition of new structures.

'Restrictions in the labour market mean high levels of unemployment, low wages and poor working conditions for Palestinians. Until recently, more than 70 professions were barred to Palestinians— around 20 still are, including law, medicine and engineering. This and other discriminatory treatment compounds the poverty and isolation of Palestinians in Lebanon.

'Medical treatment is expensive in Lebanon and only partially covered by UNRWA for registered Palestinian refugees and not at all for others. Secondary health care is rarely subsidized at all. A shortage of health workers, health facilities and equipment in the camps and gatherings where Palestinians live compounds the poor health care available in practice to refugees.

'Many Palestinian refugees in Lebanon retain the hope that one day they will be able to return to their homes in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories. However, until that time, Lebanon must respect, protect and fulfil the rights of Palestinian refugees within its jurisdiction.

To this end, the Lebanese authorities should:
Urgently repeal or revise all laws and policies that directly discriminate against Palestinian refugees;
• Take immediate steps to improve conditions in the camps and gatherings;
• Register all non-ID Palestinian refugees under Lebanese jurisdiction without delay;
• End the discrimination facing Palestinians in the labour market;
• Ensure that adequate health care is available to all;
• Ensure that all children have equal access to education.

Tram to Basta 1965

Tram Car number 50 on route 3 to Basta, 5 May 1965

Monday, 15 October 2007

Bomb attack 1958

The caption reads: "Firemen seen fighting the blaze at a large store in Beirut, which was burnt out recently following an explosion of an incendiary bomb which the rebels managed to plant inside a delivery van which was waiting outside the stores. Three people were killed and fifty hurt". 11.7.58 Keystone

1958 ‘We feared the Lebanese army would mutiny’

As part of a countdown to the 50th anniversary of the 1958 US invasion of Lebanon, Sursock will be posting some of the major accounts of the events. The picture is of a Lebanese army Sherman tank engaging rebels in central Beirut.

Below is a blow-by-blow description by US military historian Jack Shulimson of the landings by Marines and their entry into Beirut.

This is an edited version.

'A coup by Brigadier Abdel Karem Kassem overthrew the Iraq government. The young Iraqi King, Faisal, was murdered and the Premier, Nuri Said, was killed while attempting to flee. These violent happenings appeared to threaten the entire Western strategic position in the Middle East.

The Iraqi revolution destroyed the government of the only Arab member of the Baghdad Pact and put an end to the Iraq-Jordan Federation, which had been formed in March to counterbalance the union of Egypt and Syria.

King Hussein of Jordan had reason to fear for his own throne, and in Lebanon, president Chamoun appealed to the United States and Great Britain to intervene within 48 hours.

The Iraqi revolution caught official Washington by surprise. Trouble had been expected in Jordan or perhaps Lebanon, but not in Iraq. The oilfields in Iraq and the oil pipeline terminating in Tripoli were extremely important to the economy and military effectiveness of the Western nations.

The first news of the upheaval in Iraq reached Washington about 0300 (Washington time) 14 July. Early reports were fragmentary, but by early morning the situation had clarified, and president Eisenhower was informed at 0730.

Secretary of state John Foster Dulles arrived at his office at 0815 for an intelligence briefing and a look at the most urgent cables. The president met with the National Security Council at 0930, secretary of state dulles, vice president Richard M. Nixon, and General Nathan F. Twining, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, joined the conference at 1030.

The Secretary outlined the situation in the Middle East and recommended that US military forces land in Lebanon in response to Chamoun's appeal. Eisenhower agreed that some action must be taken.

At about 1430 the same day, the president met with the Republican and Democratic leaders of Congress. The president is reputed to have said:

"I have discussed this with my people here and in the National Security Council but I must emphasize that no decision has been made. I want to give you the pros and cons. But must also emphasize that a decision must be made in the immediate future... within the next hour or two."

The president then returned to his meeting with his military and civilian advisers. They discussed the possibility of British participation, which Eisenhower rejected in that he felt "that United States forces would be adequate, and with the 3700 British troops intact on Cyprus, a reserve would be available.

General Twining informed him that the Joint Chiefs were unanimously of the opinion that action must be taken immediately. According to one source, at 1643 Eisenhower turned to Twining and said "all right we'll send `em in. Nate, put it into operation."

The assignment to carry out Eisenhower orders went to the amphibious units of the Sixth Fleet.

The Marines did not know up to the moment of the landing whether they would meet any opposition. Saeb Salem, the rebel leader in Beirut, was quoted as saying: "You tell those Marines that if one Marine sets foot on the soil of my country, I will regard it as an act of aggression and commit my forces against them."

The US command was not too concerned, however, about the effectiveness of possible rebel resistance. Although the rebels numbered some 10,000 irregulars throughout the country, they were dispersed in bands of 400 to 2,000 men and lightly armed. There was no central leadership of the anti-government forces and each group owed its loyalty only to its individual leader.

The Americans did not expect any reaction from the regular Lebanese Army though the danger existed that it might disintegrate into pro-government and rebel factions. Therefore, the only immediate effective threat was posed by the Syrian First Army, composed of 40,000 men— and equipped with over 200 T-34 Russian-built medium tanks. This was why it was so important that the airport and the approaches to the north of Beirut be secured.

Khalde (Red) Beach, the site chosen for the Marine assault was four miles from the city of Beirut and 700 yards from the Beirut International Airport. The small village of Khalde was located 1,500 yards south of the landing beach. On 15 July, the villagers were going quietly about their chores and a gang of workmen was constructing a beach road.

Further along the beach, some vacationers were enjoying the sun and others were swimming in the Mediterranean. It was a peaceful scene entirely divorced from revolutions, coup d'etas, and the troubles of the cold war.

In contrast to the mood of serenity on the beach, a sense of urgency was present in the offices of Chamoun, general Chehab, and Robert McClintock, the US ambassador in Beirut. McClintock knew the date and time, but not the place of the Marine landing.

He had been in communication with both Chamoun and Chehab. The State department had ordered the ambassador to inform Chamoun of the Marine landing no later than 1200 Beirut time on 15 July. When McClintock told the president of the proposed intervention, Chamoun asked the ambassador to relay this information to Chehab.

McClintock then visited Chehab at 1330, only an hour and a half before H-hour. Chehab was visibly upset by the news. The day before he had asked the leaders of the rebel forces to take no action in the wake of the Iraqi revolt.

The general felt confident that the rebels would not precipitate any new maneuvers against the government. Chehab had confided to the American military attache that some Lebanese army officers had proposed a coup to him that morning in order to prevent a landing but that he had refused.

The Lebanese general claimed he could not guarantee that all the army would remain loyal to him. He feared the US intervention would bring about the dissolution of the army and prevent any settlement of the revolt.

Chehab asked McClintock to request the Marines to remain on board their ships. The ships then could enter Beirut harbor and two or three tanks and some heavy equipment could be unloaded there. The ambassador agreed to transmit this message to the amphibious forces since he believed that if "General Chehab decided to throw in the sponge, the Lebanese army will fall apart."

McClintock then attempted to radio the American fleet, but the radio link between the Sixth Fleet and the embassy was broken and the ambassador was unable to transmit his message. He had received word, however, from friends who had apartments overlooking the sea that it was apparent that the TransPhibRon was approaching the beach area off the airport. McClintock then sent the aaval attache, commander Howard J. Baker, to intercept the advanced units of the assault force.

At 1430 (Beirut time), a half-hour before H-hour, the seven ships of Amphibious Squadron 6 were in position, approximately two miles off Red Beach. Shortly before 1500, the LVTPs (Landing Vehicles, Tracked, Personnel) were launched. Company F on board the LVTPs spearheaded the Marine landing. The amphibian tractors reached the shoreline at 1504 and rumbled onto the airfield. Companies G and H came ashore in landing craft and deployed on foot to their assigned objectives. Company E followed as the battalion reserve.

The scene on the beach was perhaps one of the most colorful in the long history of Marine Corps landings. Witnessing the assault were bikini-clad-sunbathers, Khalde villagers that had galloped on horseback to the site, and the beach workmen who had dropped their tools and had run to the shore.

As the fully armed Marines charged over the sand, these civilian observers waved and some even cheered. A few of the young boys even attempted to help the Marines in bringing ashore some of the heavier equipment. Soft drink vendors were out in full force. The Marines were prepared for any eventuality, but this reception was rather unexpected. As one Marine said, "It's better than Korea, but what the hell is it?"

Quickly taking control, all four rifle companies of 2/2 and the advance echelon of the command post landed within 20 minutes. As Company E cleared the civilians from the beach, Company G secured the airport terminal, and Companies F and H began to establish their positions about the airfield. The two destroyers and Navy planes from the aircraft carrier ESSEX stood by to support the Marine troops shore. No incidents took place and no shots were fired.

… …

As the supplies were being unloaded onto the beach, the Marines at the airport were consolidating their positions. By nightfall on the 15th, the defense perimeter had been adjusted to provide the most effective security. Liaison had been established with the Lebanese units at the airport and certain areas there were guarded jointly by Marines and Lebanese. A motorized platoon from Company E was placed in a standby position with orders to proceed, if necessary into Beirut to protect the American, French, or British Embassies.

At 2100, 15 July, a member of the UN observer team in Lebanon approached the command post. He asked the battalion commander which side the US forces were supporting. The Marine officer replied that his battalion was there to give assistance to the legal government of Lebanon. The UN official then implied that the US was backing the wrong side. Lieutenant colonel Hadd asked the observer very politely to leave the area.

Small patrols from the Marine companies were sent forward to probe for any irregular Lebanese armed groups that might be in the immediate area of the airport. These patrols returned at 0500, 16 July, and reported they had made no contact with any hostile forces.

At 0730, the first waves landed across Red Beach. Lieutenant colonel Robert M. Jenkins, the battalion commander, relayed to Hadd an order from general Wade for them to enter the city of Beirut. Wade left the at approximately 0800 to see McClintock in the city. Hadd told Wade that the battalion could be formed up in a column and ready to move. Wade then left with an official from the American Embassy to meet the ambassador.

When the general arrived at the embassy, McClintock was speaking on the telephone to Chehab. The Lebanese general was asking the ambassador to halt the proposed movement of the Marines into the city. Both the ambassador and Chehab were concerned that units of the Lebanese army might resist the Marine column.

The Ambassador told Chehab that he would speak to Chamoun about the situation and then asked General bade to hold up the advance. Wade replied that he had no authority to cancel the order but that he would postpone the troop movement.

Wade and McClintock, in the meantime, went to see Chamoun. The Marine told the president of the plan to enter the city and Chamoun agreed that the plan should be, executed immediately. McClintock and Wade returned to the embassy where the ambassador then called Chehab. Chehab requested that Wade hold up the Marine column for another 30 minutes. Wade agreed and ordered Hadd to prepare to get under way at 1030.

An aide informed Wade that a detachment of Lebanese tanks had set up a roadblock on the main road leading from the airport into Beirut. The general immediately informed the ambassador of the new turn of events. McClintock replied that he would speak to Chehab. Wade then procured an embassy car and proceeded towards the airport accompanied by two interpreters.

On the way, the general's car pulled up alongside one of the Lebanese tanks, a French-built medium armed with a 75mm gun, parked on the side of the road and Wade spoke to one of the Lebanese crewmen. In response to a question from the American general, the Lebanese soldier replied that he had orders to stop any movement into the city. He also volunteered the information that he had a cousin in New York.

General Wade then asked him if he would fire upon the American Marines. The soldier replied that he had no such orders but would have to check with his captain. Wade then drove on to the airport. He told Hadd that it was his opinion that the Lebanese would not fire at the Marines, but that the battalion should proceed with caution and be prepared for any eventuality.

At 1030, as the BLT was about to start out a Lebanese captain approached Hadd and Wade. The Lebanese officer stated that he had received a telephone call from General Chehab. The Lebanese general and the American ambassador were in conference and requested that the Marines wait another 30 minutes before starting towards Beirut. General Wade agreed to the request and postponed the movement until 1100.

At 1100, the Marines of BLT 2/2 boarded their tanks, LVTPs,and trucks, and moved out in column formation. Lieutenant Colonel Hadd halted his battalion in front of the Lebanese roadblock, one mile up from the airport. The guns of the Lebanese tanks were pointed directly at the lead vehicles in the Marine column.

While Admiral Holloway, General Wade, and Admiral Yeager were heading into Beirut, the ambassador's car, with ambassador McClintock and General Chehab inside, sped by going in the opposite direction, accompanied by a motorcycle escort. The American officers' car quickly swerved about and gave chase. Both automobiles arrived almost simultaneously at the roadblock where the Lebanese troops and American Marines faced one another.

Chehab suggested that the ambassador, the two admirals, and the Marine general accompany him to a small schoolhouse located a short distance from the road to discuss the confrontation between the Marine BLT and the Lebanese unit. Thus began the conference that was to settle the role the Marines were to play in Lebanon.

As this meeting took place on the main road, a second dangerous incident occurred in the sector of BLT 3/6. Companies I and K had secured their objectives, respectively to the east and south of the airport, without incident. In contrast, Company L was unable to reach its objective, located two miles due north of the airfield on a beach road, since the position was occupied by a Lebanese armored detachment.

The Marines had been instructed to consider all Lebanese army units friendly unless proven otherwise. With this in mind, captain Richard W. Coulter, commanding officer of Company L, halted his troops and advanced towards the Lebanese, accompanied only by his first sergeant.

The two Marines were immediately surrounded by excited Lebanese troops, who kept their weapons aimed at the two Americans. Although the captain and sergeant retained their arms, they were escorted under armed guard to a Lebanese Army barracks nearby.

There the captain discussed the impasse with an English-speaking Lebanese Army major. The Lebanese officer refused to allow the Marine Company to occupy the position. He did agree to release the sergeant, who was to bring back the battalion commander.

Lieutenant colonel Jenkins arrived at the barracks and also was unable to convince the Lebanese to retire. The Lebanese major finally offered to call Lebanese army headquarters in Beirut to obtain the advice of general Chehab.

The major was told that Chehab had just left with the ambassador to attempt to resolve the difficulties between the Marines and the Lebanese army on the main road to Beirut. Jenkins and the Lebanese major then made the decision that Company L and the Lebanese troops blocking its path would remain in their present positions while the major and lieutenant colonel Jenkins attempted to find Chehab. Captain Coulter returned to his company while the other two officers made their way to the Lebanese roadblock on the main road.

There the conference at the schoolhouse was still going on. Chehab asked that the Marines take a different route into the city. General Wade refused, however, and insisted that the Marines be allowed to complete its mission. He stated that time was an important factor and there had been enough delays. Admiral Holloway declared that the Marine column would move out without any further delay at 1200.

McClintock resolved the issue by suggesting that Chehab, Holloway, and himself ride together leading the Marines into Beirut but that they bypass the Muslim quarter, the Basta. This proposal proved agreeable to all parties and arrangements for the formation of the column were then ironed out. It was decided that BLT 2/2 should be broken down into small sections. Each section was to be led by a jeep carrying Lebanese army officers. At 1230, the column began to move with the Ambassador's car leading the Marines towards Beirut.

Once the BLT entered the city, Chehab got out of the lead car and Holloway ordered all intervals closed as the movement was bogging down. The admiral, assisted by admiral Yeager and general Wade, assumed personal tactical command... and even directed the units of the column to their billeting areas from the main gate of the dock area.

The Marines took control of the dock area, protected the bridges over the Beirut River on the Tripoli road, and furnished guards for the American embassy and the ambassador's residence. By 1900, the BLT had secured its objectives.

After the crisis between BLT 2/2 and the Lebanese troops was resolved, Jenkins was able to settle the differences between Company L and the Lebanese army detachment on the beach road. Liaison arrangements were made and Jenkins then returned to his command post at the Beirut airport.

Awaiting him there was a message from the Lebanese commander of the airport, who requested that the Marine officer meet with him at 1300 to discuss arrangements at the airfield. Jenkins arrived at approximately 1310 at the commander's office. There he was greeted by the commander's aide, who informed the American that the commander had tired of waiting and had departed for lunch.

Picture is of rebels on the march (Arab Image Foundation)

The aide then told Jenkins that he should return in 30 minutes and the airport commander would furnish orders for the disposition of the Marines. Upon hearing this, the BLT commander stated that he would return at 1600 with orders for the disposition of the Lebanese troops at the airfield. The Marine won his point, and an effective liaison with the Lebanese authorities at the airport was established.

This incident reflected the Marines' conception of their assignment. They were to be cooperative but firm. The Marines aided by the mediation of ambassador McClintock and general Chehab, were able to handle the very critical situation posed by the Lebanese roadblocks. The harassing maneuvers of a few Lebanese soldiers ceased, and the Marines were able to proceed with their mission.

… …

The Marines of BLT 2/2 in Beirut and BLT 3/6 at the airport spent a relatively peaceful night on 16-17 July. The only disturbances were small probing attacks by Lebanese rebels against forward Marine outposts. At 1800 and 2055, 16 July, groups of four to five Lebanese sniped at the Marine outpost south of the airfield but withdrew once the Marines returned the fire. The rebels came fain at 0600, 17 July and retreated once more in the face of Marine rifle fire. There were no casualties on either side as a result of these actions.

During the morning of 17 July, two Marines of BLT 2/2 were "captured" by rebel forces in the Basta area. The two men took a wrong turn in Beirut on their way to pick up some equipment at Red Beach and entered the Muslim section of the city. They were immediately surrounded by armed Lebanese insurgents and forced to surrender their arms.

The Lebanese escorted them to a rebel command post, where they were questioned. The interrogator asked the two Marines why they had come to Lebanon. The two Americans, not wishing to provoke their captors, replied they did not know. Thereupon the Lebanese rebel leader proceeded to lecture them about the "duplicity" of American foreign policy and the evil of American "imperialism". After an hour and half of this harangue, the two Marines were released. A Lebanese Army captain escorted them back to their battalion. Later in the day, the Lebanese Army returned the Marine jeep and the weapons of the two Americans.

These harassing maneuvers employed by the Lebanese rebels were to become commonplace. The Lebanese dissidents were attempting to provoke the Marines into rash retaliation, but were unsuccessful. The Marine forces were under strict orders to maintain fire discipline, and to shoot only in self-defense.

In order to further Lebanese Army and Marine cooperation, Wade visited Chehab on 17 July, at the latter's quarters in Junieh, 10 miles north of Beirut. In the course of their conversation, General Wade indicated that he did not wish to become involved in the Lebanese internal political situation.

Chehab replied that he understood General Wade's position and would discuss only military matters. It was not possible, however, to divorce entirely the military presence of the Marines in Lebanon from the political implications. Chehab stated that his army would fall apart if the Marines continued their movements into the city. The Lebanese general asked Wade to group the American force: in such a manner that the Marines would not give the appearance of being occupation troops.

The Marine general agreed to this request. Wade considered that the most important result of this conference with General Chehab was the agreement to attach Lebanese Army officers to the headquarters staff of the 2d Provisional Marine Force and to each of the Marine battalions.

Lebanese major Alexander Ghanem, attached to General Wade's headquarters, proved to be extremely useful to the Americans. According to colonel Hamilton Lawrence, chief of staff of the 2d provisional Marine Force:

“Was there a roadblock someplace manned by oddly dressed irregulars? Ghanem would consider the problem silently for a minute while seated by the phone, his fingertips pressed together. Course of action decided, he would pick up the phone and speak softly into it for only a few seconds. Fifteen minutes later our reporting unit would call and say the roadblock had melted away after a few words from some visiting Lebanese.”

The Lebanese officer who was attached to 2/2 requested lieutenant colonel Hadd to withdraw Companies E and F from their positions at the bridges over the Beirut river and at the eastern approaches to the city.

Units of the Lebanese Army also guarded these locations in the city, and Lebanese army officers believed the presence of the two Marine companies at these same sites would mean a loss of face to the Lebanese Army. The Lebanese feared, in addition, that the Marines might engage rebel elements that were firing sporadically at the Marine emplacements in these areas.

Hadd agreed to the withdrawal after consulting with American Embassy officials and moved both companies into the dock section of Beirut. He made it clear, however, that these new positions were not satisfactory as a permanent location.

… …

On 18 July, the Lebanese Army permitted the Marines to station Companies E and F of 2/2 at J'Daide, approximately a mile and a half to the east of Beirut. From there, both units would be able to move rapidly to the bridges and to the eastern approaches of the city if the occasion arose.

At 0900, 18 July, the third battalion of the 2d Provisional Marine Force, BLT 1/8 under Lieutenant Colonel John H. Brickley, landed at Yellow Beach, four miles north of Beirut. Companies A and B came ashore in landing craft and Company C, the battalion reserve, followed in LVTPs. The battalion fanned out and formed a crescent-shaped perimeter with Company B on the right flank, Company C on the left, and Company A in the center to protect the beachhead and the northern approaches to the city.

The only problems encountered were those posed by the usual congregation of Lebanese spectators and ice cream and watermelon vendors. One or two of the Navy landing craft had to swerve in order to avoid some children swimming in the water.

… …

The three Marine landings in Lebanon were only part of the American response to the crisis in the Middle East caused by the sudden eruption of the Iraqi Revolution. The United States could not be sure how other nations would react to the American intervention and had to be prepared for any eventuality.

On 14 and 15 July, plans were being made to provide for the assignment of the entire 2d Marine Division at Camp Lejeune and the 2d Marine Aircraft Wing at Cherry Point, North Carolina to the Mediterranean area. In the Far East, BLT 3/3 on Okinawa was ordered to load on board an amphibious squadron and sail into the Persian Gulf and to be prepared to land in Iran or Saudi Arabia in the event the crisis spread. A regimental landing team, RLT-3 on Okinawa, was placed on a standby alert status.

The original plan, which called for the airlift of a British brigade into the Beirut airport, had to be revised in view of the agreement of 15 July between Eisenhower and prime minister Harold MacMillan that the British forces remain in reserve on Cyprus. Subsequently on 17 July, British paratroops landed in Jordan at the request of King Hussein of that country.

… …

The period of 19-26 July, from the arrival of the first Army troops to the assumption of command by General Adams, was one of consolidation of liaison arrangements with the Lebanese Army. The relationship between Chehab and the American military improved. General Wade reminisced:

“He (General Chehab) objected to our coming into the city I think because he thought we were going to get involved in the Basta area. When it was quite clear that we were going to avoid that, it eased the situation considerably, the tension was lifted and he was more or less cooperative.”

During this period there was no combat activity with the exception of the continued harassing of Marine forward positions. One of the most potentially dangerous of these incidents occurred on 19 July at the airfield. Rebel groups had periodically been firing at American aircraft when they came in for landings. The rebel shots came from an area just south of the field.

A patrol from BLT 3/6 was dispatched to disperse the snipers. The Marine patrol became involved in a three-cornered fire fight, not only with the rebels but also with Lebanese police dressed in civilian clothes. There were no American casualties, although one gendarme was wounded. A later investigation proved that the Lebanese gendarmes had initiated the firing, mistaking the Marines for rebels. A Lebanese army unit moved into the area and stopped the rebel harassment of the American planes.

The US president, realizing the political implications of American intervention, sent deputy under secretary of state Robert D. Murphy to coordinate the activities of the US military command and the American Embassy in Lebanon. Murphy recalled that the president gave no specific orders except to promote the best interest of the US incident to the arrival of our forces in Lebanon."

When Murphy arrived in Lebanon on 17 July, he discovered that many of the members of the Lebanese Parliament planned to protest to the U. S. against she American intervention. He was able to persuade the legislators to drop this action, however, and concentrate on the problem of electing a new president.

He met with Admiral Holloway on a daily basis. The two agreed that much of the Lebanese internal conflict concerned personalities and had very little relation to international issues. It was apparent to both of them that Communism "was playing no direct or substantial part in the insurrection."

The main outside support of the Lebanese rebels came from Egypt and Syria and direct intervention from the United Arab Republic as a result of the American landings was unlikely. Murphy believed that the only solution to end the anarchy was the election of a new president. He and Holloway felt that Chamoun had overreached himself in the brambles of Lebanese politics and that the Lebanese Army was the only thing holding the government together.

… …

Chehab assured Murphy that the Army was willing to cooperate with the American forces but was unwilling to take any energetic action against the rebels, except to restrict rebel activity and contain it in certain districts.

Murphy decided that the only way to create a viable government was to bring the leaders of the dissident elements of the country together. Colonel William A. Eddy, a retired Marine officer, who was employed as a consultant to the American Arabian Oil Company, arranged for a meeting between Murphy and two of Saeb Salem's associates on 24 July.

The American attempted to convince the two Lebanese that the US had not intervened in order to keep Chamoun in office. He warned them that the indiscriminate firing at American troops should end. Murphy reassured the rebel spokesmen that the Americans wished to avoid any serious clash, "however, we must maintain the security of our troops and we also value American prestige." Saeb Salem apparently took heed of the American warnings since the rebel provocations against the American troops dropped off after this date.

Murphy was also able to convince the Druze chieftan [Kamal] Jumblatt and the Tripoli rebel leader Karami that the US intervention was not for the purpose of maintaining any one man in office. The way was then cleared for the Parliament to decide on a new president. The election was held on 31 July and General Chehab was elected president although his term of office was not scheduled to begin until 23 September.

… …

The Lebanese army commander, by not taking sides in the insurrection and by maintaining the integrity of the national army, had the support of all the various Lebanese political factions. With the hope of a stabilized government for Lebanon, the Americans were able to concentrate on the problems of pulling their troops out of Lebanon.

Secretary of state Dulles announced on 31 July that the US forces would be withdrawn as soon as the Lebanese government requested their removal. On 5 August, Admiral Holloway was directed to begin planning for the departure of the American military forces.

The order was based on the assumption that General Chehab would request the Americans to to leave when he took office. The Americans wished to keep the selection of their departure date in their own hands. Chehab indicated, however, that he wished the Americans to make only a token withdrawal until the internal situation in Lebanon was completely secure.

… …

The United States announced on 8 October that it was withdrawing all its forces from Lebanon. Through the period of 18 October, however, the date of departure of the RLT, nearly 2,000 Marines remained in the Beirut dock area and captain Werts and colonel McKennan "conducted considerable reconnaissance work throughout the Lebanese coastal area at Admiral Holloway's personal direction."

On 23 October, the Lebanese formed a government which included representatives from each of the major political parties and the last US army troops departed the country two days later.

From the vantage of today there seems to have been little connection between the Iraqi Revolution and the unrest in Lebanon, but it must be emphasized that this was not known at the time.There was a precarious political situation in Lebanon and also a real fear on the part of the loyalist supporters of Chamoun for the safety of his life and for the independence of the country.

Even if the events of 14 July were not the result of an international conspiracy, the balance of power in the Middle East could have been destroyed, creating a situation susceptible to Soviet exploitation.'

The full version is available on the US military website.