The End of the War: January 1989– October 1990

In September 1988, President Amine Gemayel’s term expired. Because Parliament could not agree on a successor, he appointed Michel Aoun, the Army commander in chief, as prime minister for a provisional military council. In West Beirut however, Salim Hoss, who had replaced Karami after he was assassinated, still headed a civilian cabinet. Hoss and many Muslims considered Gemayel’s decision to be a breach of the constitution and a violation of the National Pact, which stated that the prime minister was supposed to be Sunni, and a breach of the Constitution. In contrast, the majority of Christian Lebanese as well as some Muslims supported Aoun, viewing him as a man who was confronting the Syrian Army and seeking to put an end to the militias’ rule. Lebanon was thus divided between a Christian military government in East Beirut and a civilian government in
West Beirut.

During 1989, an Arab League committee had started working on a national reconciliation plan to end the war. The Lebanese MPs agreed to it in October 1989, in Ta’if, SaudiArabia, and Parliament ratified it on November 4, 1989. The National Reconciliation Accord, better known as the Ta’if Agreement, was largely based on reforms that had been put forth before in 1976, 1983, and 1985, redrawing the sectarian-based political structure. But it also called for the dissolution of all Lebanese and non-Lebanese militias. Moreover, Syrian forces in Lebanon were to “assist Lebanon to spread [its] sovereignty over the whole country” during a period of no more than two years; Lebanese and Syrian governments would agree on the redeployment of the Syrian Army to the Beqaa.Three days after Parliament ratified the agreement, Aoun refused to acknowledge it. Presidential candidate René Moawad was elected. Aoun, with Iraqi backing, had already announced a War of Liberation against Syria, which lasted from March 14, 1989, to September 23, 1989. He also embarked on a war against the militias, seeking to restore the rule of law by abolishing the illicit sources of trade, including the ports controlled by the LF and the PSP. This brought him into an open confrontation with the LF in what became a primarily inter-Christian war; it lasted throughout the first half of 1990 and was marked by very heavy civilian casualties. While this was ongoing, Amal and Hezbollah were locked in an internecine fight over Shi’a control of West and South Beirut and South Lebanon.

Finally, in October 1990, following an assault by the Syrian Army against the Christian-held enclave, the war in Lebanon came to a close.

This chapter marked the end of the succession of wars that had erupted in 1975 and opened a new era during which Lebanon, in its Second Republic (as of September 21, 1990), came under Syria’s security, political, and economic control. Thirty thousand troops were stationed in the country, and intelligence
services operated there also. Israel and its proxy militia, the SLA, continued to control South Lebanon.
In March 1992 the Lebanese government issued a report estimating the total number of war casualties, as follows: 144,240 killed; 197,506 wounded, including 13,455 with permanent disabilities; 17,415 missing, among whom 13,968 were “kidnapped and presumed dead.”
Subsequent work carried out by Labaki and Abou Rjeily, based on sources by the Lebanese Red Cross, various parties and militias, Reuter’s monthly reports, other media outlets, and the Lebanese Army and security forces concluded that 71,328 people were killed, 90 percent of them civilians (2.7 percent of the population); 97,144 were wounded, 86.1 percent of whom were civilians (4 percent of the population); 9,627 were disabled permanently (0.36 percent of the population); and 19,860 disappeared (0.75 percent of the population). They further estimated that more than 800,000 Lebanese were displaced (30 percent of the population) permanently or not, and more than a third of the population permanently left the country (894,717 people). Moreover, 156 public schools and
272 private schools were destroyed during the war.

But while a semblance of normalcy returned and reconstruction efforts (mostly concentrated in Beirut) were launched, serious violations continued to take place, with sporadic resurgence of armed conflicts that would continue to mar the country.