General Michel Aoun

(Notes on General Aun's role in the war)

As the end of President Gemayel's term of
office neared, the different Lebanese factions
could not agree on a successor.  Consequently,
when his term expired on September 23, 1988, he
appointed Army Commander General Michel Aoun as
interim Prime Minister.  Gemayel's acting Prime
Minister, Salim al-Huss, also continued to act
as de facto Prime Minister.  Lebanon was thus
divided between an essentially Muslim
government in west Beirut and an essentially
Christian government in east Beirut.  The
working levels of many ministries, however,
remained intact and were not immediately
affected by the split at the ministerial level.

In February 1989, General Aoun attempted to
close illegal ports run by the LF.  This led to
several days of intense fighting in east Beirut
and an uneasy truce between Aoun's army units
and the LF.  In March, an attempt by Aoun to
close illegal militia ports in predominantly
Muslim parts of the country led to a 6-month
period of shelling of east Beirut by Muslim and
Syrian forces and shelling of west Beirut and
the Shuf by the Christian units of the army and
the LF.  This shelling caused nearly 1,000
deaths, several thousand injuries, and further
destruction to Lebanon's economic

In January 1989, the Arab League appointed a
six-member committee on Lebanon, led by the
Kuwaiti foreign minister. At the Casablanca
Arab summit in May, the Arab League empowered a
higher committee on Lebanon--composed of Saudi
King Fahd, Algerian President Bendjedid, and
Moroccan King Hassan--to work toward a solution
in Lebanon.  The committee issued a report in
July 1989, stating that its efforts had reached
a "dead end" and blamed Syrian intransigence
for the blockage.  After further discussions,
the committee arranged for a seven-point cease-
fire in September, followed by a meeting of
Lebanese parliamentarians in Taif, Saudi

After a month of intense discussions, the
deputies informally agreed on a charter of
national reconciliation, also known as the 
Taif agreement.  The deputies returned to
Lebanon in November, where they approved the Taif
agreement on November 4, and elected Rene
Moawad, a Maronite Christian deputy from
Zghorta in north Lebanon, President on November
5.  General Aoun, claiming powers as interim
Prime Minister, issued a decree in early
November dissolving the parliament and did not
accept the ratification of the Taif agreement
or the election of President Moawad.

President Moawad was assassinated on November
22, 1989, by a bomb that exploded as his
motorcade was returning from Lebanese
independence day ceremonies.  The parliament
met on November 24 in the Biqa' Valley and
elected Elias Hraoui, a Maronite Christian
deputy from Zahleh in the Biqa' Valley, to
replace him.  President Hraoui named a Prime
Minister, Salim al-Huss, and a cabinet on
November 25.  Despite widespread international
recognition of Hraoui and his government,
General Aoun refused to recognize Hraoui's
legitimacy, and Hraoui officially replaced Aoun
as army commander in early December.

In late January 1990, General Aoun's forces
attacked positions of the LF in east Beirut in
an apparent attempt to remove the LF as a
political force in the Christian enclave.  In
the heavy fighting that ensued in east Beirut
and its environs, over 900 people died and over
3,000 were wounded.

In August 1990, the National Assembly approved,
and President Hraoui signed into law,
constitutional amendments embodying the
political reform aspects of the Taif agreement.
These amendments gave some presidential powers
to the council of ministers, expanded the
National Assembly from 99 to 108 seats, and
divided those seats equally between Christians
and Muslims (see GOVERNMENT section below).

In October 1990, a joint Lebanese-Syrian
military operation against General Aoun forced
him to capitulate and take refuge in the French
embassy.  On December 24, 1990, Omar Karami was
appointed Lebanon's Prime Minister.  General
Aoun remained in the French embassy until
August 27, 1991 when a "special pardon" was
issued, allowing him to leave Lebanon safely
and take up residence in exile in France.  1991
and 1992 saw considerable advancement in
efforts to reassert state control over Lebanese
territory.  Militias--with the important
exception of Hizballah--were dissolved in May
1991, and the armed forces moved against armed
Palestinian elements in Sidon in July 1991.  In
May 1992 the last of the western hostages taken
during the mid-1980s by Islamic extremists was