Eastern Mediterranean 1976: Lebanese Civil War
The influx of Palestinian refugees and militants into Lebanon—especially after the Six-Day War (1967) and Black September (1970)—destabilized the half-Muslim, half-Christian country. In 1975 civil war broke out, leading to the eventual division of the country between the Palestinian, Muslim, and leftist Lebanese National Movement (LNM) and the Christian and rightist Lebanese Front (LF). Wary of Palestinian successes, Syria intervened in support of the LF in 1976, but failed to bring the war to a conclusive end.
14 Aug 1974–20 Oct 1980 Greek break with NATO▲
In protest at what he perceived as United States favoritism towards Turkey over the Turkish occupation of northern Cyprus, the newly elected Greek Prime Minister, Konstantinos Karamanlis, withdrew Greece from the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s integrated military structure in August 1974. Greece, still under Karamanlis (who became president in 1980), rejoined the organization six years later as part of a general push for closer ties with Europe.
13 Apr 1975 Lebanese Civil War begins▲
The movement of Palestinian refugees and militants to Lebanon—especially after the Six-Day War (1967) and Black September (1970)—further destabilized a republic which was already precariously balanced between a Christian and Muslim population under the authority of a mandatorily majority-Christian government. In April 1975 fighting broke out in Beirut between the Kateeb Christian militia (Phalangists) and the leftist-aligned Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO), leading to the division of the city (the Green Line). The Muslim and leftist Lebanese National Movement (LNM) soon threw its weight behind the PLO and by early 1976 had seized much of the country, prompting Christian forces to reorganize as the Lebanese Front. Suspicious of the LNM, Syria invaded Lebanon in June in support of the government.
10 Jun 1975 Re-opening of Suez Canal▲
During the Six-Day War (1967), Israel seized control of the east bank of the Suez Canal. Unwilling to let Israel use the canal—it had been closed to the Israelis almost continuously since 1949—Egypt imposed a full blockade, closing the canal to all shipping and trapping fifteen cargo ships (the “Yellow Fleet”) there. The Egyptians finally reopened the canal in 1975, as relations with Israel began to thaw.
4 Sep 1975 Sinai Interim Agreement▲
After the failure of the Yom Kippur War, President Anwar Sadat of Egypt abandoned thoughts of further wars with Israel. In the Sinai Interim Agreement the two countries agreed that further conflicts between them “shall not be resolved by military force but by peaceful means”. Accordingly Israel further pulled back its forces in the Sinai, allowing the United Nations to form a new buffer zone.
1 Jun–8 Dec 1976 Syrian intervention in Lebanon▲
In June 1976 Syrian forces invaded Lebanon, at the request of Maronite Christian leaders, to restore limits to the Palestinian guerrilla presence. The offensive petered out after ten days and in October the Arab League forced a ceasefire on Syria. After discussions, the league legitimized the invasion by attaching a small number of other Arab peacekeeping forces to the Syrian force to form the Arab Deterrent Force (ADF). Still dominated by Syria, the ADF moved on to capture Beirut and temporarily bring a halt to the fighting.