Eastern Mediterranean 1980: Battle of Zahlé
By the late 1970s relations between the Christian militias of the Lebanese Front and the Syrian forces in Lebanon had collapsed. In 1980–81 fighting broke out between the Syrians and the Christians in the mountain town of Zahlé, further increasing tensions between Syria and Israel (which supported the Christians). Although US and Arab mediation brought an end to the battle, it would be only a matter of time before Israel would intervene in Lebanon again.
Lebanese Civil War
The Lebanese Civil War was a complicated affair which involved dozens of factions and saw fighting both between and within political/religious groups, especially within Beirut, which was often split between multiple factions. As such it is only possible to give an approximate guide on these maps, showing only the major factions. These are listed as follows, grouped by their religious and political stance: Maronite Christian and Rightist: Lebanese Front (L.F.), Free Lebanon State/South Lebanon Army (F.L.S./S.L.A.); Palestinian and Leftist: Lebanese National Movement (L.N.M.); Druze: Druze militia (D.); Shia Muslim: Amal Movement (A.), Hezbollah (H.).
16 Jun 1979–28 Feb 1982 Islamist uprising in Syria▲
Between 1979 and 1982 the Muslim Brotherhood led or was held responsible for a number of assassinations, shootings, and other sporadic attacks against the secular Ba’athist government of Syria, possibly with the covert support of neighboring Iraq. The violence culminated in the February 1982 Hama Islamic uprising, in which the Brotherhood held the town of Hama for 27 days before being decisively crushed by the Syrian Arab Army.
25–28 Dec 1979 Soviet invasion of Afghanistan▲
In 1978 the pro-Soviet Nur Muhammad Taraki had seized power in Afghanistan and established the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan, but was overthrown by Hafizullah Amin in September 1979 and murdered the following month. Amin maintained Soviet military support but Afghan–Soviet relations began to quickly deteriorate nonetheless. On Christmas Day the Soviet Union landed troops in Kabul and began securing key points in the country, killing Amin on 27 December and installing a more pliant Babrak Karmal as leader.
12 Sep 1980 1980 Turkish coup▲
In the late 1970s political violence between left-wing and right-wing groups in Turkey escalated out of control, with an estimated 5,000 people killed over the decade. After a year of discussions among the military, General Kenan Evren, Chief of the General Staff, decided that a coup d’état was needed and seized control of the government in September 1980. In the wake of the coup, the military detained hundreds of thousands of people and blacklisted almost 1.7 million, but the country was finally stabilized. Democratic rule would ostensibly be restored in 1983, although for several years thereafter it would be severely limited by the military.
22 Sep–5 Dec 1980 Iraqi invasion of Iran▲
Hoping to take advantage of Iran’s post-revolutionary chaos and concerned that its Shi’ite radicalism would destabilize his own country, President Saddam Hussein of Iraq launched a full-scale invasion of Iran in September 1980. Despite the element of surprise, Iraqi Air Force attacks on Iranian airfields failed to significantly damage the Iranian Air Force. The next day Iraqi troops crossed the border on a 644 km front, eventually capturing the city of Khorramshahr but failing to achieve a decisive breakthrough.
22 Dec 1980–30 Jun 1981 Battle of Zahlé▲
In late 1980 clashes broke out Syrian-backed forces and local Christian militias in the strategic and predominantly Christian town of Zahlé, Lebanon, which ended with the Christians asserting control of the town. In response, the Syrians moved in troops, tanks, and artillery, mounting several unsuccessful assaults on Zahlé in April and June 1981. The battle increased tensions between Syria and Israel, but was resolved by a US- and Arab-mediated peace in which the Syrians and Zahliots agreed to coexistence.