Eastern Mediterranean 2006: 2006 Lebanon War
In May 2000 Israel withdrew from southern Lebanon and five years later Syria withdrew from the rest of the country. As the foreign occupiers departed, the Shia militant organization Hezbollah emerged as a powerful military force in Lebanon, beginning strikes into northern Israel as early as October 2000. After Hezbollah mounted cross-border raids and rocket attacks in 2006, Israel invaded southern Lebanon, launching airstrikes on targets as far as Beirut. The war ended with a UN ceasefire in August, after which the Lebanese Army and an enlarged UN presence replaced Israeli and Hezbollah forces in southern Lebanon.
19 Mar–1 May 2003 Operation Iraqi Freedom▲
Alleging that Iraq was developing weapons of mass destruction, the United States formed a “Coalition of the Willing” to invade the country in March 2003. Although Coalition forces defeated the ruling Ba’ath Party by early May of that year, no such weapons were found, and a state of war continued to exist between the Coalition and domestic insurgent groups until US withdrawal in 2011.
1 Jun 2004–25 Apr 2013 Second P.K.K. uprising▲
In June 2004 the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) resumed armed attacks in eastern Turkey, claiming that the Turkish government was ignoring their demands. Kurdish guerrillas entered Turkey from northern Iraq—prompting Turkey to mount cross-border raids into Iraq—while the PKK mounted bombings across the country. The conflict lasted until 2012–2013, when concessions by the Turkish government encouraged the PKK to withdraw back into northern Iraq.
25 Apr 2005 Cedar Revolution▲
In February 2005 former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafic Hariri—a critic of the Syrian occupation of Lebanon—was assassinated, with a later investigation implicating Hezbollah, a Shiite militia supported by Syria. The assassination triggered two months of peaceful protests throughout Lebanon demanding Syrian withdrawal, the replacement of the Syrian-influenced government, and calls for an international investigation. Bowing to pressure, the Syrians withdrew their 14,000 soldiers and intelligence agents from Lebanon in April.
3 Aug 2005–pres. Iran–Israel proxy war▲
Relations between Iran and Israel—which had poor since the Iranian Revolution of 1979—broke down in 2005 with the election of the hardliner Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as President of Iran. Under Ahmadinejad, Iran began covert support of Hezbollah against Israel during the 2006 Lebanon War and in parallel began extending aid and funding to other groups in conflict with Israel, such as Hamas and Palestinian Jihad. Israel retaliated by attacking Iran’s nuclear program with a variety of means including supporting anti-regime militias, assassinations, and cyber warfare. As of 2023, hostilities between the two nations have only grown.
15 Aug–12 Sep 2005 Israeli disengagement from Gaza▲
In 2003 Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon proposed disengaging from the Gaza Strip, ending the Israeli settlements which had been established there after the Six-Day War and returning most of the territory to Palestinian rule. In August–September 2005 the eight thousand Jewish settlers in Gaza were withdrawn, in many cases forcibly, receiving an average compensation of more than US $200,000 each. The withdrawal marked the end of direct Israeli control over the Gaza Strip, although Israel continued to control Gaza’s air and maritime space as well as six of its seven land crossings.
25 Jan 2006 Palestinian legislative election▲
On 11 November 2004 Yasser Arafat, President of the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) and former Chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), died. The following year the PLO reformed by agreeing to the inclusion of all 12 major Palestinian factions and Israel withdrew from the Gaza Strip, setting the stage for legislative elections across the Palestinian territories of both the West Bank and Gaza in January 2006. To the surprise of Israel and the United States, the plurality of votes in these free and fair elections were won not by the incumbent faction, Fatah (41.4%), but by the more radical Hamas (44.5%), which had been designated a terrorist organization by many countries. In response, the Quartet on the Middle East (US, Russia, United Nations, and European Union) issued a statement congratulating the Palestinians on their election but stipulating that any new government must commit to non-violence, the recognition of Israel, and the acceptance of previous agreements and obligations. These terms were rejected by Hamas, prompting international economic sanctions against the PNA and the blockade of the Gaza Strip by Egypt and Israel.
3 Jun 2006 Independence of Montenegro▲
On 21 May 2006 a referendum approved the Republic of Montenegro’s independence from Serbia and Montenegro—a loose confederation which succeeded Yugoslavia—by 55.5% to 44.5% (meeting the 55% threshold for approval by the European Union). The outcome received unanimous recognition by the five permanent members of the UN Security Council, further encouraging the Assembly of the Republic of Montenegro to make a formal declaration of independence on 3 June. Serbia recognized the declaration five days later, announcing itself as the successor to Serbia and Montenegro.
28 Jun–26 Nov 2006 Operation Summer Rains▲
On 25 June 2006, amid growing tensions between Israel and Palestinian militant groups in the Gaza Strip over the firing of Qassam rockets into southern Israel, Hamas and associated militants raided into Israel and captured the Israeli corporal Gilad Shalit. In response, Israel launched a number of major ground operations into Gaza—the first since Israel’s disengagement from the territory in August–September 2005—until November, when a tentative ceasefire was reached. Gilad, however, remained a captive until October 2011, when a deal was finally reached between Israel and Hams to exchange him for 1,027 Palestinian and Israeli Arab prisoners.
12 Jul–14 Aug 2006 2006 Lebanon War▲
Israel’s withdrawal from southern Lebanon in 2000 enabled Hezbollah to consolidate power in the region and launch increasingly aggressive cross-border attacks into Israel. After Hezbollah mounted cross-border raids and rocket attacks in 2006, Israel invaded southern Lebanon, launching airstrikes on military and civilian targets as far as Beirut. The war ended with a UN ceasefire in August, after which the Lebanese Army and an enlarged UN presence replaced Israeli and Hezbollah forces in southern Lebanon.