Late 20th Century:
In 1981 heavily armed forces of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) occupied large areas of southern Lebanon. Terrorism against the State of Israel increased; The PLO's armed forces used Lebanon as a base to attack Israel with rockets and artillery. PLo soldiers fought with Lebanese forces, and killed many thousands of Lebanese citizens. Due to continued civil war since 1975, Lebanon had no effective central government at the time.
In June 1982 the Israeli Defense Forces invaded southern Lebanon to drive out the PLO. At first, a few Lebanese welcome the Israelis, but as the occupation grows from weeks to months, popular resentment against Israel grew. (Israeli citizens are also unhappy with the war, as losses are heavy, and the goals are not clear.) Within six months, Israel withdrew from most of Lebanon, but they left troops behind in a ten mile wide security zone along the Israeli-Lebanese border. With their allies, the South Lebanon Army, Israel hoped to prevent future assaults.
Lebanon has made progress toward rebuilding its political institutions and regaining its national sovereignty since 1991 and the end of the devastating 16-year civil war. Under the Ta'if Accord - the blueprint for national reconciliation - the Lebanese have established a more equitable political system, particularly by giving Muslims a greater say in the political process while institutionalizing sectarian divisions in the government. Since the end of the war, the Lebanese have conducted several successful elections, most of the militias have been weakened or disbanded, and the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) have extended central government authority over about two-thirds of the country. Hizballah, the radical Shi'a party, retains its weapons. Hizballah is dedicated to the creation of Iranian-style Islamic republic in Lebanon, and rthe emoval of all non-Islamic influences from the area.
Israel no longer maintains any troops in any part of Lebanon. The majority of Lebanon is still occupied by Syria, which maintains about 25,000 troops in Lebanon based mainly in Beirut, North Lebanon, and the Bekaa Valley. Syria's troop deployment was legitimized by the Arab League during Lebanon's civil war and in the Ta'if Accord. Damascus justifies its continued military presence in Lebanon by citing the continued weakness of the LAF, Beirut's requests, and the failure of the Lebanese Government to implement all of the constitutional reforms in the Ta'if Accord.