Washington- United States Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) declassified documents exposed details which led and in part contributed to the 1976 occupation of Lebanon by Syria– carried out by Hafez al-Assad’s administration to end the then conflict pitting the Lebanese National Movement (LNM, also known by Al-Harakat al-Wataniyya al-Lubnaniyya) and the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) on one side and Christian parties on the other.
Considered a critical time for Lebanon -during the President Suleiman Franjieh administration- both the LNM and the PLO held the upper hand.
With the bearings for instating balance fading, the region was threatened by the conflict breaking out of its local constraints– warring parties stringed along powerful regional players pushing the conflict beyond Lebanese borders.
CIA documents reveal that Franjieh phoned his Syrian counterpart, Assad, relaying outrage and threatening escalatory measures should the latter roll back a direct military intervention dedicated to end the fighting in Lebanon.
The declassified documents drew a link between the impending direct Israeli intervention seeking to keep PLO, leftist allies and nationalists (natural Israel enemies) from securing a militarized advantage, and Franjieh resorting to Assad to step in and end the conflict.
Perhaps the most significant document of all declassified excerpts was a telegram involving British foreign minister, James Callaghan, (who later became British Prime Minister) reviewing the Lebanon situation with Soviet Foreign Minister Andrei Gromyko, and communicating and consulting with United States Secretary of State Henry Kissinger.
In hindsight, the then Lebanon civil war truly was a quagmire involving not only regional players, but also international superpowers.
The Lebanese Civil War was a multifaceted civil war in Lebanon, lasting from 1975 to 1990 and resulting in an approximated 250,000 fatalities.