Monday, November 22, 2010

Happy Independence Day, Lebanon!

Today, on November 22, Lebanon celebrates its Independence Day. It seems like it should have been November 8, but sometimes in history people do – in retrospect - pointless things, so it’s today.

After having been part of the Ottoman Empire for the longest time, Lebanon became a French Mandate during World War One. During World War Two, while France was occupied by Germany and busy fighting the Nazis, with a little help from, well, France’s enemy it seems (I have to study this further because the sources I’ve consulted so far are either a little vague or differ), Lebanon declared its independence. Fighting broke out, British forces involved at this point as well, afraid that the Nazis would take over Lebanon and Syria, but the violence ended, General Charles De Gaulle visited Lebanon, and France announced that Lebanon would become independent “under the authority of the Free French government.” Elections were held, and very soon, on 8 November 1943, the new Lebanese government unilaterally abolished the French Mandate, saying “Thanks so much, but we’ve got it from here.”

This could have been the end, right? France took offense, however, and without further ado threw the entire new government in prison. At this point in history though, the great bullies of the world could no longer do as they pleased, and following international pressure, the French released everyone on 22 November 1943 and accepted the independence of Lebanon.

Although the history of Lebanon has been rocky since that day, it seems at this point – I’m SO going to end with a cliché here – that the future of this beautiful country looks bright. Oh, and isn't Google being cute, too?

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