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Lebanon Crisis of 1958

 

Lebanon Crisis of 1958

1958 Lebanon Crisis

U.S. Marine sits in a foxhole outside Beirut, 1958
Date 15 July–25 October 1958
Location Lebanon
Result Resignation of President Camille Chamoun, reconciliation government formed under Rashid Karami, intensifying sectarian and political tensions in Lebanon
Belligerents
Lebanon Lebanese Government
 United States
Lebanon Lebanese Opposition:
Commanders and leaders
Lebanon Camille Chamoun
United States Dwight D. Eisenhower
United States Robert Daniel Murphy
Kamal Jumblatt
Casualties and losses
1,300–2,000 dead[1][2][3]

The 1958 Lebanon crisis was a Lebanese political crisis caused by political and religious tensions in the country. It included a U.S. military intervention.

Background

File:1958-08-14 Ike Tells UN.ogv In July 1958, Lebanon was threatened by a civil war between Maronite Christians and Muslims. Tensions with Egypt had escalated earlier in 1956 when pro-western President Camille Chamoun, a Christian, did not break diplomatic relations with the Western powers that attacked Egypt during the Suez Crisis, angering Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser. These tensions were further increased when Chamoun showed closeness to the Baghdad Pact. Nasser felt that the pro-western Baghdad Pact posed a threat to Arab nationalism. As a response, Egypt and Syria united into the United Arab Republic (UAR). Lebanese Sunni Prime Minister Rashid Karami supported Nasser in 1956 and 1958. Karami formed a national reconciliation government after the 1958 crisis ended.

Lebanese Muslims pushed the government to join the newly created United Arab Republic, while the Christians wanted to keep Lebanon aligned with Western powers. A Muslim rebellion that was allegedly supplied with arms by the UAR through Syria caused President Chamoun to complain to the United Nations Security Council. The United Nations sent a group of inspectors that reported that it didn't find any evidence of significant intervention from the UAR.

The Soviet Premier, Nikita Khrushchev, threatened to use nuclear weapons in the event of an American intervention.[4]

The toppling of a pro-Western government in Iraq's 14 July Revolution, along with the internal instability, caused President Chamoun to call for American assistance.

Operation Blue Bat

The President of the United States, Eisenhower responded by authorizing Operation Blue Bat on July 15, 1958. This was the first application of the Eisenhower Doctrine under which the U.S. announced that it would intervene to protect regimes it considered threatened by international communism. The goal of the operation was to bolster the pro-Western Lebanese government of President Camille Chamoun against internal opposition and threats from Syria and Egypt. The plan was to occupy and secure the Beirut International Airport, a few miles south of the city, then to secure the port of Beirut and approaches to the city.

The chain of command for Operation Blue Bat was as follows: the Eisenhower administration at the strategic level; Specified Command, Middle East (SPECCOMME, a 'double-hat' for Commander in Chief, U.S. Naval Forces, Eastern Atlantic and Mediterranean) at the operational level; the Sixth Fleet, with aircraft carriers Saratoga, Essex, and Wasp, cruisers Des Moines and USS Boston, and two squadrons of destroyers. At the end of June Essex and Boston were anchored at Piraeus, Greece, while Des Moines, from which Vice Admiral Charles R. Brown was flying his flag, was at Villefranche.[5] Land forces included the 2nd Provisional Marine Force (Task Force 62) and the Army Task Force 201 at the tactical level.[6] Each of these three components influenced Operations Plan 215-58 and its execution.

The operation involved approximately 14,000 men, including 8,509 United States Army personnel, a contingent from the 1st Airborne Battle Group, 187th Infantry from the 24th Infantry Division (based in West Germany) and 5,670 officers and men of the United States Marine Corps (the 2nd Provisional Marine Force, of Battalion Landing Teams 1/8 and 2/2).[7] They were supported by a fleet of 70 ships and 40,000 sailors.[8] On July 16, 1958, Admiral James L. Holloway, Jr., CINCNELM and CINCSPECCOMME, flew in from London to Beirut airport and boarded USS Taconic (AGC-17), from which he commanded the remainder of the operation.[9] The U.S. withdrew its forces on October 25, 1958.

Part of a series on the
History of Lebanon
Ancient history
Phoenicia
Assyrian rule
Babylonian rule
Persian rule
Hellenistic rule
Roman rule
Byzantine rule
Arab rule
Ottoman rule
French rule
Modern Lebanon
1958 Lebanon crisis
Lebanese Civil War
Cedar Revolution
2006 Lebanon War
2008 Lebanon conflict
2011–2012 Lebanon conflict
See also
Timeline of Lebanese history
Lebanon portal

President Eisenhower also sent diplomat Robert D. Murphy to Lebanon as his personal representative. Murphy played a significant role in convincing both sides of the conflict to reach a compromise by electing moderate Christian general Fuad Chehab while President Chamoun would continue in power till the end of his term on September 22.

See also

References

Further reading

Books and studies

  • Mohammed Shafi Agwani, The Lebanese Crisis, 1958: A Documentary Study, 1965.
  • Erika G. Alin, The United States and the 1958 Lebanon Crisis, American Intervention in the Middle East, 1994.
  • Pierrick el Gammal, Politique intérieure et politique extérieure au Liban de 1958 à 1961 de Camille Chamoun à Fouad Chehab, Sorbonne University (Paris), 1991. (French)
  • Irene L. Gendzier, Notes from the Minefield: United States Intervention in Lebanon and the Middle East 1945–1958, 1997
  • Agnes G. Korbani, U.S. Intervention in Lebanon, 1958–1982 : presidential decisionmaking, 1991.
  • Nawaf Salam, L’insurrection de 1958 au Liban, Sorbonne University (Paris), 1979. (French)
  • Jack Schulimson, Marines in Lebanon 1958, Historical Branch, G-3 Division, Headquarters, U.S. Marine Corps, Washington, Department of the Navy, United States Marine Corps, 1966, 60 p.
  • Salim Yaqub, Containing Arab Nationalism, The Eisenhower Doctrine and the Middle East, 2003.

Articles

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  • .
  • .
  • .
  • (French).

External links

  • Global Security - Operation Blue Bat
  • Rapid Deployment Logistics: Lebanon, 1958
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