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Lebanon Crisis

Lebanon Crisis (1958).The underlying cause of the 1958 Lebanon crisis was the instability of the country's Christian‐Muslim political coalition under pressure from the Cold War Pan‐Arab nationalism of Egypt's Gamal Abdel Nasser. Following creation of a pro‐Soviet United Arab Republic by Egypt and Syria in February 1958, severe rioting broke out against the pro‐Western Lebanese government of President Camille Chamoun, a Christian. The crisis came to a head on 14 July, when an Arab nationalist coup in Iraq overthrew King Faisal and similar coup attempts in Jordan and Lebanon appeared likely. Invoking the Eisenhower Doctrine, Chamoun immediately requested U.S. troops.

At Eisenhower's orders the first of the three Marine battalions located in the Mediterranean landed to take control of the Beirut airport on 15 July. The other two were ashore by 18 July, plus a fourth battalion airlifted from the United States. Opposition to the Marine presence was limited to snipers and small groups of “rebels” who probed Marine positions but did not attack. An understanding with the initially hostile Lebanese Army resulted in provision of liaison officers and some joint operations.

A U.S. Army airborne battle group from Germany landed at Beirut airport on 19 July. More units followed by sea and air until a maximum of 14,357 troops (8,515 army, 5,842 Marine) was reached on 8 August. An orderly presidential election was held in Lebanon on 31 July; American troop withdrawals began in late August and were completed by 15 October.

The United States's first intervention in the Middle East was also the first time NATO‐committed troops were withdrawn for out‐of‐area operations. Although the planning and initial operations suffered from important American misconceptions about Lebanon and lack of joint service doctrine, the intervention helped stabilize Lebanon for another twenty‐four years.
[See also Lebanon, U.S. Military Involvement in.]

Bibliography

Jack Shulimson , Marines in Lebanon 1958, 1966.
Roger J. Spiller , “Not War But Like War”: The American Intervention in Lebanon, 1981.

Gerald C. Thomas, Jr.

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