Republika al-Fenicia al-Lebnaania/Republic of Phoenician Lebanon





Head of State

Pierre Gemayel (1943-1982), Bachir Gemayel (from 1982)

Ruling Party

Hizb al-Kataeb al-Lebnaania/Lebanese Phalanx Party (from 1943)

Head of Government

Alfred Naqqache (1941-1944), Camille Chamoun (1944-1958), Fuad Chehab (1958-1962), Charles Malik (1962-1975), Etienne Saqr (from 1975)


Both Lebanon and Syria owed their liberation from Allied colonial powers to the Axis. The Phalanx movement, dominated by Maronite Catholics and considered to be culturally and politically closely related to European fascism, was installed by the Axis as the puppet government of independent Lebanon. The occupation of these countries by Axis forces allowed them to support the 'Golden Square coup' of Rashid Ali al-Gaylani in neighbouring Iraq. In the longer term, the occupation of Syria and Lebanon made Britain’s position in the Middle East untenable, leading eventually to British withdrawal from Palestine and from the war.

The Lebanese Phalanx was instrumental both in the pacification of Palestine after the British evacuation (1946) and in preventing the creation of Greater Syria in 1949. The actions of the Phalanx in Palestine in particular endeared them to the Germans and guaranteed Lebanon would not be absorbed by Syria at independence in 1949.

While Italian forces, who had taken over the Palestine mandate from the British, had dragged their feet over implementing German policy there, the Phalanx seized the initiative. Phalanx forces ultimately occupied Palestinian territory as far south as Nazareth, which was annexed to Lebanon at independence.

Christian Lebanese, primarily Maronite Catholic, retain their colonial position as the country's political, commercial and military elite. All the top positions in Lebanon's administration are held by Christians, mainly Maronites. Exceptions include the Greek Orthodox head of the Phalanx Regulatory Forces, his deputy Saad Haddad, a Melkite Catholic and Prince Alexander de Afif of Saxony and Gessaphe, a Roman Catholic and head of the Phalanx Youth.

Fuad Chehab, although a Maronite, was installed as premier in 1958 as a concession to Lebanon's Muslim population as he was viewed as a fully national figure. He was replaced in 1964 by the Greek Orthodox Charles Malik, a concession to the Greek Orthodox of Lebanon and of west Jerusalem, which Lebanon hoped to annex as the Italian-Romanian mandate over the city lapsed.

In 1967, negotiations between Palestine and Lebanon having broken down, Palestine attempted to occupy all Jerusalem by force. In response, Lebanon invaded Palestine, annexing not only Jerusalem but much of the north of the country.