After expelling the British installed Hashemite ruler of Damascus in 1920, France, more aware of the ethnic mosaic than their cross-Channel collaborators, actually created five separate Levantine states based on the Ottoman vilayets: Greater Lebanon
, an Alawite mountain state, a Druze mountain state, the State of Aleppo, and the State of Damascus.
Even at the founding of Greater Lebanon
, the Maronites constituted a minority of the population.
Another interesting slant to Lebanon's confessional make-up which the author points out is the tacit, seemingly unlikely, alliance of Maronites, Druze and Shia, who make up 61 percent of the resident population in both my and Harris's calculations, and who are brought together on many issues by their "common position as sectarian minorities in the wider Sunni Arab environment, probably ensur[ing] the permanence of the Greater Lebanon
created by the French to gratify [only, at the time] the Maronites" (p.
France and the Maronites of Mount Lebanon disagreed, and in 1920 France divided Syria, creating the new State of the Greater Lebanon
, which later became the independent modern Lebanese state.
As such, it is not only one of the most established state institutions in Lebanon, but also one of its oldest, having preceded the foundation of Greater Lebanon
by nearly six decades.
On the occasion of the 74th anniversary of Lebanon's independence, MP Bahia Hariri, the president of the National Initiative for the Centennial of Greater Lebanon
, tried to answer some of those difficult questions.
The French gave the country its present form, marking the frontiers between Syria and the British Mandate Palestine on one front, and with and the newly-created State of Greater Lebanon
, on another.
The Seven Villages lie just south of the present Lebanon-Israel 'border ' and remain a sensitive issue for Hezbollah since they were originally populated by Shia whose farms wereAa inside the French mandate of Greater Lebanon
after World War I.
The airport is a tremendous asset to the Upper Valley," said Paul Boucher, president of the Greater Lebanon
Chamber of Commerce, adding that he feared that its loss would be a blow to the area's economy.
Ironically, when France declared Greater Lebanon
as a potentially viable state in 1920, its mandatory authorities organized education along particularistic confessional lines and ignored its national secular role.
The Akkar is indeed a border region, more closely tied to Syria in terms of geography and confessional make-up than to the adjacent heartland of Mount Lebanon immediately to the south, but it has not been the scene of frontier warfare at any time during the three quarters of a century it has been part of Greater Lebanon
In the words of the Israeli historian, Itamar Rabinovich, quoted by Hiro: "the net effect of the creation of Greater Lebanon
was Syrian irredentism and the disruption of the demographic balance in the new state, resulting in discord between the traditional Christian ethos, which underlay its creation, and the heterogeneous composition of its population.