Date of Award

Spring 2012

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


International Studies

First Advisor

Professor Zayde Antrim


The Lebanese Civil War was a violent, destructive conflict that plagued Lebanon for fifteen years and left the country, and its capital city of Beirut in particular, completely devastated. The outbreak of civil war in 1975 was the product of a combination of factors, both internal and external, that had been developing within Lebanon since the Ottoman period and even earlier. The country had long been fragmented as a result of sectarianism and was further divided by the unique political climate that developed in the aftermath of independence in 1943. However, sectarianism and internal political divide, although necessary, were not sufficient to trigger such a violent and long-lasting conflict, evidenced by the fact that smaller clashes between religious and political groups had occurred in the past, but never escalated to the degree and intensity of the civil war in 1975. Beginning in the 1960s and 70s, the growing nationalist activism of the Palestinian refugee population in Lebanon and the increasing political and military power of the PLO and other Palestinian organizations deeply affected religious and political groups at both ends of the political spectrum, intensifying sectarian strife and political discord. While some groups fought to maintain the current political and social system, others, motivated by the actions of the Palestinian organizations, used the Palestinian military presence in Lebanon as a means to alter a system that did not accurately represent their interests. The political and military activity of the PLO and other Palestinian organizations in Lebanon was the catalyst that set the war in motion, escalating tensions in an already divided society.


Senior thesis completed at Trinity College for the degree of Bachelor of Arts in International Studies.