But now Lebanon has made progress toward rebuilding its political institutions and regaining its national sovereignty since the end of the devastating 16-year civil war in October 1990. Under the Taif accord - the blueprint for national reconciliation - the Lebanese have established a more equitable political system, particularly by giving Muslims a greater say in the political process.
Since December 1990, the Lebanese have formed three cabinets and conducted the first legislative election in 20 years. Most of the militias have been weakened or disbanded.
The Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) has seized vast quantities of weapons used by the militias during the war and extended central government authority over about one-half of the country.
Hizballah retains most of its weapons. Foreign forces still occupy areas of Lebanon. Israel maintains troops in southern Lebanon and continues to support a proxy militia, The Army of South Lebanon (ASL), along a narrow stretch of territory contiguous to its border. The ASL's enclave encompasses this self-declared security zone and about 20 kilometers north to the strategic town of Jazzine.
As of December 1993, Syria maintained about 30,000-35,000 troops in Lebanon. These troops are based mainly in Beirut, North Lebanon, and the Bekaa Valley. Syria's deployment was legitimized by the Arab League early in Lebanon's civil war and in the Taif accord. Citing the continued weakness of the LAF, Beirut's requests, and failure of the Lebanese Government to implement all of the constitutional reforms in the Taif accord, Damascus has so far refused to withdraw its troops from Beirut.
Source: CIA, World Fact Book 1994
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