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Lebanon – Levantine Cavalry, 1958-1990

By Al J. Venter
Comments: Softcover, 128 pages, all black-and-white photos, eight color plates



Pen & Sword

From the publisher:
It is axiomatic that the recent history of much of the Eastern Mediterranean is linked to the creation of the state of Israel in May 1948. The country emerged from a series of conflicts that have continued intermittently ever since, fueled as much by Arab-Israeli enmity, national pride, and territorial aspirations as hostile neighbors. Syria, Jordan, Lebanon and Egypt — and, in the latter phases, Iran — were all part of it. There were rich pickings in the regions for the two great powers of the Cold War as they aligned with one side or the other, with Moscow in full support of Arab interests and the Jewish state enjoying the support of Washington. That combination not only led to several Middle Eastern wars but, as we are able to observe in today’s news reports, the effect continues in Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt, and Syria especially. For much of the period under review, it was Lebanon that took the brunt of it, with resident Christian, Sunni, and Shi’ite, as well as Israeli interests deploying multiple levels of force — much of it clandestine — while vying for predominance.

Venter has devoted a good deal of his career to covering these developments, from the early 1970s through the Lebanese Civil War in 1991. He has been to war with both Arabs and Jews (he was with the IDF strike force headed by Ariel Sharon when he entered Beirut in 1982); spent time in Syria (visited that country’s southern front adjacent to the Golan Heights); been on combat missions with the Israeli-backed South Lebanese Army in the Druze homeland adjacent to Mount Heron; and has been embedded with the Lebanese Force Command along Beirut’s Green Line, where many of the photos in this book were taken. Venter also spent a lot of time in South Lebanon with UNIFIL, the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon, and was able to observe the growing influence of the Pasdaran, Tehran’s surrogate force in the region, which eventually spawned Hezhollah. His last visit, in 1997, included contacts — while hosted by Lebanese President General Émile Lahoud — with senior Iranian-supported Hezbollah elements in Beirut. He is one of few Western correspondents to have done so.

FSM says:
A closeup view of a longstanding, ongoing conflict. Photos can produce unexpected glimpses of armored vehicle details, and the narrative helps fix variants and badging in chronological space.
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