Elias Hrawi, a Syrian-backed Maronite Christian, became president of Lebanon as part of an Arab League plan, known as the Taif Accord of 1989, to end the civil warfare by reducing the power of the Christian minority. General Michel Aoun and his Lebanese Army militia, refused to submit to Hrawi, charging he was a Syrian puppet. In August 1990, parliament passed into law constitutional reforms giving Moslems equal power in the previously Christian-dominated political system. The reforms, the first in Lebanon's history, were in accordance with the Taif peace pact. Hrawi responded by trying to blockade areas controlled by Aoun. Aoun still refused to recognize Hrawi and rejected the peace plan because it did not include a Syrian troop withdrawal. The blockade proved ineffective.
On October 13, 1990, a full-scale Syrian-backed assault on Aoun was launched and the general's two-year-old mutiny was crushed. Besides battle deaths, approximately 700 persons were massacred. Aoun surrendered and fled to the French embassy after Syrian planes bombed his palace bunker. Syrian troops and troops loyal to Hrawi began demolishing the "Green Line", dividing Beirut. Aoun later sought political asylum in France. Following Aoun's defeat, a new government of national reconciliation was formed under Omar Karami, a pro-Syrian politician, and pressed ahead with a plan approved by the National Assembly aiming to extend government authority over the whole of Lebanon, to disband militias and to formalize Lebanon's "special relations" with Syria. The two countries signed a treaty of "fraternity, co-operation and co-ordination "in May 1991, and a security agreement in September as foreseen in the treaty.