warsofLEBANON1968 | 2000
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|Aoun, a Maronite Christian, was born in 1935
to a poor family in Haret Hraik, a mixed Muslim-Christian suburb south of
Beirut. He is remembered by many as an intelligent, hardworking child who
transcended the difficult conditions of his youth. At age six, British and
Australian allied forces evicted his family and occupied their house. As
a child, he was forced to withdraw from school for an entire year for economic
reasons and take a free apprenticeship in industrial drawing (he completed
two years of coursework when he went back to school the following year so
as not to fall behind).
Although his family was deeply religious and he attended Catholic schools, Aoun established close friendships with many Muslims during his early years. "We never distinguished between Ali and Peter, or between Hasan and Michel," he later recalled. "We ate together and slept at each other's homes. Their holidays were ours and our holidays were theirs." 2
Aoun finished his secondary education in 1955 and enrolled in the Military Academy as a cadet officer. Three years later, he graduated as an artillery officer in the Lebanese Army. He later received additional training at Chalons-sur-Marnes, France (1958-59), Fort Seale, Oklahoma in the U.S. (1966) and the Ecole Superieure de Guerre, France (1978-80).
During the course of his military career, Aoun earned a reputation for honesty, integrity, and sectarian impartiality that was unrivaled at that time. In 1961, when two Army officers affiliated with the Syrian Social Nationalist Party (SSNP) were arrested for attempting to launch a coup, Aoun personally intervened to stop Army Intelligence from torturing the two men, a practice he felt to be inhumane and immoral. Later, after returning from an assignment and finding that the two men had been tortured while he was away, Aoun condemned the intelligence apparatus for practicing "unacceptable Nazism."
As Lebanon slipped into civil war in the mid-1970's and the army fractured along sectarian lines, Aoun devotion to the central government remained unshaken. In the early 1980's Aoun was head of the "Defense Brigade" of the Lebanese army, a unit stationed along the "Green Line" separating East and West Beirut which engaged in sporadic fighting with Syrian military forces. During the 1982 Israeli invasion of Lebanon, Aoun commanded his troops to block Israeli forces advancing on the presidential palace and was prepared to open fire until President Elias Sarkis personally ordered him to stand down. No other Christian officer attempted to confront the invading army. In late 1982, Aoun was assigned the task of forming and commanding a new multiconfessional unit, the 8th Brigade.
In 1983, Aoun's 8th Brigade defeated Syrian-backed militia forces attempting to overrun the strategic Souk al-Gharb pass overlooking the capital, a battle which one scholar called "the closest thing to real combat the Lebanese Army had ever experienced." 3In recognition of his heroic defense of the capital, Aoun was appointed Brigadier-General.
In June 1984, following the Luzanne reconciliation conference in Switzerland, Lebanon's new "national unity" government fired the commander of the Lebanese Army, Gen. Ibrahim Tannous, who was considered to have sectarian biases. Aoun was handpicked with strong consensus to replace him.
Aoun concentrated his efforts on preserving the strength and unity of the army, which remained in its barracks for the next four years amid the chaos of Lebanon's civil war, laying in wait for the day when it would be called upon to enforce a peace settlement. He intentionally stayed out of the public spotlight--aside from the armed forces' magazine, Aoun gave no interviews to the media between 1984 and 1988.
spite his continuing popular support within Lebanon, however, outside developments doomed Aoun's "revolution" to failure. After the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait in August 1990, the American government desperately sought Syria's participation in the U.S.-led coalition against Baghdad. In return for Syrian support, the Bush administration gave Syria a green light to complete its conquest of Lebanon. 8On the morning of October 13, 1990, Syrian air and ground forces launched an all-out invasion of East Beirut and the surrounding areas controlled by Aoun's government. Realizing that further resistance would only lead to needless loss of life, Aoun went to the French embassy to negotiate a cease-fire under French auspices. As the scale of massacres and mayhem escalated and the presidential palace fell into the hands of the Syrians, Aoun accepted the French ambassador's offer of political asylum. Declaring that Aoun's safety was a "matter of honor," French President Francois Mitterand negotiated the beleaguered general's departure for exile in France ten months later.
Since his departure for exile in France, Aoun's predictions about what would become of Lebanon under Syrian tutelage have proven to be hauntingly accurate. Rather than withdrawing as promised, Syrian military forces have become more entrenched over the last ten years. Rather than restoring Lebanese sovereignty, Syrian officials asserted direct control over the Lebanese political system. Rather than experiencing a respite from the "disappearances" of the civil war, Lebanese have endured arbitrary arrests and detention by Syrian intelligence.
Despite his continuing exile in France, Aoun has remained the country's most prominent opposition figure. Although support for Aoun is most visible within the Christian community, where criticism of the Syrian occupation is less taboo, he has also retained considerable popularity among Lebanese Muslims in the decade following his ouster. According to a 1996 study by Judith Palmer Harik of the American University of Beirut, Aoun ranked third among Shi'ite respondents asked to name their most preferred Lebanese leader in an open-ended survey. In light of the high religiosity of the Shi'ite community, it is not surprising that two prominent and influential clerical leaders ranked above Aoun. What is surprising is that Aoun ranked above Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri , the country's leading Shi'ite politician. 9
As public opposition to Syrian hegemony has intensified since the spring of 1999, Lebanese politicians across the ideological and ethnic spectrum have begun pandering to the public by openly calling for Aoun's return. Most recently, on January 2, Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri pledged on state television to "guarantee that he will not be arrested" if he returns to the country. However, Damascus quickly stepped in to thwart the initiative. In early 2004, Aoun was formally charged and wanted by the law.
Nabih berri was born on January 28, 1938 into
a Shi'i Muslim family living in Freetown, Sierra Leone. IN the 1940's
his family moves back to Lebanon, and settles in the town Tibnin in southern
Lebanon. He continued his secondary education in Makassed and Ecole de
la Sagesse, in Beirut. Mr. Berri graduated from the Lebanese University
with a degree in Law, and got his masters degree from the "Faculte
de Droit" in Paris. He started his career as a lawyer in 1963, was
also president of Lebanese Students Movement as well as Lebanese Universities
Union. Despite his political ambitions, Berri was sidelined by the traditional
Shi'ite establishment, headed by then-parliament speaker Kamel al-Asa'ad,
who refused to let Berri run on his electoral list in the 1968 and 1972
elections. Berri developed an acute hatred of Asa'ad that would reemerge
during the war. In the early 1970's, Berri worked as a lawyer for General
Motors (in Beirut). Berri lived in Detroit from 1976-1978 along with his
first wife. Berri also served as Attorney for Musa al-Sadr's Amal movement
during the 1970's. After Sadr's disappearance in 1978 while on a trip
to Libya, he returned to Lebanon to stake his claim for leadership of
Amal. After Hussein al-Husseini's brief tenure as leader of Amal, Berri
took over in April 1980. Between 1979 and 1982, the Amal movement was
involved in fierce fighting with the PLO groups.
Camille Nimer Chamoun was born at Deir el-Qamar
on 3 April 1900 , into a prominent Maronite family. He was educated in
France and became a lawyer. He was first elected to the Lebanese parliament
in 1934 , and was reelected in 1937 and 1943 . A champion of independence
from France, he was arrested on 11 November 1943 , and was imprisoned
in [Rashaïa castle]], where he was held for eleven days, along with
Bechara El-Khoury and Riad el-Solh , who were to become the first President
and Prime Minister, respectively, of the new republic. Massive public
protests led to their release on 22 November , which has since been celebrated
as National Lebanese Independence Day .
|Son of the former president Camille Chamoun.
Dany was the founder of the Ahrar Tiger militia and head of the Lebanese
National Liberal Party after his father. He was born on 26th August 1934
in Dier el-Qamar. In 1975 he was appointed Secretary of Defence of the National
Liberal Party. From 1983 to 1985 he was the General Secretary of the party
and in 1988 President of the Lebanese Front. Dany Chamoun opposed Syria's
presence in Lebanon.
Chamoun was a strong ally of General Aoun in the past year's fighting, an outspoken critic of the Taif agreement which divides political power equally between Lebanon's Christians and Muslims, and an ardent opponent of the Syrian presence in Lebanon. He was known for contacts with Israel, and the Chamoun clan were patrons of the security arrangements in southern Lebanon. Dany Chamoun and Druze leader Walid Jumblatt were said to be cooperating quietly to revive the Druze Maronite understandings, which once regulated competition between rival clans in Mount Lebanon, to rescue the area from foreign rule.
In late 1990, Chamoun, along with his German-born wife Ingrid, and his two sons aged 7 and 5, was assassinated. The pro-Syrian regime arrested Samir Geagea , a rival Christian militia leader, who was subsequently tried and convicted of the murder. The verdict was controversial, however; the fairness of the trial was challenged by Amnesty International and Chamoun's brother, Dory has said that he has serious doubts about it. Other suspects included Syrian intelligence forces. He has two surviving daughters, one of whom ( Tracy ) is a prominent human rights activist.
|Lebanese politician born June 15, 1910, Zgharta.
He was president of Lebanon (1970-76). He is considered to be in large
part responsible for the country's descent into war in the mid-1970s.
Franjieh was educated in Tripoli and Beirut and operated an import-export firm in Beirut. In 1957 he was implicated in the murder of several members of a rival clan and fled to Syria, where he became friends with Hafez al-Assad who was later to become president of Syria (1971). Franjieh soon returned to Lebanon to succeed his elder brother, Hamid, as clan leader, and he held a succession of ministerial posts after being elected to his brother's former seat in parliament (1960).
On Aug. 17, 1970, parliament elected Franjieh president by one vote on the third ballot, after armed men loyal to him forced their way into Parliament and prevented another vote from taking place. Franjieh soon alienated the people of Lebanon by his autocratic rule and his promotion of inept and corrupt clansmen, notably his son Tony. During the war Franjieh maintained a militia called Marada or the Zgharta Liberation Army which was commanded by Tony. In June 1976, shortly before he left office, Franjieh reportedly invited Assad to send troops into Lebanon to intervene in the fighting. Leaders who opposed Syrian intervention allied themselves with Israel. In early 1978 arguments broke out between Franjieh and other members the Lebanese Front due to his pro Syrian leanings. In June 1978, members of the Phalange, murdered Tony along with his wife and daughter after which the power of the Franjiehs declined. Suleiman remained an ally of Syria up to his death on July 23, 1992.
|Samir Geagea wa born on November 25, 1952 in
Ain al-Rummaneh, Beirut. His ancestral home is in Bshari. He is one of three
children of Farid Geagea, an adjutant in the Lebanese Army. Samir Geagea
completed his primary and secondary level education in Ain al-Rummaneh.
In youth he belonged to student branches of the Kataeb party. After high
school, he was able to study medicine at the American University of Beirut
(AUB) due partly to a Khalil Gibran Association scholarship.
With the out break of fighting in Beirut in 1975 and the division of the city, Samir Geagea had to leave AUB after five years of study. He then transferred to St. Joseph University, in East Beirut.
When the Palestinian-Muslim-leftist alliance attacked 1976 the Kura region in northern Lebanon, Samir Geagea interrupted his academic work to help defend the area. During the next few months, he reorganized the party militia in the north (Bshari, Kura, Zgharta). However, after the Syrian army entered the Kura at the end of the summer, he returned to his medical studies in Beirut.
In 1978, Samir Geagea again broke away from his studies. At the request of Bashir Gemayel, he agreed to return briefly to help the newly formed Lebanese Forces but he was wounded, moved to a hospital, and later transferred to France to recuperate.
When he returned to Lebanon, Geagea, now responsible for the Lebanese Forces and the Kataeb along northern front, moved to a convent in the upper mountains of Jubayl from where he opened training centers, and began the development of fortifications opposite Syrian positions. He established a headquarters at Qattara, an extremely isolated village high in the mountains, he remained in charge of this sector until early 1983.
In January 1983, the Lebanese Forces command council appointed Samir Geagea, who retained his responsibilities on the northern front, commander of its forces in the Shuf-Aley sector of Mount Lebanon, an area from which the Lebanese Forces were forced to retreat in September 1983.
Geagea returned to his headquarters in Qattara, where he developed, organized, managed, and carried out a training program for regional leaders in the Lebanese Forces.
Over the next few months public support for the Lebanese Forces started to decline so Samir Geagea, Karim Pakradouni, and Elie Hobeika (then the security chief of the Lebanese Forces) forced the resignation of the then commander of the Lebanese Forces, Fouad Abu Nadir. Elie Hobeika was named head of its executive committee, Geagea chief of staff.
On January 15, 1986, Samir Geagea led a movement that removed Elie Hobeika and due to the improprieties of the latter and, above all, to his having signed the "Tripartite Accord" with Syria. Every sector of Christian opinion was opposed to the accord.
Within months, he had reorganized the Lebanese Forces and established standardized bases of recruitment, selection, training, and promotion and founded the first formal Lebanese Forces military academy at Ghosta. At the same time, the Lebanese Forces became for the first time a political movement with clear-cut socio-economic objectives and programs and with friendly and cooperative ties to many foreign countries. The Lebanese Forces also began the most ambitious and systematic social welfare program ever undertaken in Lebanon and intended to help the disadvantaged and displaced.
In 1989, the Lebanese Forces agreed to adopt Taef Accord.
In 1991 the Lebanese Forces were disarmed and Geagea began to transform it into a purely political party. However, as a result of serious violations of the spirit and intent of Taef Accord, Samir Geagea became one of the accord's strongest critics and refused to accept government post and ministerial appointments.
In 1994 Geagea was imprisoned for "maintaining a militia in the guise of a political party, and for dealing with military weapons and explosives".
Samir Geagea has been in solitary confinement ever since.
Amin Gemayel was born in Bikfaya, the oldest
son of Pierre Gemayel.
|Bashir Gemayel was born on November
10, 1947 in Bikfaya, Lebanon, his family's ancestral home for 400 years.
He was the youngest child, the second son, of Pierre Gemayel, founder of
the Kataeb Social Democratic Party of Lebanon, The Phalange. Bashir graduated
from St. Joseph University (Beirut) in 1971 with a Bachelors degree in Law
and Political Science.
Bashir involved himself in both the academic world and in politics. He first visited the United States in 1972 to attend a seminar on International law at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas. Upon completion of the seminar, he returned to Lebanon to pursue his required three years legal internship before being admitted to the bar. In the meantime, having been a member of the Kataeb Party since his youth, he was appointed the Political Director of the Ashrafieh district of Beirut in 1972. He was extremely patriotic and believed in the soveriegnty and unity of Lebanon at all costs.
After the Lebanese-PLO war broke out in April 1975, Bashir joined his fellow militia members of the Kataeb party in fighting against the PLO, he had a direct role in the fighting and was involved in all of the major battles of the first two years.
When William Hawi, Commander-in-Chief of the Kataeb Military Council was killed at the siege of the PLO stronghold in Tal al-Zaatar in July 1976, Bashir was named to succeed him. By August 30, he was appointed head of the unified command of the Lebanese Forces, a coalition of the Christian militias of the Kataeb Party, National Liberal Party, the Tanzim and the Guardians of the Cedars.
Bashir married Solange Toutounji in 1977. His first child Maya, at the age of eighteen months, was killed in Beirut on February 23, 1980 in a car bomb explosion intended for Bashir. Their two other children are Youmna, born in 1981 and Nadim, born in 1982.
On July 7, 1980, the Christian militias were officially unified into one as the Lebanese Forces with Bashir Gemayel as their Commander-in-Chief. By January 1981, he also held positions as Chief of the Kataeb Security Council and member of the Kataeb Political Bureau.
Under President Elias Sarkis, a Council of National Salvation was formed in June 1982 which grouped the major militia and political leaders in an effort to draw up measures to end the seven years of war which had shaken Lebanon. Gemayel participated on the short-lived Council as the representative of the Lebanese Forces.
As a result the bitter fighting of the previous years and terrible attrocities commited on both sides, Bashir was worried about the consequences of his troops entering West Beirut and Muslim villages. He did not want it to be an excercise in revenge and retribution.
Bashir was frank and direct in his dealings with people. His zeal for the Lebanese cause, an independent Lebanon free of all foreign occupation, inspired many. This goal took him around the world, meeting with Arab and Western leaders, in search for solutions and support. He was a bold man, charismatic, decisive. He maintained a clear political course, attracting young, dynamic and specialized individuals to the cause. He was forthright and realistic, was open to dialogue and not afraid of criticism.
Bashir officially announced his candidacy for President of the Republic of Lebanon on July 24, 1982. On August 23, 1982, Gemayel was elected President of the Republic in a second ballot by a vote of 57 for with 5 abstentions.
During the next few weeks, he held countless planning sessions and intensive meetings with Christian and Muslim leaders, drawing up plans for the new Lebanon he wanted reborn. Slowly his message was heard. He began rallying all of Lebanon, Muslims and Christians alike, around him as no other leader in Lebanon had been able to do since independence.
At 4:10 pm on September 14, 1982, nine days before he was to be inaugurated President, Bashir attended his usual discussion session at the Kataeb office in Ashrafieh. A powerful explosion on the second floor ripped through the building, collapsing it on itself and killing Bashir along with 26 others.
The perpetrator, Habib Shartouny, 26, a member of the Syrian Socialist Nationalist Party (SSNP), and a Syrian agent was apprehended. Mossad, the CIA, and Israeli military intelligence, pooling there resources with the Lebanese intelligence community established that Chartouny had installed a long range electronic detonator to a bomb made of Semtex-H which had been smuggled into the building where Chartouny's sister lived. Her apartment was directly above the Phalange offices. Chartouny's case officer was a captain in the Syrian intelligence service called Nassif, who reported directly to Lieutenant Colonel Mohammed G'anen who was in charge of Syrian intelligence operations in Lebanon. Both the Syrian Army and Air Force intelligence had knowledge of the bombing as did Hafez al-Assad's brother Rifaat al-Assad, head of Syria's security forces.
Gemayel consistently worked for free, democratic, independent Lebanon, pluralist in nature and strong, secure state. he believed that Moslem and Christian could live together in peace and that Lebanon need to maintain good relations with the Western World as well as the Arab World. He advocated the withdrawal of Syrian forces occupying Lebanon since 1975, the withdrawal of Israeli forces occupying Lebanon since June 1982 and disarming of the Palestinians while on Lebanese soil.
|Sheikh Pierre Gemayel was born in Bikfaiya on
November 6, 1905. Since his family openly expressed hostility to Ottoman
rule in Lebanon, his father and uncle were sentenced to death by the Ottoman
authorities. To escape, the family was forced to settle in Mansourah, Egypt
from 1914 until the end of World War I.
Sheikh Pierre studied at Jesuit schools and graduated from the French Faculty of Medicine in Beirut with a degree in Pharmacology. He founded the Kataeb Party in 1936 with four other young Lebanese: Charles Helou ( who later became a President of Lebanon ), Shafic Nassif, Emile Yared and Georges Naccache. Sheikh Pierre was chosen to head the organization because he was not a political figure
In the early days of the Kataeb Party, the Party opposed both the attempts by the pan-Arabists to dominate Lebanon and the French efforts to dominate Lebanon under the mandate. Sheikh Pierre and the Kataeb Party have always believed in an independent and sovereign Lebanon free of all foreign influence. During their first year, 300 persons joined the Kataeb Party. In a 1937 demonstration, defying a French order to disband their party, the Kataeb clashed with the Senegalese French colonial police near Gemayel's Pharmacy. Sheikh Pierre was wounded and arrested only to be released shortly afterwards.
Sheikh Pierre and his Kataeb followers clashed again with the French Police in November 1943 following a joint demonstration with the Najjadah Party to protest the arrest of the Lebanese President and other Lebanese leaders by French authorities. By 1943, the Kataeb membership reached 35,000 due to their increasing popularity and a change of rules which allowed women to join the party.
Several times a Cabinet Minister and a member of Parliament since 1960, Sheikh Pierre has been an active leader in Lebanese politics. He was Minister of Post and Telecommunications and Minister of Health and Social Affairs. On October 11, 1978 after the 100-day war between the Lebanese resistance and the Syrian Army, he strongly denounced the Syrian occupation of Lebanon. He participated in the Geneva and Lausanne conferences for national unity in November 1983 and March 1984
Sheikh Pierre played an outstanding role as a leader of the Lebanese Christian community. In 1976, he formed the Lebanese Front, a political alliance of mainly Christian parties, with former President Camille Chamoun and other Christian leaders. He has survived several assassination attempts, one in 1962 and one on June 5, 1979
Sheikh Pierre was a loyal nationalist of an independent Lebanon. His life was dedicated to this goal. He represented the belief in a multi-confessional, democratic Lebanon. The wisdom and statemanship he demonstrated throughout his life will certainly be remembered with pride and distinction
|Elie Hobeika was born in Kleiat in the Kessruan
in 1956. He had stopped school at the age of 16. When the war broke out
Hobeika joined a crack unit of the Phalange and by 1977 he was commander
of the southern sector of Lebanon. In the early stages of the war he was
known as Edward and then as H.K, after a machine gun called a 'Heckler and
Koch' which he used in the battle of Beirut and the Karantina in 1978. During
a lull in the fighting, he was placed briefly at the Banco Di Brazil in
Beirut in 1978 as an office boy. As fighting erupted again he went back
to the lines and was promoted to head of the third division of the Phalange
incharge of special operations and in 1979 promoted to security chief of
the Lebanese Forces as head of Intelligence.
Hobeika married Gina Raymond Nachaty in 1981. He had a baby girl Sabine in 81, and she died in tragic circumstances in 1982. He had a boy Joseph in 1983.
In 1982 he commanded the massacre of Sabra and Chatila.
As support for the Lebanese Forces started to decline in 1983 Samir Geagea, Karim Pakradouni, and Elie Hobeika forced the resignation of the then commander of the Lebanese Forces, Fouad Abu Nadir. Elie Hobeika was named head of its executive committee.
On January 15, 1986, Samir Geagea led a movement that removed Elie Hobeika and due to the improprieties and, above all, to his having signed the 'Tripartite Accord' with Syria. It was strongly held that he had been actively courting Syria and betraying Lebanon. Hobieka fled to Syria where he learned English and French and took a Computer course. His few followers were stationed in Zahle. In september 1986, with Syrian and Druze support he ordered his men to attack Ashrafieh from West Beirut, and after an occupation of some streets that lasted a few hours he was totally defeated, those of his men that survived went back to Zahle and he remained in Syria.
In 1990 his men fought alongside the Syrians against General Aoun and so Hobeika was rewarded with a number of ministerial posts.
Hobeika has been implicated in a great number of murders and assisnations, including that of Dany Chamoun. In the post-war era, he became member of the parliament and remained pro-syrian. He was assassinated on January 24, 2002.
|Born in Deir el Kamar on the 3rd of April 1900.
Camille championed Lebanese independence and so on November 11, 1943, he
was arrested along with Bechara El-Khoury, Riad el-Solh, and others and
held in Rashaïa castle. They were released on November 22 of the same
year, after massive public unrest, and thus the date was marked down as
the National Lebanese Independence Day. A French schooled lawer, Camille
Chamoun held several positions of authority and represented his country
at the United Nations and at the Court of St. James as the ambassador to
the United Kingdom before becoming President in 1952. He was elected deputy
in 1934, 1937, 1943, 1947, 1951, 1960, and 1968, and only lost one campaign,
that of 1964. He Founded the Lebanese National Liberal Party in 1958 and
was head of the Lebanese Front 1974-1978.
A Maronite Christian, Chamoun was opposed by Muslim leaders who disliked his pro-Western policies. The Muslim groups openly rebelled against Chamoun's government in 1958, and, in response to Chamoun's request for help, U.S. marines were sent to support the government.
Highly nationalistic, Chamoun was viewed as a symbol of Lebanon's soveriengty and prevented a pan-Arab communist take over of Lebanon in 1958. At the outbreak of war in 1975, Chamoun led the effort to expel from Lebanon all non Lebanese armed forces that by then had become a serious threat.
Born in 1949 and educated at the American
University of Beirut and in France, Jumblatt was not politically active
in his youth. He had earned a reputation as a playboy, commonly wore jeans
and a leather jacket, rode a motorcycle, and broke with tradition by marrying
a non-Druze Jordanian woman.
Armed with massive amounts of Syrian-supplied Soviet weaponry, Jumblatt's
militia began driving LF forces out of the Shouf in the fall of 1983.
When Israeli forces pulled out of the area in August-September 1983, Jumblatt's
forces overran sixty Maronite villages, slaughtering around 1,000 people
and driving 50,000 out of their homes. in the mountainous areas east and
west of Beirut. When Jumblatt's militia overstepped itself and attempted
to overrun the Souq al-Gharb pass protecting the capital, Lebanese army
troops commanded by Michel Aoun brought the offensive to a halt. Nevertheless,
Jumblatt's victory made him the undisputed leader of the Druze community,
a position which has not been seriously contested to this day.
During the late 1990's, the son and heir apparent of the Syrian president, Bashar Assad, began methodically undermining potential opposition to his succession. In 1998, he assumed control of the "Lebanon file" from Syrian Vice-President Abdul Halim Khaddam and brought about the ouster of Syrian Military Chief-of-Staff Hikmat Shihabi, fearing that they would use their political connections in Lebanon to undermine his authority. Both were key allies of Jumblatt and then-Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri, and so Syria's domestic political purge naturally had ramifications in Lebanon. In the fall of 1998, Bashar backed the election of Gen. Emile Lahoud as president of Lebanon, engineered Hariri's ouster as prime minister, and took away Jumblatt's cabinet portfolio.
In order to secure votes from Christian residents of the Shouf, he forged electoral alliances with the Christian Kata'ib and National Bloc parties and negotiated a "political charter" with Amin Gemayel, who had returned to the country in July. Moreover, he began calling for a "correction" of Syrian-Lebanese ties and condemning Syrian interference in the political process. As a result, Jumblatt and his political allies scored landslide victories and obtained three cabinet positions (though Jumblatt himself declined to join the government). Jumblatt, however, was unwilling to dispense with the newfound popularity among the population at large that came with his public criticism of Syria. In November, when Christian members of parliament criticized the Syrian occupation during a televised debate, Jumblatt could not resist the opportunity to reiterate his objections to Syrian interference in Lebanese politics. "I do understand the importance of stationing some Syrian troops (in Lebanon) for strategic purposes and the requirements of Syrian national security in the context of the Arab-Israeli conflict," Jumblatt told the parliament, "but I do hope the Syrian leadership will review some of the points which have nothing to do with strategic requirements." He added that Prime Minister Hariri's claim that the Syrian occupation as "necessary, legitimate and temporary" was too vague. "If the presence is necessary, let us decide its timetable."
|Born 30th of Dec 1920 in Tripoli, Lebanon to
Abdul-Hamid Karami leader of national resistance against French occupation
from 1918 till Lebanon's Independence.
Graduated as a lawyer from Cairo University in 1942. Entered Lebanese Parliament for the first time in 1951. Stayed on as M.P of Tripoli uninterruptedly till his assassination June 1987.
Became Minister of Justice 1951 and held other ministerial posts till 1955. Became Prime Minister 1955 and was thus the youngest Prime Minister of Lebanon ever. Served again as Prime Minister 1959, 1965, 1966, 1968, 1969, 1975 and 1984 was thus the longest serving Lebanese Prime Minister ever.
Was assassinated June 1st 1987 while still serving as Prime Minister of Lebanon, he was considered by all Lebanese as symbol for martyrdom towards Lebanese National Unity and Reconciliation.
|Hassan Nasrallah was born in 1960 in the Bourj
Hammoud neighborhood of East Beirut, but his family was originally from
Bassouriyeh, a village near the city of Tyre in south Lebanon. Although
his family was not particularly religious by Lebanese standards, Nasrallah,
the eldest of nine children, became obsessed with Islam and began reading
fundamentalist literature at an age when most of his peers were playing
In 1975, the outbreak of civil war in the heart of the Lebanese capital forced his family to return to Bassouriyeh. Nasrallah's move to south Lebanon brought him into contact with the Amal movement of Musa Sadr, a widely revered religious figure who campaigned against the feudalistic Shiite political elite, and he quickly became a member. While attending a public school in Tyre, Nasrallah frequented the city's main mosque and caught the attention of its most influential cleric, Muhammad al-Gharawi. Impressed by the youngster's intelligence and interest in higher theological learning, Gharawi wrote a letter of recommendation on his behalf to Muhammad Baqir al-Sadr, one of the leading clerics in the Shiite seminary ( hawza ) of Najaf in Iraq. The following year, after finishing his secondary education, Nasrallah traveled there to begin his studies.
Upon his arrival in Najaf, Nasrallah met with Baqir, who placed him under the supervision of one of his disciples, Abbas al-Musawi, a Lebanese cleric from the Beqaa Valley. The sixteen-year-old formed a lasting personal bond with his mentor and formulated much of his worldview under his tutelage. Whereas Musa al-Sadr viewed the Lebanese state as a legitimate entity in need of reform and had developed close ties with reform-minded Christian politicians, Musawi and other radical Lebanese seminarians in Najaf refused to accept the state of Lebanon, its current borders, or its consociational power-sharing formula as unassailable facts. Their acknowledged leader was Muhammad Hussein Fadlallah, a mujtahid (authority in religious law) who returned to Lebanon from Najaf in 1966. Spurned by Sadr and the Lebanese Shiite clerical establishment, Fadlallah formed the Lebanese Islamic Da'wa Party and ran an independent network of clinics, schools, and charitable associations.
In 1978, hundreds of radical Lebanese clerics and students, including Musawi and Nasrallah, were forced to leave Iraq. Their return to Lebanon coincided with the mysterious disappearance of Sadr during a visit to Libya, whereupon leadership of Amal passed to Nabih Berri , a secular lawyer with close ties to Syria.
Nasrallah distinguished himself as a military commander. In 1987, Hezbollah forces under his command succeeded in driving the Amal militia out of several positions in the southwestern suburbs of Beirut. After Syria stepped in and forced the rival militias to stop fighting, Nasrallah traveled to Iran and resumed his theological studies at the seminary of Qom. This was partly an act of protest against Syria's move into Beirut, but it also stemmed from his recognition that proper (i.e. Iranian) religious credentials were as important as military prowess in assuming a greater leadership role within Hezbollah. In 1989, when fighting between Hezbollah and Amal reignited, Nasrallah again interrupted his religious studies and returned to his homeland, where he led Hezbollah forces in a successful drive against Amal in the Iqlim al-Toufah region of south Lebanon and was lightly wounded in battle. By the end of the decade, he had become head of the group's Central Military Command and a member of its politburo.
|Karim pakradouni was born on 18 august 1944 in Beirut. He comes from an amrenian-orthodoxe family that migrated to Lebanon in 1920. He completed his secondary studies in the Notre Dame de Jamhour, then pursued studies in history and political science at the Saint Joseph university.
Since he was a teenager, he fought for the Phalange and was elected president of the students organization of the Kataeb in 1968. He was considered since then as the spokesman of the “arabist” faction of the party. Accordingly, the political and cultural interests of the Christian community will be better preserved through the Arab nationalism.
Since 1969, Pakradouni develop links with the PLO. In 1972, he lead a dialogue with Syria and prepared Pierre Gemayel’s trip to Damascus. He became close to Hafez al-Assad of whom he’s writing the biography. Nevertheless, he was tempted by a pure Lebanese nationalism when Bashir Gemayel unified the different Christian militias under the flag on the Lebanese Forces. After the assassination of Bashir, he grew close to Samir Geagea and Elie Hobeika. Throughout that period, he returned to his initial Arabism and worked on bringing the PLO and the LF together.
He separated from Geagea in 1989 when Geagea decided to support Michel Aoun. Although the two leaders grew apart when Geagea allowed the Syrians to enter East Beirut. Accepting the taef agreement, Pakradouni supported the pro-syrian positions and joined the successors of Pierre Gemayel, George Saade and Mounir el-Hajj, on the head of the Party. With Mounir el-Hajj he prepared his campaign to take over the leadership of the party. He was elected president on 4 october 2001.
|Antoun Saadeh was born on the 1st of March 1904
in Al-Shouwayr in the El-Metn province of Mount Lebanon.
He finished primary school in his hometown, had some further studies at "The Brother School" in Cairo-Egypt and then back in Lebanon at "Broumana High School", Broumana, Mount Lebanon.
He left Lebanon end of 1919 to the USA and in February 1921 moved to Brazil where he joined his father Dr. Khalil Saadeh to edit "Al-Jaridah and Al-Majallah, a newspaper and a magazine which were published in Arabic there.
In 1924 he established a secret association for the purpose of liberating and unifying the whole natural Syria but resolved it in 1925. He studied German and Russian languages while in Brazil.
He returned to Lebanon on July 1930. Moved to Damascus in 1931 to edit Al-Ayam newspaper, then went back to Beirut where he taught the German language course at the American University of Beirut. He republished "Al-Majallah" in Beirut which was to cease publication after four issues only.
On 16 November 1932 he secretly established the Syrian Social Nationalist Party (SSNP). Its existence and activities unfolded in 1935. This lead to the arrest of Saadeh with some of his top aids. He spent six months in prison where he wrote "The Genealogy of Nations".
He was arrested again end of June 1936 until early November the same year where he wrote "Explanation of the Principles", only to return to prison early March 1937. There he wrote "The Genealogy of the Syrian Nation" whose manifest was confiscated by the French mandate authorities who refused to give it back to Saadeh at his release and later it was lost completely.
He got out of Prison end of May 1937 and established "Al-Nahda" newspaper in November 1937 and led the SSNP until he left the country in 1938 to organise the SNSP's branches overseas. In the same year he established "Souria Al-Jadidah" newspaper in Brazil. He was arrested as a result of Syrians who were British agents turning him into the Brazilian authorities but proved innocent and released after two months.
He moved to Argentina where he was caught unable to travel further, because the French consulate there confiscated his passport, as he was convicted to 20 years in prison and 20 years in exile by French authorities back at home. World War II erupted during this time, and he had to stay there until 1947. While in Argentina he established "Al-Zawbaa" and wrote "The Intellectual Struggle in the Syrian Literature", which was published in Buenos Aires.
He got married to Juliet Al-Meer in 1943 and had three daughters, Elissar, Saphya and Raghida.
He returned to Beirut 2 nd of March 1947, where he delivered a very strong worded speech to the mass of people who welcomed him at the airport, thus scaring the Lebanese authorities who issued a warrant for his arrest, but withdrew it after seven months.
He established "Al-Jeal Al-Jadid" newspaper in Beirut, where its printing offices were lit with fire by some members of the Lebanese Phalange Party who were protected and guided by the Lebanese authorities who in turn retaliated against the SSNP, which also led Saadeh to declare the 1st Revolution against the Lebanese government on July 4, 1949.
While Saadeh was busy planning and leading the revolution from Damascus, he was unaware that Mr. Husni Al-Zaeem, the head of the Syrian military government who had just assured him full support, had changed his mind. Under pressure from some Arab and foreign regimes, he decided to give Saadeh up to the Lebanese authorities who received Saadeh at the Lebanese-Syrian border. They court martialled and sentenced him to death in less than 24 hours and executed the death penalty in front of a firing squad at a deserted beach at the outskirts of Beirut at 3:20 am, dawn of July 8, 1949 .
|Sayyed Moussa as-Sadr was born on the 15th of
May 1928 in the famous Iranian city of Qum. He attended his primary school
in his hometown and then moved to the Iranian capital Tehran where he got
in 1956 a degree in Islamic Jurisprudence. He went back to Qum where he
started to give religious lectures in the various religious institutes of
the city. He also published a magazine called "Maktabi Islam".
In 1960, he came to Lebanon to hold the position of the Islamic Shiite religious leader in the southern city of Tyre following the death of Sayyed Abdelhussein Sharafeddine. He began to be interested, in addition to the religious field, in the social and living conditions of the Islamic Shiite sect. In 1969 the Higher Islamic Shiite Council was founded and Sayyed as-Sadr was elected as its president for a duration of 6 years, and he became to be known as Imam. In the beginning of 1975 he was reelected for a period that was to end when he became 65 (i.e. on March 15, 1993).
Imam Moussa as-Sadr founded many social institutions, vocational schools, health clinics and illiteracy obliteration centers. His activity gains an important national dimension as he warned of the dangers of Israeli aggressions against South Lebanon - whose majority happens to be Islamic Shiites. However, as the Imam took care that his struggle should not acquire a restricted sectarian outlook, he established in 1971 a committee that included all the Southern Lebanese spiritual leaders (both Muslim and Christian) to follow-up the political and social activities.
On the 18th of March 1974, and following a series of demonstrations he led to protest against the government's negligence of the rural areas, the Imam founded the "Movement of the Deprived" that adopted the slogan of "continuous struggle until there are no deprived people left in Lebanon." During the civil war he founded the Amal Movement the "Brigades of the Lebanese Resistance", the military wing of the movement of the Deprived" which fought alongside the Lebanese National Movement and the Palestinian Resistance against the projects of partition and settling the Palestinians in Lebanon.
Imam as-Sadr was distinguished among all of his contemporary spiritual and political leaders for his openness especially towards Christians. He co-founded the Social Movement with the Catholic archbishop Grigoire Haddad (1960), participated in the Islamic-Christian dialogue in 1962, and lectured in a Capuchin Christian church during the Easter fast (1964). He mastered many languages and was a prominent intellectual. Imam as-Sadr played an all-important role in the Lebanese political life. Towards the end of August 1978 he mysteriously disappeared during a visit to Libya.
|Etienne Sakr was born in 1937 in the southern
Lebanese village of Ain Ebel, one of eleven children reared by Caesar Sakr,
a school principal. He was weaned on the memory of an infamous massacre
of Christian villagers by local Shi'ite Muslims in May 1920, which claimed
the life of his grandmother. Sakr acquired a French education typical of
Maronite families in Lebanon, passing the years of his youth at schools
in Tripoli and Beirut. After the death of his father in 1944 left his family
without financial resources, Sakr was forced to forgo a university education.
Instead, at the age of seventeen, he went to work for the Sureté
Générale (General Security Directorate). This apprenticeship
in national security, which saw him officiating at various posts along the
Syrian border, influenced his thinking about the fragility of Lebanese sovereignty.
During the early 1960s, he took part in the crackdown against the Syrian
Social National Party (SSNP), a group favoring unity with Syria, which had
carried out a failed coup attempt in 1961.
In 1962, Sakr moved from the geographical and political periphery of the country to the capital city and assumed a position in the presidential palace. The next eight years allowed him to study the presidencies of Fouad Shihab and Charles Helou and reflect upon the problems of weak leadership. During this period, Etienne married his wife, Alexandra, from Zahle and together they bore two daughters, Pascal and Carole, and a son, Arz.
In 1969, exasperated by the government's inability to confront this growing threat to Lebanese security, Sakr left the Sureté Générale and went into private business, giving him the freedom to become politically active. He soon established a rapport with intellectual personalities who shared his anxiety about the impending calamity, such as the poet Said Aql (who he would later call his mentor).
In 1974, he went to Baalbek to buy weapons and recruited a small group of nationalist-minded Lebanese to prepare for the Palestinian threat. The following year, the group was formally established as the Guardians of the Cedars ( Hiras Al-Arz ).
On the issue of the Palestinians, Sakr advocated unyielding confrontation and made clear the Guardians ultimate wartime objective - that "no Palestinian shall be left on the soil of Lebanon." Asked how he would achieve this in a July 1982 interview, Sakr replied, "Very simple. We shall drive them to the borders of brotherly Syria." The Jerusalem Post , 23 July 1982.
Throughout the war, Sakr's forces closely coordinated with the key Christian militias - Pierre Gemayel's Phalange militia, commanded by his son, Bashir; Camille Chamoun's Tigers militia, commanded by his son, Dany; and the Marada Brigades of then-President Suleiman Frangieh, commanded by his son, Tony.
Realizing that his Christian allies lacked the strength of will to fight the Syrian presence (or even to stop fighting each other), in 1982 Sakr openly welcomed invading Israeli forces. Since the mid-1970s, Sakr had developed a public and amicable relationship with Israel that was unique in the politics of Beirut. Whereas Chamoun and Gemayel had sought and received Israeli military aid due to short-term strategic considerations and avoided public discussion of their ties to Israel, Sakr believed there to be a common destiny binding the Jewish and Lebanese peoples in the Arab-dominated Middle East and never wavered from expressing this view openly.
Abu Arz continued to maintain neutrality with regard to the internecine quarrelling which continued to plague the Christian community in the 1980s, particularly the rivalry within the LF between Samir Geagea and Elie Hobeika . While Sakr opposed Hobeika's attempt to lead the LF toward accommodation with Syria (which culminated in the Tripartite Agreement of September 1985), he was greatly disturbed by the fighting which broke out between pro-Geagea and pro-Hobeika forces in late December and persuaded Army Commander Michel Aoun to intervene and prevent the slaughter of Hobeika's men. In part because of his efforts to stop the bloodshed, Sakr was invited by Camille Chamoun to join the newly reestablished Lebanese Front, the political body parallel to the LF.
While he had been instrumental in the founding of the LF in 1976, he disagreed with the narrow Christian ethos that came to prevail within it and sympathized with Aoun, who enjoyed broad support from all sectarian communities. Seeking to bring an end to the bloodshed, he mediated between the two sides when Geagea's fighters were defeated by army units in Monteverde and Beit Mery in the Metn region. At the time, Abu Arz was present daily at the presidential palace at Baabda with Aoun.
Abu Arz firmly supported Aoun's declaration of a war of liberation to oust the Syrians in March 1989, though he questioned the lack of political strategy to assure success. Syria by that time had received firm American support for its occupation of Lebanon, which was further legitimized by the October 1989 Taif Accord. Abu Arz implored Aoun to seek Israel's assistance, but the general refused and persisted in condemning the Israelis nearly as loudly as he condemned the Syrians. Nevertheless, Abu Arz formed the Broad Front for Liberation and Change as a political cover for Aoun's military struggle. After the LF accepted the Taif Accord in 1990, he and his family were placed under house arrest by LF forces. He was later forced to leave Beirut and went to live in southern Lebanon.
Rather than joining Amine Gemayel and other notable Maronite exiles in Paris, Sakr decided to relocate to the southern border region under the control of Israel and the SLA. Over the years, Etienne secretly visited his family and party members twice in Beirut, avoiding the eyes of the ubiquitous Syrian mukhabarat (intelligence services).
Although Abu Arz conducted political activities from Sabbah, near Jezzine, during the next decade, he was not allowed to play a military role. In February 1998, he wrote a four-page proposal calling for the transformation of the security zone into a launch pad for the liberation of all Lebanon, but Israeli military commanders and their SLA counterparts would entertain no thoughts of offensive action. As Israeli public support for a unilateral withdrawal from Lebanon increased rapidly toward the end of the 1990s, Sakr vigorously lobbied the Israeli government to allow the transformation of the SLA into an autonomous force capable of fending off Hezbollah attacks after the departure of Israeli forces, but to no avail. Taking his appeal to the United States, Sakr addressed a Lebanese-American conference in Washington in June 1998 and testified at a congressional committee hearing in February 2000.
In May 2000, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak ordered a precipitous IDF military withdrawal from south Lebanon, without warning SLA commanders, leading to the collapse of the militia and the flight of around 7,000 Lebanese, including Sakr himself, into Israel. Addressing a group of Israeli parliamentarians in the Knesset a few days later, Etienne rebuked his host country, charging that Israel had "made heroes out of Hezbollah."
Since the Syrians completed their conquest of Lebanon in 1990, the authorities in Beirut have constantly cracked down on the Guardians of the Cedars. Sakr himself has been sentenced in absentia to death by a Lebanese court on charges of "collaborating with the Zionist enemy." Those members of the Guardians in Lebanon who have openly identified themselves as such have been indicted on similar charges. Indeed, the authorities have assaulted and jailed many Lebanese purely on the basis of having met with Sakr. In 1996, a journalist for the daily Al-Nahar , Pierre Atallah, was brutally beaten by plainclothes security agents after meeting with him and forced to flee abroad. In August 2001, Lebanese security forces arrested Habib Younis, the former Beirut bureau chief of the London-based daily Al-Hayat, and Claude Hajjar, a prominent human rights activist, on charges of plotting with Sakr to organize opposition to the Syrians.
Despite the enormous personal sacrifice he has been forced to make, Sakr remains defiantly opposed to the Syrian presence in Lebanon and continues to insist that he will "bend only to God."
|Elias Sarkis was born on June 20, 1924 into a
Maronite Christian family in Chebanyeh.
He obtained a degree in Law from Saint Joseph University in 1948. He joined the judicial corps in 1953 and was assigned judge in the Accounting Department, a period during which he established a strong relationship with President Fouad Chehab. During Shehab’s regime, he was assigned as Judicial Manager at the Presidential Palace and later as a General Manager for Presidential Matters in 1962. He became Governor of the National Bank in 1968 following the “IntraBank” Crisis.
In 1970, he runs for presidency against Suleiman Franjieh , but loses by only one vote in the parliament. In 11975, with the start of the Lebanese Civil War , Sarkis represents a moderate Maronite group. With the support of president Hafez al-Assad of Syria, Sarkis is the only candidate for presidency and is appointed president on May 8, 1976. Sarkis appoints Selim al-Hoss as prime minister. in the late 1970's, while Sarkis replaces top officials with pro-Syrian people, he still tries to limit Syrian power, but in vain. The relationship with prime minister Selim al-Hoss is tense, as al-Hoss considered Sarkis to be too pro-Syrian.
In March 5, 1980, Sarkis formulates his policy, as part of trying to create national accord: unity, independence, parliamentarian democracy, rejection of the Camp David Accords between Egypt and Israel, support for a future Palestinian state and cooperation with Syria. In June of that year, Selim al-Hoss resigns in protest against the president's inability to create peace in Lebanon.
After much difficulties, Sarkis is able to appoint a new government with Chafic al-Wazzan as prime minister. In September, his presidency comes to the official end. Sarkis retires from Lebanese politics. Elias Sarkis passed away in 1985.