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Lebanon's Sunnis and the Civil War
Lebanon's Sunnis and the Civil War
Published by Watser?
Tablet Causes for the rise of sectarianism

Causes for the rise of sectarianism

The Lebanese Civil War, which started in 1975 as mainly a conflict between left and right, changed to an increasingly sectarian conflict in the late 1970s and 1980s. Shi段tes fought Sunnis, Druze, Christians, and Palestinians. Druze fought Christians, Sunnis and Shi段tes. Sunnis fought Alawis (in Tripoli) and Christians, but were most of all defeated by Shi段tes and Druze. There were armed conflicts within the sectarian communities too however as there was a general tendency to solve every conflict with violence. A conflict between neighbours could result in clashes between two militias of two factions inside one militia.

How did this increasing sectarianism come about? A number of different factors was important here:

- The Maronites had a tendency to turn to sectarian parties long before the civil war. This was probably due to the migration into town (from Mount Lebanon and the Shouf) that took place in the 1950s for the Maronites. This loosened family ties and strengthened sectarian ones. This phenomenon would happen with the Shi段tes in the 1970s also.110
0 Moreover, the Maronites were in the position of a minority that clutches to power which increased the tendency to present a united front to the outside world. The fear for the Muslims (and especially their armed allies, the Palestinians) also strengthened that attitude because of massacres in the 19th century.111

- The leftist and Arab nationalist parties were ill-prepared at the outbreak of the civil war and mostly limited themselves to defending areas where they had many followers.112 This usually led to the creation of bastions in which a certain sectarian group dominated.

- On both sides there were splinter groups with radical sectarian agendas. On the right-wing Maronite side, for instance, there were the Guardians of the Cedars (Huras al-Arz). This organisation defended the killing of Palestinians by claiming it was done out of Christian charity. They were fighting the Evil inside them.113

On the side of the NM there were militias headed by qabadayat who were barely politicized. There were also Sunni fundamentalists like the Jamaa Islamiya (founded in 1964) with its militia al-Mujahidun that fought in Beirut and Tripoli.114 These groups, but also the Kataeb, killed randomly. At checkpoints civilians were dragged out of their cars and killed based on their identity cards which stated their religion.

- The attacks by the right-wing militias on the Muslim enclaves in east Beirut had an escalating effect. In these attacks, the mostly Shi段te inhabitants were driven out and the same thing happened at Damour. Groups of uprooted and bitter refugees strengthened both camps. The Maronite militias did not limit their sectarian cleansing to Muslims either. After a failed attack by the NM/PLO from Kura, (mostly inhabited by Greek Orthodox Christians and where the SSNP and CPL were strong) the Kataeb counterattacked, killing, burning and looting monasteries and churches. The inhabitants fled to mostly Sunni Tripoli.115 At the end of the war of 1975-1976 there were 600,000 refugees including 500,000 Muslims and 30,000 Greek Orthodox Christians from Kura.116 The Lebanese Front refused to let non-Christians return to their homes. West Beirut however and other areas under control of the NM and later the Syrians kept their mixed populations. The area under control of the Maronite militias on the other hand was almost totally 祖leansed of people of other sects.

- The demise of the National Movement strengthened sectarianism further. After Kamal Jumblatt was killed, the NM had been weakened considerably. Although his son Walid succeeded him as leader of the PSP as well as the NM, he was irreplaceable as Walid did not have his father痴 charisma. As a result of that, the PSP became increasingly Druze in character. After Kamal Jumblatt痴 death, Druze fighters killed over 140 Christians in the Shouf.117 This was very disturbing in itself. Walid Jumblatt was more interested in Druze history than in his father痴 leftist policies.118 As a result of that, the NM had no strong, central leader who could arbitrate conflicts and the NM was only tied together by the alliance with the PLO. In other words, there was no longer a strong secular movement to counter the sectarian trend. Moreover, sectarian parties like Amal and fundamentalist parties like Hezbollah and especially Tawhid regularly attacked offices of the communist party who recruited from the same constituency.

- The Israeli invasion of 1982 had far-reaching consequences. The Palestinian fighters were driven out and the militias disarmed which created a power vacuum that was filled temporarily by the Lebanese army and later by Amal which was re-armed by Syria. The Israelis also allowed the Lebanese Forces into the Shouf Mountains. The Shouf, where Maronites and Druzes lived in the same villages, had stayed out of the civil war so far except for the killings that followed Kamal Jumblatt痴 murder. Now Druze were humiliated and beaten at checkpoints. That made it a struggle for survival to the Druze.119 When the Israelis suddenly withdrew, without a neutral force to fill the vacuum, heavy fighting erupted. This was not just fight between political militias, but a life-and-death struggle between sectarian communities. As they advanced, the Druze uncovered evidence of massacres by the LF.120 The Druze in turn massacred Maronites and as a result, Maronites fled en masse from the advancing Druze fighters. Another area, besides the one controlled by the LF, had now been ethnically cleansed.


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curses (08-02-2008), Sophia (01-22-2011), Stormlight (08-01-2008)
By Watser? on 12-27-2010, 01:10 AM
News Re: Lebanon's Sunnis and the Civil War

Here's a story from the Lebanese press about one former member of Tawhid who was murdered Saturday in the Palestinian camp Ain al Hilweh, near Sidon.
Located on the outskirts of the coastal city of Sidon, Ain al-Hilweh, like most other Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon, does not fall under the control of the Lebanese government but under that of local Palestinian armed factions.

The camp saw normal activity Sunday morning, one day after the body of Ghandi Sahmarani, a member in the disbanded Jund al-Sham Islamist group was found.

Security sources said that Sahmarani, who is a Lebanese citizen wanted by Lebanese authorities, was found hand cuffed, leg cuffed and struck by a sharp device on the head. Sahmarani who hasn稚 shown up for a long time, used to live in the Taamir neighborhood, which lies to the north of the camp, and which is considered a stronghold for Salafi Islamists. The area falls under the influence of Osbat al-Ansar, an Islamist group.

The fugitive was a member of Al-Tawhid al-Islami movement in the 1980痴, during which he participated in the fierce battles that broke out between the movement and the Syrian Army in Tripoli. He left Tripoli in 1987 and moved to Sidon where he joined a number of fundamentalist movements including Osbat al-Ansar and Jund al-Sham. After the disbandment of Jund al-Sham, Sahmarani joined Fatah al-Islam.

Sahmarani reportedly sheltered a number of Islamists who fled the northern Dinnieh district after taking part in the clashes that erupted between their comrades and the Lebanese Army in the district in 2000.

As a member of Jund al-Sham, the group fought the Lebanese Army several times. Armed clashes broke out between the two around Ain al-Hilweh in 2007, when the army was fighting Fatah al-Islam in the northern Palestinian refugee camp of Nahr al-Bared.
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By Watser? on 10-28-2014, 02:10 PM
Default Re: Lebanon's Sunnis and the Civil War

"The army has taken over Bab al-Tebbaneh," said the spokesman, adding that troops had captured 162 fighters since Friday.

The army urged other fighters still at large to turn themselves in.

The soldiers carried out house-to-house searches and made several weapons seizures.

A 72-year-old woman said she had never before been forced out of Bab al-Tebbaneh, "not even during the civil war. But this time, I had to flee my house, along with my five grandchildren. I am in charge of them, because their father is in jail", said Umm Mohammed Jaaburi. "The violence was unprecedented," she said.
Lebanon army back in control of Tripoli
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By Watser? on 10-30-2014, 03:36 PM
Default Re: Lebanon's Sunnis and the Civil War

No two people would disagree about the outcome of the most recent round of clashes in Tripoli. The army was able to defeat the gunmen. The outcome is unambiguous, at least in terms of appearances. The Lebanese army succeeded in driving the gunmen underground and removed all signs of their former existence. It set up checkpoints and carried out raids in areas that were forbidden to it in the past even if it cost the lives of 12 officers and soldiers, while there were no heavy casualties among the gunmen.
Jihadi groups in north Lebanon admit to defeat in battle against the army | Al Akhbar English
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