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Lebanon's Sunnis and the Civil War
Lebanon's Sunnis and the Civil War
Published by Watser?
Tablet Tripoli: Tawhid

Tripoli: Tawhid

Tripoli had been taken by Syrian troops in 1976. A group called the People’s Resistance resisted the Syrian presence. The group was headed by Khalil al-Akkawi and was based at Bab at-Tabani, an entirely Sunni area bordered by the mountain Baal Muhsin which was inhabited by Alawis, some of whom were Syrian immigrants.129

The hostility of the People’s Resistance, which gradually moved from socialist to islamist in orientation, was based on the fact that the Syrians were obviously siding with the Alawis (the Syrian president and most of his closest associates are Alawis, although 60% of the population of Syria is Sunni and the Alawis are only about 8%). They turned Baal Muhsin into their headquarters and improved the position of the Alawis who were mostly among the lowest classes.

Khalil al-Akkawi himself put it like this: “Lorsque’en 1976 les syriens pénétrèrent dans Beyrouth a fin d’arrêter le déploiement c'est-a-dire entre membres de différentes organisations. Mais a Tripoli, il revêtit un aspect confessionel, parce que les syriens ont transformer Ba’al Mohsen, la montagne des alawites, en base de leur combat. Ensuite ils sont entrés dans la ville et ont mené une chasse à l’homme durant un ans et demi, période pendant la quell ils ont commis tout genre de meurtres et d’actes de terrorisme.”130 (When the Syrians entered Beirut in 1976, they stopped what was going on between members of different organisations. But in Tripoli it took on a confessional aspect because the Syrians transformed Baal Muhsin, the Alawite Mountain, into their base of operations. They then entered the city and conducted a manhunt that lasted a year and a half, during which period they committed all kinds of killings and acts of terrorism.)

The open support of the Syrians for the Alawi Arab Democratic Party (Hizb al-Arabi ad-Dimuqrati) and its militia, the Arab Knights, made the struggle in Tripoli increasingly sectarian. This was one of the reasons that the ideology of the People’s Resistance gradually moved to fundamentalism. Other causes were the weakness of the National Movement in Tripoli and the presence of fundamentalist splinter groups like the Jamaa Islamiya that was mainly active in Tripoli and Jundullah (Soldiers of God). Jundullah was founded in 1975 and active in the Abu Samma area of Tripoli.131

In 1982, Jundullah and the People’s Resistance merged to form Harakat at-Tawhid al-Islami (Islamic Unity Movement), usually called Tawhid.132 Its leader was Shaikh Said Shaaban. From the summer of 1981 onward, there were regular fights between the People’s Resistance (later called Tawhid), on one side and the Arab Knights, as-Sa’iqa and the Syrians on the other. Car bomb attacks were also frequently used by both sides. In July of 1983, the Syrians withdrew from Tripoli but maintained their presence around the city.

After the Syrian Muslim Brothers’ failed uprising in Hamaa (just over 100 km away as the crow flies) in early 1982, many of them fled to Tripoli, feeding the rising fundamentalism.

Besides clashes with the ADP, there were also conflicts between Tawhid and the leftist and secular parties. In October of 1983, 60 CPL members were murdered in a four day killing spree and 200 others given the choice to leave town or be killed too.133 The reason for this was the same as with Amal’s attacks on the communists: they recruited their followers from the same constituency. Moreover, their ideologies were diametrically opposed.

Many of Tawhid’s followers came from the working-class district of Bab at-Tabani and consisted mainly of the lowest classes amongst the Sunnis. Unemployment in Tripoli was rampant as a result of the closing down of factories because of the fighting. There were also a lot of Sunnis who had come to town from Akkar. Tawhid founded clinics in Bab at-Tabani and called for social and political reforms. Their leaders’ lifestyle was austere and they didn’t get rich at the expense of their followers.134

Tawhid’s ideology was characterised by the stress on unity between Sunnis and Shi’ites, which showed its ties with Iran and Islamic Amal and Hezbollah. Tawhid’s ideal however was a renaissance of the Sunni Khalifate which would institutionalise the Islamic authority instead of leaving it in the hands of a small group of religious experts like in Khomeini’s Iran. However, Tawhid was the only Sunni movement to stress an independent Lebanon instead of a pan-Arab state. This is most likely a result of the conflict with the Syrians who were considered occupiers in Tripoli. Tawhid explained the cooperation with the Shi’ites by pointing out that neither Sunnis nor Shi’ites have the majority in Lebanon and that they need to cooperate to guarantee the Islamic character of the state.135

After the fighting between the pro-Arafat faction and his opponents in al-Fatah (see above), the Arafat loyalists handed their heavy weaponry over to Tawhid, making it the strongest militia in Tripoli. Tawhid also controlled the harbour of Tripoli which was worth over 80,000 US dollars in customs-proceeds a month.136

In 1984 and 1985, there were regular clashes between Tawhid and the ADP’s Arab Knights. In September of 1985, there was a very heavy confrontation, after which Syria demanded that both parties hand in their heavy weaponry and let the Syrians take over. When Tawhid refused, the ADP and other pro-Syrian militias attacked, backed up by Syrian artillery, tanks and rockets. After 6 days, Tawhid seemed doomed after they ran out of ammunition but after Iranian mediation, an agreement was reached that Tawhid would surrender its heavy weaponry and the secular, pro-Syrian parties were again allowed to open offices in Tripoli. An Iranian delegation visited the city and pledged financial support to rebuild it.137 In June of 1986, there were clashes with the SSNP after Hezbollah had been clashing with the SSNP a few weeks before.

In December of 1986, fighting between Tawhid and the Syrians flared up again, after which the Syrians arrested a large number of Tawhid members. This was the end of Tawhid’s military power. The cooperation with Hezbollah continued though. In 1987 pamphlets were distributed in Beirut calling for an Islamic Republic and naming Shaikh Said Shaaban as one of the candidates for the presidency of such a republic, along with Hezbollah leader, Shaikh Mohammed Fadlallah, and two other Shi’ite leaders.138


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Thanks, from:
curses (08-02-2008), Sophia (01-22-2011), Stormlight (08-01-2008)
By Watser? on 12-27-2010, 12:10 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’t 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’s, 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, 01:10 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, 02:36 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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