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Lebanon's Sunnis and the Civil War
Lebanon's Sunnis and the Civil War
Published by Watser?
Tablet Old vs. New

Old vs. New

Yet these factors in themselves are not sufficient explanations in themselves. The Shi’ites of Lebanon were geographically divided into three areas as well: the south, the Bekaa Valley and the southern suburbs of Beirut. Arab nationalism had many followers among the Shi’ites as well. Many Shi’ites were members of the MIN as well as the pro-Syrian and pro-Iraqi Baath. The ALF and the PFLP also had many Shi’ite members.143

There were however major differences between the Sunni and Shi’ite situation. Even before the civil war, the Shi’ites were turning away from their traditional leaders much more than the Sunnis. This process sped up during the civil war. The traditional Shi’ite leaders had nothing to offer the Shi’ites of west Beirut because they had no influence there. Neither could they give the Shi’ites in southern Lebanon what they wanted more than anything: protection against the Israeli raids. In addition to that, there was the general neglect of the Shi’ite areas and the underrepresentation of the Shi’ites in parliament and the bureaucracy. The zu’ama were succeeded by Amal and later, partially by Hezbollah, which formed a national za’im of sorts. One of the reasons for Hezbollah’s success is the amount of money pumped into it by Iran. This means Hezbollah can pay its militia members well and can offer financial and medical assistance in impoverished regions.144

In the Sunni areas, the zu’ama were replaced by political parties far less. Although they did not represent military power, they could maintain their positions by other means. In Sidon, Nazih Bizri could keep his position by his opposition to the Israelis and the moral authority that came with that. In west Beirut, the zu’ama seemed to be losing territory to al-Murabitun in the first phase of the civil war. After Kamal Jumblatt’s death, some of them managed a comeback. Saeb Salam still had the Maqasid Society’s institutions which were supported financially by Saudi Arabia. This meant he could still distribute favours. It also meant he was capable of maintaining his independence of the political new order after the Israeli invasion. Salam condemned the election of Bashir Gemayel. This increased his moral authority among the Sunni population of west Beirut.145 Saeb Salam kept his distance from Syria as well however. When the Syrian influence was increasing from the end of 1983, he lost ground again. Salam’s position as representative of Beirut was gradually taken over by Salim al-Hoss. Al-Hoss was a banker who had been prime minister from 1976-1980, though he was not a member of parliament. The patron-client system still existed, though new leaders arose.

In Tripoli, Rashid Karami lost ground to Tawhid by his pro-Syrian position. On the other hand, this position was the reason he became prime minister a few times. It is impossible to say whether he still had the support of his constituency, however. There were no elections between 1972 and 1992, and on 1 June 1987, Rashid Karami was killed when the army helicopter he was travelling in exploded in mid-air. His political role was taken over by his brother Omar.146

The fact that in Tripoli a radical movement could build up so much power is connected to the fact that it had many Sunni migrants from Akkar, which meant the same factors that played a part in the radicalisation of the Beirut Shi’ites were in play there.

It is not true though that the rejection of traditional leaders among the Shi’ites automatically led to the formation of a strong sectarian militia. Coincidence played a major part in this, in the form of the disappearance of Musa al-Sadr and the Iranian Revolution.

It is important to realise that the extent to which the other religious communities were united can easily be overestimated. The Maronites have been divided into the area controlled by the Lebanese Forces and the area controlled by Suleiman Frangieh since 1978. After Pierre Gemayel’s death, the LF clashed with his son, Amin, and later there was a conflict between followers of Geagea and those of Hobeika. The fragmentation continued under Aoun who had his own followers.

The unity among the Shi’ites was short-lived too. By now Hezbollah has become an important factor. A few independent leaders arose alo, like Hussein al-Husseini, a former Amal leader.


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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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