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Lebanon's Sunnis and the Civil War
Lebanon's Sunnis and the Civil War
Published by Watser?
Tablet Developments after Ta’if

Developments after Ta’if

Changing balance of power

In the previous chapter I mentioned the Ta’if Accord that ended the war. This accord was an elaboration of the National Pact. The basic structure remained the same: the president would still be a Maronite, the prime minister a Sunni and the speaker of parliament a Shi’ite. The balance of power between them was changed however. Parliament’s power was increased at the expense of the president’s. Parliament would now have sole power to send ministers or the whole government home. Before Ta’if, the president also had this prerogative. The prime minister is now appointed by the president after binding discussions with parliament, whereas before, those same discussions were non-binding.

The increase of power for parliament means that the speaker of parliament is more powerful too. The speaker’s position was further strengthened by the fact he is now elected every four years instead of every year.

The prime minister’s position was also strengthened at the expense of the president’s power. The prime minister now forms a government after non-binding talks with parliament. Before, the government was formed by the prime-minister together with the president, with the latter having the final say according to the constitution. Executive power has shifted from the president to the council of ministers, which is chaired by the prime minister.147

The balance of power inside parliament changed also. In Ta’if, it was decided to increase the number of seats in parliament from 99 to 108. The ratio of Christians to Muslims was now to be 5 to 5 instead of 6 to 5. The ratio of seats between the Christian groups remained unchanged. For Muslims, the number of seats was raised: from 20 to 22 for the Sunnis, from 19 to 22 for the Shi’ites, from 6 to 8 for the Druze, and from 0 to 2 for the Alawites.148 That meant that there were 9 new seats to distribute. Quite a few members of the 1972 parliament (the last time there had been elections) had been murdered or had died of natural causes. On 7 June 1991, the government appointed 40 new members in their place.149 This partially new parliament adopted a new electoral law on 16 July 1992, increasing the number of seats again, this time to 128.150

Here is a table of the changes in the distribution of seats in parliament. To make the changes in the balance of power clearer, I have mentioned the percentage of seats for every sect.151

  1972 Ta'if 1992
Maronites 30 = 30.3% 30 = 27.8% 34 = 26.5%
Greek Orthodox 11 = 11.1% 11 = 10.2% 14 = 10.9%
Greek Catholic 6 = 6.1% 6 = 5.6% 8 = 6.3%
Armenian Orthodox 4 = 4.0% 4 = 3.7% 5 = 3.9%
Armenian Catholic 1 = 1.0% 1 = 0.9% 1 = 0.8%
Protestant 1 = 1.0% 1 = 0.9% 1 = 0.8%
Christian Minorities 1 = 1.0% 1 = 0.9% 1 = 0.8%
Sunnis 20 = 20.0% 22 = 20.4% 27 = 21.1%
Shi’ites 19 = 19.2% 22 = 20.4% 27 = 21.1%
Druze 6 = 6.1% 8 = 7.4% 8 = 6.3%
Alawite 0 = 0.0% 2 = 1.8% 2 = 1.6%
  99 seats 108 seats 128 seats
Table 1: Seats in parliament

From this table it is clear that the influence of the Maronites in parliament has decreased; however, they remain the largest group. With the new electoral law, the percentage of seats for the Greek Orthodox, Greek Catholics, Armenian Orthodox, and Druze was back to about the same as before the war and the influence of the Shi’ites and Sunnis increased at the expense of the Maronites and the smaller sectarian groups. According to figures by the Minority Rights Group, the population figures in 1984 were as follows:

Maronites 25.2%
Greek Orthodox 7.0%
Greek Catholic 4.2%
Armenian Orthodox and Armenian Catholic 4.9%
Other Christians 1.4%
Sunnis 21.0%
Shi’ites 30.8%
Druze 5.6%
Table 2: Population152

These are estimates however, there are no hard figures. On the basis of these figures, it can be supposed that the Shi’ites are still underrepresented in parliament, despite of the fact their influence has increased. This is due to the fact that the rest of Lebanon fears a parliament dominated by Shi’ites. Pressure from Saudi Arabia has also been a factor. The representation of the Sunnis and the Druze is roughly proportionate to their numbers. The Christians are still overrepresented in parliament, although from these figures you would have to conclude that it is not the Maronites, but the Greek Orthodox and the Greek Catholics rather, who are overrepresented. The power of the Maronites has been greatly reduced by the reduced power of the president. The increased power of the prime minister means that the power of the Sunnis has increased.


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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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