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Lebanon's Sunnis and the Civil War
Lebanon's Sunnis and the Civil War
Published by Watser?
Tablet The 1992 elections

The boycott

The new electoral law adopted in July of 1992, paved the way for elections. These were to be held in three phases: on 23 August, in the north and the Bekaa Valley, on 30 August, in Beirut and Mount Lebanon and on 6 September, in the south. Christian (mostly Maronite) leaders called for a boycott and demanded that Syria withdraw its troops first. The Kataeb, the Lebanese Forces, Aoun’s followers, and two other Maronite parties supported the boycott. In the end the Maronite participation in the elections was limited to Eli Hobeika’s pro-Syrian Wa’d (Promise) Party, Suleiman Frangieh (ex-president Suleiman Frangieh’s grandson) and a few independents and SSNP-members. Some Sunni candidates, including Tamam Salam (Saeb Salam’s son), joined in the boycott, but apart from them it was mostly Maronite. Hezbollah’s participation was remarkable because the party had refused to participate in the government. Hezbollah leader, Hassan Nasrallah, explained the participation by pointing out the differences between being part of the government and being in parliament. He further said that Hezbollah would use all means possible to make sure that the Lebanese state would support the resistance; that is, the resistance to the Israeli occupation.161

The new electoral system

The new electoral law of 1992 changed the electoral districts. The old situation was as follows: Lebanon was divided into electoral districts. Each of those districts had a certain number of seats with the number of seats for each religious sect set. A Sunni candidate only ran against other Sunni candidates and not against candidates from other sectarian groups. The voter had as many votes as there were seats in his district and voted for one of the candidates of his own sect, but also for a candidate for all the other groups. For instance, one of the four districts in Beirut had five seats. Four of them were reserved for Sunnis, one of them for a Greek Orthodox candidate. The voter in that district had one vote for each of the Sunni candidates plus one vote for a Greek Orthodox candidate, no matter what his own religion was. In practice, however, many districts were homogenous. In Tyre, for instance, there were only seats for Shi’ite candidates.

In the new electoral law of 1992, new, bigger electoral districts were introduced in some parts of Lebanon. In Mount Lebanon the old situation continued. In the Bekaa Valley the number of districts was reduced from 5 to 3. In the south, the north and in Beirut itself, there is now only one electoral district. These electoral districts are divided into sub-districts. The candidate enrols in one sub-district and competes with other candidates (from the same sectarian group) who have enrolled in that sub-district. The voter has as many votes as there are seats in the entire district and can therefore vote for candidates in other sub-districts too. The winning candidate is the person who gets the most votes in the entire district, no matter if he has the most votes from his own sub-district and his own sectarian group. This means, for instance, that a Sunni candidate running for the sub-district of Sidon will win the elections if he gets the most votes in the district of south Lebanon.

The enlargement of the electoral district has a dual purpose:
  • Decreasing sectarianism. In the new districts the population is not limited to one or two sectarian groups as was the case in the old system. The result of this mix of sectarian groups is that radically sectarian candidates stand less of a chance. A Christian, for instance, will probably not vote for a Sunni fundamentalist but vote for his Sunni opponent.
  • Decreasing the influence of the patron-client system. By enlarging the electoral districts, the number of voters inside a district was made considerably larger, thereby decreasing the importance of personal ties and increasing that of ideologies.

This elaborate electoral system is the result of a compromise between a reformist current in parliament that wanted to do away with districts altogether and wanted a system of proportional representation and a conservative current that wanted to maintain the old districts.

In Lebanon it is customary that the zu’ama enter into an alliance before the elections. This means they make a list with names of candidates of different sectarian groups in one electoral district. The idea is that the follower of one of those zu’ama will also vote for the other candidates on the list. The enlargement of the districts has strengthened this tendency because many candidates are only known locally or within their own sectarian group. The lists offer a possibility to combine the followings of these local leaders.


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Thanks, from:
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’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, 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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