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Lebanon's Sunnis and the Civil War
Lebanon's Sunnis and the Civil War
Published by Watser?
Tablet Conclusions


The Lebanese civil war was a battlefield for all kinds of internal and external conflicts, all being played out on the same stage simultaneously. Behind every armed confrontation (and every bomb attack) there were a number of different conflicts and coinciding interests. This makes the Lebanese civil war one of the most complex, but also fascinating episodes in the history of the modern Middle East; although I’m sure that most Lebanese would have preferred to live in less fascinating times.

In this article I have looked at the civil war from the point of view of the Sunni community. I started out with two questions: why didn’t the Sunnis build a strong militia like the other major religious groups (the Shi’ites and the Maronites) and why did this lack of a strong military power not result in loss of power for the Sunnis?

As we’ve seen, the reasons for the failure to build a strong militia were that the Sunnis lacked a sense of coherence, both for reasons of geography and different circumstances during the war but also because they lacked a sense of coherence as Lebanese Sunnis but focused instead on larger unity (the Arab world) or the region.

Another factor is that the Sunnis did not have as much to lose in the war as the Maronites who had a share of power that was much bigger than what was justifiable because of their number, nor did they have as much to gain as the Shi’ites whose share of power was much smaller than it should have been. The Sunni had a share in power that was about right for their number.

A very important reason is the fact that the Sunnis had turned away from their traditional leaders far less than the Shi’ites (or the Maronites before them). The Sunni zu’ama still had something to offer their followers, as opposed to the Shi’ite zu’ama who had lost their grip on their followers by urbanisation and by the insecurity in southern Lebanon.

The lack of military power did not lead to a loss of political power for the Sunnis. On the contrary, they now have an even larger percentage of seats and the Sunni prime minister is a more powerful figure. This is a result of the pressure exercised by the Saudis and the Syrian desire to maintain the status quo. As a result of the division in the Maronite camp during the negotiations on and the signing of the Ta’if Accord and the change in the balance of power in the Middle East after the Gulf War, Syria managed to get the Accord accepted.

The Ta’if Accord and the new electoral law of 1992 are attempts to renovate the Lebanese state within the framework of the National Pact. This has resulted in a half-hearted compromise that retained the sectarian system while at the same time trying to decrease sectarianism by enlarging the electoral districts.

The paradox of the situation of the Lebanese Sunnis is that the causes of their weakness and those of their ultimate strength are identical. Despite the division among the Sunnis, there have not been bloody street battles for power within the Sunni community as there have been among the Maronites and the Shi’ites. This is a result of the fact there wasn’t much of a common cause and therefore no reason to present a common front to the outside. The close ties with the rest of the Arab world have had positive and negative effects. Although these ties increased the division, they have also resulted in the preservation and even the increase of the power of the Sunni community by the pressure that the Arab League and especially Saudi Arabia exerted.


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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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