The political Maronism “A Lebanese maturity or a civil war “

Written By:  ISSAM KHOURY, Feb.12/2007

Lebanon has been a land of never-ending struggles, from the beginning of their civil war until now. During the Syrian domination on Lebanon, ‘the guardianship period’, about which the Syrians boast they had established the conception of stability and safety for the benefit of the Lebanese people, there were intermittent riots as a result of the demographic diversity of the small extension of Lebanon. (17 sects of four and a half million people, on a land of 10452 square km) Since its establishment, Lebanon could not, practically, be politically and economically independent, due to its small space, lack of sources and the differences in political point of views of its sects and parties. So it remained politically and economically dependent on France, until the 1970’s, when it turned into a front line of civil wars and a region of political struggle between foreign political groups. This lasted from the mid 1970’s until the end of the war in 1990, when the political leadership transformed to the Syrian Arab Republic. The “Syrian guardianship period”, lasted until April 26th, 2005, after it was subject to international pressure that it should leave.

Now, Lebanon is suffering a new period of instability which represents another labor, in which it is searching for a state of political and economic dependency, defined by the two parties: The 14th of March Alliance, which is related to the government, and The 8th of March Alliance.  

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Al-Ta’f‘s Institution:

    On September 30th, 1989, Al-Ta’f’s Institution was acknowledged in the KSA by 62 out of 73 Lebanese Deputies, the absence of eight of those who did not attend the conference were not connected with political reasons. As for the three deputies who were considered boycotts of the conference, they were Raymond Edde, Albert Mkhaiber and Emile Rohana Saqre.

    It is notable that Al-Ta’ef’s Conference had established new constitutional foundations for Lebanon, which included creating a special introduction to the Lebanese that was considered an essential part of the code itself. It also included the definition of the base of the national Lebanese understanding, and the foundations of the security situation which were represented by the assurance on the unity of Lebanon, putting an end to the fighting and putting a date on the termination of military militias. It also laid down the foundations of the political reformation in Lebanon, and lead the Lebanese to a detailed formula of the national understanding.

On May 11th, 1989, the Lebanese parliament got together in Al-Qlay’at Airport. During which, Rene Mu’awad was elected as the president of the Lebanese Republic. On the 22nd of May, he was assassinated. However, the Parliament election, (two days after the assassination) choosing Elias Alhrawe as a president, and the formation of a national government presided by Saleem El-Hoss, ensured a comparative stability and the ability to carry out decisions which came out of Al- Ta’ef ‘s Code under the Syrian guardianship.

According to Al-Ta’ef Agreement:

  • The president is a Maronite Christian
  • The Vice President is a Sunni Muslim
  • The Parliament president is a Shiite Muslim

The sectarian structure in Lebanon consisted of Maronite, Orthodox, Catholic and Armenian Christians; Sunni and Shiite Muslims, and sects of Muslim background such as Druze and Alawi. The Al- Ta’ef conference acknowledged Druze and Alawites as two separate Muslim sects, in connection with the distribution of the parliament seats. They are as follows:

  • Muslim ratio ‘Sunnis + Shiites’ was multiplied by 1,12 , due to the increase of their numbers in contrast to those who do not reach the voting age
  • The Christians ratio (all sects ) was multiplied by 0,86, due to the decrease of the births among Christians in comparison with the Muslims
  • There was no change in the ratio of Druze and Alawites

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The Syrian-Lebanese relationship after the Assassination of al-Hariri:

The Syrians benefited from the authority granted to them during their military presence on Lebanese land, so they aborted the agreement of May 17th 1984, which required a Lebanese- Israeli reconciliation, during the presidency of Amin Gemayel. They supported the partial trend in southern Lebanon; the Shiite sect, especially Amal Movement, presided by head of the parliament, Nabeeh Birry. With the growth of the Islamic Resistance in the south, led by Shaikh Hassan Nasr Allah, and the promotion of the Syrian-Iranian relationship, the Hizballah- Syrian leadership relationship was also promoted.

Numerous adherents of this party received training with Syrian-Iranian help, in the Al Biqa’ region and in some of the Syrian training camps. Considering that Hizbillah is unable to develop a strategic weapon and its funds were unknown, the Syrian-Iranian axis was the clear support project of this party, and gave Syrian officers and security systems wide range of authority, on account of the political leadership which supervised the internal Lebanese policy.

The Syrian and Lebanese authorities both signed a number of agreements; the most important among them was the brotherhood and cooperation agreement

which was signed in May 1991, and the defense and security agreement which was signed in 1991. The latter agreement led to the formation of a committee for mutual defense that was to get together once every three months, either in Syria or Lebanon. Among the purposes of this agreement was the guarantee that Lebanon would not turn – according to the brotherhood and cooperation agreement – into ”a source of threat” to the security of Syria, or that Syria would not turn into a source of ”trouble and threat to Lebanon”, and the elimination of any activity or organization, in the military, security and political fields, which could form a threat to any of the two countries.

Practically speaking, the security and defense agreement restrained freedom of speech and the forming of societies in the country. Any group or political party that was not in agreement with Syrian authority was not allowed to act. Their members were found to face human rights abuses which included arbitrary arrest and torture. Among those were the prohibited party of The Lebanese Troops and The Free National Trend, both Maronite. Also members from numbers of various political Sunni groups that are opposed to the government were considered as a threat to the Syrian interests in Lebanon, especially in the north and in Al Biqa, where Syria held military and security power.

The Syrian officers had routinely practiced security and sovereignty transgressions within Lebanese privacy. They also participated in establishing the measures of Al-Ta’ef Code which partially destroyed the political Maronite power, ”The biggest loser in the Civil War.” This caused a state of indignation on Lebanese streets, except among Shiites and Alawites, towards the Syrian domination. This was especially so with the presence of a politically and financially powerful personality, who had been an ally to Syria in the past before his dissention. This was Rafic Hariri, the ex-Prime Minister, whose assassination on February 14th 2005 represented a national turning point of what was soon known as the Cedar Revolution. The Revolution demanded the withdrawal of Syrian troops from Lebanon. The results were as follows:

* The resignation of the Prime Minister Omar Karame on February 28th, 2005, as a result of the demonstrations calling for the withdrawal of the government that was supported by Syria.

* A million people demonstrated against foreign interference, concerned with the investigations about Hariri’s assassination, and to express their rejection of any Syrian withdrawal from Lebanon on August 8th, 2005, in response to calls from the Hassan Nasrallah and Al-Marada movement.

* About a million people demonstrated as a tribute to president Al- Hariri. They were nicknamed the 14th of March’s Team, were opposed to Syrian domination and aggression and represented the parliament majority in the current government.

* Omar Karami was appointed as Prime Minister, but he apologized as he could not form a cabinet. Najib Mikati was put in charge

* On the 26th of April – Syrian Troops withdrew from Lebanon

* June 2006 – Parliament elections took place and saw the victory of the quadruple alliance, which consisted of al-Mostaqbal Trend, Hezbollah, The Socialist Progressive Party and Amal Movement. They gained the majority of parliament seats on the June 19th, 2006. Assanyora became the Prime Minister, representing al-Mostaqbal Trend

Most notably after the withdrawal of Syria from Lebanon, were the changes that occurred among the effective political trends in Lebanon:

* Hezbollah let down its partners in the Parliamentary Elections and joined their rival, Aoun, to form an opposition trend

* On December 11th, 2006, six of Al–Sanyors cabinet members resigned, as they rejected the draft of the International Court law concerning the assassination of Rafiq Hariri

* Following this was the withdrawal of the deputies of Hezbollah, Amal Movement and the Free National Trend from the cabinet. This was supported by Al-Marada Trend, the advocates of Ah-Amir Erslan (Druze) and some Sunni personalities which previously represented the historical Sunni leaders in Lebanon. They got together to decide the dismissal of the government: (”agent for the benefit of the American and Israeli purposes” ,they said), especially after the end of the war in July

* On July 13th, 2007, Israel waged a war on Lebanon which lasted 33 days. The result was 1,000 killed from the Lebanese side, 140 Israelis, in addition to Israel’s failure in exterminating Hezbollah. This group was called The 14th of March Group. They remained within in-strike positions outside the Parliament Campus on December 12th, 2006, to pressure the Sanyora government to resign because they considered it illegal after the withdrawal of the seven deputies and ministers. The main purpose of this team on the Syrian side is to have a balanced relationship with Syria, within a frame of coexistence, and not to blame Syria for all Lebanon’s troubles, especially now after the Syrians are out of Lebanon.

* The 14th of March Team – apart for the Lebanese Troops -, who had previously been loyal to Syria, now became a fierce enemy to them.They blame Syria for all the bits and pieces of the Lebanese crisis. (The assassination of their deputies; the Fateh al-Islam crisis in Nahr El-Barred Camp; President Lahoud remaining in his post)

The Syrian point of view regarding the Lebanese crisis:

Lebanon represents the southwestern side of Syria, and the Lebanese demographic texture is the extension of the Syrian texture; numerous families

from both sides are married to each other. Therefore, the separation of the two sections is politically and publicly unacceptable. Also, Syria is a useful and strong market for Lebanon and is the only outlet for any Lebanese government in the present state of no piece with the Israelis, which a sizeable party of the Lebanese do not recognize. That is, the Shiite, who occupies the nearby northern Israeli territories. They describe Israel as an assaulting existence, especially after continuous Israeli trespassing on their lands and airspace, killing their innocent civilians (the Sabra and Shatila Massacre during the Israeli invasion of 1982, and Qana refugee camp)

Therefore, Syrians are growing increasingly more worried about the changes in Lebanon. This is why they support Hezbollah who consider it the only effective outlet to help fulfill their project in establishing an opposing state to Israel and the US in the region, in coherence with the project of the Islamic Republic in Iran, which seeks to gain international acknowledgement of being a Middle Eastern superpower that can not be ignored.

The US, in turn, publicly supported the 14th of March Team. Now it is working on authorizing a draft resolution in favor of electing a Lebanese president that belongs to the government or its advocates. Additionally, they sought to put down Hezbollah’s activity, which Israel failed militarily to achieve along 33 days in July 2006. They also failed to kill its leader Hassan Nasrallah, which resulted in US and France interfere strongly to reinforce the Lebanese Cardinal Sfair to candidate Maronite personalities capable of achieving social agreement. Considering that The Cardinal Sfair is the most powerful religious personality in the Maronite sect in Lebanon, from which, as Al-Ta’ef agreement goes, the president must be chosen.

Waiting and worrying:

The Lebanese are waiting for the institutional gap to be filled, but in vain, as the presidential maturity date was postponed until December 23rd, 2007, in search of an acceptable president by the two branches of power. It is to be feared that, in the instance there is no agreement, the state of confusion would continue in Lebanon. This is connected with the following:

First:The agreement on a Maronite president from the 14th of March Team:

In case this happened, the American project in Lebanon and the Middle East would achieve an effective result in controlling Hezbollah in South and North Lebanon, as a step toward cutting the military provisions toward those regions would be made through surveillance systems. It may be achieved with the help of the multinational troops in southern Lebanon, ‘Unifel’, and the outpost American base in north Lebanon that can watch the Lebanese-Syrian borders. This would contract the Syrian power in the Lebanese region, and weaken it strategically in front of its historical enemy, Israel. This, in turn, would contract the Iranian

strategic power in the Middle East, which would be considered as a wide, far-reaching step towards eliminating any chance for the Russians to have any role in the Caspian Sea region.

Secondly: The Agreement on Aoun as an elected president:

President Aoun is, as he said, ruthless in his concern for corruption, and being a president he would participate in achieving agreements from different sects. On the other hand, his military background would prevent him from reaching any agreement between the ambitions of the Lebanese people, and the foreign interests in a country which acclimated to the international interferences in decisions concerning its sovereignty. Aoun as a president would be an additional obstacle in the face of Al- Sanyora’s government with its majority of parliament deputies, and he would not be an efficient alternate in dealing with the purposes of the present government. This would cause a state of disagreement among the institutional powers, similar to the status quo with Emile Lahoud.

Therefore, Aoun would claim the resignation of Al-Sanyora’s cabinet, to be replaced by another which resembles his ambitions and more popular partners, Hezbollah. That would lead to turbulence in Lebanon, which would bring the Lebanese back to a civil war atmosphere, and inflict its negative consequences on the whole region. Most of Hezbollah’s activities, which are directed currently against Israel’s interference in Lebanon, seek to liberate Shib’a’s Farms, Lebanese according to an unofficial acknowledgment by Syria, documented by the UN, may be directed to help its securely weak advocates, and that would shift course from its main goal, exhaust the whole of the Lebanese texture, and lead to a state of alert along the Lebanese-Syrian border. It would result in an emigration movement from Lebanon to Syria, who is not ready to receive a new wave of emigrants along with the Iraqis, (whose number has mounted, according to the UN statistics in 2007, to one million and half million) and would create politically and economically unstable situations in Syria. In this case there are two possibilities:

* In case there was no war in the region (America + Iran): The Syrian economy would collapse, especially with the absence of a neighbor that has positive terms with it. It’s relation with Jordan and Iraq is rather distant, and Turkey would not let down its partners in NATO and the US just because Syria supports it in case of the PKK.

* In case there was a war: Israel would wage military air strikes directed at Syria. The Syrians would practice a few days of self-control, as usual, but in case they felt that military strikes would destroy it, they would not refrain from launching ballistic rockets to strike Israel mainland, in correspondence with their policy they practiced with Hezbollah in the war in July 2006. The whole region would witness chaos, and Israel would

militarily take a chance to commit all kinds of violations and massacres in Gaza and the West Bank, on the pretext that Syria and Iran are financing and supporting Hamas there.

Thirdly: (which might delay the previous two choices) The election of a mutually agreed upon President from the Government to Oppositional sides, to create sort of understanding and balance between them:

It is difficult to find a Maronite personality with such qualities. This is clear from the list featuring the most politically eminent Maronite personalities (in the last section of this report.) No matter how far this personality would come to achieving an agreement between the two sides (14 – 8 of March), it would be short lived due to the international interferences and meeting of Parliament Deputies’ interests. He should be firm in concern with the weapons development and capability of Hezbollah, in accordance with the American-Israeli demand, and in consideration of Christian fear from the growth of Hezbollah’s role in Lebanon, especially in case its leader Hassan Nasrallah was replaced by some fanatic religious personality.

Hezbollah in turn would not accept the removal of its weapons. A speech Nasrallah gave in a speech on November 13th, 2007 demonstrates that the next President would fall into the trap of his agreement with two absolutely disagreed sides, therefore he would find himself forced to take one side against the other.

Fourthly: The current president Lahoud would dismiss the government: On the pretext that it is not institutional; a possibility that would enhance the confusion of the civil war, because the 14th of March Team, supported by America does not accept Lahoud as President and considers him the direct source of instability and the success of the current elected government.

Lastly: The assignment of the Commander Michael Slayman to form the Government: Especially after he succeeded in removing the army from discussions between the official authority and the opposition, even in the days of the great disputes between them during the demonstration, and after the latest assassinations.

But Mr. Al-Hariri, the leader of Al-Mostaqbal movement, had declared that he does not appreciate a military personality, or one who has a military background, to become a president. Indicating in this respect to Aoun, which shows that this choice might be imposed by America on the 14th of March Team, if it wants to establish a comparative stability for a short period of time in Lebanon.

After reconsidering these choices and two main tracks, we notice that the present Presidential equation in Lebanon is a minimization of the whole of the Middle East crisis, which makes many prioritize it as a top international concern.

This is because the success of any side would leave its effect on the whole region, and halt the power of one side on the cost of the other. If the problem were to be solved peacefully, the whole of Middle Eastern issues might be solved, and if it became complicated, this confusion would prevail all countries in the region, and vice versa.

The Armament in Lebanon:

A few months ago, the Lebanese Press Agency and Government papers published photos of a group of Lebanese youth, members of the Free Trend, practicing the use of weapons; in turn, the Lebanese Home Office arrested those youth. The aforementioned institutions magnified the situation, stating that the opposition are preparing militarily, especially the Christians among them, to enforce their military situation along side their political situation. General Aoun also appeared on Lebanese TV, mocking the Home Office and their decision to arrest activists from his party who were having a barbecue party in the Biqa’ region, as displayed in a video showing the young men at their picnic.

But the armament affair in Lebanon did not stop here, other accusations were exchanged. Many from the opposition, (Deputy Najah Wakim was among them) accused the government team of training their men to use weapons. He meant especially Al-Hariri, Jumblatt and Ja’ja. During the Nahr El-Bared crisis, it was revealed that the Americans were supplying the Lebanese government with great military provisions, to assist it with shutting down the Fatah al-Islam Group led by Shaker El-Absi. That profusion of weapons in Lebanon reminded one of the same phenomenon noticed on the eve of the Civil War.

Concerning military training, we find exaggeration on both sides; most Lebanese, young and old, are experts in using weapons, because of the Civil War atmosphere which afflicted Lebanon. It is common that you will find a light piece of weapon in every household there, and it is absolutely certain that the ex- leaders of the militias and their men have piles of good weapons. Therefore, the Lebanese society is always ready for a Civil War outbreak in case any disputes occur between sects.

Lately noticed is the widening gap between the Shiites and Sunni, despite Sunnis being scattered among different regions, and Shiites centered in the south and in the southern suburb of Beirut. This proves that the idea of a Civil War or escalation beginning on Lebanese land is valid, although the Lebanese people don’t wish to regain the memories of their last Civil War.

Hezbollah has upgraded its weapons after their war in July. Hassan Nasrallah said in one of his speeches, that the party has had a military arsenal that surpasses the one it had prior to the war. It is well known that Shaikh Hassan Nasrallah would never lie, with the religious personality that he has, which proves

that he obtained weapons and military equipment from Syria or overseas through an unknown weapons deal. This uncovers the inefficiency of the Unifel team located in south Lebanon, especially after the success of launching Hezbollah military branch rockets at the beginning of November (the trial which proved that Hezbollah owns rockets capable of striking Tel-Aviv, away from the eyes of the multinational troops)

As Hezbollah is becoming increasingly armed, most of the ex-Lebanese militias do the same. They obtain more weapons because there is no effective, complete, institutional authority in the Lebanese regions. This transforms Lebanon into a market for selling weapons, especially because intelligence agencies are increasingly financing the political parties, each according to its trend and its outside partner. This increase has led to a series of assassinations, from both the government and the opposition, which put the political parties on the alert, and drove them to upgrade their security systems to protect their activists.

Maronite candidate personalities:

General Aoun benefited from the widespread popularity of Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah, ’the strong man of the Shiite sect’, to become the popular Maronite personality among Shiites. He prioritized the armament situation in the Islamic Resistance, led by Hezbollah. Aoun’s situation rapidly changed and he remained strong, in spite of his opponents, and even among the Christians themselves.

 

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Michel Murr is the ex-Interior Minister, is Roman-Orthodox, an advocate of the 14th of March Team and supporter of General Aoun. He stated on November 16th, 2007: “In the absence of an all agreed on Prime Minister, which we claim, the solution is not to have an institutional, Presidential vacancy.” Meanwhile, Shaikh Hassan Nasrallah declared the impossibility of having a disagreed-upon

Prime Minister, and he refused the election according to the 50% + 1 mechanism. This shows that the 14th of March Team was not in coherence politically, although the leader of Al-Marada completely supports Aoun’s team. Hezbollah existence, on the other hand, which gave a victory suitable for the southerners in Lebanon, is a strong existence politically, military and economically that can’t be denied, in front of the different parties in the 14th of March Team, which makes it the most important member publicly and politically. In the mean time, many of the 14th of March Team maneuver to mobilize support to their project, in accord with a regional policy that suits the American and French governments in the region, which strengthen their sectarian trend in Lebanon. So, most of the Lebanese Druze gathered around Walid Jumblatt in the mountain; and most of the Sunni in Beirut and Tripoli gathered around the Hariris. A good amount of the Maronite followers were of Ja’ja (Leaders of The Lebanese Troops) and Amin Jmayel, leader of Al-Kata’b.

The French suggested of Minister Kochner to choose Cardinal Sfair to choose, in turn, the names of six Maronite personalities, capable of bearing the burden of the presidency. He sent those names to be reviewed by the Prime Minister and the president of the Parliament. These Maronite personalities, as we heard from a reliable source, are: Deputy Boutros Harb, Deputy Nassib Lahoud, banker Josef Tarabay, Pier Ghanem, the ex-Minister of Finance Demianus Kassar, the ex-Prime Minister General Aoun

The following names are the most well known and influential Maronite political personalities in Lebanon:

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  • * Boutros Harb

    Born in 1944 in Tannourine, Northern Lebanon. Currently, he is a deputy in the Lebanese Parliament. Although he is a member of the March 14th Alliance, he nevertheless, declared characteristic opinions in connection with the election of the President. He also declared that he would be a candidate for the presidency, if it was on the basis of 5%+1, which the Alliance has.

    * Holds a law degree in Lebanese Law.

    * Holds a license in French Law.

    * Practiced the BAR.

    * A member of Parliament during the 1972, 1996, 2000 and 2005 terms. After Al-Ta’ef , he boycotted the Parliament election for the 1992 term, due to election law and the appointment of members in the previous session.

    * He undertook the following posts:

    * Minister of national education and telecommunications

    * Minister of public works and mutual transformation

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2 – Suleiman Frangieh Jr (March 14 Alliance)

His grandfather was President Suleiman Frangieh. His father was the Deputy and Minister Tony Frangieh. He is the leader of the Marada Movement, which now sides with the opposition.

He took over leadership August 20th, 1990 from his uncle Pier Jmayil. Almost immediately after, he worked on strengthening relationships with Syria, following the steps of his father’s relations with Hafez El-Assad.

* In 1989, he accepted Al-Ta’ef institution as a new institution. He was the first to surrender Al-Marada militia weapons to the Lebanese state. He also supported the candidate of the late president Rene Muawad, which was a positive starting point in the beginning of his political career, and a landmark in the history of the relationships between politicians in the region.

* He became a member of Parliament in 1991; then the youngest among the Deputies. He ran in Parliament election in the years, 1992-1996-2000, but lost his seat in the last election in 2005.

* He undertook a number of Ministers:

* Minister of Public Health

* Minister of Housing and Cooperative Societies

* Ministers of Interior and Municipalities

Frangeia is considered one of the greatest opponents to the Sanyora cabinet and the 14th of March Alliance, especially the Lebanese Troops, which leader, Sameer Ja’ja’, accused of assassinating his father. He has a working relationship with Syrian president Bashar al-Assad.

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3 – Amine Gemayel (March 14 Alliance)

He was inaugurated as President of Lebanon on August 22nd, 1982 and remained in power until September 22nd, 1988. Now he is a leader of the Al-Kata’b party, which was founded by his father Pierre Gemayel.

After the end of his term, he was exiled between Switzerland and France. He worked as a lecturer in Harvard University. He came to Lebanon in 2000 to join a

opposition movement against President Emile Lahoud, whom Gemayel considered as being controlled by the Syrians. In 2001 he disputed with Karim Pakradouni, who is supported by Syria, over the leadership of the Al-Kata’b party. The dispute ended with the inauguration of Gemayel as a higher leader of the Kataeb party, a newly created post, and Pakradouni remained President. His son, the inister of Industry, was assassinated on November 21st, 2006, when his car was set on fire. On June 20th, 2007, he declared his candidacy for his deceased sons post as a representative of the Northern Matn, in the branch election. Despite the support he received from allies in the March 14th Team, he was lost the election to a candidate of the Free Trend, Dr. Kameel Khoury (who is supported by General Aoun and the 14th of March Team); he received 39,116 voices against 39,534.

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4- Samir Geagea (March 14 Alliance)

He was born on October 25th, 1952 and is one of the Lebanese war masters. He began his life as a political activist in the Kataeb party, under the nickname Hakim. Hakim means Doctor, in the colloquial language, and he began studying medicine but never finished it. He is the head of the Executive Staff of the Lebanese Troops party, one of the ex-militias which played a major role in the Lebanese Civil War. Geagea was born in Ain El-Rimmani. He quit his studies in 1976 to join the fight against the Palestinian organizations and the Lebanese National Movement. He played an important role in the Al-Jabal battle against the Social Progressive party and its allies from the national parties, which ended with the displacement of Christians from Al-Jabal villages. After the growth of his

influence, and his criticism of Christian leaders, whom he described as traditional, the Kataeb party dismissed him. He then led an uprising against the leader of the party’s militia and took over power in 1986. He waged a fierce war against the legal Lebanese army, led by General Michael Aoun, known as The Elimination War.

After the Al-Ta’ef Agreement, it was necessary for the party to be politically transformed as others were. In 1994, he was placed in prison due to the explosion of the Our Savior Lady Church. He was placed on trial and accused of murdering Prime Minister Rasheed Karami, head of The Free Nationalists party Dany Shamoun, and the deputy Tony Frangea with family in what was called the Ehden Massacre. The court sentenced him to death, but the charges were later reduced by the President. The new sentence was life imprisonment, and the Lebanese Troops were dismantled. In 2005, after the Syrians had withdrawn from Lebanon, a special pardon was issued by the new Parliament, he was released and later resumed his political activity. Now he is considered one of the eminent members of the March 14 Alliance, who are very much advocates of American influence and policy in the region, alongside Walid Jumblatt and Saad Hariri.

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5- Nassib Lahoud (March 14 Alliance)

Lahoud was born on November 3rd, 1944. He is a Lebanese Politician and one of the powerful and eminent candidates to the Presidency, thanks to American support. His birth place is in the town of Baabdat. He obtained a BS degree in electrical engineering from Loughborough University in the United Kingdom in 1968. After completing his specialty in 1972, Lahoud established the Lahoud Engineering Company, which worked on many power plants, desalination sea water plants, cement and petrol installations plants. It became one of the biggest plants in the region, in its own right.

In 1990, he was assigned as an Ambassador for Lebanon in the US. In 1991, he became a successor of the deceased Fau’ad Lahuod, as a deputy for Al-Matn division, according to Al-Ta’ef agreement, which provided filling the vacancies until the beginning of the next election. In 1992, he was elected as Deputy for the same division, in the first election since the end of the Civil War. He was then re-elected from 1996-2000, when he undertook the compiling of the opposition’s list in that division.

He occupied the position of the head of the Defense Parliament Committee from 1991 until 1992, and became a member of the Foreign Affairs Comittee and the Finance and Budget Committee, from 1992 until 2005.

Nassib Lahoud is considered one of the most well respected in March14 Alliance. On September 13th, 2007, he declared his intention to run as a candidate for the Presidency, during a crowded meeting in Beirut’s Conference Center.

 

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Michel Aoun (8th of March):

Aoun was born on March 17th, 1935 and was a political and military leader. He was born in Haret Hreyk, in Beirut. On July 7th, 2005 he returned from his exile in Paris where he had spent 15 years. He had fled there after the end of the Civil War. After the war, president Amin Gemayel asked him to form a military

government (Aoun, then, had been the commander of the Lebanese army), upon the failure of the election of a successor to Gemayel. So, Gemayel provided Aoun power after he formed a military government in opposition to a civil government presided by Selim Hoss. The Muslim Ministers resigned hours after the government was formed, and so, Lebanon then had two governments. Aoun rejected the Al-Ta’ef agreement, which was that Syrian troops must disperse from Lebanese land, without putting a date on their exact withdrawal. After fierce battles, Aoun was dispelled from the presidential residence of Baabda on October 13th, 1990 in a Lebanese-Syrian operation, upon which, he was forced to seek refuge in the French embassy of Beirut, and from there to his exile in Paris.

After he went back to Lebanon, 600,000 osf the Lebanese received him in Al-Shohada’ Square in Beirut. Shortly after his return, Aoun ran in the Parliament elections of 2005. He succeeded and joined Parliament with a group consisting of 21 deputies. Currently, he is head of the Free National Trend, the most important group among the opposing political parties in Lebanon, and allied with Hezbollah (according to a document and agreement signed in February 2006, in Mar Georgius Church) and Al-Marada movement, led by Suleiman Frangea and the Orthodox leader Michel Murr. He was victorious in the Al-Matn elections, for the vacant Kataeb seat, ahead of Amin Gemayel himself. That supported his position among the Christians, especially after the support he received from the Armenian Tashnaq party alongside Michel Murrs advocates, representing the Orthodox side. He is also one of the most eminent candidates to occupy the Ppresidential seat, as a successor to Emile Lahoud, and is considered the opposition’s only candidate. He is the first Maronite personality to present himself as an alternative to the present president, Emile Lahuod.

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General Michel Suleiman:

Born in 1948, his birth place is in Amsheet. Presently, he is the Commander of the Lebanese Army. From 1993 to1996, he had been the commander of the 11th Infantry Brigade. In 1996 he was promoted to Brigadier General and appointed as commander to the 6th Infantry Brigade. In 1998, he was the Army Commander, after Emile Lahoud became President and after he had been the

Commander of the Lebanese army. He became famous as he did not drag the Syrian army behind either the advocates or the opposition, which represented a conciliatory vision of this institution in this country.

Editing by: Adam November  

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