Adonis Diaries

Lebanon civil war revisited

Posted on: October 9, 2008

Lebanon civil war revisited (Jan 8, 2006)

I wrote in 1976 a lengthy article that was published in two successive issues by the students’ newspaper of the Oklahoma Daily at Norman on the subject of the civil war in Lebanon.  Unfortunately, I misplaced a copy of that article to compare my views with my current understanding of this calamity, although I think that I was on the right track even then.  Simply, the main facts of the civil war of Lebanon (1975-1991) points to the direction that it was an internally planned and executed war and entirely reinforced by external supply and logistics.

Since the Independence of Lebanon in 1943 our political system has been contained and maintained through the tacit alliance of the feudal, confessional and mercantile powerhouses of both the Maronite Christians and Sunny Moslems. Then and now, I am convinced that the sectarian and conservative Christian Maronite political parties, with the complete support of President Suleiman Frangieh and the high ranking officers of the army, decided that a civil war was the only alternative solution remaining in their hands to salvage the crumbling confessional political and social status.

I reluctantly insert reviews of our past political system solely for the benefit of the new generations of Lebanese who cannot perceive the continuation of the past in our worse present system. We can reach as far in our past and attest to the vicious cycle of short periods of self determination lasting half a human life making room to centuries of subjugation.  These cycles keep springing up as unbreakable as if our destiny is a series of hopeless attempts for independence from the neighboring power houses in Turkey, Persia, Egypt, Greece, Rome or even Iraq before the 10th century.

            I might as well start in 1969 with the unpublished agreement between Yasser Arafat and the Lebanese government on the location of the military bases of the Palestinian Resistance Movement as secured islands from the Lebanese law and order forces in south Lebanon bordering Israel.  This agreement was signed in Cairo by Jamal Abel Nasser, Yasser Arafat, the Lebanese army chief Emil Bustany, the Prime Minister Rashid Karame and the minister of the interior Pierre Gemayel who was also the leader of the Phalanx (Kataeb) party.  Under the motto that “The strength of Lebanon is in his weakness”, secured by the charter of the United Nations, Lebanon governments from its independence in 1943 could not agree on forming a strong army able to defend its border.  The successive governments refrained from investing in the south and its inhabitants of Shiaa majority did not receive any attention from the central government.  The Maronite Christians and Sunny Moslems feudal and conservative leaders figured that any troubles in the south will not affect the rest of Lebanon significantly or destabilize its confessional political system.

When Israel started to retaliate for the Palestinian rocket launching attacks from the south and under various pretenses the citizens in the south flocked to the suburbs of Beirut forming what was called the “belt of misery”, currently the stronghold of the Hezbollah Party.  These suburbs would have major impacts on the process of the civil war in many respects.  In the years 1969-1975 the university students were the vanguard for significant reforms of our outdated political confessional system and the Capital Beirut was the scene of multiple demonstrations per month demanding the governments to pay more attention to the dreams and drives of the youth for a modern and fair political system. 

The Lebanese University was the hub of these demonstrations lead by the Communists and left leaning students who succeeded in wining the elections of the student councils throughout the University branches.  The popular support for drastic reforms signaled the feasibility of changes through democratic means which scared the confessional forces to bypass the real issues and lay our problems to the existence of the Palestinian resistance factions.  In order to rally the moderate Lebanese citizens around their status quo system the confessional forces hammered on the prerequisite of uniting around the army whenever premeditated incidents led to direct military confrontations on a few refugees’ camps in the Christian enclave like Dbayeh and Jesr El Basha; those same camps that former President Camille Chamoun opened and offered the Lebanese Nationality to the Christian Palestinians to vote for him and his coalition during the Parliamentary elections.  In few instances the army air force dusted off its archaic and limited war planes as a show of force and determination to enter the camps without much political success.

            It is a fact that the Maronite political parties, lead by the Phalange party, planned the civil war, started it and refused to negotiate a lasting ceasefire. They initiated the mass killing and genocide tactics based solely on confessional status with the strategy of cleansing the areas of Christian majority from any Moslem or Palestinian elements. The cleansing process went two steps further as the war continued; first they evacuated their areas from every Christian members of secular political parties like the Communists and the Lebanese based Syrian National Social party and then turned to the Christian confessional party members who refused to unite under the banner of the unique party of “The Lebanese Forces” headed by Bashir Gemayel.

            They also invited the Syrian forces to cross the Lebanese borders once their war plans failed to produce the equilibrium in military forces and their territories were close to be sacked by the Nationalist and progress’s coalition forces.  They negotiated directly with Israel, the enemy of Lebanon, and secured military logistical support in arms, ammunition and training.  In 1982, they encouraged Israel to extend their invasion to entering our Capital Beirut in order to chase the Palestinians out of Lebanon.

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October 2008

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