Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘Palestinian Resistance Movement

Can we learn anything from Lebanon civil war (15 years)?

Note: re-editing this old article “Lebanon civil war revisited (Written in Jan 8, 2006 and published in 2008)”

I wrote in 1976 a lengthy article that was published, in two successive issues, by the university students’ newspaper of the Oklahoma Daily at Norman, on the subject of the civil war in Lebanon (the war has been less than a year in activities).

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 ignited and executed war, and entirely reinforced by external regional States in later planning, supply and logistics.

Since 1973, the Syrian regime of dictator Hafez Assad harassed Lebanon with almost impossible demands, and closed the borders for trade for 6 months in a stretch.

Basically, Assad was pissed off that the Lebanese government had decided not to declare war against Israel in September 1973, and refused to join the armies of Syria and Egypt of Sadat.

Hafez Assad wanted to have total control of the Palestinian Resistance Movement, under the leadership of Yasser Arafat (based in Lebanon).  Finally, Assad managed to control the major arms and arsenal depots of the Palestinian resistance through the Palestinian faction called Saika under the total control of Syria.

When the civil war in Lebanon started, the Palestinian forces could overrun the Lebanese army and the Phalanges Christian forces within a week, but Assad refused to open the arms depots to Arafat.

And the civil war dragged on for the coming 17 years, resulting in “religious cleansing” of major regions into self-autonomous cantons.

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 Sunni Muslims.

Then and now, I am convinced that the sectarian and conservative Christian Maronite political parties, with the complete support of then 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 worsening 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.

The “Arkoub Land” in south Lebanon (bordering Israel) was to become a secured islands  from Lebanon law, army, and forces of order.  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 successive governments, as early as 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 southern regions, in the Bekaa Valley and in Akkar.  the southern “citizens” or more accurately inhabitants, of  Muslim Shia majority, did not receive any attention from the central government in the budget or development planning.

The Maronite Christians and Sunni Muslims feudal and conservative leaders figured out that any troubles in the south will not significantly affect the rest of Lebanon or destabilize its confessional political system.

When Israel started to retaliate for the Palestinian rocket launching attacks from the Arkoub Land and under various pretenses, the citizens in the south flocked to the suburbs of Beirut forming what was called the “belt of misery” The “Dahiyat”, 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 Lebanese 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 winning 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 later extended 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 twice determined to enter the camps without much political success.

It is a fact that the Maronite political parties, lead by the Phalanges 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 Muslim or Palestinian elements.

The cleansing process went two steps further as the war continued;

First, they evacuated their areas from every Christian members affiliated to secular political parties like the Communists and the Lebanese based Syrian National Social party, and

Second, turned the guns to the Christian confessional party members (The Tiger forces and Arz forces…) 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: The phalange territories were close to be sacked by the Nationalist and “progressive” 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.

If it were not for Sharon’s foolish decision to chase Palestinian resistance out of Lebanon, it is very probable that Lebanon would have become a substitute de-facto State for the Palestinians.

Note:  You may select category “Testimony of civil war” in my blog for many articles on that subject.

Road map of a civil war: phase 2 (mid 1976-1982)

The second phase of this lengthy civil war (mid 1976-1982) began with the entrance of the Syrian forces to most regions of Lebanon, except the South that was under Israel de facto control.

The Palestinian Resistance Movement controlled the coast line from West Beirut to Sidon: the Syrian forces push to enter Saida was halted after suffering heavy casualties from the resistance of a few of  the Palestinian factions.

This period was characterized by the de facto civil administration of the Fateh faction of Yasser Arafat for the parts outside Syrian influence. The Lebanese leftist parties were practically marginalized and the head of that coalition, Kamal Junblatt, was assassinated in 1978.

The “Lebanese Forces” under Bashir Gemmayel managed to kick out the Syrian forces from Ashrafieh and East Beirut in what is called the “100-Days war”. The Syrian forces redeployed to the demarcation zone from Kfarshima to Tayyouni in Beirut.

The Syrian forces organized the attacks of the Shiaa “Amal” militia (of current chairman of the Parliament Nabih Berry) against the Leftist coalition and the Palestinian forces.

The relocation of the population took place in the South, especially the villages bordering Israel, because Israel sustained a military campaign designed to empty this region from its population under the code name of “Litany campaign”.

The refugees from South Lebanon converged to the shantytowns of the suburbs of West Beirut of what is currently called Dahieh or “Hezbollah Land” with heavy concentration of the Moslem Shiaa sect.

The “Amal” militia managed by the end of 1981 to take control of these suburbs of West Beirut at the expense of the communist and leftist forces.

The success of the Khomeini Islamic revolution and the Iran-Iraq war will have definite impacts on later events.


adonis49

adonis49

adonis49

October 2020
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