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By Deen Shariff Sharp Researcher and Freelance Journalist Contact: email@example.com
The Lebanese Government Post-Doha Agreement1
President: Michel Sleiman Assumed office: May, 2008
Prime Minister: Fouad Siniora Affiliated (with Future Movement) Assumed office: July, 2005
Speaker of the House: Nabhi Berri (Party Head of Amal) Assumed office: November, 1992
Due to the National Pact, an unwritten agreement created in 1943, the President must be Maronite Christian, the Prime Minister Sunni Muslim and the Speaker of the House Shia’ Muslim.
This agreement was made after the clashes in May 2008 and ended an 18 month long political crisis. The agreement resulted in the election of General Sleiman to the Presidency; the formation of a national unity government that consisted of 16 ministers from the majority, 11 ministers from the opposition and three ministers selected by the President. Importantly this agreement gave the opposition members a veto in the national unity government.
Interior Ziad Baroud (President Quota) Defense Elias Murr (President Quota)
Deputy Prime Minister Issam Abu Jamra (FPM)
Foreign Affairs Fawzi Salloukh (Amal*) Telecommunications Gebran Bassil (FPM) Health
Mohammad Jawad Khalifeh (Amal)
Finance Mohammed Chattah (FM) Education Bahia Hariri (FM) Agriculture Elias Skaff (C&R) Power, Energy and Water Alain Tabourian (C&R) Youth and Sport Talal Arslan (LDP) Displaced Persons Raymond Audi Economy & Trade Mohammad Safadi (FM) Justice Ibrahim Najjar (LF) Tourism Elias Marouni (Kataeb) Environment Antoine Karam (LF)
Labor Mohammad Fneich (Hezbollah) Public Works Ghazi Aridi (PSP) Culture Tammam Salam Information Tarek Mitri Industry Ghazi Zeaiter (Amal) Social Affairs Mario Aoun (FPM)
Development Affairs Ibrahim Shamssedine
Ministers without portfolio: Wael Abu Faour (PSP), Nassib Lahoud (DRP), Jean Ogaspian (FM), Khalid Qabbani (FM), Ali Qanso (SSNP), Youssef Taqla (President Quota)
* = Independent but affiliated with party listed
March 8 (Opposition/Parliamentary Minority)
After the assassination of Rafik Hariri on the 14th February, 2005, frequent political protests called for an end to the Syrian presence in Lebanon, established at the end of the civil war. These protests occurred primarily because sections of the Lebanese population deemed the Syrian government directly responsible for the assassination of Hariri. In response to these protests Hezbollah organized a mass political rally on March 8th that thanked Syria for its support to the resistance (Hezbollah) and also called for the rejection of UN resolution 1559. This resolution calls for Hezbollah and all armed groups in Lebanon to disarm. Those in the March 8 movement generally have strong links with Syria and/or Iran. The main members of the March 8 Alliance are: Amal Movement Hezbollah Syrian Socialist Nationalist Party (SSNP) Marada Movement Lebanese Democratic Party (LDP)
The Free Patriotic Movement (FPM)
General Michel Aoun, the leader of the FPM, did not return back from exile until May 2005 but was supportive of the March 14 rally. Disagreements between Michel Aoun and parties that formed the March 14 Alliance regarding the allocation of potential seats among the FPM, PSP and Lebanese Forces in the Ba’abda-‘Aley constituency resulted in the FPM shifting their political alliances. Subsequently, Aoun aligned with parties from the March 8 alliance, while also maintaining autonomy from it. The Armenian Tashnak party is also a strong ally of the FPM.
March 14 (Governmental Majority)
The March 14 alliance is a coalition of parties that formed after the assassination of former President Rafik Hariri on 14th February, 2005. On March 14th, 2005, a huge protest was led by the Future Movement, and son of Rafik Hariri, Saad Hariri; the protest called for an international inquiry into Hariri’s murder, a complete withdrawal by Syria in line with UN resolution 1559 and the firing of Syrian-backed security chiefs in the Lebanese government. The March 14 alliance also calls for the full implementation of UN resolution1701, issued after the July 2006 war that calls for the “…disarmament of all armed groups in Lebanon”. Those in the March 14 alliance generally have strong links with the US and Europe; the Future Movement has particularly strong links with Saudi Arabia. The members of the March 14 alliance are: Future Movement Progressive Socialist Party (PSP) Lebanese Forces (LF) Kataeb Party Democratic Renewal Party Democratic Left Movement
Future Movement Tayyar al-Mustaqbal
Party Leader: Saad Hariri Seats in Parliament: 35 Majority Sunni (officially non-sectarian) Dominant Location: West Beirut, West Beqaa, Saida and North Lebanon Political grouping: March 14 Alliance History The Future Movement was a central instigator in the organization of the March 14th, 2005, demonstration after the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri and in calling for an international tribunal to be set up to investigate the assassination of Rafik Hariri. The Future Movement after the assassination of Rafik Hariri and the Syrian withdrawal became involved in bitter mutual recriminations with the Syrian regime that continue to the present day. Further to this the Future Movement is very much implicated in the tense bilateral relations between Saudi Arabia and Syria, as the Future Movement is aligned with Saudi Arabia. While the Movement is not officially a political party its affiliates makes up the bulk of the government and Prime Minister Fouad Siniora is an associate of the Future Movement. The Future Movement calls for the full implementation of UN resolutions 1559 and 1701.
Progressive Socialist Party (PSP) al Hizb al-Taqadummi al-Ishtiraki
Party Leader: Walid Jumblatt Seats in Parliament: 15 Majority Druze (officially non-sectarian) Dominant Location: Shouf, Aley, Rechaya and Hasbaya Political grouping: March 14 Alliance History The Jumblatt family name has been prominent in Lebanese-Druze politics since the mid18th Century in Mount Lebanon. The PSP was founded by Kamal Jumblatt (Walid Jumblatt’s father) in 1949 and was the first attempt to create a party on a national scale. Kamal Jumblatt was assassinated during the civil war in 1977 and Walid Jumblatt accuses Syria of carrying out the assassination. The PSP created a strong partnership with the electoral alliance of Hariri in the 2005 elections and has been at the forefront of the March 14 alliance, calling for the disarmament of Hezbollah and implementation of UN resolutions 1559 and 1701. The PSP has been a ferocious opponent of the Syrian presence in Lebanon.
Lebanese Forces (LF) al-Quwwat al-Lubnaniya
Party Leader: Samir Geagea Seats in Parliament: 5 Christian (officially non-sectarian) Dominant Location: East Beirut, Mount Lebanon, Zahle and North Lebanon Political grouping: March 14 Alliance History The LF was founded as a militia, by assassinated former President Bashir Gemayel, during the start of the civil war. Although associated with the Kataeb party during the civil war the Lebanese Forces became an independent unit after the assassination of Bashir Gemayel. Samir Geagea assumed control of the LF in 1986 but was imprisoned for life in 1994 for war crimes; an amnesty law passed in July 2005 meant Geagea was released from prison and resumed the leadership of the LF. The continued conflict between Geagea and Slieman Franjieh Jr. that occurred during the civil war (see the Marada Movement) is seen by many in the Christian community a central split within the community in Lebanon. Franjieh Jr. accuses Geagea of murdering his family during a LF raid on the Franjieh family home during the civil war. The split within the Christian community has been accentuated by the animosity between Geagea and General Michel Aoun. In the beginning of the 1990s during the ‘War of Liberation’ Samir Geagea’s and Michel Aoun’s respective military units clashed in fierce battles in East Beirut. Since the return of Geagea to Lebanese politics the LF has re-emerged as a political force in Lebanon, with policies that are staunchly against any involvement of Syria in Lebanon and for the disarmament of Hezbollah.
Kataeb Party Hizb al-Kataeb
Party Leader: Amine Gemayel Seats in Parliament: 1 Christian (officially non-sectarian) Dominant Location: East Beirut, Zahle and Mount Lebanon Political grouping: March 14 Alliance History The Kataeb was founded by Pierre Gemayel as a nationalist youth movement in 1936. Bashir Gemayel, son of Pierre, following the Israeli invasion was elected President by the National Assembly in 1982; nine days before Bashir Gemayel was due to take office he was assassinated. Bashir Gemayel remains an important figure for Lebanese Christians of all political persuasions and is venerated as the person who unified the Christian community. After the assassination of Bashir Gemayel his brother Amine took over the Presidency, however he was forced into exile after his term ended in 1988. In 2000 Amine Gemayel returned from exile in Paris and became the supreme President of the Kataeb party in 2005. The Kataeb have been vocally pressing for the disarmament of Hezbollah and the end to any Syrian involvement in Lebanese politics. Amine Gemayel’s son Pierre, who was an MP and Minister of Industry, was assassinated in 2006. This was the fifth assassination of a Lebanese ‘anti-Syrian’ public figure and the third member of the Gemayel family to be assassinated. Nadim Gemayel, the son of Bashir Gemayel, and Sami Gemayel, the son Amine Gemayel, are both active in politics and are running in the 2009 elections the former in Beirut and the latter in the Metn.
Amal Movement Harakat Amal (www.amal-movement.com/)
Party Leader: Nabih Berri (Speaker in the Lebanese Parliament) Seats in Parliament: 15 Shia’ (officially non-sectarian) Dominant Location: South Beirut, Northern Beqaa and South Lebanon Political grouping: March 8 History Amal was established in 1975 by Imam Musa al-Sadr aimed at improving the social and living conditions of the Lebanese Shia. Al-Sadr disappeared in 1978 while on a visit to Libya and is assumed to have been killed but is still a highly revered figure in the party. Musa al-Sadr turned Amal into the leading political party for the Lebanese Shia and remained so until the emergence of Hezbollah in the beginning of the 80s. Amal and Hezbollah have historically had a tense relationship that led to a ferocious battle in 1988 and 1989 however since then their relationship has been on of mutual support. Amal has been a strong ally of the Syrian presence in Lebanon and is an important part of the March 8 alliance.
Party of God Hezbollah
Party Leader: Hassan Nasrallah Seats in Parliament: 14 Shia (officially non-sectarian) Dominant Location: South Beirut, Northern Beqaa, Jbeil (Byblos) and South Lebanon Political grouping: March 8 History Hezbollah emerged in the 1980s as an Islamic resistance group determined to remove the Israelis, who had occupied the south of Lebanon since 1978, by force. After the Israeli’s left Lebanon in 2000 Hezbollah stated that the resistance must continue to defend Lebanon against Israeli aggression and to remove the Israeli occupation of the Shebba farms. Hezbollah is accused by opponents of starting the war with Israel in July, 2006, after Hezbollah kidnapped two Israeli soldiers across the blue line. This accusation lays central to the claim by the March 14 alliance that Hezbollah must disarm and that only the Lebanese state has the right to declare war and peace. Hezbollah was central in organizing the March 8 demonstration that thanked Syria for assisting the resistance and responded against calls of the ‘Cedar Revolution’ to end the Syrian presence in Lebanon. In May 2008 Hezbollah, with members from the March 8 alliance, took over West Beirut militarily in response to the ruling March 14 coalition’s cabinet directive to remove Hezbollah’s parallel telecommunication network and remove an airport security chief allied to Hezbollah. These events led to the Doha agreement that gave Hezbollah and the March 8 alliance veto power within the Lebanese cabinet.
Syrian Social Nationalist Party (SSNP) al-Hizb al-Souri al-Qawmi al-Ijtima’i (http://www.ssnp.net/)
Party Leader: Asaad Hardan Seats in Parliament: 2 Non-sectarian Dominant Location: Metn, north Lebanon and west Beirut Political grouping: March 8 History The SSNP was founded in Beirut in 1932 by Antoun Saadeh; the SSNP strongly condemned tribal, ethnic and religious forms of discrimination believing a ‘Syrian’ national identity should be expressed in a non-confessional state. The SSNP strives for the unification of a Greater Syria state that incorporates Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, Cyprus and Palestine, and believes that “Syria's interest supersedes every other interest.” In 1949 Saadeh was executed by the government after the SSNP attempted a coup and in 1962 another unsuccessful coup was endeavored against President Chehab. In May 2008 the SSNP took a central role in the violent clashes in West Beirut and has continued to maintain a significant presence in this area. Frequent clashes have occurred between the SSNP and affiliates of the Future Movement.
Marada Movement (http://el-marada.net/ar/)
Party Leader: Sleiman Franjieh Jr. Seats in Parliament: 0 Maronite Christian Dominant Location: Zgharta and North Lebanon Political grouping: March 8 Alliance History Sleiman Franjieh who was President at the outbreak of the civil war in 1975 created the Marada Movement as a militia. During the civil war Tony Franjieh, the son of Sleiman and head of the Marada movement was assassinated by Bachir Gemayle’s Lebanese Forces along with his wife and daughter, Tony Franjieh’s son Sleiman Franjieh Jr. was away in Beirut at the time. Sleiman Franjieh Jr. accuses Samir Geagea of the heading the assassination of his family carried out by the Lebanese Forces. This event is seen as the starting point of the deep split between Lebanese Christians and this entrenched mutual hatred between Franjieh and Geagea is still a major political issue for Lebanese Christians. Franjieh Jr. is a close friend of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and a strong advocate of Syria. Franjieh formed an important alliance with Michel Aoun in the 2005 election.
Free Patriotic Movement (FPM) Al-Tayyar al-Watani al-Hurr (http://www.tayyar.org/Tayyar/FPMParty/)
Party Leader: Michel Aoun Seats in Parliament: 15 Majority Christian (Officially Secular) Dominant Location: Mount Lebanon and East Beirut Political grouping: March 8 Alliance History The FPM is led by former commander of the Lebanese army and former Prime Minster General Michel Aoun. After being exiled from Lebanon for 15 years after the ‘War of Liberation’ against Syria in 1989, Aoun returned to Lebanon in 2005. Despite Aoun’s fifteen years in exile in France he kept an active following in Lebanon during this period. Thus, in the same month of Aoun’s return to Lebanon he contested the legislative elections and his party the FPM was officially declared a political party in September 2005. During the elections of May 2005 the FPM and the members of the March 14 alliance were unable to agree a power sharing agreement, and thus the FPM remained outside the government and aligned with March 8 parties. In February 2006, Aoun signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Hezbollah confirming the FPM’s position beside the March 8th camp.
Armenian Revolutionary Federation Tashnak Party
Party Leader: Hovig Mekhitarian Seats in Parliament: 2 Armenian Christian Dominant Location: Burj Hammoud and East Beirut
History Founded in 1890 in Russian Armenia, the Tashnak Party sought to coordinate all Armenian revolutionary groups seeking to improve their conditions under Ottoman rule. Tashnak seeks a free, independent and united Armenia and attempts to gain recognition from Turkey of the Armenian genocide. In 2005 Tashnak boycotted the elections in Beirut because it felt that it could not ally with Hariri; Tashnak did run in the elections in the Metn district and in Zahle with the FPM. Tashnak have often played an important role in the elections in the Metn district.