Worried Lebanese

thought crumbs on lebanese and middle eastern politics

A cartoon to illustrate a Taef principle

Posted by worriedlebanese on 04/07/2009


In 1989, the Lebanese parliamentarians convened in Taef, with financial encouragements from Rafik Hariri. In this Saudi Arabian city, they spawned an agreement, the Document of National Accord supposed to provide the basis for the ending of the civil war and the return to political normalcy in Lebanon. Have a glimpse at the document, and check a good commentary for backdrop information. But let’s get to the crux of the matter.

In 1989, the country was in the hands of five militias (PSP, Amal, Lebanese Forces, Hezbollah, SLA), two foreign armies (Israeli, Syrian) and a divided Lebanese army. These militias are only mentioned once in the document that speaks of “disbanding of all Lebanese and non-Lebanese militias shall be announced”. This mention focuses on militias as a weapon bearing group. Sure, this is its defining quality, but militias are much more than that. Militias are power centers, networks, they have a human, an economical, a territorial, a symbolic and in this case an ethnic dimension. These dimensions are not mentioned in the Taef Agreement which hides one basic principle: The militias, after decommissioning will be recognised as political parties, and will safeguard their positions within government (a process that began in the 1980s with the Rachid Karami lead National Unity government).

Three of those militias are now pillars of the quadripartite oligarchy, two other decommissioned militias are junior partners of the oligarchy, and so is the former head of the Lebanese Army.


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