Congrès Mondial des Études sur le Moyen-Orient et l'Afrique du Nord

Barcelone, du 19 au 24 Juillet 2010


Lebanon: Leadership, Identity and Communal Bonds (074) - NOT_DEFINED activity_field_Panel

· NOT_DEFINED language: English / Français

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Chair: Fouad G Marei (University of Durham)

Paper Presenter: Aaron Brand (PhD Candidate, American University of Beirut), “Playing the Martyr: Victimhood and Identity in Contemporary Lebanese Politics”
Lebanon provides a difficult case for historians and analysts since the nation’s internal politics frequently turn on issues of identity. Because these identities are so often renegotiated and repackaged by the politics of the moment, the real points of dispute are often lost in the rhetorical fog. In part the problem lies in the analytical tools used (notably literature on nationalism) which approach the topic with inapplicable and often unrealistic expectations that have more often than not ‘found’ real nationalist ideology in the disingenuous words of the Lebanese political leaders. This effect that national politics has had on Lebanese historiography should either give pause to any researcher seriously pursuing the topic, or inspire him to more deeply explore the rhetoric itself. This paper pursues the latter course, analyzing the use of identity politics and the ‘martyrdom’ of key anti-Syrian figures by the Western-oriented March 14 bloc in Lebanon’s 2007 and 2009 elections. The research focuses on the use of rhetoric of victimization (particularly the term 'martyr') in the public statements and speeches by Lebanese political figures as the March 14 candidates attempted to portray themselves as a besieged vanguard of Lebanese identity resisting Syrian and Iranian attempts to absorb Lebanon into their orbit through the election of Hizbullah and its allies in the Opposition bloc. By specifically targeting the politically divided Maronite community in Lebanon and abroad, the March 14 bloc attempted to siphon votes away from Michel Aoun’s Free Patriotic Movement for their allies by emphasizing Aoun’s political ties to Hizbullah, asserting that a vote for Aoun was a vote for the same Syrian state that had marginalized the Maronite political leadership during its fifteen year occupation between 1990 and 2005. The paper’s analysis draws on Charles Tilly’s work on identity, viewing the latter as a transactional, relational concept dependent upon the circumstances in which it is activated. Ultimately, the work seeks to contribute to a deeper understanding of the evolving conceptions of identity in Lebanese politics through an analysis of the political strategies that attempt to construct them.

Paper Presenter: Rafal Ozarowski (Dr., University of Gdansk), “Sub-state Actors Confronting the Role of States. The Case of Hizballah”
In the contemporary world non-state actors are challenging the position and the role of states in the international system. They have adopted many new functions and have started playing new roles on the international arena. Taking advantage of globalisation processes non-states actors are able to overcome many obstacles and barriers what enables them to expand their activity and develop their network of cooperation. Among the group of non-state actors are sub-state actors of international relations which are in many cases confronting with states. Obviously they are not recognized as a states, but taking the control over the part of country territory and having support of local population predestine this type of actors to be called as ”quasi state”.
In this paper as a case study the model of Hizballah’s activity has been adopted. The Party of God is a very specific example of sub-state actor which acts in a few spheres (platforms) of international relations. Firstly, it is an usual sub-state actor being a political party in the political system of Lebanon. Hizballah regularly participates in elections since 1992 and even since a few years two Party of God parliamentarians became ministers in the Lebanese government. Secondly, Hizballah can be recognized as a quasi-state actor due to ruling over the territory of Bika’a valley, partially southern Lebanon and dahiya (suburb of Beirut), having sufficient support of Shia community in Lebanon and possessing own armed branch (which actually is much stronger than the army of Lebanon) and military guards serving as local police (indibat). Hizballah as a quasi-state actor gives service to its community in the same way as states do. On the territory controlled by Hizballah, social, educational, healthcare and security service is offered much efficiently than the state of Lebanon is able to provide. And thirdly, Hizballah’s activity is extended abroad. The Party of God has established cells almost all over the world. Most of the cells are active among Shia minority inhabitants. It enables the Party to make a network of connections with similarity to transnational actors. These cells are responsible for controlling the crime activity such a diamonds smuggling; recruitment new members of the Party of God or gathering contributions. In general it shows that Hizballah can be characterized as a hybrid sub-state actor in the international relations.

Paper Presenter: Maylis Konnecke (PhD Candidate, Queen's University Belfast), “Waltz with Bashir, Samir, Michel and the Others: Rivalry and Divisions among the Lebanese Christians”
Following the assassination of Rafik Hariri in February 2005, Lebanon's Cedar Revolution resulted a few months later in the withdrawal of Syrian troops from Lebanon. Succeeding demonstrations created inter-communal bonds. Growing nationalist feelings also seemed to emerge. Yet, Lebanon witnessed the reinforcement of contradictory popular movements. Indeed, it clearly triggered the formation of two opposite blocs. Led by Rafik Hariri's son, Saad Hariri, the 14th of March Alliance fitted in the line of the Cedar Revolution while the Hezbollah-led rival camp, March the 8th, defended the Syrian presence at the time. Since 2005, two emblematic Christian figures returned to the forefront of the political scene. After 15 years of exile Michel Aoun returned to Lebanon in May 2005 while Samir Geagea, head of the Lebanese Forces, was freed from prison in July. In 2006, Michel Aoun's Free Patriotic Movement (FPM) swelled the ranks of March the 8th. The recent rapprochement between the FPM and Hezbollah has thus divided the Christian community and shaken Lebanon's already fragile nationalist aspirations. The signature, in 2006, of the memorandum of understanding (MOU) between the FPM and Hezbollah set the benchmark for divergent strategies within the Christian community. This paper will tackle the rivalry and divisions among the Lebanese Christians with special reference to the last four years. Relying on interviews conducted within the Christian political community, all sides taken into account, it will reveal conflicting strategies along with common aspirations, unveiling the ambiguity and versatility of the Lebanese political context. In addition to a series of interviews that were conducted between May and November 2009, special attention will be drawn to the content of the electoral campaign, the different projects, slogans and approaches. Nationalism in the Middle East emerges as a multifaceted phenomenon. Middle East scholars have thoroughly presented and discussed its various meanings. Depicted in turns as pluralist, inspiring, unaccomplished, artificial or mythified, Lebanese nationalism remains versatile in its implementation. The proposal here is to demonstrate how Lebanese Christians have chosen to adopt two different strategies in order to reach one dominant goal, the protection of their community. The analysis of these dynamics within the Christian camp will further the reflection that has already been initiated on Lebanese nationalism. What remains of it? And in what ways have the new coalitions affected Christian unity?

Paper Presenter: Erminia Chiara Calabrese (Doctorante, Universitat Rovira i Virgili), “Leader – Partisans au Liban : Construction d’une Légitimité Politique. Le Cas de Tayyar al-Moustaqbal”
Le système libanais en légitimant le partage confessionnel du pouvoir a favorisé la constitution de forces politiques à réfèrent communautaire. Dès lors, l’objectif des partis devient, afin d’asseoir leurs ambitions politiques, le renforcement des allégeances communautaires au dépit des allégeances nationales en mobilisant plusieurs référents. Le rôle du za’im (leader) dans ce processus s’avère être fondamental. La mobilisation des partisans autour d’un chef amène souvent à une relation de type « za’im-client » à travers la mise en place des institutions et des associations et à travers l’établissement d’un réseau d’alliances locales et régionales. Déjà Hottinger (1968), Hudson (1968) et Norton (1987) avaient montré comment dans les années 1960 le pouvoir au Liban était passé des grandes familles « iqta’iyye » (féodales) à de nouvelles formes de leadership composées des anciens chefs de milices pendant la guerre (1975-1990), et d’hommes d’affaires expatriés dans les années 90.Cette communication se donne pour objectif l’analyse et la description des « agents de mobilisation » utilisés dans ce cas, par le mouvement al-Moustaqbal (Future), lideré par Saad Hariri, pour construire un consensus et se donner une légitimité auprès de leurs partisans. Il s’agira d’analyser la branche éducative et sociale de ce mouvement pour chercher à répondre à différents questions: Comment les partisans s’organisent autour de leur chef et sur quels fondements se cristallise cette relation ? Sur quelles bases les liens se font et se défont ? Qu’est-ce qui valorise un acteur politique : sa réussite économique ? Sa possibilité de créer de nouvelles valeurs et de nouveaux symboles ?. En suivant l’analyse de Cameron on examinera « how a mobilizing agent or organization adapts its ideology to articulate and giving a meaning to local discontent ». (Cameron, 1974 :140) et on cherchera d’explorer les stratégies que le mouvement adopte pour consolider sa crédibilité auprès de sa base.

Paper Presenter: Nasser Kalawoun (Dr., Saudi Commercial Office, London), “Tripoli Lebanon: an Islamist Fort or a Terror Source?”
This paper will form a chapter of a coming book on Radicalisation and Extremism in the Middle East (I.B. Tauris 2010). Its starting point is the marching of King Faisal into this post- Ottoman City-Wilayah and his reception by its elite. However, the French aborted this project and created a new entity: Greater Lebanon. Here, Tripoli was given a second city status, after the new Capital Beirut, which left repercussions to this day on the eastern shores of the Mediterranean. The main points of the paper are:
• The split of Tripoli’s elite during the French Mandate was between the Arab nationalist section which aimed to be part of Greater Syria and the other which was content with the new regime. As a result, the pace of modernity and development was slow to engulf the whole city structure and its hinterland. The occasional repression left some scars in the city and increased its marginalisation from the centre.
• Independence from France in 1945 was not a catalyst for change in the fortunes of Tripoli. The clash of its elite took many forms, but the bloody battle in 1949 upon the return of Commander Fawzi Qawiqjee from Palestine War was the important one. As a result, the Karamis led the Arab Nationalist street on an anti-French – and later anti Western path along with Nasser’s Egypt. How far did this alignment serve the development of the city with the regime of Presidents Shihab and Hilou?
• The Mini-revolts by the city’s old and depraved quarters in pre 1975 Civil War paved the way for PLO, from the two Palestinian Camps north of Tripoli, and its Lebanese allies to control it effectively. This continued during the Syrian control since the end of 1976 until the withdrawal of 2005. Here, the city earned new libels such as being the hub of “Arab Afghans, extremist Islamists, anti-Syrians, Sunni fundamentalists and terrorists”. In fact, Islamists rode high in the street despite their marginalisation in parliamentarian elections by the Tai’f regime. The Nar el-Bared battle of 2007 showed the designs of a mysterious group (Fath al-Islam) to declare an “Emirate of Triopli” with an Islamist label. How can one explain extremism without tackling economic marginalisation, internal strife effects and perhaps regional rivalries?
• A look at the change of City‘s symbols, institutions, main squares and bazaars may give a view of the Islamist identity yearnings in the face of challenges: Nour Sq replaced Abdul Hamid Karami’s sq! After the assassination of PM Hariri in 2005, the city’s elite and street granted his successors a free ride, in elections, to serve its interests. However, the fight for Tripoli’s future continues with competitors vying for legitimacy: the Hariris project for the Mansouri Central Mosque, pet religious projects for competing local leaders, nascent Turkish interest in some Ottoman landmarks and some official Arab projects (al-Walid bin Talal) etc. The main question remains: Can modernism fight extremism in competing on the same religious grounds without looking at the wider issues of development, national unity, regional stability which may extend to the shores of Mediterranean?

Paper presenter: Mara Albrecht (Research Assistant and Instructor, University of Erfurt, Germany), “Lebanese Political Parties and their Youth and Student Organisations - an Important Affiliation in Historical Perspective”
This paper presents some preliminary results of a three-year project funded by the German Research Foundation. The project is a comparative study of the political, social, economical, and cultural development of political parties in Lebanon in historical perspective. The aim of the project is to identify development tendencies of parties in Lebanon and general structural problems for parties within the Lebanese political system. As affiliated organisations and especially youth and student groups have a great relevance for political parties in Lebanon and there is practically no research conducted about them, this paper seeks to examine a few selected youth and student organisations of Lebanese parties in comparison. The following key aspects shall be analyzed in historical perspective: the functions and areas of responsibility, the connection to the party and other affiliated organisations, the internal organisational structure, the composition of the membership, and the changing importance of the organisations for the parties throughout different historical periods (pre-civil war era until 1975, civil war period 1975-1990, post-war time 1990-2005, recent political period 2005-2010). The main findings for each youth and student organisation of the selected parties will be compared with each other in order to reveal similarities and differences between them. Both common aspects and dissimilarities will be explained with reference to the political, social and cultural history of the parties and within the special political context of the Lebanese multi-confessional and fragmented political system. The paper presentation is based on following sources: First, interviews with party officials and officials and members of the youth and student organisations, conducted in 2009 and 2010. Second, analysis of primary sources from the party affiliated organisations, for example student election flyers, accounts of activity or newspapers of the youth organisations. Third, participant observation of youth and student groups events.