Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/465/1796

From The Socialist newspaper, 29 November 2006

Lebanon

Gemayel killing fuels political tensions

UNIDENTIFIED GUNMEN assassinated Pierre Gemayel, Lebanon's industry minister and leader of the reactionary right-wing Kataeb (Phalange) party on 22 November. Six gunshots killed Gemayel, massively ratcheting up fears of sharp polarisation between Lebanon's many different ethnic and religious communities.

Kevin Simpson

People remember with dread the recent invasion by the Israeli regime and Lebanon's 15-year civil war which only ended in 1990. People's fears also partly come from the 30-year presence of Syrian troops (ended earlier this year) and from Lebanon's long history of political assassinations.

Socialists condemn the use of assassinations as a tactic to bring about fundamental political change. Politicians who are killed can be replaced by others carrying out the same repressive measures. In Lebanon, such tactics are used to whip up sectarian tensions and fears of civil war.

Right-wing politicians immediately blamed the Syrian regime for the assassination, implying that Hezbollah, the main component of the opposition to the government stood to gain by it as they want to overthrow the pro-western Siniora government.

Syria

Government member Saad Hariri, son of assassinated former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, commented: "We believe the hands of Syria are all over the place". President Bush also condemned Syria and Iran for interfering in Lebanon.

But a CWI member living in Beirut explains: "People I have spoken to don't believe these claims and think it unlikely that the Syrian government or Hezbollah were involved. They feel the assassination will be used by the government to rebuild its shattered support and try to undermine the opposition, which is supported by most of the population now.

"This is true particularly for Shias, but also Druze, Sunni Muslims and Christians. The opposition made up of Hezbollah, the Free Patriotic Movement and others called for mass demonstrations starting on 23 November. Two million were expected to march calling for new democratic parliamentary elections. This assassination represents an attempt to undercut those protests".

The government made this a day of national mourning and the whole Lebanese population was called upon to attend Gemayel's funeral.

Hypocrisy

MOST OF Gemayel's obituaries portrayed him as a democrat and fighter for Lebanon's unity. What stomach-turning, hypocritical distortion! Pierre Gemayel was part of one of Lebanon's political dynasties. His grandfather set up the Kataeb (Phalange party - mainly comprising Lebanese Christians) after attending the 1936 Berlin Olympic Games and being inspired by the Nazi Party and Hitler's fascist regime.

The Phalange, armed and trained by the right-wing Israeli government, carried out the Sabra and Shatila massacre in September 1982 under the Israeli generals' noses. Over 3,000 Palestinians were butchered by this paramilitary outfit.

The assassination has magnified the mood of crisis stalking Lebanon's government. The main party in the coalition government, the March 14th grouping, takes its name from the mass movement which demanded Syrian troops withdraw from Lebanon. However, this movement's self-appointed leaders, mainly from Lebanon's political elite, manipulated the support for Syrian withdrawal to gain political power.

Worse still for most Lebanese, these politicians aligned the government much more closely with Western imperialist powers. Many of these politicians are corrupt, right-wing ex-militia and members of the political elite, posturing as "democratic" politicians.

However, the devastating Israeli invasion, the destruction of Lebanon that tore apart the lives of thousands of Lebanese families, had huge political consequences. The March 14th cabinet members and their allies completely lost credibility by doing absolutely nothing during the month-long war.

Most Lebanese consider them as complicit in what was seen as a Western imperialist-supported invasion of their country. While Hezbollah were part of the government, after the war, they increasingly opposed the March 14th movement.

In marked contrast to the government, Hezbollah stopped the invasion in its tracks and inflicted a defeat on the Israeli regime. Most of the population saw this as Lebanon's legitimate national resistance organisation. After the war, Hezbollah moved swiftly to begin reconstruction and offered all families whose houses were destroyed $10,000 while senior government ministers sat on their fat, corrupt hands.

Hezbollah was first formed in 1982 after the Israeli invasion of Lebanon. Originally Hezbollah's support came from the poor Shia working class while its ideology was based on Islamic teachings of Iran's Ayatollah Khomeni. Since then, Hezbollah has adopted a more populist approach portraying itself as a defender of all sections of Lebanon's population.

Nationalist, more than Islamic, language dominates Hezbollah leaders' speeches. Particularly during the war, Hezbollah formed an alliance with Aoun's Free Patriotic Movement (FPM - a populist organisation with support amongst the Christian population) and the Lebanese Communist Party. Hezbollah came out of the war massively strengthened with support across Lebanon's communities.

The March 14th cabinet members of the government tried to bolster their position after the war by campaigning for an international tribunal to investigate Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri's assassination in 2005. Hariri had become an opponent of the Syrian regime, calling for its troops to withdraw from the country.

A UN-sponsored investigation implicated members of the Syrian regime of involvement in this assassination. However, March 14th used this issue to claim that Hezbollah are willing agents of the Syrian regime and to divert public attention from rampant corruption in the political elite after millions of dollars of aid, supposed to rebuild peoples' shattered lives, disappeared.

Elections

HEZBOLLAH AND its allies such as the FPM demand new democratic elections. Parliamentary seats in Lebanon are, in effect, divided between different religious and ethnic communities, going to political parties led by mafia-style bosses who claim to represent particular communities and use their positions to hand out patronage.

However, Hezbollah and the FPM probably now supported by most of the population, have little parliamentary representation because of the undemocratic method of elections. To put pressure on the Prime Minister to call elections, six cabinet ministers linked to the opposition resigned from the government. Hezbollah called for mass anti-government demonstrations on 23 November.

March 14th leaders attack Hezbollah and the FPM for wanting to overthrow the country's government and democracy. However, Hezbollah's popular leader Nasrullah said the opposition had the power to take over the country if they wanted but they were fighting for democratic elections.

Nasrullah answered those who claim Hezbollah wants to increase sectarian polarisation by explaining that the opposition's differences with the government are political ones. It is likely that a majority of Shia, Druze, Sunni and Christian Lebanese now support their demands for democratic elections, an end to corruption and an end to the sectarian divide in Lebanon.

It is not likely that Assad's Syrian regime organised Gemayel's assassination. It is now being courted by western imperialist powers, including Bush, to help sort out the mess created by the occupation of Iraq. Syria recently re-forged diplomatic links with the Iraqi regime.

Such an attack would make no sense, especially as Assad's regime obviously hopes the Western imperialist powers will reopen economic and trading links with Syria and end the regime's pariah status in return for cooperation on Iraq.

Neither is it likely that Hezbollah could have carried out this attack. Given their massive support amongst the Lebanese population, this would be a suicidal mistake. Rogue elements in the Syrian regime may possibly have carried out this attack to sabotage Assad's closer relationship with western imperialist powers.

Who benefits?

HOWEVER, THE question is who will benefit from this assassination? The March 14th politicians and western governments launched a major propaganda campaign over Gemayel's death, whipping up fears that those responsible want to drive the country into civil war. This may temporarily increase support for the government.

Groups who want March 14th leaders to stay in power and to undercut the proposed mass demonstrations, groups from the shadowy fringes of Lebanon's state apparatus or the far right, possibly even the Israeli security services, could have carried out such an assassination. Conspiracy theories will fill the worlds' press over the next few weeks.

The reality is that Lebanon's people face an increasingly unstable situation with the potential for clashes to develop between different communities. If this instability worsens, a return to civil war cannot be ruled out, although it is not the most likely immediate eventuality.

Lebanon's working class is the only section of society with the potential strength to oppose the slide into conflict. However, to answer the lies, distortions and divisive actions of right-wing reactionary groups and sectarian forces, Lebanese workers, young people and all the oppressed need ideas which outline a different way of running society.

Capitalism encourages and uses sectarian division to maintain its grip over society. A democratically planned socialist economy and society would end mass poverty and unemployment, conditions under which sectarian ideas can breed. A socialist society could also guarantee the rights of all oppressed minorities, thus bringing genuine unity to society.

Recent developments emphasise the urgent need to build an independent working-class alternative which fights for these ideas within Lebanon and beyond.

Why not click here to join the Socialist Party, or click here to donate to the Socialist Party.


In The Socialist 29 November 2006:

Ripping the heart out of the NHS


Socialism 2006

Socialism 2006: "A brilliant and inspiring experience"

A world in struggle

Youth rally: Socialist ideas are the future

Closing rally: How to defend the NHS

Socialism 2006 - an unmissable event!

Finance appeal - 30,873.44!


Workplace news and analysis

Vote 'yes' for national strike action

Fighting and striking, on all fronts

Glasgow council workers prepare to strike


Socialist Party news and analysis

Socialists fight Labour's attacks

Costs soar while communities ignored

Bosses' tax moans threaten cuts

Top cops say: "Protest but don't offend anyone"


International socialist news and analysis

Gemayel killing fuels political tensions

Gaza: How long will the ceasefire last?

Hundreds of thousands gather to inaugurate Lopez Obrador

Sri Lanka protest

Australia - Big increase in votes for Socialist Party in Richmond

Dutch Socialist Party makes sensational election gains


Socialist Party review

Leon Trotsky's Transitional Programme


 

Home   |   The Socialist 29 November 2006   |   Join the Socialist Party

Subscribe   |   Donate  




Related links:

Lebanon:

triangleShimon Peres - a wolf in sheep's clothing

triangleInternational news in brief

triangleAriel Sharon: a brutal architect of monstrous crimes

trianglePeace activists murdered by reactionary Israeli army

Hezbollah:

triangleSyria: Is an end to the war in sight?

triangleSyria threatens sectarian middle east war

War:

triangleOctober 1917 reviews: 'More bright than any heaven'

triangleRussia, October 1917: When workers took power

triangleShocking insight into Isis

International

International

18/10/17

Hong Kong

Campaign against political repression in Hong Kong

11/10/17

Catalonia

Catalonia: Workers can finish what Puigdemont won't

4/10/17

Catalonia

Solidarity with Catalonia - the people have the right to decide

4/10/17

Catalonia

Eyewitness: Irish socialist MP participates in events

2/10/17

Catalonia

Exemplary resistance by the people of Catalonia

27/9/17

Germany

Germany: Election results in political earthquake

27/9/17

Catalonia

Strike against Madrid's 'state of emergency'!

27/9/17

Germany

German elections: rise of the far right and right-wing government will provoke resistance

27/9/17

France

French Labour reform protests

25/9/17

Catalonia

Catalonia: Student strike called

20/9/17

Myanmar

Brutal repression of Rohingya people sparks massive humanitarian crisis

20/9/17

Catalonia

Solidarity with Catalonia in the Spanish state

15/9/17

Germany

Berlin hospital strike

13/9/17

Korea

Korean peninsula: is nuclear war likely?

13/9/17

Students

Interview with leader of students' union in the Spanish state: "When we fight, we win!"

triangleMore International articles...


Join the Socialist Party
Subscribe to Socialist Party publications
Donate to the Socialist Party

triangle19 Oct Arriva North West bus drivers strike over pay

triangle18 Oct Russia, October 1917: When workers took power

triangle18 Oct Tories torn - bin them now

triangle18 Oct Royal Mail bosses block strike - back postal workers

triangle18 Oct Balloting members on the pay cap

triangle13 Oct The end of the Tories?

triangle11 Oct Nasty party imploding...drive out the Tories

More ...

triangle21 Oct Birmingham: NSSN Solidarity Forum

triangle23 Oct Chesterfield Socialist Party: The continuing struggle for abortion rights

triangle24 Oct Liverpool Socialist Party: The October Russian Revolution 100 years ago to the day

triangle25 Oct Salford Socialist Party: The October 1917 Russian revolution

More ...

Socialist Party Facebook page
Socialist Party on Twitter
Visit us on Youtube

Archive

Archives:

October 2017

September 2017

August 2017

July 2017

June 2017

May 2017

April 2017

March 2017

February 2017

January 2017

2016

2015

2014

2013

2012

2011

2010

2009

2008

2007

2006

2005

2004

2003

2002

2001

2000

1999

Legal

SP RSS feed RSS

Platform setting: = No platform choice

V2