In this research, we use the methodology of analyzing the history of a society to provide evidence for the validity of a cross-disciplinary social science theory about societies—a societal theory. The advantage of developing social science theory grounded in the history of a society is that such theory is generalizable to other societies, provided the principal factors are comparable in both societies. Here we analyze the history of Lebanon to provide empirical evidence for the validity of a theory of nation-building, which consists of two dichotomies: “top-down or bottom-up strategies” and “national-leadership or coalition-leadership”.
But as a background to understanding societal context in the history of Lebanon, we should first review the context of ideology in the Middle East during the twentieth century—and how this impacted the events in Lebanon. For example, Farid El-Khazen wrote: “In Lebanon, Beirut’s laissez-faire atmosphere rewarded success and did not penalize failure—while suffering setbacks it was always possible to claim victory. In the end, of course, Beirut’s unhealthy absorptive capacity was its own undoing. The city’s political degeneration was an early warning of what was likely to happen on the larger Arab scene. How Beirut came to be the headquarters of the PLO was the consequence of a number of developments and circumstances in the late 1960s and early 1970s. In the aftermath of the 1967 war an ideological vacuum opened the door to a radicalization of public opinion in the Arab world. Following the death of Nasser, Palestinian maximalism was taken up as the new unifying Arab cause. When Jordan cracked down on Palestinian guerrillas in 1970, the PLO gained even more sympathy from the masses and Arab rulers. Cast out of Jordan, the PLO desperately needed to secure an independent military base, Lebanon beckoned” (El-Khazen, 1986).
After independence at the end of the Second World War, the new Middle Eastern states (Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Iraq) all used the combined ideologies of “Arab Nationalism” and “Pan-Muslim” to justify their respective governments. “Destroying Israel” became the rallying cry for Arab Nationalism. The Arab League supported the PLO, using Palestinian refugees as a source of a militia to continue terrorist attacks on Israel. Because of the inability of the Lebanese government to defend its territory, three hundred thousand Palestinian refugees were transferred by the Arab League from Jordan into Lebanon. And in Lebanon, the PLO grew powerful enough to challenge the political and military authority of the Lebanese government. The PLO leadership attempted to establish its own state in Lebanon.
Then a devastating Lebanese civil war began in 1975, with Lebanese Army officers opposing a PLO “take over” of Lebanon (as earlier the PLO had tried to take over the Jordanian government). And the civil war lasted fifteen years until 1990. Farid El-Khazen wrote: “The Lebanese state’s inability to put down the Palestinian armed presence was due to its limited ability to exercise its authority. To have done so, taken action against the PLO, would have violated the spirit of plural communal coexistence, without which the confessional system of government could not have survived. If the Lebanese state had followed the model of other Arab police states, the PLO would have ceased to exist as an independent liberation movement once it was crushed in Jordan. Lebanon was unable to assert its prerogatives partly because it was constrained by factors which fell beyond its control (in particular, those arising from inter-Arab politics), and partly because of internal politics” (El-Khazen, 1986).
Now we briefly review the theory of political association which explains the ideological context of the Middle East at the time of Lebanon’s independence. In an earlier paper, we analyzed the political condition of the Middle East at the time of the fall of the Ottoman Empire (Betz, 2019). Therein, we formalized a theory of political association in a 3-dimensional taxonomy. This taxonomy was constructed with three pairs of political dichotomies: 1) “Kinship-Altruism-Association” & “Reciprocal-Trust-Altruism Association”, 2) “Decentralized-Power & Centralized-Power”, 3) “Idealism & Realism”. Figure 1 depicts this theoretical taxonomy of political association as existent in Palestine and other Arab states, before and after the middle of the twentieth century.
This formal theory has been useful in explaining the societal dynamics of the territory of Syria. In particular, it explained that the Realism (Power Analytics) existed in the Tribal/Religious domination of an Alawite group in Syria over other groups of Sunni Muslims, despite the Idealism (Ideology) of the Ba’athist governments for a united Syria. And in Lebanon, in addition to tribalism and religious groups in Lebanon, there also was the Arab Nationalism of the region.
“Arab Nationalism” and “Political Islam” began growing in the Middle East during the European colonial occupation in the time between the two World Wars of the twentieth century. During the two decades of the 1920s and 1930s in the Middle East, there were a number of revolts against British or French rule. There was the Iraqi revolt against the British in 1920, a Druze in Syria against French rule, and revolts in Egypt against British rule. In 1936, Palestinians revolted against the British rule. Two-to-five thousand Arabs were killed in battle with British police.
Youssef M. Choueiri wrote: “The Arab-Israeli conflict had its origins in the rise of the Zionist movement towards the end of the nineteenth century and its claim to resettle the dispersed Jews of the world in Palestine. This claim was to be made less abstract with the announcement of the Balfour Declaration by the British government in 1917. Thus, the Declaration committed Britain to the establishment of a ‘National Home’ for the Jews in Palestine, thereby sowing the seeds of the conflict which was to plague the Middle East for the rest of the century and beyond… By pledging to support self-determination for the Palestinian Arabs and the creation of ‘a National Home’ for the Jews, the British ended up
Figure 1. Theory of political association in Palestine mid twentieth century.
by alienating both communities. Their mandate was consequently abandoned in a unilateral decision, leaving Palestinians and Jews to settle their differences on the battlefield…” (Choueiri, 2002).
The ideology of a Zionism movement began in England in the late 1800s, as an idea for European Jews to return to Israel. This was a reaction to the anti-Semitism in Europe, such as the savage anti-Jewish pogroms in the Russian Empire in 1881-1884. Then in 1897, a first Zionist Congress was held and proclaimed: “Zionism seeks to establish a home for the Jewish people in Palestine secured under public law”. This ambition was endorsed by the British government in 1917 as the Balfour Declaration.
Back in 63 BCE, the Roman Empire had taken control of Syria and assisted in installing a Herodian dynasty in a vassal Judean state. After Herod, Judea became a Roman province, but Jewish revolts against Rome occurred in 66 and 135 CE. These revolts resulted in exiling the Jewish population from Jerusalem. After 634 CE, the Jerusalem area became a Muslim province in the Arab empires. Next in 1516 CE, the region became a province of the Ottoman Empire, until the Ottoman defeat in the First World war.
The Palestinian people thus were descendants of people living through the Arab and Ottoman periods. They had not constituted a state or nation in the Ottoman time and became only a’ Mandate’ of Great Britain in the decades between the First and Second World Wars. Beverley Milton-Edwards wrote: “Between 1918 and 1922, the French and British took protectorates and mandates and held them as colonies. The indigenous populations of the Middle East struggled to assert their national rights, their identity and desire for independence. All of them—Arabs, Kurds, and Armenians—failed, as the Europeans met behind closed doors in Paris and San Remo to decide the fate of the region. The end product, the new middle East, was almost unrecognizable from the old empire where rule was Muslim and land had not been occupied and settled by strangers from Europe… Under the Ottoman Empire, the Arabs had co-existed with their ethnic and religious neighbors without boldly demarcated borders. Under the new order, entirely new political entities were created” (Milton-Edwards, 2018).
About the Arab population, Youssef M. Choueiri wrote: “The Arabs of the Ottoman Empire, represented by a wide spectrum of notables, landowners, merchants, lawyers, army officers, journalists and teachers, were at first committed to the integrity of the Ottoman state, provided certain vital demands were heeded and met. These ranged from assigning Arabic official recognition to the allocation of a fair proportion of governmental and civil service posts, to setting up a decentralized political system which by 1913 came to mean a Turko-Arab partnership. Whatever the particular circumstances which served to accelerate such a trend, it was becoming increasingly obvious that the Arab educated elite, along with their local constituencies, had developed a sense of national identity that could no longer be ignored. The reluctance of Turkish officials to offer the minimum concessions which were likely to satisfy at least a substantial section of the Arabs began to erode this ideal of partnership” (Choueiri, 2002).
2. Historical Case: The Failed State of Lebanon in 2020
Now we will look at the history of Lebanon, one of the neighboring countries impacted by the Arab-Israeli conflict and by the Syrian civil war. The impact of the Syrian civil war in 2011-2020 went beyond the large influx of Syrian refugees into Lebanon. Syria had long been involved in Lebanese politics, back into Lebanon’s civil war in 1975-1990. We will see how Lebanon became another failed state in the Middle East—partly due its connections to Syria and Iran and partly due to invasions by the Palestinian PLO and by Israel.
Direct empirical evidence that Lebanon was a “failed state” occurred in 2020 when a catastrophic explosion in Beirut’s port tragically highlighted by the inability of the Lebanon’s government to provide basic services. On August 4, 2020, an enormous explosion occurred in a building on the port waterfront of Beirut. The explosion killed 250 people and wounded at least 5000.
The explosion occurred from the igniting of 2750 tons of ammonium nitrate, stored in Hangar 12 of the port. Six years earlier the ammonium nitrate (used in fertilizers) was seized and stored by port officials, from a Russian freighter bound for Libya which could not pay port fees to the Beirut port. For six years, the dangerous chemical was stored without protection nor removal. The explosion was only the most recent in a long history of disasters in Lebanon. Figure 2 shows pictures of the Beirut explosion on 4 April 2020.
David Gardner wrote: “Even before the explosion in Beirut this week, Lebanon was facing a massive economic crisis and the risk of becoming a failed state. Contributing to recurrent crises in Lebanon was a history of assassinations: of the Lebanese leader Rafik Hariri (the prime minister who reconstructed postwar Beirut) and Rene Mouawad (the president who was supposed to reunite Lebanon at the end of the civil war but was blown up by a huge car bomb in November 1989) and in 1982, the president-elect Bashir Gemayel (had a building brought down on him). Throughout the civil war, Saudis and Syrians, Iraqis and Libyans, Iranians and Israelis used Beirut as their address of choice to communicate
Figure 2. Beirut explosion (Source: New York Times, August 4, 2020).
by car bomb. Alarmed western powers led by the US and France blundered in, soon to be truck-bombed out: 241 US marines and 58 French paratroopers were blown up in 1983 near the airport in suicide attacks by Hezbollah, which also destroyed the American embassy on Beirut’s Corniche” (Gardner, 2020).
In analyzing the history of Lebanon, we will show that, due to assassinations and invasions and civil wars, Lebanon never not had the historic opportunity to develop a government for a unified nation. Instead, it became a secularly divided state, invaded by refugees who never were loyal to Lebanon but to Palestinian organizations and foreign states. It was the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) in 1974 which triggered the civil war with the Lebanese army. That long civil war only stopped in 1990 when Syrian security forces occupied the country, gaining control over the government of Lebanon.
Even later in 2000, after there was progress in rebuilding and uniting Lebanon, nation-building was all stopped again by an assassination, the truck-bombing of Rafik Hariri. David Gardner wrote: “When the guns of the civil war fell silent in 1990, most militias in the shape-shifting conflict between and within Christian, Sunni, Shia and Druze communities had their own makeshift ports. Then Beirut port was rebuilt, becoming the busiest in the east Mediterranean. The project embodied by Rafik Hariri, a Sunni leader backed by Europe and the Gulf, was to turn Beirut into the capital market and services entrepôt of the Middle East, with its city as regional playground and port as gateway to the Levant. That vision ignored the dark side of Lebanon—from huge wealth disparities to the endemic corruption and feudal pattern of the sectarian dynasties dominating its politics. It all but evaporated with Hariri’s death, almost certainly ordered by Syria and Iran. Syria had the Lebanese premier assassinated” (Gardner, 2020).
The Lebanese government then continued in a secular partitioned tradition; and next a Syrian civil war sent hundred-of-thousands of Syrian Sunni refugees into Lebanon. The financial condition of the Lebanese government collapsed. David Gardner wrote: “In August 2020, the country was collapsing from a compounded debt, budget, banking, currency and economic crisis. Lebanon is bankrupt. According to the finance ministry, its banking system has lent 70 percent of its assets to the government, either directly or through the Banque du Liban, the central bank. Lebanon defaulted on its foreign debt in March, for the first time. But total losses in the banking system including the central bank are reckoned by the government to be roughly two and a half times the size of an economy, shrinking too fast to measure. A third of Lebanese are jobless, and half live below the poverty line. The Lebanese lira has lost 80 percent of its value since the crisis erupted, with a revolt against the political elites last October. Hyperinflation is near. The middle class is sinking into poverty and the poor are being pushed into destitution” (Gardner, 2020).
By 2020, at the time of the accidental port explosion in Beirut, the Lebanese government had not evolved into an effective state—a unified nation, delivering needed services to Lebanese and unable to properly respond to the explosive catastrophe. David Gardner wrote: “In August 2020, the hollowing out of Lebanon’s institutions by sectarian leaders who treat the state as booty was almost complete. Hezbollah, bolstered militarily by Iran and its battlefield success in Syria’s civil war salvaging Bashar al-Assad’s regime from a mainly Sunni rebellion, has consolidated its power. In 2016 it installed Michel Aoun, leader of the largest Christian party, as president, and two years later, in alliance with the Aounists and rival Shia Amal movement, won a parliamentary majority ostensibly legitimizing what it had won by force. With its powerful bridgeheads in the security services, Hezbollah is a state above the state. Third, Lebanon is host to an estimated 1.5 m Syrian refugee, roughly one in four of the population. Fourth, as if that were not enough, the COVID-19 emergency, though on official figures less deadly for now than in most neighboring countries, has squeezed any remaining life out of the economy” (Gardner, 2020).
Even after the Berit port explosion in the fall of 2019, Lebanon continued still without an effective government—partly due to its form of government. It is this form, we will analyze in this research—as a “bottom-up form” of its government and without any effective “top-down national leadership”. In April 2021, David Gardner wrote: “In April, there was a rare session of Lebanese parliament—an almost toothless body that once went 11 years without passing a budget, but whose perquisites and privileges are such that MPs spend fortunes acquiring seats… It is, by now, no secret to anyone, that Lebanon is hurtling towards collapse. Already prostrated by a compound financial, fiscal, debt and banking crisis, the coronavirus pandemic and last August’s vast explosion in the port of Beirut have squeezed any remaining life out of the economy… Lebanon has been without a government since the cataclysmic port blast… Michel Aoun, ageing leader of the largest Christian party backed by Hezbollah… insists on an unwieldy cabinet of placemen rather than technocrats, in which they (placement) would have veto rights… (Governments as) superannuated warlords in suits, sectarian dynasts and billionaire oligarchs bear responsibility for the first two crises. They have also played a role in the other two crises, insofar as they habitually disdain to invest in public welfare or public goods—such as now overwhelmed state hospitals” (Gardner, 2020).
We shall see that a societal dynamics analysis of the history of Lebanon shows that its governmental form of as a “bottom-up coalition” has been insufficient to defend or properly serve Lebanese citizens. Most Lebanese governments have constituted a series of corrupt and ineffectual governments, unwilling or unable to serve whole national interests.
The methodological approach of this research is to use observations of a societal history to provide empirical evidence for grounding (verifying) social science theory. The importance of the formalization of social science theory into analytical forms of observation (modeling) is that it facilitates the use of societal history to “ground” (provide empirical evidence) for the validity of societal theory.
In this analysis of events in history, we use the technique of historians, by directly quoting historical sources (observers of a historical scene)—in order to directly show the historical evidence about events. All quotes from sources are put inside “parentheses” and provided with “references” to the source.
But to generalize theory from historical cases, methodology requires an analysis of the case in terms of a general analytical form One can analyze historical events (so as to provide the empirical basis for building societal theory) by using a methodological framework of a cross-disciplinary social science perceptual space.
In science, the analytical technique of a “perceptual space” has provided a common research framework for observation in the physical and life sciences (e.g., physics, chemistry, biology). These scientific disciplines all use the perceptual space of physical space and time. But a space-time perceptual space is not methodologically appropriate to the social sciences because the social sciences observe the functional (not the mechanistic) phenomena of social nature. Social sciences describe society in terms of structures and functions—structural functionalism (as this is called in the social science discipline of sociology).
Figure 3 displays how the “historical time” of a society can be described as a sequence of functional steady-state periods of the society (stasis periods) altered by a change event in the society, which transforms a stasis functionality.
(For example, the 2020 pandemic COVID-19 financial crisis was a change event in U.S. society, altering the institutional functional processes of the U.S. Federal Reserve Central Bank and the U.S. Treasury—changing the stasis of U.S. monetary and fiscal policies).
Next, to describe a change event in a society’s history (historical event), the social sciences need an analogy to the physical perceptual space—through a different kind of perceptual space—for observing functional phenomena.
Figure 3. Dynamics of societal time with change events altering structural stasis.
One can construct a general perceptual form from three basic dichotomies in the social sciences: individual-society, groups-processes, and reason-action.
We can graphically show these three basic dichotomies upon a three-dimensional societal space, as shown in Figure 4.
In any historical event, the event can be generally analyzed in these three factors and interactions between them. To conveniently describe the analysis of events in the social-science perceptual space, we will show the areas around the dimensional axes as a kind of event box in Figure 5.
In Figure 5, we show a three-dimensional space for perceiving historic events in a society as arrows in the space. Next one builds a box around the axis-arrows, in order to have surfaces for conveniently listing the factors (happenings) in the event. Since this box is three dimensional, opening up the box shows all surfaces in one view. This technique enables an analysis of a historical event in a society – in which to extract explanations in the event.
We will use the “box form” of the societal-event perceptual space to analyze the principal factors in the specific context of a historical event. In addition, the topological graph form of this 3-dimensional space allows description of the 15 connections between the 6 factors; and these 15 connections can display the different explanations possible in a change event. Now we apply this methodology to the analysis of the historical founding of Lebanon’s government.
4. Historical Case: Founding of Lebanon’s Government 1918-1945
To understand the societal formation of the Lebanese government, we can now review Lebanon’s history from 1918 to 1945, in terms of a series of change events, as shown in Figure 6.
Figure 4. Three basic dichotomies in the theory of social sciences.
Figure 5. Societal perceptual space event box with 15 topological explanations.
Figure 6. Timeline of Lebanon from ottoman province to independent state.
Up until the nineteenth century, both the territories of modern Lebanon and Syria had long been a province of the Ottoman Empire. Then when the twentieth century began, the Ottoman Empire’s defeat in the First World War resulted in France seizing Lebanon and Syria. The French government divided Lebanon and Syria, holding these as colonies from 1920 to 1943.
In 1941, the Vichy government in France allowed German force movements through Syria to Iraq to fight British forces; and in 1943, when the British Army seized Lebanon and Syria from the Vichy government, Britain allowed Charles de Gaulle to enter Lebanon. De Gaulle allowed the election of a new Lebanese government but still under the authority of the Free French Government. Elections were then held in Lebanon in November 1943, and a new Lebanese Government then abolished the French mandate.
Still in exile in Britain, de Gaulle had no power at that time to stop Lebanese independence. After the end of World War II in the summer of 1945, the United Nations was established in October; and Lebanon and Syria were ratified as founding members of the UN. Both Lebanon’s and Syria’s independences were established, with the last French troops withdrawing from Lebanon in December 1946.
During the French occupation, Lebanon had existed with many different religious groups. Sunni Muslims and Christians were in the coastal cities. Shia Muslims were in the south and the Beqaa Valley in the east. Druze and Maronite Christians populated the mountains. The French government encouraged a leading position in the Lebanese Parliament by Christians.
The Maronite Christians descended from tradition established by monks in the late 4th century, who followed a hermit named Maron. To avoid religious persecution by Roman authorities, the Christians following Maron’s teachings moved into the mountains of Lebanon. During the 7th century, Muslim Arabs conquered Syria, and many Lebanese converted from Christianity, becoming Muslims, either Sunni or Shia. In the 11th century, some Shia Islam Lebanese became followers of a Druze religion.
In September 1920 when France separated Lebanon from Syria, the French government provided the Maronites and Greek Orthodox Christians with a majority representation in Lebanon’s parliamentary government. In 1943, Lebanese leaders made a pact (later called the National Pact) describing different government offices for different groups. The President was always to be a Maronite Catholic, as well as the Commander of the Armed Forces. The Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces was always to be a Druze. The Prime Minister was always to be a Sunni Muslim. The Speaker of the Parliament was always to be a Shia Muslim. The Deputy Speaker of Parliament was always to be a Greek Orthodox Christian, as well as was the Deputy Prime Minister. We next analyze this historical event in a societal perceptual space, as shown in Figure 7.
INDIVIDUAL—Charles De Gaulle was the leader of the Free French exile group which Britain allowed into Syria and Lebanon in the second world war and encouraged Lebanon to form an elected government.
Figure 7. Perceptual space analysis of the founding of Lebanese government.
SOCIETY—In 1945, after two decades of French occupation, Lebanon became an independent state, recognized by the United Nations.
GROUPS—Culturally, the Lebanese were organized in religious groupings as Sunni Muslim, Shia Muslim, Druze, Maronite Catholic, and Greek Orthodox.
PROCESS—In independence, the Lebanese organized the structure of their government as a coalition of religious groups.
ACTION—In 1943, British Army turned over Turns French authority In Lebanon and Syria to a French group in exile (“Free French”). Their leader, Charles De Gaulle, permits the election of a government in Lebanon. Next the Lebanese Government declares independence, which is recognized by the United Nations in 1945. The Lebanese government structure is: President as a Maronite Catholic; Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces as a Druze; Speaker of the Parliament as a Sunni Muslim; Deputy Speaker of Parliament as a Shia Muslim; Deputy Prime Minister as a Greek Orthodox Christian.
REASON—The reasoning of the Lebanese groups was for state independence and for a government with equal representation from the religious groups in Lebanon.
As we review the rest of Lebanon’s history, we will see that this formation of Lebanon’s government (with positions reserved for the sectorial groups) will be insufficient to protect Lebanon—from foreign invasions and foreign control. This eventually resulted in a bitter and long civil war in Lebanon, destroying the country.
5. Methodology: Functional Models of Societal Forms and Stasis in Lebanese Society
The government “bottom-up” change event of “independence” provided the organization and function of Lebanon’s government from 1945 to 1970. We next analyze the stasis of Lebanese society during this period.
To model “stasis” we need to review the methodology of how to model the stasis of a society. How does a society work? A model is a depiction of a society works; and a structure-function model depicts a society as a system. To illustrate how such a structure-function societal model can be constructed, we review a societal model constructed from Max Weber’s sociological theory. Weber wrote that for any social interaction in a society, participants can hold four kinds of expectations about that interaction: 1) utility or identity and 2) reciprocity or authority.
By the dichotomy of utility or identity, Weber meant that in any societal interaction, each party to the interaction will anticipate either:
1) Utility in a relationship—as a useful value for a participant in the interaction (such as buying or selling goods); 2) Identity in the relationship—as an identification of one party with the other party as belonging to some same group and sharing the values of the group (such as belonging to the same family or same political party).
By the dichotomy of reciprocity or authority, Weber meant that in any societal interaction, each party will also anticipate as a basis for the interaction either:
1) Reciprocity in the relationship—as a mutual and equal advantage for each party in the relationship; 2) Authority in the relationship—as one of the parties in the relationship for making decisions about the relationship (such one being a judge and the other a plaintiff or one being a mayor of a city and the other a citizen.
We will use these dichotomies to construct a stasis model of a society as a system of structure-function subsystems. (The previous perceptual space modeled a “change event” in the history of a society).
As shown in Figure 8, a taxonomy of societal interactions can be constructed
Figure 8. Taxonomy of societal interactions.
in matrix form—with utility-identity sitting across the top of the matrix and reciprocity-authority down the side of the matrix.
In the history of U.S. schools of sociology, there was one, following upon Weber, called a structure-functional school—popularized by Talcott Parsons. He used the term “structural functionalist” in his social theory of action. By the term “social structure” Parsons indicated the patterns in the social arrangements of life, and by the term “functionalism” Parsons indicated the relevance of the social patterns (structure) to the participants in the society. Parsons formulated social theory in what he called “action theory” (Parsons, 1967). If one descriptively adds to the concept of structure, the concept of the functioning of the structure, one can describe both a social structure and its functional procedures (processes). The combination of social structures and their functions can be called a kind of system, a societal system.
And this taxonomy of societal functional systems can formally transformed into a “graph model” of societal stasis—by listing each classification (political, cultural, economic, or technological) as a set of stacked planes in a graphic space or as a rectangle of plans, as shown in Figure 9.
Now we will apply this methodological analysis of societal stasis to the historical case of the formation of Lebanon. In Figure 10, we show the stasis model of Lebanese society in 1946.
In this societal model of Lebanon at its beginning in independence, the arrows depict the cultural connections between the religious groups then in Lebanon and eligibility to occupy the different offices of the Lebanese government and military. The model depicts how at the time of independence of Lebanon in
Figure 9. Graphic model of the structure-functional systems of a modern society.
Figure 10. Lebanese political agreement about government by religious groups.
1946, Lebanon’s government (in its Political System), was constructed to fit the then Lebanese conditions of Kinship and Religion (in its Cultural System). This structural arrangement of the function of government in Lebanon divided among groups in Kinship & Religion) would have severe historical consequences down through all the times of Lebanon.
6. Literature Review on “Nation Building” and “National Leadership”
To appreciate how this historical structuring of the Lebanese government was to assist or hinder the transition in Lebanon from a state to a nation, we next review the political theory on “nation-building”. In Lebanon, nation building had begun in 1946, as the Lebanese culture constructed a functional system of government by means of a “bottom-up” approach—in which coalitions were assigned places in its government.
Francis Fukuyama has summarized political-economic theory as: firstly, a tension between different groups in government formation (tribes, states, nations, and militia) and secondly, a process of government occurring in different types (ideological dictatorship, democracy, rent-seeking state, authoritarian) (Fukuyama, 2014).
The concept of building a nation, over and above establishing a state, emerged in the history of Europe in the 18th - 19th centuries. The impact of the French Revolution and Napoleon’s seizure of government and subsequent military domination in Europe had impressed the European states with the concept of a “nation”. The European states recognized the urgent need for modernizing monarchical “states” into patriotic “nations”.
Michael Provence wrote: “… the central feature of the nineteenth century (in Europe) was a re-negotiation and codification of the contract between the state and its subjects or citizens” (Provence, 2017). This was the central principle in the conceptual transformation of the idea of the “state” into that of a “nation”: 1) that the population of a nation were all expected to become citizens and 2) their loyalty to the government was expected. But this expectation depended on the citizens” perceiving that the government was serving the people. Prior to the French Revolution, this idea was articulated by the French philosopher, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, as a “social contract” between the government and the governed.
In 1800, the military weakness of the European states’ mercenary armies had been demonstrated in their defeats by the patriotic-conscripted army of the French revolution, under Napoleon. Michael Provence wrote: “In studying Prussian conscription, Ute Frevert identified a series of common themes among the major states of post-Napoleonic Europe. All states recognized the need for standing armies and all reluctantly embraced mass conscription. The imperative to conscript soldiers forced monarchs and war ministers to slowly concede to changes in the relation between state and subject. Through the middle decades of the nineteenth century, state builders, as diverse as Napoleon, Muhammad Ali of Egypt, Friedrich Wilhelm III of Prussia, and Ottoman Sultan Mahmud II, confronted the limit of mercenary armies—made up of aristocratic and often uneducated officers and paid (but often unreliable) professional soldiers and press-ganged (and often absent) recruits” (Provence, 2017).
After the 18th century, the transformation of a “state” into a “nation” became one of the important political issues, which has now been called “nation building”.
About nation-building in the Middle East, John Hulman wrote: “Just before the start of the Iraq War, I was asked by the Council on Foreign Relations to serve on a task force aimed at advising the Bush administration on how to run Iraq after the fall of Saddam. It was soon after 9/11, and the neoconservative program of imposing democracy at the point of a gun was in full swing. Our mission was to devise a general blueprint for creating a stable country from scratch…This experience is what led me to bump squarely into the work of Lawrence of Arabia. One of the points made incessantly by all the great and the good assembled for the Iraqi task force at the meeting was that, if nation building was to have a chance of success, inserting Western liberal democratic values into failed states like Iraq from outside sources was an absolute prerequisite. The discussion focused on just how fast we could make this happen, avoiding any mention of Iraq’s unique history, politics, culture, ethnology, sociology, economic status, or religious orientation. What did these trifles matter compared with the Washington elite’s view of how the world really ought to work?” (Hulman, 2009).
John Hulman defined a “top-down” approach to nation building, with which he disagreed. Hulman wrote: “Eventually, despite knowing that it would only cost me, I rose to my feet and said my piece. Though I mangled the exact quotation, I was close enough: ‘Do not try to do too much with your own hands. Better the Arabs do it tolerably than you do it perfectly. It is their war, and you are to help them, not to win it for them”. To help them—not to dictate to them, manage them, bully them, ignore them, or lecture them—to help them help themselves. The quote was from T. E. Lawrence” (Hulman, 2009).
T.E. Lawrence writings had provided Hulman with lessons of what should be a “bottom-up” approach to nation-building. John Hulman wrote: “For all his brilliance as a soldier and a man of action, it is Lawrence’ role as a thinker ahead of his time that is most valuable for the world we live in. Lawrence’s forgotten philosophy, with an intellectual reach well beyond the immediate specifics and place of the Arab Revolt and the time of the Great War, points to a very different strategy of nation building from the top-down failures we see today… In terms of policy (and in opposition to the modern, top-down efforts of Paul Bremer in Iraq), Lawrence stressed that the Middle Eastern rulers must have their own army and police force as soon as proved practical, as a symbol to their people that there was indigenous control of the most basic of a state’s functions: to guarantee the sovereignty of their nation. Only by thrusting the demanding day-to-day realities of governing onto indigenous leaders with local legitimacy, could genuine progress in nation building take place” (Hulman, 2009).
John Hulman summarized the importance of a “bottom-up” approach to nation-building: “As I read the articles and learned more about Lawrence, it dawned on me that all the failed or partially failed attempts at nation building in the post-Cold War era—in Haiti, Somalia, Bosnia, Kosovo, Afghanistan, and Iraq—were intimately related. In every case, they were based on the same analytically flawed worldview (of top-down’ nation building’)… Tailoring a political system to fit the local unit of politics (bottom-up nation-building), rather than imposing a one-size-fits-all over a centralized government on others (top-down nation-building), is a major insight Lawrence has to teach the failed nation builders of today” (Hulman, 2009).
Not only Hulman but many other researchers have been concerned with the theory of “nation-building”. And the term of “nation-building” has evolved a growing academic literature—all with a common definition of constructing a “national identity using the power of the state”. For example, Andreas Wimmer wrote: “Why do some countries fall apart, often along their ethnic fault lines, while others have held together over decades and centuries, despite governing an equally diverse population? Why is it, in other words, that nation building succeeds in some places while it fails in others? What happens when political integration fails is dramatically demonstrated by the current tragedy in Syria” (Wimmer, 2018).
On the importance of the concept of “nation building”, in 2004, Francis Fukuyama wrote: “A lot now rides on our ability not just to win wars but to help create self-sustaining democratic political institutions and robust market-oriented economies, and not only in these two countries but throughout the Middle East. The fact is that the chief threats to us and to world order come today from weak, collapsed, or failed states. Weak or absent government institutions in developing countries form the thread linking terrorism, refugees, AIDS, and global poverty. Before 9/11 the United States felt it could safely ignore chaos in a far-off place like Afghanistan; but the intersection of religious terrorism and weapons of mass destruction has meant that formerly peripheral areas are now of central concern” (Fukuyama, 2004).
Many of the contemporary researchers have seen “top-down” nation-building by an occupying foreign force as political failures. For example, Keith Darden and Harris Mylonas wrote: “Contemporary occupying powers seeking to build states on foreign soil are faced with a fundamental dilemma: How can they transfer coercive and organizational capacity to the local population without such capabilities being used to undermine the occupiers’ efforts to establish stable governance of the territory? Current thinking holds that the best way to manage the transition is to do it quickly, either by recruiting indigenous army and police units as rapidly as possible or by co-opting pre-existing groups of fighters to make them serve the state. If the occupier can build roads, provide public services, and expand the army and the police, so the thinking currently goes, he will achieve the necessary ‘buy-in’ from the local population that will allow him to pack up his things and go home, leaving a stable new order in his stead. When it comes to putting guns in the hands of the indigenous population, sooner is better. The modern history of occupation and imperial rule provides more than a cautionary footnote to this current wisdom on how to pursue state-building efforts on foreign soil. We suggest that effective state-building requires effective nation-building. It rests on a successful effort to create social cohesion, loyalty and legitimacy of rule” (Darden and Mylonas, 2011).
Thus the theoretical issue about “nation-building” focuses upon whether or not a nation should be built from a state with an approach of: 1) “bottom-up” or 2) “top-down” or 3) both “bottom-up & top-down”.
Also closely related to the “top-down and “bottom-up” concepts in nation building is another theoretical dichotomy, that of “coalition-leadership” and “national leadership”.
In the sociological and managerial literatures on organizational leadership, there have been identified two perspectives on how leadership often formulates strategy: a top-down strategy (big-picture) and a bottom-up strategy (little-picture) (Betz, 2015). Here we adapt this theory of corporate leadership into government leadership: as a “top-down national leadership” and a “bottom-up coalition leadership”.
Figure 11 summarizes the differences in strategic thinking that each perspective facilitates in when political leadership thinks about government policies: top-down or bottom-up.
In strategic thinking by a political leader, 1) the leader can view the state, as a whole, from a top-down perspective or 2) the leader can view the state from the bottom-up perspective of the political faction to which the leader belongs.
In a representative democracy (a republic), this concept of “political factions” (as influencing government) has long been a part of political literature—particularly since the founding of the republic in the United States.
Figure 11. Leadership logic in strategic thinking for government policy formulation.
Historically, several of the founders of the U.S. republic addressed the dangers and challenges of political factions in a representative form of democracy. For example, Alexander Hamilton wrote: “By a faction, I understand a number of citizens, whether amounting to a majority or a minority of the whole, who are united and actuated by some common impulse of passion, or of interest, adverse to the rights of other citizens, or to the permanent and aggregate interests of the community” (Hamilton et al., 2014).
7. Timeline of Change Events in the Societal Dynamics of Lebanon: 1943-1990
Now the issue we must analyze is this. Why did the state of Lebanon fail to become a strong nation, even though it used a “bottom-up” approach to constructing its government? We review the empirical evidence in Lebanon’s history about the strengths or weaknesses of having tried to build Lebanon in a purely “bottom-up” approach.
Figure 12 displays the major historical events from the independence of Lebanon (1945) to its civil war (1975-1990). Societal change events in Lebanon occurred in 1945, 1956, 1967, and 1970. During all this time, societal stasis of Lebanon was a government structured in the partition of offices by religious groups (as specified in the Lebanon National Pact of 1943-1945).
Change Event: 1947-1948 State of Israel Is Established
As we have noted, at the time (1945-1946) of independence of Lebanon (and the other Middle Eastern states), there were the two kinds of ideologies of nationalism: Arab Nationalism and Israeli Nationalism. In November 1947, the United Nations voted to divide the Palestine into two states, Jewish and Arab/Muslim. In May 1948, the British government withdrew its troops from Palestine. Israel declared itself a state in May 1948. Palestine militias began
Figure 12. Change events and societal stasis in Lebanon’s government.
fighting with Jewish militias. Next the surrounding Arab/Muslim nations invaded Palestine to prevent the survival of the new state of Israel. Arab Nationalism and Pan-Muslim religious ideology were used by the leaders of Egypt, Jordan, Syria, to justify their invasions of Israel. With this ideology, the leaders of Egypt, Jordan, Syria used their opposition to Israel to legitimate their new governments.
In Israel, the Jewish militias were reorganized into an Israel Defense Force. The Egyptian army advanced along the coastal strip into Palestine territory and were stopped by the new Israel Defense Force (composed of Jewish settlers and immigrants from Europe who had survived the Nazi Holocaust). Israel Defense Forces also defeated the attacks of Jordanian forces from the east and Syrian forces from the north. In 1949, Israel signed separate armistices with Egypt, Jordan, and Syria. The state of Israel was thus established by defeating the invading armed forces of its Arab neighbors. The Kingdom of Jordan held the West Bank of former Palestine. Egypt had captured the Gaza Strip. And some Palestine refugees fled from the new territory of Israel into the West Bank and into Lebanon.
Change Event: 1956 The Suez Canal Is Nationalized by Egypt
In Egypt in 1952, a military coup led by Gamal Abdul Nassar overthrew the government of King Farouk. Nasser had been a low-ranking officer in the 1946 war of the Egyptian army invading Palestine. Nasser blamed the Egyptian government for that poor condition and poor performance of the Egyptian army. In 1954 and still angry at Israel, President Nassar sponsored raids into Israel by “fedayeen” (Palestinian militants). By doing this, Nasser’s goal was to win approval from Arab states for his attacks on Israel. But this also convinced the Israeli government that Egypt continued as an enemy to Israel.
In 1956, Nasser nationalized the Suez Canal Company; and Britain and France launched a joint invasion of the Suez Canal to seize the shipping lane connecting the Mediterranean to the Red Sea. Israel joined the coalition by invading the Sinai territory. But the political pressure by the United States, the Soviet Union and the United Nations persuaded the British, French, and Israeli forces to withdraw—leaving the Suez Canal and Sinai again in control of the Egyptian government. The Israeli invasion strengthened Nasser’s decision to go to war again with Israel in the future.
Change Event: 1967 Arab-Israeli War
In May 1967, Egyptian President Nasser closed shipping straits to Israeli vessels and mobilized Egyptian forces; and traditionally a sea blockade is an announcement of war. Nasser had built up his military force with Russian equipment and was still determined to repay Israel for its invasion into the Sinai. But on June 5, Israel countered by launching a preemptive airstrike against Egyptian Airfields. The Israeli air attack caught the Egyptian forces by surprise, and the entire Egyptian Air Force was destroyed on the ground.
The Israelis then launched a ground offensive into the Gaza Strip and Sinai, conquering these territories as the Egyptian army retreated. The Israeli Air Force next attacked Jordanian forces in the West Bank and Syrian forces on the Golan Heights. On June 8 three days later, Egypt and Jordan agreed to a ceasefire with Israel, and on June 9, Syria agreed to a ceasefire. Israel had seized the Gaza Strip and the Sinai Peninsula from Egypt, the West Bank from Jordan, and the Golan Heights from Syria.
Three hundred thousand Palestinians fled the West Bank into Jordan. Palestinian refugees in Jordan were then organized by the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) under the leadership of Yasser Arafat. The PLO ran the Palestinian camps, as an independent state within the Jordanian state. Accordingly, the PLO then came into conflict with the Jordanian government. PLO members tried two times to assassinate King Hussein, ruler of Jordan. Within the PLO, a Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) was its second largest group; and in September 1970, PFLP members hijacked four international airplanes, forcing three of the hijacked planes to land at a desert airstrip in Jordan. PFLP called the Jordanian airstrip its “Revolutionary Airport”.
This new act of violating Jordan sovereignty finally decided King Hussein to take action. He ordered the Jordanian Army to expel all the Palestinians from their camps in Jordan. On 17 September 1970, the Jordanian Army surrounded the cities containing the PLO and began shelling the camps. Syrian Army members entered Irbid in Jordan to assist the PLO but withdrew after an air attack by the Jordanian air force. Then pressure from other Arab countries encouraged King Hussein to stop the fighting on October 13, allowing the Palestine refugees to withdraw from Jordan and to go into Lebanon.
Afterwards, from 1970 to 1975, the PLO controlled the southern region of Lebanon. There were over 300,000 Palestinians in 16 camps. They were not under the jurisdiction of the Lebanese army but under the authority of the PLO. The PLO had established a “state within a state” in Lebanon and was using its militia to continue attacks on Israel from Lebanon.
Change Event: 1975-1990 Civil War in Lebanon
By 1975, the PLO dominated southern Lebanon, and Arafat had moved the PLO headquarters into Beirut, the capital of Lebanon. The PLO was using Lebanon as an operational base for raids on Israel and for high jacking international flights. The tensions between the Lebanese government, particularly the Maronites, and the PLO increased.
In 1975, fighting began between Maronite forces and the PLO. Pan-Arabist and Muslim groups then formed an alliance with the PLO. The principle religious groups were Maronite Christians, Shi’a Muslims, Sunni Muslims, and Druze. The principle military organizations were the Lebanese Army, PLO, and Syrian Army, and Israeli Army. Initially in the beginning of the civil war, there were Maronite Christians within a Lebanese front, led by Camille Chamoun, and there was a Lebanese Forces group led by Bashir Gemayel and allied with the PLO. Also there was a Lebanese National Movement, included Druze, led by Kamal Jumblatt.
In May 1976, Israel began supplying the Lebanese Forces, including the Maronite militias, with military arms (including tanks) and military advisers. June 1976, Syria began supporting the Maronite dominated government, bringing in 40,000 troops; but in October, Syria switched to supporting the PLO.
The events in the fighting between 1975 and 1990 were many. Tore Kjeilen summarized some of the significant the events of the Lebanese civil war:
“1975 April 13: The Phalange militia attacks Palestinians in East Beirut. This was the spark setting off fighting all over the country, which would in its first stage last for over a year. 1976 January: Intense fighting all over the country destroys the most important state institutions and public buildings. —April: The alliance of LNM and PLO has managed to take control of nearly 70% of Lebanon. —June: Syrian troops invade Lebanon and soon become the strongest party in the country, controlling many of the most important strategic positions. —September: Following a Libya brokered cease-fire, Elias Sarkis wins in a Syrian controlled presidential election. —November: A truce takes hold across the country, except in the south where PLO faces a Christian militia supported by Israel” (Kjeilen, 2001).
The fighting had began between the Christian Maronite (which dominated the Lebanese government) and the PLO (which had taken over southern Lebanon and also entered Beirut). Other Muslim groups in the National Liberation Party join the PLO and seized over two-thirds of Lebanon.
Syrian troops then entered Lebanon to prevent a PLO take-over. Farid El-Khazen wrote: “The notion of Lebanon’s privileged relations (‘alaqat mumayyaza’) with Syria was first established in the 1985 Syrian-sponsored tripartite agreement between the three main militias in wartime Lebanon (the Lebanese Forces, Amal, and the Progressive Socialist Party). But it was rejected by President Amin Gemayel, Samir Geagea, and other Christian leaders. The tripartite agreement collapsed; and with it so did Syria’s attempts to dominate the country. But then, four years later, a Ta’if reinstated the notion of privileged relations with Syria; and beginning in May 1991, the two countries signed a series of bilateral agreements which tied Lebanese affairs ever closer to Syria in the political, security, economic, cultural, and commercial arenas” (El-Khazen, 2000).
After the fighting involving the PLO in Lebanon had gone on from 1975 to 1982, the Israel Army invaded Lebanon. In a few days, the Israel Army seized Tyre and Syda in Lebanon and entered Beirut. The PLO forces were then surrounded in West Beirut. The United States urged Israel to allow the PLO to escape from Beirut, enabling the PLO leadership to evacuate into Tripoli in June 1982.
Tore Kjeilen continued the summary of events in the civil war focusing on the Israeli invasion:
1978 March 14: Israeli troops invade southern Lebanon, aiming at creating a buffer zone 10 km deep into Lebanese territory. But Israel found the land easy to occupy, and soon controlled the southern 10% of the country. — May: International pressure makes Israeli withdraw from occupied territory, and ends up with a buffer zone of between 4 and 12 km all along Lebanon’s southern border. 1979 May: Fighting between the Phalange and the National Liberal Party (of Chamoun) start. 1980 July: The Phalange suppresses the National Liberal Party. 1981 April: A cease-fire in southern Lebanon, brokered by the USA between Israel, Syria and PLO. 1982 June 6: Israel again invades Lebanon from its southern border, and its forces start advancing north. Within few days, they captured important southern cities of Tyre and Sayda, and entered Beirut. —September 14: President-elect Bashir Gemayel is killed in an explosion directed at the headquarters of the Phalange party. —September 15: Israeli troops move into Beirut. —September 16: The Phalangists get help from Israeli troops to close off the Sabra and Shatila districts of Beirut, and then start a massacre of the Palestinian inhabitants of the area. In 3 days, about 2000 children, men and women are killed. —September 20: A Western Multi-National Force is started to be deployed in Beirut, consisting of US, British, French and Italian troops. —September 29: The Israeli troops leave Beirut” (Kjeilen, 2001).
In 1982, Israel had invaded Lebanon and expelled the PLO. But next, Iran then established control over Hezbollah, among the Shiites in southern Lebanon. In 1985, Syria took control over the security apparatus in Lebanon
The PLO was gone from Lebanon; but Iran funded the Shite Hezbollah in Lebanon; and Syria controlled security in Lebanon. Lebanon was still not a strong homogenous nation, but only a heterogenous state: – composed of a confederation of religious groups; – with a government under the influence of a foreign power, Syria; – and a “state-within-a-state” of the Hezbollah, funded by another foreign power, Iran.
Hezbollah, named as the “party of God”, was an organization of Islamic Shiite groups in Lebanon, dedicated to opposing Israel. When the Israeli army had occupied a strip of southern Lebanon in 1982, the Hezbollah was begun by some Shia clerics. Iran financed the organization and sent Revolutionary Guards to train a Hezbollah militia. Syria supported the movement. Hezbollah became a major force in Lebanon’s politics. It provided social services to Shiites and operated a satellite television channel and broadcast station.
In 2005, Matthew Levitt wrote: “Iran is believed to fund Hezbollah to the tune of at least $100 million per year. Recently, Western diplomats and analysts in Lebanon estimated Hezbollah receives closer to $200 million a year from Iran… Some of this financial support comes in the form of cash funds, while much is believed to come in the form of material goods such as weapons. Iranian cargo planes deliver sophisticated weaponry, from rockets to small arms, to Hezbollah in regular flights to Damascus from Tehran. These weapons are offloaded in Syria and trucked to Hezbollah camps in Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley” (Levitt, 2005).
In 2009, Natialia Antelava wrote: “Created in the 1980s with the financial backing of Iran and a goal of fighting Israel, today Hezbollah is probably the most powerful, best-funded militia in the Middle East… The US banned Hezbollah following a series of kidnappings, hijackings and bombings against the American and Jewish targets in the 1980s” (Antelava, 2009).
In Lebanon, the foreign government of Iran sponsored Hezbollah and the foreign government of Syria occupied northern Lebanon and influenced Lebanese politics. In 2005, William Harris wrote: “In 1976, Syrian troops moved into Lebanon, a year after the outbreak of the Lebanese civil war. The George H.W. Bush administration tacitly permitted Syria to “stabilize” its western neighbor by maintaining troops there regardless of redeployment commitments made in the 1989 Ta’if agreement. For years after, up to 30,000 Syrian soldiers remained in Lebanon although this number later declined as Damascus became more confident of its intelligence and security penetration of Lebanon. Lebanese sovereignty took a back seat to Syrian interests. Ghazi Kan’an, an Alawite and chief of Syrian military intelligence in Lebanon from 1982 to 2002, and his Sunni deputy and replacement, Rustum Ghazali, behaved like colonial high commissioners. The Syrian regime determined who filled the Lebanese government’s top positions, supervised its foreign policy, and manipulated its elections. Lebanese banks offered Syria vital access to outside financial networks while smuggling, protection rackets, and employment of Syrian workers in Lebanon threw an economic lifeline to Syria” (Harris, 2005).
Thus in 1989, the Taif Agreement marked the end of Lebanon’s civil war, yet kept Syrian occupation of Lebanon and Iranian control of Hezbollah. This agreement was formulated by the Arab League. In 1991, the Lebanese parliament passed an amnesty law, pardoning all prior political crimes. It also dissolved all militias, with the exception of Hezbollah militia.
8. Change Event: In 1992-2000, Rafik Hariri Emerges as a “Top-Down” National Leader for Lebanon
In 1992, a national leader really committed to all Lebanese citizens emerged to power, Rafik Hariri. Up until then, all the leaders in Lebanon had been parochially committed to parts of the Lebanese state (to political factions) as leaders of a religious group—as Maronites, Christians, Druze, Sunni Muslims, Shite Muslims, or Palestine immigrants. Each was principally committed to the common good of their group. But none really committed to the common good of all Lebanese.
Probably each believed that what was good for their faction was good for all Lebanon. This is the basis of political factions—thinking that what is good for their faction is good for the whole state. However, national leadership really committed to the good-of-all had been lacking in Lebanon. Lebanon’s “bottom-up nation-building” had not constructed a unified government in Lebanon—unified enough to have a military strong and dedicated enough to resist foreign domination.
Hence the civil war between factions had been triggered by a clash between the foreign Palestinian PLO and the Lebanese government. It was after the end of the Lebanese civil war that a real national leader emerged. Rafik Hariri was a Sunni Muslim but also and above all committed to be a Lebanese nationalist. He became prime minister three times. He was committed to having Syrian domination of Lebanon ended and to having the Iranian domination of Hezbollah ended. These two national commitments for real Lebanese independence triggered his assassination.
Rafik Hariri was born 1944 in Lebanon of Sunni Muslim faith. After his education, he went to Saudi Arabia in 1965. He went into business with a French construction firm and built a hotel in Ta’if in Saudi Arabia, gaining the approval of the King Khaled. Tim Edge wrote: “Above all, Rafik Hariri was the consummate self-made businessman. He was born to a family of poor farm workers in Lebanon’s southern city of Sidon. He worked his way through school, majoring in commerce at the Beirut Arab University. Like many other Lebanese workers, Hariri left the country to search for more opportunity. He ended up in Saudi Arabia and, over 20 years, came to dominate the Saudi construction industry. Lucrative construction deals with Saudi royalty rocketed Hariri into the ranks of the world’s richest men” (Edge, 2013).
In 1979, Hariri began funding philanthropic projects in Lebanon, which included building educational facilities in Lebanon. In 1989, Hariri moved back to Lebanon to assist in ending the civil war and played an important role in constructing the 1990 Taif Agreement that ended the civil war.
Next Hariri turned to rebuilding Lebanon. Tim Edge wrote: “Rafik Hariri had vast resources with which to help the people of his country, and he spared no expense in rebuilding Lebanon. He had donated $12 million dollars to victims of Israel’s 1982 invasion; and in 1989, he helped finance the Taif Accord out of his own pocket… As the largest shareholder in the Solidére construction company, Hariri used his resources to rebuild the devastated downtown area of Beirut. He gained a philanthropic and patriotic reputation as the man who single-handedly rebuilt Lebanon” (Edge, 2013).
Hariri established “Solidere” a construction company to reconstruct post-war Lebanon, focusing on redeveloping Beirut’s downtown as a renewed urban center. Solidere obtained property rights from previous owners of property in Beirut by issuing them shares in the company. Contracts were also awarded for rebuilding the energy, electricity, telecommunications, airports and roads in Lebanon. This brought in foreign investment and stimulated an economic recovery for Lebanon.
Hariri’s rebuilding of Beirut assisted him in entering Lebanese politics. Tim Edge wrote: “Since Hariri was one of the few leading men in Lebanon who had not commanded a militia during the civil war, he was seen as a clean politician with no blood on his hands. He was elected prime minister in 1992 and served until 1998. His administration initially had great success stabilizing the Lebanese currency and rebuilding Lebanon’s reputation as a financial capital of the Middle East. But in the process, the government accumulated a massive national debt; and Hariri was defeated in 1998 for that reason. And while the country continued to experience economic recession, still he was re-elected in 2000” (Edge, 2013).
Hariri’s economic policies had been remarkably successful during his first term in office. From 1992 to 1993, there was a 6 percent increase in real national income, the capital base of commercial banks effectively doubled, the budgetary earnings hovered at around a billion dollars, and commercial banks’ consolidated balance sheets increased about 25%. By 1998, however, real GDP growth was around 1%, and a year later it would be −1%. Then national debt skyrocketed from two to eighteen billion dollars. And Lebanon’s economy was in a poor state.
We recall that prior to Hariri’s government the original “governmental structure” consisted of factionally-divided positions, which encouraged politicians to view government policies from each factions’ bottom-up perspective. Government officials represented not all of Lebanon but principally the interests of their political factions—the interests of their cliental, their religious group. This meant that a Lebanese leader would 1) first consider the fortunes its religious group, 2) benchmark government policies as to the group’s benefit or cost, 3) identify policies of direct benefit to the group, 4) argue that these self-interested policies would really benefit the entire nation, and 5) support only group-interest policies. The leaders in Lebanese politics primarily looked out for their own groups, above the interests of all Lebanese. Also the immigration of exiled Palestinians aggravated the political problem of “factional politics” in Lebanon. Viewing Lebanon through the factional lens of the Palestinians, the leader of the PLO desired to overthrow the Lebanese government. He desired to seize control over Lebanon (as he had earlier tried to seize the Jordanian state). This triggered the civil war between the PLO and the Druze/Maronite leaders of the Lebanese Army. The leader of the PLO had been using Lebanese territory to launch military attacks against Israel. These attacks eventually triggered the invasion of Lebanon by the Israel Army—to expel the PLO from Lebanon. Also we recall that in the civil war, Syrian troops had intervened, and Syrian influence then continued in Lebanon. Syrian government supported some of the factional Lebanese leaders, who acted as puppets for Syrian influence and profiteering in Lebanon. In the Israeli occupation of southern Lebanon from 1982-1988, a new factional group began to fight against the occupation. This factional group was the Shite Hezbollah, which was assisted and funded by Iran. In the history of Lebanon, after the Sunni PLO “state-within-a-state” was attempted, next the Shite Hezbollah became a “state-within-a-state” in Lebanon.
This was stasis background of Lebanon’s government that Hariri was trying to change. In the policies of the coalition form of Lebanon’s government, each religious group historically had acted as a political faction, even if dominated by a foreign government. Each group had been guaranteed a governmental position for its faction. In Lebanese politics, all political factions attempted to gain power by representing their own self-interested policies as also beneficial for all the nation.
In contrast, Rafik Hariri was focused up viewing Lebanon from the top-down for a national unity and strength. In 1992, Hariri had begun by rebuilding Beirut for the good of the whole country. In 2000, Hariri wanted to remove Syria from control over Lebanon. He also wanted to demilitarize Hezbollah. Hariri was Sunni but regarded his loyalty first to Lebanon. He had the backing of Saudi Arabia (Sunni) but the enmity of Shite Syria and Hezbollah.
Farid El-Khazen wrote: “Until 2000, the political decision-making process in Beirut had remained very much in Syrian hands. Damascus influenced the adoption of problematic election laws and supported the prolongation of Elias Hrawi’s term and the 1998 election of General Emile Lahud to the presidency. The Syrian government also kept Lebanon’s foreign policy in line with Syria’s priorities and objectives” (El-Khazen, 2000).
In Figure 13, we show the “nationalist top-down” strategy of Rafik Hariri for Lebanon and, in contrast, the “bottom-up” coalition strategies of Hezbollah and Syria.
Even during the first time of Hariri’s office as Prime Minister, Syria had maintained control over much of Lebanese politics. Tim Edge wrote: “Throughout the time (of Hariri’s office), Syria was still heavily involved in Lebanese politics and continued to maintain troops in Lebanon, despite the Taif Agreement, which called for their withdrawal” (Edge, 2013).
Syria had kept armed forces in Lebanon and a Syrian security apparatus. Then in 2000, when Hariri was elected again as Prime Minister, Syria had a political puppet elected as President and as a rival to Hariri. But that was not sufficient to Syria to stop Hariri’s opposition to the Syrian occupation. Hariri’s strategy for the complete independence of Lebanon was then in conflict with the Syrian control over Lebanon (after its civil war).
Next in 2005, Hariri prepared to run again for Prime Minister – now firmly intending to have Syria withdraw from Lebanon and to have the Hezbollah militia disarmed.
Then he was assassinated. Tim Edge wrote: “On February 14th, 2005, a massive explosion rocked the Corniche—a popular seaside promenade in downtown Beirut, Lebanon—shaking surrounding buildings to their foundations. Restaurant windows shattered into a thousand shards of glass and rained down on unsuspecting diners as the force of the blast traveled down the wide boulevard just outside Beirut’s newly rebuilt town center. In its wake, it left nothing but chaos. Rubble and debris littered the street and fire began to consume damaged cars. In the center of the devastation, a huge column of black smoke billowed up from a wasteland of twisted metal. Flames hungrily devoured what had minutes before been a motorcade of armored cars and SUVs. The force of the explosion had tossed these vehicles, and their occupants, around like fallen leaves… Onlookers
Figure 13. Hariri’s top-down national strategy in conflict with Syrian and coalitions strategies.
rushed to combat the inferno that enveloped the street, but there was nothing to be done for the occupants of the armored Mercedes limousines that had suffered the full force of the explosion. The remains of these armored cars were strewn about an enormous bomb crater that was at least 15 feet deep” (Edge, 2013).
The target of the truck bomb was a caravan of armored cars carrying Rafik Hariri. Tim Edge wrote: “The motorcade, of course, was the target of the blast. The six Mercedes limousines that were burning fiercely in the graveyard of rubble had been the signature mode of transportation for the former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, as he traveled the streets of Lebanon’s capital city. On this particular day, former PM Hariri was traveling in his convoy back to his official residence, Koraytem Palace, with his security detail and another Member of Parliament, when the deadly explosion occurred. With a thousand kilograms of high explosive packed into a van, unknown killers assassinated Rafik Hariri, along with more than twenty other unfortunate people” (Edge, 2013).
Lebanese crowds were angry and blamed Syria. Eventually Syrian forces would be forced to withdraw from Lebanon. Tim Edge wrote: “Giant crowds gathered day after day in the streets to ask, “Who killed Rafik Hariri?” Within three months of Hariri’s death, the political structure in Lebanon had been utterly shaken up. The entire pro-Syrian government had resigned, to be replaced by an interim government until elections could be set up. For the first time in 29 years, Syrian troops had completely withdrawn from Lebanese soil. Young Lebanese had peacefully demonstrated in the streets and demanded government accountability and independence from foreign influence” (Edge, 2013).
Probably, the Syrian government planned the assassination. But this would be difficult to prove, although initially the United Nations pointed in that direction. Warren Hoge wrote: “The assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri of Lebanon was a carefully planned terrorist act organized by Syrian and Lebanese intelligence services, according to a United Nations report made public this evening. The report by the chief United Nations investigator, Detlev Mehlis, said, ‘The assassination of 14 February 2005 was carried out by a group with an extensive organization and considerable resources and capabilities.’ The report said, ‘There is converging evidence pointing at both Lebanese and Syrian involvement in this terrorist act.’ The report said that the crime had been planned ‘over many months’ and that the movements of Mr. Hariri and the convoy he traveled in had been closely monitored with his ‘itineraries recorded in detail.’ Mr. Hariri died when a bomb exploded his car on a downtown Beirut street. ‘Given the infiltration of Lebanese institutions and society by the Syrian and Lebanese intelligence services working in tandem, it would difficult to envisage a scenario whereby such a complex assassination plot could have been carried out without their knowledge, ’ the report concluded” (Hoge, 2005).
Hariri’s murder had united the Lebanese to oppose foreign influence. Neil Macdonald wrote: “Hariri, the builder, the billionaire tycoon who’d reclaimed Beirut’s architectural heritage from the shattered cityscape of a civil war and made it his mission to restore Lebanon’s mercantile leadership. Hariri, the nationalist who’d had the courage to stand against Syria, Lebanon’s longtime occupier; and in his day was the most important reformer in the Middle East. The massive detonation that killed him on Feb. 14, 2005 unleashed forces no one knew were there. All of Lebanon seemed to rise up in the murder’s aftermath, furiously pointing at the country’s Syrian overlords. Lebanon’s fury quickly accomplished what the assassinated leader had failed to achieve in his lifetime. The murder gave rise to the so-called ‘Cedar Revolution’, a rare Lebanese political consensus. Syria, cowed by the collective anger, withdrew its troops. At the UN, France and the U.S. pushed the Security Council into dispatching a special investigative commission. For a time, it actually seemed that Lebanon was moving toward the rule of law and true democracy. But, by the end of 2007, all that had ebbed. The killers remained uncaught. Syria was gradually reasserting its influence. And assassinations of other prominent Lebanese continued” (Macdonald, 2010).
One piece of evidence about Syrian involvement was later reported by Nicholas Blanford: “On 13 February 2005, the Sunday morning before the day when Hariri was to be assassinated on Monday, the Syrian General Rustom Ghazaleh (who was in charge of Syria’s control of Lebanon) called Rafik Hariri (who was challenging Syria’s control of Lebanese government). Sounding agitated, the Syrian general bluntly demanded a large sum of money to be delivered in cash to his headquarters in Anjar… It was not the first time that Ghazaleh had squeezed money from Hariri. Even though Hariri had decided to no longer deal with the Syrian Mukhabarat (Syrian security force), he gave in to Ghazaleh’s demand, saying the general would have to wait until the next day (Monday) because the banks were closed on Sundays. But Ghazaleh insisted on the money being delivered the same day. Hariri made the appropriate arrangement, and the money was delivered to Anjar by Abu Tarek, the head of Hariri’s security detail” (Blanford, 2006). The timing of particular demand suggests that Ghazaleh had fore-knowledge of the planned assassination for the next day.
A surveillance camera saw the van which delivered the bomb. Nicholas Blanford wrote: “Two weeks after the explosion, it emerged that a surveillance camera attached to the front of the HSB bank branch near the St George had caught the last moments of Hariri’s convoy… The time-lapse images give the footage a jumpy look as cars and truck race silently along the main road… At 12.56.17, the first vehicle in Hariri’s convoy enters the frame. The other cars follow… A second later, the camera catches a blurry shockwave and then a second of static. The blast knocked the camera from its mooring… It is chilling to watch, but the real significance of the tape is what it shows just two minutes before Hariri’s convoy came into view—at 12.54.00, a white Mitsubishi van inches onto the screen… The small van is fully laden, a grey sheet covering the contents in the back. It maintains a steady speed, hugging the right-hand side of the road next to the St George Hotel before it passes out of sight at 12.54.37—one minute, forty seconds before Hariri’s motorcade heaves into view. The actual explosion occurs just around the corner from the camera’s view. But investigators believe the truck carried the bomb…” (Blanford, 2006).
Public demonstrations forced the Syrian-sponsored Prime Minister of Lebanon to resign. Nicholas Blanford wrote: “The first demonstration was held on February 21, exactly one week after Hariri’s murder, when some 25,000 people ignored the government’s warning that such protests were ‘extremely dangerous’ and gathered near the St George Hotel… In the days that followed, the budding independence intifada hardened… On February 26, thousands of people formed a human chain linking the St George to Hariri’s tomb… Two days later, the opposition held the largest rally to date to coincide with a parliamentary debate on the Hariri murder. The parliamentary debate… was watched by the protestors live on giant television screens erected in Martyrs’ Square… (And it) was too much for Omar Karami (Lebanon’s Prime Minister). Without informing anyone of his decision, he rose and wearily announced the resignation of the government… A moment of stunned silence was broken by the cheers of the opposition MPs and a huge roar of delight form Martyrs’ Square” (Blanford, 2006).
Ironically, the Syrian government’s desire to be rid of Hariri resulted in international pressure for Syrian troops to finally leave Lebanon. Nicholas Blanford wrote: “The collapse of the government proved that the independence intifada had teeth, and it swiftly gained international attention… The (U.S.) Bush administration dubbed the uprising the ‘Cedar Revolution’… In early March, Syrian officials began touring leading Arab states looking for a diplomatic solution to the crisis. Bashar was given a frosty reception in Saudi Arabia where the royal family was still seething over Hariri’s killing… Crown Prince Abdullah asked Bashar why Syria had murdered Hariri, to which the Syrian president replied that if Syrian hands were responsible ‘it’s probably one of those intelligence pockets that we have’… Whether the Saudis believed that or not is unclear. But the ‘advice’ to Bashar was he should withdraw fully and immediately from Lebanon—that meant all troops and intelligence agents” (Blanford, 2006).
The Crown Prince Abdullah of Saudi Arabia had influence on Bashar al Assad of Syria. Blanford wrote: “On March 5, the day after this tense meeting with Abdullah, Bashar delivered a speech to the Syrian parliament which was broadcast live on television and watched by a Lebanese crowd in Martyr’s Square on giant TV screens… Bashar announced that we will withdraw our forces… As the deadline for the final phase of Syrian troop withdrawal neared, the last military positions in the Bekaa were dismantled and bulldozed. Tanks on the backs of lengthy transporters trundled along the highway cutting across the Bekaa towards the border” (Blanford, 2006).
Not all Lebanese had wanted Syria to withdraw from Lebanon. The political faction of the Shi’a Hezbollah wanted Syria to stay. In 2005, Jad Mouawad wrote: “Shouting anti-American and anti-Israeli slogans, hundreds of thousands of Lebanese poured into central Beirut today in a show of strength by the militant Muslim Shiite party Hezbollah, which opposes the withdrawal of Syrian forces from Lebanon… “Today, you decide the future of your nation and your country; today you answer the world, the Hezbollah leader, Sheik Hassan Nasrallah, said in a rare and surprise appearance. Banners held aloft read: ‘No to American-Zionist intervention. Yes to Lebanese-Syrian brotherhood’… Hezbollah, which the U.S. State Department classifies as a terrorist group, is now Lebanon’s best organized political party and maintains a militia of some 20,000 men” (Mouawad, 2005).
Syrian involvement in the assassination was suspected in 2005, but not proved until later. Neil Macdonald wrote: “It wasn’t until late 2007 that the awkwardly titled UN International Independent Investigation Commission actually got around to some serious investigating. By then, nearly three years had passed since the spectacular public murder of Lebanon’s former prime minister Rafik Hariri” (Macdonald, 2010).
Actually, a break in the case had occurred earlier when a Lebanese policeman traced some cellular phone calls made just before the bombing. In 2010, Neil Macdonald wrote: “CBC News has learned that evidence gathered by Lebanese police and, much later, the UN, points overwhelmingly to the fact that the assassins were from Hezbollah, the militant Party of God that is largely sponsored by Syria and Iran” (Macdonald, 2010).
A pattern of cell phone usage pointed responsibility for the assassination directly at Hezbollah. Neil Macdonald wrote: “CBC News has obtained cellphone and other telecommunications evidence that is at the core of the case. UN investigators came to believe their inquiry was penetrated early by Hezbollah and that that the commission’s lax security likely led to the murder of a young, dedicated Lebanese policeman who had largely cracked the case on his own and was co-operating with the international inquiry. UN commission insiders also suspected Hariri’s own chief of protocol at the time, a man who now heads Lebanon’s intelligence service, of colluding with Hezbollah. But those suspicions, laid out in an extensive internal memo, were not pursued, basically for diplomatic reasons” (Macdonald, 2010).
Unfortunately, the UN inquiry had been irresponsible about finding who killed Hariri. Neil Macdonald wrote: “In its first months, the UN inquiry had actually appeared promising. The first commissioner, a German judge named Detlev Mehlis, quickly delivered a blistering report suggesting Syria had ordered, if not actually carried out the hit. Unspecified agents, Mehlis contended, had done the deed. But Mehlis’s successor, a Belgian prosecutor named Serge Brammertz, seemed to be more interested in avoiding controversy than in pursuing any sort of serious investigation, at least according to people who worked for him. Under his leadership, the commission spent most of its time chasing what turned out to be false leads and disproving wild conspiracy theories” (Macdonald, 2010).
But not all the investigators had been incompetent and fearful. Neil Macdonald wrote: “That isn’t to say the commission didn’t have some good investigators. It did. In fact, it had a handful of the best that Western police agencies had to offer. But Brammertz could not be persuaded to authorize the one technique that those investigators wanted above all to deploy: telecommunications analysis (probably the single most important intelligence-gathering tool in modern times). Telecommunications analysts use powerful computers and highly sophisticated software to sift through millions of phone calls, seeking patterns, referencing and cross-referencing, identifying networks and associations… Unbelievably, though, the UN commission in Lebanon did no telecom analysis at all for most of its first three years of existence. It wasn’t until Brammertz was nearing the end of his term that one particularly dogged detective prodded him into letting the inquiry start examining phone records” (Macdonald, 2010).
Then, finally, when the UN investigation did examine phone records, they could break the case. Neil Macdonald wrote: “At that point, in October of 2007, things began moving fast. Commission staff actually managed to obtain the records of every single phone call made in Lebanon the year of Hariri’s murder—a stunning amount of data—and brought in a British firm called FTS to carry out the specialized analysis. Following the networks, investigators created a chart that showed the ever expanding connections between the suspected hit team and other cellphone carriers. UN clerks worked day and night inputting data into a program called IBase. Then, in December, a specialist from FTS began examining what the computer was spitting out. Within two days, he called the UN investigators together. He had identified a small network of mobile phones, eight in all, that had been shadowing Hariri in the weeks prior to his death. It was the single biggest ‘breakthrough’ the commission had accomplished since its formation” (Macdonald, 2010).
The phone records clearly showed the communications of a “hit squad” planning to murder Hariri. Neil Macdonald wrote: “What the British analyst showed them was nothing less than the hit squad that had carried out the murder, or at least the phones they’d been carrying at the time. For the first time, commission investigators were staring at their quarry. The trouble was, the traces were now nearly three years old…” (Macdonald, 2010).
Then they also discovered that the case earlier had been solved by a Lebanese policeman, Captain Eid. Neil Macdonald wrote: “When the investigators began their due diligence, double-checking their work, there was another revelation—this one even more earth-shattering. Someone digging though the commission’s records turned up a report from a mid-ranking Lebanese policeman that had been sent over to the UN offices nearly a year and a half earlier, in the first months of 2006” (Macdonald, 2010).
Back in 2006, Captain Eid had traced the phones which the hit squad had used. Neil Macdonald wrote: “From Lebanon’s phone companies, he obtained the call records of all the cellphones that had registered with the cell towers in the immediate vicinity of the Hotel St. George, where the massive blast had torn a deep crater. Once Eid had those records, he began thinning out the hundreds of phones in the area that morning, subtracting those held by each of the 22 dead, then those in Hariri’s entourage, then those of people nearby who had been interviewed and had alibis. Soon enough, he had found the ‘red phones’ the hit team had used. But he didn’t stop there. Exhaustively tracking which towers the red phones had ‘shaken hands with’ in the days before the assassination, and comparing those records to Hariri’s schedule, he discovered that this network had been shadowing the former PM. The red-phone carriers were clearly a disciplined group. They communicated with one another and almost never with an outside phone. And directly after the assassination, the red network went dead forever” (Macdonald, 2010).
Moreover, Captain Eid had traced one of the phones to an operative in Hezbollah. Neil Macdonald wrote: “Also what Capt. Eid had discovered was that everyone on the hit team had carried a second phone, and that the team members had used their second phones to communicate with a much larger support network that had been in existence for at least a year. Eventually, the UN would label that group the ‘blue’ network… The big break came when the blue network was closed down and the phones were collected by a minor electronics specialist who worked for Hezbollah, Abd al Majid al Ghamloush… Given the job of collecting and disposing of the blue phones, Ghamloush noticed some still had time remaining on them and used one to call his girlfriend, Sawan—which identified him to Capt. Eid. He might as well have written his name on a whiteboard and held it up outside ISF headquarters. Ghamloush’s stupidity eventually led Eid to a pair of brothers named Hussein and Mouin Khreis, both Hezbollah operatives. One of them had actually been at the site of the blast” (Macdonald, 2010).
Two Hezbollah operatives were identified who had used the cell phones of the assassination hit team. Also Capt. Eid identified that both cell phone networks, red & blue used by the hit team, were connected to the telecom network owned by Hezbollah. Neil Macdonald wrote: “Eid’s work would also lead to another discovery: Everything connected, however elliptically, to land lines inside Hezbollah’s Great Prophet Hospital in South Beirut, a sector of the city entirely controlled by the Party of God. And it has long been said that the fundamentalist fighters operated a command centre in the hospital. Eventually, telecom sleuths would identify another network of four so-called “pink phones” that had been communicating both with the hospital and, indirectly, with the other networks. These phones turned out to be tremendously important. It turned out they had been issued by the Lebanese government itself and when the ministry of communications was queried about who they had been issued to, the answer came back in the form of a bland government record. CBC has obtained a copy of this record provided to the commission. On it, someone has highlighted four entries in a long column of six-digit numbers. Beside the highlighted numbers, in Arabic, was the word ‘Hezbollah’. Hezbollah has several seats in the Lebanese legislature and at the time had been part of a governing coalition, hence the government-issued phones” (Macdonald, 2010).
But the competent Lebanese policeman Eid and his immediate superior, Shehadh, were not protected by the Lebanese government.
Neil Macdonald wrote: “Finally, Eid was handed a clue from the best source possible. He was contacted by Hezbollah itself and told that some of the phones he was chasing were being used by Hezbollah agents conducting a counter-espionage operation against Israel’s Mossad spy agency and that he needed to back off. The warning could not have been more clear” (Macdonald, 2010). And Hezbollah was not kidding about the warning. Neil Macdonald added: “As though to underscore it, Eid’s boss, Lt.-Col. Shehadeh, was targeted by bombers in September 2006. The blast killed four of his bodyguards and nearly killed Shehadeh, who was sent to Quebec for medical treatment and resettlement” (Macdonald, 2010).
Yet Shehadh and Eid had done their police duty and sent their report to the UN. But the UN investigation team buried the report. Neil Macdonald wrote: “At that time, Capt. Eid had sent his report to the UN inquiry and moved on to another operation. The Eid report was entered into the UN’s database by someone who either didn’t understand it or didn’t care enough to bring it forward. It disappeared (until two years later the UN investigators finally met with Eid on January 17, 2008)” (Macdonald, 2010).
But Hezbollah was not done with Eid. Neil Macdonald wrote: “Then on Jan. 25, 2008, eight days after Eid’s meeting with the UN investigators, Capt. Wissam Eid met precisely the same fate as Hariri. The bomb that ripped apart his four-wheel-drive vehicle also killed his bodyguard and three innocent bystanders” (Macdonald, 2010).
Finally in 2020, fifteen years after the assassination, the United Nations Special Tribunal for Lebanon convicted one low-level Hezbollah members of the murder. Simons and Hubbard (2020) wrote: “The case went to trial in a country far from the crime scene with none of the accused in custody. It cost hundreds of millions of dollars to prosecute and employed armies of investigators, researchers and lawyers. But when the verdict on the most consequential political assassination in Lebanon’s recent history arrived on Tuesday, it left the country without a sense of closure and failed to answer even the most basic question: Who ordered the killing?” (Simons & Hubbard, 2020).
Figure 14 shows how to analyze the historical event of Hariri’s leadership in Lebanon in a societal perceptual space. The importance of using a societal observational space to analyze a historical event is that it allows the identification of important factors in any societal event.
ACTION—The action in the change event was the assignation of Rafik Hariri, who was running again to be the Prime minister of Lebanon.
REASON—The reasoning behind the assassination was Syria’s opposition to Hariri’s intention to end Syrian occupation of Lebanon. Other reasoning behind the assassination by the Hezbollah was about Hariri’s intention to disarm the Hezbollah militia.
INDIVIDUALS—Individuals involved in the event of the assassination of Rafik Hariri and leaders of the Syrian government and leaders of Hezbollah.
SOCIETY—The society involved was the state of Lebanon.
GROUPS—Groups involved in the assassination event were Syrian security forces in Lebanon and Hezbollah militia in Lebanon.
Figure 14. Analysis of change event of the assassination of Rafik Hariri.
PROCESS—The process was a truck loaded with explosives which was ignited, just as Hariri’s motorcade passed by the truck.
Modeled in this three-dimensional social science observational-space is the analysis of the historical event which facilitates the identification of fifteen kinds of explanations in that societal event. In the historical events in Lebanon during Rafik Hariri’s service as (7) Prime Minister, Hariri implemented a (6) Strategy of rebuilding Lebanon. Hariri’s (4) Ideas were for a nationalism for all Lebanese; and his (5) Policy was to expel Syria’s occupation of Lebanon. The Groups involved in influencing Lebanon’s governance were Syria and Hezbollah; and the Process, these groups struggled with the government of Lebanon was for control of the state of Lebanon.
The Action ending the event of three of Hariri’s terms as Prime Minister, aiming for a fourth term, was his assassination. The (13) Operations in the event were probably carried out by Hezbollah, using the (12) Technology of a truck bomb, under the (14) Ideology of Shiite versus Sunni Muslims. The (15) Lebanese governmental System under Hariri had continued to be a coalition among Lebanese groups but kept under the (3) Institutionalization of Syrian occupation. There were no (2) Principles involved in the Action but only raw struggles for power.
The (11) Infrastructure which participated in the governance of Lebanon were the militia of the different groups in Lebanon. And military (8) knowledge dominated the politics of Lebanon. The governmental (9) Regulation of the cell phone industry allowed the Hezbollah to operate their own communication system. For the Society of Lebanon, the (10) Performance of the Action of Assassination backfired on the Syrian government, as the Lebanese people then revolted and forced Syrian occupation of Lebanon to end.
Summarizing the official investigation, Macdonald wrote: “Detlev Mehlis, the first UN commissioner, told CBC News recently that it has always been obvious Syria ordered the Hariri hit. That it would use Hezbollah, its long-time proxy, he says, is only logical. The elder Hariri, Mehlis noted, had pushed not just for a Syrian withdrawal but also for the disarming of Hezbollah’s feared militia. Scott Carpenter, a former Bush administration official dispatched by the White House to Lebanon in the wake of Hariri’s death, also says the reality is obvious. But, he adds: “Is Hezbollah going to get away with it? Yes. Fewer travesties will be greater, but I don’t see where the international will is to take this on, and I certainly don’t see, absent that international will, how the Lebanese people can take it on” (Macdonald, 2010).
Thus the world may never know officially who ordered the killing of Rafik Hariri. Figure 15 shows a picture in 2005 of the close relations between the Hezbollah leader in Lebanon and the head of the Syrian intelligence service in Lebanon—two months after Hariri’s murder.
Rustom Ghazali, head of Syrian intelligence service in Lebanon is in the picture. And we recall that Nicholas Blanford had reported on the sudden demand on Hariri for money by the Syrian General Ghazalen the day before the assassination: “On 13 February 2005, the Sunday morning before the day when Hariri was to be assassinated on Monday, the Syrian General Rustom Ghazaleh (who was in charge of Syria’s control of Lebanon) called Rafik Hariri (who was challenging Syria’s control of Lebanese government). Sounding agitated, the Syrian general bluntly demanded a large sum of money to be delivered in cash to his headquarters in Anjar… Hariri made the appropriate arrangement and the money was delivered…” (Blanford, 2006).
Figure 15. Hezbollah leader and Syrian general Rustom Ghazali together in 2005 (Source: https://www.cbc.ca/news).
In December 2020, the United Nations Tribunal issued a verdict on one member of the Hezbollah militant group about Hariri’s murder. Ben Hubbard wrote: “A United Nations-backed tribunal in The Hague on Friday sentenced a member of the Hezbollah militant group to life in prison after convicting him in absentia of conspiring in the 2005 car-bomb attack that killed former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri of Lebanon. The defendant, Salim Ayyash, was convicted in August on five charges related to the attack, and on Friday the court sentenced him to a life sentence for each one, to be served concurrently. But the sentence was entirely symbolic because Mr. Ayyash, whose whereabouts remain unknown, was tried in absentia. That means that if he is apprehended, he will have to be tried all over again” (Hubbard, 2020a).
It was over fifteen years after the huge car bomb attack that had killed Mr. Hariri and 21 others near Beirut’s Mediterranean coastline on Feb. 14, 2005. And this sentence “in absentia” was the final act of a long and unsuccessful attempt to bring justice to the assassination of Rafik Hariri.
9. Timeline of Change Events in the Societal Dynamics of Lebanon: 2005-2020
After the civil war and after the reconstruction of Beirut and after the expulsion of Syrian occupation, hopefully the coalitions in Lebanon could have learned to live together. Perhaps everybody in Lebanon might have lived happily ever after. But no! Historically, that didn’t happen—because Lebanon continued to be impacted by the foreign influence, by the countries of Iran and Syria through their support and influence over Hezbollah.
Andrew Arson wrote: “The unresolved tensions (in Lebanon) would not play themselves out over the following years. Stubbornly clinging to their stances, Lebanon’ politicians continued to regard politics as a zero-sum game, shunning compromises… Perhaps inevitably, such tactics led to repeated outbreaks of violence, as Lebanon’s parties and blocs engaged in shows of force and confrontations with enemies both internal and external. The first of these would come early in July 2006” (Arson, 2018).
We recall that in 2005, after Hariri was assassinated, and the Cedar Revolution occurred demanding Syria’s withdrawal from Lebanon Syria withdrew its occupying forces and security network. Next in 2007, clashes between Lebanese government forces and Hezbollah began. Figure 16 summarizes key events in Lebanon from 2007-2019.
Change Event: Fatah al-Islam Insurgency 2007
A remaining Palestinian camp in Lebanon, Nahr al-Bared, had organized another Sunni Palestinian militia, Fatah al-Islam. In 2007, they robbed a Lebanese bank, and then the Lebanese Army invaded the camp. Killed in the battle were 287 militia, 47 civilians, and 169 Lebanese soldiers. The Palestinian camp then withdrew to the Ain al-Hilweh refugee camp near Sidon.
Change Event: Hezbollah Demands New Lebanese Government 2008
Figure 16. Historical events in Lebanon from 2007-2020.
After 2006-2008, Shia groups began demanding a new national government in which Hezbollah would have veto power. Next in Mary 2008, sparked by a government declaration that Hezbollah’s communications network was illegal, Hezbollah militia seized western Beirut. Fighting occurred between the Lebanese Army and Hezbollah militia, ending with an agreement for a new government with Hezbollah having one third representation and veto power.
Change Event: National Unity Government with Hezbollah collapses 2011
In January 2011, the national unity government collapsed due to growing tensions stemming from a special tribunal in Lebanon expected to indict Hezbollah members for the Hariri assassination. The Lebanese parliament elected Najib Mikati (the Hezbollah candidate) as prime minister. Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah insisted that Israel was responsible for the assassination of Hariri.
Change Event: Syrian Civil War Sends Refugees into Lebanon
In 2012, the Syrian civil war spilled over in Lebanon. Syrian refugees in Lebanon increased from around 250,000 in early 2013 to 1,000,000 in late 2014. In February 2016, the Lebanese government signed the Lebanon compact, granting a minimum of ?00 million of support for refugees and vulnerable Lebanese citizens. By October 2016, Lebanon had 1.5 million Syrians.
Change Event: Lebanese Financial Crisis in 2019-2020
In October 2019, a series of civil demonstrations began, first protesting about new planned taxes on gasoline, tobacco and phone calls. The demonstrations expanded to condemnation of government corruption. Lin Noueihed and Dana Khraiche wrote: “Thousands of protesters cut off roads and started fires around Lebanon as anger over plans to impose a levy on ‘WhatsApp calls’ escalated into demands for the government to resign. Demonstrators carrying Lebanese flags thronged outside government headquarters in downtown Beirut on Friday, as some of the largest protests in years entered a second day. Chants of ‘the people want the fall of the regime’ and ‘revolution’ rang out and scuffles erupted with riot police as the crowds demanded the politicians currently debating a proposed austerity budget step down and hold early elections” (Noueihed & Kraiche, 2019).
Next more problems arose in Lebanon: firstly from the large influx of Syrian refugees the Syrian civil war iand secondly from instability in Lebanon’s financial system. Lin Noueihed and Dana Khraiche wrote: “Persistent instability in Lebanon has shaken investor confidence and made it harder to revive an economy already struggling to absorb more than 1.5 million Syrian refugees who have fled the crisis in neighboring Syria. The yield on Lebanon’s dollar bonds due in 2021 jumped more than two percentage points to 20.38% as of 10:44 a.m. in London… Sporadic demonstrations have erupted for months in Lebanon as the economic crisis has led to shortages of dollars and threatened the pensions of retired soldiers. The government is under pressure to cut spending, raise taxes and fight corruption—conditions required by international donors to unlock some $11 billion in pledges made at a Paris conference in early 2018. But the measures are proving deeply unpopular with the public, which widely blames institutional corruption, nepotism and profiteering by politicians for bankrupting the government” (Noueihed & Khraiche, 2019).
A month long into the crisis, Lebanon’s banks began closing. Ben Hubbard wrote: “Banks across Lebanon have shut their doors this week to protect employees from angry customers demanding their dollars. So that anger has been redirected at the A.T.M.s outside, which are also refusing to give out dollars regardless of how much customers have in their accounts… After nearly a month of mass protests criticizing Lebanon’s political elite for corruption and mismanagement, the country’s long-term economic problems are increasingly colliding with the daily lives of its citizens. American dollars—long used in tandem with the Lebanese pound—have grown scarce because worries over the political turmoil have caused more people to try to withdraw their money. So employers have struggled to pay salaries, tenants to pay rent, and traders to pay for goods and services from abroad” (Hubbard, 2019).
With the periodic invasions by foreign governments and the “bottom-up” form of government, the governments of Lebanon had failed over the years to build a strong national economy. Ben Hubbard wrote: “Lebanon’s economic problems have been building for years. A nation of 5.4 million on the Mediterranean with a variety of religious sects and large groups of Syrian and Palestinian refugees, Lebanon has long suffered from internal conflict and spillover from the wars afflicting its neighbors. Its historically weak government has relied on increasing amounts of debt to pay its bills, while failing to carry out reforms that could have bolstered its economy or unlocked international aid. That has made it the third most indebted state in the world, and rampant corruption has further siphoned funds from state coffers” (Hubbard, 2020b).
In 2019, the economic problems triggered a financial collapse in Lebanon. Ben Hubbard added: “Clear signs of trouble surfaced late last year (2019), when Lebanese banks began limiting withdrawals and anti-government protests erupted across the country. The immediate breakdown was a nationwide shortage of dollars. Since Lebanon produces almost nothing for export, the country’s primary source of dollars has been large deposits from wealthy investors in the central bank, which were needed to maintain the link to the Lebanese pound. To keep those investments coming, the central bank offered ever-higher interest rates for large deposits, whose yields could be covered only by newer deposits at even higher rates. That strategy, which analysts have likened to a ‘state-sponsored Ponzi scheme’, ran out of gas last year when new depositors suspected the policy was unsustainable and stopped coming. Soon, the real dollars in the bank were far short of the theoretical dollars that had been earned in interest on previous deposits. That shortage has now hit individual Lebanese account holders, whose banks have either limited dollar withdrawals or stopped handing out dollars altogether” (Hubbard, 2020b).
Not only had the government of Lebanon failed to build a strong economic infrastructure, but the leaders had backed a national financial fraud, of the type called a “Ponzi Scheme”. Lina Mounzer wrote: “The Great Lebanese Ponzi Scheme—Lebanese banks have been promising, and paying out, exorbitant interest rates to big depositors from the interest earned on the money they have lent out to the state. The economy is effectively a giant Ponzi scheme. The setup, whereby individual enrichment is achieved through increased public debt, is unsustainable. In Lebanon’s service-based economy, which is heavily reliant on imports and where capital is not invested in improving economic productivity but only in providing a stable dollar peg for the Lebanese lira, it almost guarantees economic collapse” (Mounzer, 2019).
The “bottom-up” form of government without a complementary and effective “top-down” form of government had allowed massive sectarian corruption. Lina Mounzer added about Lebanese politics: “The Lebanese political order is based on the idea that power sharing and sectarian quotas for the country’s various religious and confessional groups is the only way to preserve civil peace, and that this formula should extend to everything: From the way public funds are allocated to how even entry-level jobs are awarded. This order ensures that responding to citizens’ needs takes a back seat—and every chieftain and his cronies gets their pockets lined. Unemployment is rampant. And Lebanon’s top 1 percent earn about 25 percent of the gross domestic product, making it one of the most unequal economies in the world” (Mounzer, 2019).
And as we have emphasized, the sectarian coalition government was never strong enough to ward off excessive foreign governments’ influence. So Lebanon’s problems continued to be complicated by its international context. Thomas L. Friedman wrote: “For years, Sunni and Shiite party bosses and militia leaders at the top have manipulated sectarian and tribal identities below to cement themselves in power and make themselves the brokers for who get jobs and contracts. But there’s been a stunning shift in the whole flow of politics in some of these countries. It’s gone from Sunnis versus Shiites across the board to Sunnis and Shiites at the bottom locking arms together against all their leaders at the top… These movements are authentic and inspiring, but their chances of taking power remain remote, largely because their biggest opponent—the Islamic republic of Iran—is ready to arrest and kill as many democracy demonstrators as needed to retain its grip on Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon, not to mention at home. Iran’s clerical regime has emerged as arguably the biggest enemy of pluralistic democracy in the region today. There are plenty of Arab dictators keeping their own people down, but Iran is doing it at home and in three other countries at once… Iran has used its Shiite Hezbollah militia in Lebanon and Syria and its Popular Mobilization Forces militia in Iraq to try to snuff out all their bottom-up secular democratic movements—while also crushing the biggest secular-democracy uprising in Iran itself in 40 years” (Friedman, 2019).
In addition, the Syrian civil war interrupted tourism in the Middle East. Vivian Lee wrote: “The country has floundered in the grip of simultaneous political and economic crises for nearly half a year, as the remittances from Lebanese working abroad, aid from Gulf countries and financial wizardry at Lebanon’s banks, which had kept the economy buoyant for years, began to collapse” (Lee, 2020).
Lebanon’s economy had been dependent upon tourism and imports. Karmah Chehaitly wrote: “Lebanon’s economy is highly dependent on the service sector, which comprised about 75% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2013. The rest of the GDP goes to the industry sector by about 20% and the agriculture sector by around 5%. Moreover, Lebanon is a net-importer country, thus providing another reason for the susceptibility of its economy towards circumstances in many other countries. Among the most imported commodities are petroleum products, food and consumer goods, tobacco, medicinal products, and clothing. Imports amounted to about $20.97 billion in 2013, divided between several countries, among them the US with 11.2%, Italy with 8.6% and China with 8.3%. As for exports, they accounted to about $5.826 billion in 2013, divided amongst South Africa (19.3%), Switzerland (12.2%), Saudi Arabia (8%) and a few other countries of the Middle East. The list of the most common exported goods includes jewelry, consumer goods, fruits and vegetables, base metals, and chemicals” (Chehaitly, 2015).
About the Syrian refugees into Lebanon from the Syrian civil war, Karmah Chehaitly added: “Being on the borders of and having close economic and political relations with Syria has rendered Lebanon more vulnerable to major events that occur in Syria. As a result, spillovers from the Syrian conflict since 2011 were starting to prevail in Lebanon around 2012. The conflicts in Syria drove many Syrians into Lebanon where they were permitted to enter and reside freely but temporarily. The greater inflow of Syrians into Lebanon led to a great increase in the consumption, labor supply, small-scale residential construction, and exports from Lebanon into Syria, thus causing a drop in the fiscal deficit. Nonetheless, the negative effects exhibited by a fall in foreign investments and tourism, and an increase in demand for government services, outweighed the positive effects, thus causing the economic situation in Lebanon to deteriorate. The net negative impact is reflected in the cut in the annual real GDP growth rate by 2.9 percentage points, the increase in the number of Lebanese living in poverty by around 170,000, and the decrease in government revenues by $1.5 billion coupled with an increase in expenditure by $1.1 billion” (Chehaitly, 2015).
10. Discussion: Lebanon Never Had a Chance
Now we can model the societal dynamics of the stasis of Lebanon’s government in nation-building as a bottom-up coalition. Figure 17 models the impact of the civil war in Lebanon, within the stasis model of Lebanon’s government—surrounded by a meta-space of foreign governments and refugees.
In this model, we can see that the Lebanese never had a chance—never had a chance to grow the coalition state into a unified nation. This was due to repeated interferences in Lebanon by external governments (Syria and Israel and Iran) and to the influxes of foreign refugees (Palestinians and Syrians). In the meta-model, the foreign influences are indicated by the Palestinians & PLO, by the Syrian Army, by the Israeli Army, and by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard.
The red arrows depict that the civil war that arose from these outside forces on Lebanon; and the blue arrows depict interventions in Lebanon by outside forces:
Figure 17. Stasis model of Lebanon in the times of civil war, enclosed in a meta-space of foreign governments and refugees.
Firstly, the Palestinians and their PLO establish a “state-within-a-state” in Lebanon, triggering a civil war with the Lebanese Army; Secondly, Syrian Army occupies the Bekka Valley to end the civil war in Lebanon; Thirdly, by the Israeli Army invades Lebanon to expel the PLO from Lebanon; Fourthly, the Iranian Revolutionary Guard trains and funds Shite Hezbollah militia to fight Israel—establishing in Lebanon, again, a “state-within-a-state”.
We have reviewed Lebanon’s history during these invasions, but now we summarize their impacts on Lebanon’s sovereignty.
In 1964, the Arab League (Egypt, Syria, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Iraq) recognized and began financially supporting the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and its military arm, the Palestine Liberation Army (PLA). Then a second Arab-Israeli war occurred in 1968, triggered by the Egypt’s sea blockade of Israel. A surprise attack by Israeli Air Force destroyed the Egyptian Air Force; and next the Israeli Army Israel seized the Sinai from Egypt. Then the Israeli Army seized the Golan Heights from Syria and the West Bank of Palestine from Jordan. Palestine refugees fled into Jordan (after Israel’s occupation of the West Bank). Then in Jordan in 1970, the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) attempted to take over the Jordanian government. But the Palestinians were expelled into Lebanon by the Jordan government’s army.
Kail Ellis wrote: “Syria, Israel, and the Palestinians had influenced Lebanon’s political system, and each continued to be inextricably involved in Lebanon’s internal affairs… The Arab-Israeli war of 1948 left Lebanon as host to an estimated 141,882 Palestinians… And twenty-five years later that number grew to as many as 400,000.” (Ellis, 1999)
Both the Israelis and the Arab League were responsible for the intrusion of Palestinian refugees into Jordan. And because of the second influx of Palestinians into Jordan and their rule by the PLO, the Lebanese government (divided between Christians and Sunni Muslims and Druze and Shia Muslims) never had a chance to evolve the Lebanese state into a patriotic unified nation—with an army strong enough to protect Lebanon from refugee invasions.
Kail Ellis wrote: “The Lebanese government had three pressing needs: 1) to find a way to disclaim responsibility for the Palestinians’ actions, in order to ward off Israeli retaliation; 2) to maintain the fig leaf of Lebanese sovereignty, in order to satisfy its domestic critics; and 3) to be seen as an advocate of the Palestinian cause to its opposition parties and Muslim constituencies… But the Cairo Agreement (of the Arab League) gave the Palestinians the right of autonomous administrative control over their refugee camps in Lebanon—(letting the PLO) use the Palestine camps as bases for installing weapons and recruiting resident Palestinians for resistance.” (Ellis, 1999)
After Jordan’s government expelled the PLO from its territory, the Arab League forced Lebanon’s government to take in the PLO. Why had not the Arab League forced Israeli to take back the Palestinians into the West Bank?
Farid El-Khazen wrote: “The predominate issue after 1967 was the Arab-Israeli conflict… The emergence of the Palestinian revolution occurred at a time when the Arab political space had reached a saturation point. Those radical regimes that lost territory in the 1967 war (Egypt, Syria, Jordan) became more cautious and more calculating… All this occurred at a time when the PLO, now in its militant phase, sought to carve out a pace of its own on the regional and international political map… With a de factor Palestinian ‘state’ in exile seeking to assert itself in a closed Arab state system, the state in Lebanon found itself locked in a power struggle with other Arab states… Why (had) Lebanese authorities failed to adopt a ‘Jordanian solution’ to the PLO armed presence?” (El-Khazen, 2000)
From 1970 to 1974, the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) established a “state-within-a-state” in the Lebanese territory. As earlier the PLO had attempted to take over the Jordanian state, next the Lebanese Maronite (Christians) feared a PLO takeover of Lebanon. Maronite militias and Maronite officers in the Lebanese Army together launched attacks on the PLO. This triggered a civil war in which the Christian militias and PLO and Muslim militias fought each other (with the PLO militia supporting the Muslim militias). The Syrian Army intervened to support the Muslim militias.
Farid El-Khazen wrote: “Between 1974 and the early 1980s, Lebanon became the ‘legitimate’ battleground for Arab and Palestinian feuds. With the tacit approval of Israel, Syria was allowed to take the upper hand. During that period Lebanon’s internal balance altered dramatically. Two major factions controlled the country and eventually evolved into the two interlocutors with the greatest firepower: Maronite-led Christian militias on one side, and Syria and the PLO (with additional Lebanese factions) on the other. The PLO emerged from the 1975-1980 Lebanese civil war as the de facto sovereign authority in most Muslim-inhabited regions. It also succeeded in establishing international recognition for its undeclared ‘state in exile’ whose capital was in West Beirut. It had acquired the military, political, and propaganda infrastructure of a state, in full revolutionary momentum.” (El-Khazen, 1986)
In 1982, Israel decided to eliminate the PLO in Lebanon, invading Lebanon.
Farid El-Khazen wrote: “The Camp David treaty between Israel and Egypt was a strategic turning point in regional politics, paving the way for Israel’s decision to terminate the Palestinian presence in Beirut. The other development was the erosion of popular support for the Palestinians among all Lebanese communities, including their most trusted allies. Over the years the Palestinians blackmailed and humiliated so many of their Lebanese friends that they lost any sympathy among the population. This helps explain the initial positive reaction of the Lebanese to the Israeli invasion. The thin veil of pan-Arab ideological affinity that had helped protect the PLO had become totally transparent by 1982… The 1982 war also made clear that militant revolutionary politics had failed. After Beirut, young zealots and free-lance Arab ideologues were deprived of the last bastion of rhetorical Arab nationalism and the only remaining testing ground for the mobilization of the masses. For, starting in the early 1970s, Beirut had gradually become the Arab world’s ideological jungle and, as such, the last refuge of the marginal tendencies in the Arab state system.” (El-Khazen, 1986)
The Israeli Army invasion of Lebanon in 1982 had expelled the PLO; but the Israeli Army continued occupying southern Lebanon until 1990—thereby creating a new militia in Lebanon, the Shia “Hezbollah”.
El-Khazen wrote: “Of all Lebanese communities, the Shia were the most affected by the Palestinian era in wartime Lebanon. Not only did the PLO polarize Shia communal politics, it turned the south into an open battlefield with Israel… Clashes between PLO guerrillas and the Shia began prior to the Israeli invasion in 1982 and continued afterwards in the ‘war of the camps’ in Beirut between Syrian-backed Amal and Palestinian forces in the mid-1980s. As war continued, the process of Shia radicalization was accelerated… Iran’s influence on the Shia community was overwhelming at all political, social and religious levels.” (El-Khazen, 2000)
Also, in addition to foreign interference, Lebanon became a failed state because few leaders in Lebanon had placed the value of the nation above the value of each leader’s religious group/clan. Without unity and a strong military force, Lebanon was continually unable to resist invasion by foreign peoples and governments. And at the end of the Lebanese Civil War, the one chance Lebanese had for real integration under a unifying national leader, Rafik Harari, also failed—due to the influence of two foreign governments, Syria and Iran, over militant Lebanese Hezbollah. Rafik Hariri was assassinated.
Due to a continuous lack of a strong national leadership, the Lebanese state never evolved into a unified nation; and for proponents of a “democratic form” of government (as opposed to an “authoritarian form”), this outcome for Lebanon is sad.
Farid El-Khazen wrote: “The state in Lebanon did not practice the most widely used instrument of control in the Arab world (as well as in other Third world countries)—organized repression practiced by the state’s ‘institutions of violence’. Lebanon was one of the few Arab countries which had no secret police and on state-sponsored militia… Moreover, Lebanon was the only Arab country which held regular parliamentary and presidential elections… Lebanon was also the only Arab country which enjoyed fairly open borders and imposed no restrictions on travel. No people disappeared while on their way in or out of the country. Nor were there restrictions on the transfer of money. Lebanon had an open market economy and an internationalized private-run banking system. If by Arab standards ‘the republic of fear’ was the norm, particularly in states with which Lebanon had to interact in the Arab East, the Arab norm did not apply to Lebanon. Lebanon’s republic, in comparison was convivial.” (El-Kahzen, 2000)
Lack of a strong national leadership had allowed into Lebanon, the PLO, the Syrian Army occupation, and the Israeli Army invasion—all together destroying the possibility of Lebanese political unity. Because of institutionalizing only a “bottom-up” form of a coalition government, the Lebanese people never developed a strong national identity nor a strong military force capable of defending its territory and repelling foreign influences.
In summary, a historical analysis of Lebanon (from 1943 to 2021) shows that there were four societal factors which contributed to Lebanon as a “failed state”. 1) Due to the purely “bottom-up” governmental form of a coalition of conflicting religious groups; 2) Due to invasions of Lebanese territory by foreign populations and foreign governments’ military forces; 3) Due to internal militias forming “states-within-a-state”; 4) Due to the lacking a series of effective national leaders for a “top-down” nation-building policy. The Lebanese people never had a chance to grow their state toward a nation, with real independence and national unity.
The advantage of developing social science theory grounded in the history of a society is that such theory is generalizable to other societies, provided the principal factors are comparable in both societies. We have used the history of Lebanon to provide empirical evidence for the validity of a theory of nation-building, consisting of two dichotomies: “top-down or bottom-up strategies” and “national-leadership or coalition-leadership”.
In building a nation from a state (nation-building) the history of Lebanon offers empirical evidence for nation-building as needing both forms: – A bottom-up coalition formation and top-down national government structure; – A bottom-up coalition leadership and top-down national leadership.
Bottom-up nation building is necessary because it creates coalitions among the political factions in the state: ethnic, religious, or economic factions. As we earlier noted, John Hulsman pointed out the T. E. Lawrence had emphasized the importance of the “bottom-up” perspective on nation-building. We recall that Hulsman wrote: “Lawrence, in the midst of the guerrilla campaign that followed Aqaba (in World War I), began typing his ‘Twenty-Seven Articles’ in the heat of the desert sun… (It) offered nothing less than a new way for Western nation-builders to look at the rest of the world… Policy issues tend to work best when they are implemented in an organic, bottom-up manner, when they take into account indigenous realities… Understanding and working with local culture and the politics that flow from it is what matters most” (Hulman, 2009).
This “bottom-up” approach was effective in building Lebanese government, but only partly. It did achieve a construction of Lebanese government as a cooperating coalition of religious groups and put together as a “convivial republic”, as El Kahzen noted. But “bottom-up” alone was not sufficient to build a strong nation capable of fending off foreign intervention. These historical facts—1) the influx of Palestinians under the PLO, 2) the occupation by Syrian troops, 3) the Israeli invasion, and 4) the organization of Lebanese Shiites into an Iranian-dominated Hezbollah “state-within-a-state”—together drove the Lebanese coalition government into a “failed-state”.
A “top-down” nation-building by a national political leader is also necessary—to unify a nation above and beyond the factional interests of parties. As we also noted, the concept of “political factions” as influencing government has long been a part of political literature. Mostly, the leaders in Lebanese politics primarily looked out for their own groups, above the interests of all Lebanese. And when a truly national leader emerged, he was assassinated by foreign interests. Strong national leadership in Lebanon has historically been hindered by a series of assassinations.
In the recent decade, assassinations have declined but not entirely stopped. At the time of this research in February 2021, a new assassination occurred. Ben Hubbard and Hwaida Saad wrote: “Lokman Slim, a prominent Lebanese critic of the militant group Hezbollah, was found dead on Thursday after being shot multiple times in what his friends called a political assassination.,.. Mr. Slim, 58, was a publisher and filmmaker who was among a small group of political activists from the country’s Shiite Muslim minority who openly criticized Hezbollah, a Shiite extremist group, for its violent role in the country and the wider Middle East” (Hubbard & Saad, 2021). This occurred even during a harsh economic time in Lebanon. Ben Hubbard and Hawaida Saad wrote: “Mr. Slim’s killing came at a time of multiple crises that have pushed Lebanon to the brink of collapse. Its political system is nearly paralyzed, its economy is in free-fall, and many of its people are still suffering the aftereffects of a huge explosion in the Beirut port in August that killed more than 200 people. For weeks, Lebanon has been under total lockdown, with a 24-hour curfew aimed at slowing the rapid spread of the coronavirus… The killing of Mr. Slim, which the Lebanese authorities said they were investigating, raised fears among his supporters that the country could slide into a new period of political killings similar to those it had suffered through in the past” (Hubbard & Saad, 2021). Assassinations have been rare in recent years, but multiple killings of politicians, journalists and security officials mar the country’s history. Ben Hubbard and Hawaida Saad wrote: “It is dangerous that there could be a return to assassinations”, said Ali al-Amine, a Shiite journalist and Hezbollah critic who considered Mr. Slim a friend”. Few of Lebanon’s political killings are ever solved, and it is widely believed that the authorities are hamstrung in their ability to investigate by fears of angering powerful political forces… In a statement from its media office, Hezbollah condemned Mr. Slim’s killing and called on the Lebanese authorities ‘to work quickly to uncover the perpetrators and punish them’” (Hubbard & Saad, 2021). This recent assassination might also become another one of the many officially unsolved political assassinations. Ben Hubbard and Hwaida Saad wrote: “Mr. Slim hailed from a prominent Shiite family; his father had been a member of Lebanon’s Parliament. He studied philosophy and ancient languages at the Sorbonne in Paris before returning to Lebanon in the late 80s. Over the next decades, he launched projects aimed at documenting Lebanon’s violent history and paving the way for what he hoped would be a more peaceful future, based on secular values and respect for religious diversity. He remained in his family’s historic, book-filled villa in the southern suburbs of Beirut, an area that has come to be dominated by Hezbollah. While many of the group’s critics refrain from criticizing Hezbollah openly, Mr. Slim accused it of imposing its view of eternal war against Israel and the United States on Lebanon’s Shiites, and criticized it for sending fighters to back President Bashar al-Assad of Syria in the civil war… Those initiatives, which included supporting independent Shiite candidates in parliamentary elections and forming a Shiite clerical body to serve as an alternative to that seen as beholden to Hezbollah, earned him harsh criticism from Hezbollah and its political allies… The security forces found his body on Thursday in a car he had rented for the trip, on an isolated road near the southern village of Addoussieh. A coroner said he had been shot six times, including three times in the head” (Hubbard & Saad, 2021). Top-down leadership in Lebanon had experienced a history of repeated political assassinations.
Ideologies impact ideas in a society; and ideas impact actions; and actions impact societal structure. Models of ideas (such as the theoretical ideas of political association) impact models of societal structure through the institutionalization of practices in the functional sectors of society.
In this and three previous papers, we have formalized political association theory as a three-dimensional taxonomy (Betz, 2019). This taxonomic space expresses an idealism-realism research approach—as to the formulation of political ideology (idealism) and to the actual governmental practice (realism). In addition, we have constructed a meta-model framework to connect concepts of political association to the institutionalization of structural-functional sectors of a society. Also, we depicted how societal change can occur in its institutions through change-events to the stasis of a society. Altogether, this methodological approach of societal dynamics has identified explanations of how and why the Lebanon state failed.
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