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Independent Lebanon. The Jewel of the Eastern Mediterranean. Prosperity of Beirut based on upheavals in Arab world in the 1950s Laissez-faire economic system International banking center Trade restrictions removed Financial and commercial center Politically liberal

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the jewel of the eastern mediterranean
The Jewel of the Eastern Mediterranean
  • Prosperity of Beirut based on upheavals in Arab world in the 1950s
  • Laissez-faire economic system
    • International banking center
    • Trade restrictions removed
    • Financial and commercial center
  • Politically liberal
    • Home for political exiles
    • Haven of free expression
    • Center of intellectual exchange and political discussion
    • “Playground” in the Middle East
sectarian harmony
Sectarian harmony?
  • Sectarian pluralism “worked” in Beirut
  • Confessional politics – system based on a balance of sectarian rivalries
  • Arab state, but could not be merged with another Arab state  ambiguous position towards pan-Arabism (<-> Nasser)
  • Communal differences neutralized, not solved
  • Family/religious ties stronger than national ties
patron client system
Patron-client system
  • Politics dominated by prominent families
  • Za’im; “feudal lord dressed in tailored European suit”

– primary responsibility to provide for his clients  enforced regional/sectarian interests

    • Gave rise to sectarian based blocs instead of ideological parties
    • Examples: Kataib/Phalange and the Progressive Socialist Party
sunni discontent
Sunni discontent
  • Fragmented Sunni Muslim organizations
  • Many attracted to Nasser’s Pan-Arabism
role of the president
Role of the president
  • National Pact of 1943: President had to be a Maronite Christian
  • The Constitution of 1926 gave the president strong powers (relative to parliament)
  • Six-year terms – challenged by two first presidents
  • Al-Khuri 1943-1952
  • Chamoun 1952-1958
troubles in the 50s
Troubles in the ’50s
  • Cold War rivalry
  • Rise of Nasser
  • Muslim demands for reform
  • Big question: Pan-Arabism or closer ties to the West?
  • Chamoun decided not to join the Baghdad Pact (as an Arab state) but emphasized close friendship with the West
  • Suez Crisis: Chamoun kept diplomatic ties w/GB and France  Nasser annoyed
summer of 1958
Summer of 1958
  • Chamoun wanted to stay in power  unacceptable to Muslims  full-scale rebellion/civil war
  • General FuadShihab refused to send in the army to quell the revolt
  • Coup d’etat in Iraq  Chamoun requested US assistance to avoid same fate
    • 15.000 US Marines landed in Lebanon the next day!
    • US intent on helping the friendly regime in Lebanon
  • Chamoun stepped down  FuadShihab president  return to normalcy
  • Program of political and social reform
  • Goal: Modernization of the state
    • More power to the central government
    • Basic welfare system
    • Public work projects; roads, electricity, water supply
  • More Muslims in top administrative positions  a stake in the country
  • Did not end sectarian politics
  • Break-up of UAR eased tension over Pan-Arabism
  • Muslim businessmen skeptical to Nasser’s “Arab socialism”



The gap between rich and poor was not reduced

Larger state  larger bureaucracy

Fairer distribution of positions enforced sectarian system

Sunnis and Christians remained dominant in bureaucracy

Role of state more prominent  complaints increased about power distribution

  • Arab relations improved without affecting Lebanese independence
  • State redistribution of wealth
  • Poorer areas of the country developed
  • More fair distribution of posts among disadvantaged communities
no changes
No changes?
  • Shihab relied on the old notables for his government despite pledge to reduce their importance
  • Notable dominance:
    • 1947-1972: 1/3 of all parliamentary seats split between 26 families
    • 1960: 1/4 of MPs elected inherited their seats
    • Ministerial positions filled with familiar leaders
no support for the system
No support for the system
  • Presidency became more powerful under Shihab
  • Relied on presidential office (Sarkis) and the Deuxieme Bureau (army intelligence dept.) to keep control
  • Army unchanged
  • No strong political party developed by Shihab; relied on Rashid al-Karame to muster parliamentary support

 Limited powerbase for the president; his successor relied on Deuxieme Bureau and Prime Ministers’ parliamentary coalitions