Religion, National Identity, and Confessional Politics in Lebanon

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1 Religion, National Identity, and Confessional Politics in Lebanon

2 Also by Robert G. Rabil Embattled Neighbors: Syria, Israel, and Lebanon (2003) Syria, the United States, and the War on Terror in the Middle East (2006)

3 THE MIDDLE EAST IN FOCUS The Middle East has become simultaneously the world s most controversial, crisis-ridden, and yet least-understood region. Taking new perspectives on the area that has undergone the most dramatic changes, the Middle East in Focus series, edited by Barry Rubin, seeks to bring the best, most accurate expertise to bear for understanding the area s countries, issues, and problems. The resulting books are designed to be balanced, accurate, and comprehensive compendiums of both facts and analysis presented clearly for both experts and the general reader. Series Editor: Barry Rubin Director, Global Research International Affairs (GLORIA) Center Editor, Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal Editor, Turkish Studies Turkish Dynamics: Bridge across Troubled Lands By Ersin Kalaycıoğlu Eternal Iran: Continuity and Chaos By Patrick Clawson and Michael Rubin Hybrid Sovereignty in the Arab Middle East: The Cases of Kuwait, Jordan, and Iraq By Gokhan Bacik The Politics of Intelligence and American Wars with Iraq By Ofira Seliktar Hezbollah: The Story of the Party of God: From Revolution to Institutionalization By Eitan Azani Lebanon: Liberation, Conflict, and Crisis Edited by Barry Rubin The Muslim Brotherhood: The Organization and Policies of a Global Islamist Movement Edited by Barry Rubin Nabih Berri and Lebanese Politics By Omri Nir Religion, National Identity, and Confessional Politics in Lebanon: The Challenge of Islamism By Robert G. Rabil

4 Religion, National Identity, and Confessional Politics in Lebanon The Challenge of Islamism Robert G. Rabil

5 RELIGION, NATIONAL IDENTITY, AND CONFESSIONAL POLITICS IN LEBANON Copyright Robert G. Rabil, Softcover reprint of the hardcover 1st edition All rights reserved. First published in 2011 by PALGRAVE MACMILLAN in the United States a division of St. Martin s Press LLC, 175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY Where this book is distributed in the UK, Europe and the rest of the world, this is by Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited, registered in England, company number , of Houndmills, Basingstoke, Hampshire RG21 6XS. Palgrave Macmillan is the global academic imprint of the above companies and has companies and representatives throughout the world. Palgrave and Macmillan are registered trademarks in the United States, the United Kingdom, Europe and other countries. ISBN ISBN (ebook) DOI / Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Rabil, Robert G. Religion, national identity, and confessional politics in Lebanon : the challenge of Islamism / Robert G. Rabil. p. cm. (Middle East in focus) 1. Lebanon Politics and government Lebanon Politics and government Islam and state Lebanon. 4. Islam and politics Lebanon. 5. Islamic fundamentalism Lebanon. 6. Political culture Lebanon. 7. Identity politics Lebanon. 8. National characteristics, Lebanese. I. Title. DS80.95.R dc A catalogue record of the book is available from the British Library. Design by Newgen Imaging Systems (P) Ltd., Chennai, India. First edition: August Transferred to Digital Printing in 2012

6 To Patricia and Georges, Grace, Nick, and Olivia with love

7 Contents Acknowledgments Note on Transliteration Series Editor s Foreword xi xiii xv Introduction 1 1. Greater Lebanon and the National Pact: The Elusiveness of National Identity 9 2. The Confessional System between Lebanonism and Pan- Arabism Al- Jama a al- Islamiyah and Fathi Yakan: The Pioneer of Sunni Islamic Activism in Lebanon The Reassertion of Sectarianism and the Rise of Islamism The Islamists and the Political System: Al- Infitah and Lebanonization The Praxis of Islamism and Syrian Suzerainty The Takeover of Beirut: The Struggle for the State The Future of Islamism in Lebanon 115 Conclusion 141 Appendix: The Political Vision of the Al- Jama a al- Islamiyah (Islamic Association) in Lebanon Glossary 161 Notes 165 Selected Bibliography 197 Index 207

8 Acknowledgments I am grateful to the Florida Atlantic University s community, especially the Florida Society for Middle East Studies, for its unwavering and encouraging support for my research and instruction, thanks to which I feel blessed as part of a robust, caring, and intellectually agile society. Special thanks go to Lou Sandler, Paul and Marilyn Cutler, and Bob Newmark. I thank the faculty and staff of the Department of Political Science at Florida Atlantic University, especially Professors Ed Schwerin and Tim Lenz, for their moral, scholastic, and administrative support. I am grateful to the Lifelong Learning Society at Boca Raton and Jupiter campuses, especially Rene Friedman and Dr. Herb Shapiro, for their moral and financial support. My deep appreciation goes to my Lifelong Learning students, whose kindness and vast repertoire of experience and knowledge only sharpens my desire to be a better human being, researcher, and instructor. I thank my graduate students, who have never ceased to intellectually amaze and challenge me in as much as I have tried to challenge them. Special thanks go to Jonathan and Michael O Neill, and Lori Porges. I am grateful to my colleague Professor Walid Phares for his friendship and professional encouragement and support. I also thank him for spending significant time exchanging ideas and debating Middle East issues with me. I am grateful to Tom Harb for his friendship and for sharing with me his insights into Lebanese affairs and dynamics, let alone for arranging interviews with Lebanese activists and officials. I am grateful to Adel Louis for his friendship and for his support for my research. Special thanks go to my friend Oswaldo Abou Jawdeh, who went out of his way to get me Arabic sources from Lebanon. I thank my colleagues at different branches of the U.S. government whose invitation to participate in their sponsored seminars and forums on the Middle East proved instructive and invaluable to my work. I am indebted to my sister Pauline, who virtually scoured many libraries in Lebanon looking for primary sources essential for this book. My deep appreciation goes to all interviewees whose insightful and instructive information proved vital to this book. Special thanks go to several unanimous Lebanese officials and activists who helped broaden and sharpen my analysis on Lebanon and the region. I thank my mentors and colleagues Professors Avidor Levy and Sadek J. Al-Azm, for their soothing sagacity, academic advice, and constructive criticism.

9 xii Acknowledgments I thank my mother Antoinette and siblings Fadi, Pauline, and William for their unbounded love and firm belief in me, which carried me in times of doubt. Finally, I deeply thank my wife Patricia, to whom this book is dedicated, for putting up with me during times of vagaries, stress, and insane working hours. I am infinitely grateful to her for being tirelessly and selflessly ready to ballast our household with unconditional love. I am eternally grateful to her for giving me no less than miracles in my children, whose energy, compassion, tender love, amazing smiles and brightness, and noisy interruptions uplift my soul and nurture my thought. BOCA R ATON January 2011

10 Note on Transliteration The English transliteration from Arabic generally follows the rules of the International Journal of Middle Eastern Studies. Arabic names commonly used by the New York Times and whose spellings are thus becoming standard retain their original form as they appeared in that newspaper. For example, Koran has not been transliterated as Qur an.

11 Series Editor s Foreword No change had been more important for Lebanon, nor for the Middle East as a whole, than the rise of revolutionary Islamism. Indeed, the coming to power of Hizballah in 2011 though not officially, in practice was the culmination for three decades of struggle and maneuver by these forces. This book examines the case of Lebanon in great detail and other important issues. Basically, Professor Rabil concludes that the advance of the Shia Muslim Hizballah and of the smaller Sunni Islamist groups was based to a large degree on the backing they received from Iran and Syria. Of course, the communal base for Hizballah is also a central factor in this historical process. To understand all of this, of course, one must understand the truly unique Lebanese system, torn between a sense of Lebanese national sentiment and communal friction; elite cooperation and ideological conflict, and the foreign interferences of warring powers. After decades of success, Lebanon went into a long period of turmoil that is far from over. Professor Rabil has a long and close familiarity with this incredibly complex mix possibly the most complex of any country in the world, and certainly for a country that is so small in extent and population. He is a reliable guide through this thicket of controversial matters. This book is a fine edition to our series on the contemporary Middle East. BARRY RUBIN, SERIES EDITOR Director, Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center

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