Lebanese Forces

views updated


lebanese political-military organization.

The Lebanese Forces (LF) emerged in 1976 under the leadership of Bashir Jumayyil. At that time various Lebanese Christian militias had joined forces to destroy the Palestinian Tall al-Zaʿtar Refugee Camp. In August 1976 a joint command council was established to integrate those militias formally and to achieve a degree of political independence from the traditional Maronite Catholic (Christian) political leaders. Jumayyil took control of the military wing of his father's Phalange Party and then proceeded to incorporate other Christian militias. Those that resisted were forcibly integrated. In 1978 Jumayyil subjugated the Marada Brigade, the militia of the Franjiyya family and former president Su-layman Franjiyya, killing his son Tony Franjiyya in the process. In 1980 the Tigers militia of Camille Chamoun was absorbed.

By the early 1980s, the LF controlled East Beirut and parts of Mount Lebanon, and Jumayyil became its "commander." He did not confine the LF to combat; he also created committees within its structure responsible for health, information, foreign policy, education, and other matters of public concern. Jumayyil established links with Israel, and he consistently battled with Syrian forces. The LF began to decline in 1982, when President-elect Bashir Jumayyil was assassinated. After numerous succession struggles, including the brief tenure of Fuʾad Abu Nadir as head of the forces, Elie Hobeykanotorious for his role in the 1982 bloodshed in the Sabra and Shatila refugee campsassumed the leadership of the LF. After Hobeyka signed the Syrian-sponsored Tripartite Declaration in December 1985, against the wishes of president Amin Jumayyil, LF chief of staff Samir Geagea launched an attack on Hobeyka early in 1986 and took over the LF. Although Geagea was able to take advantage of the mood of frustration and despair among the Christian masses, Israel, his chief backer, was less interested in his cause than it had beenalthough it continued to supply his forces with money and arms.

After the appointment of General Michel Aoun as interim president by Amin Jumayyil, Lebanon's army tried to disarm the LF but failed to eliminate its political and military power. The defeat of Aoun by Syrian troops in 1990 led Geagea to try to impose himself as the overall Maronite leader. His attempt to become president of the Phalange Party failed, and George Saade remained the head of that predominantly Maronite party.

Geagea promised to allow Lebanon's army to confiscate weapons and ammunition belonging to his militia, according to the terms of the Taʾif accord. He promised to transform his militia into a political party and obtained a license toward that end. Lebanon's army, however, accused his forces of obstruction and discovered large amounts of hidden supplies and weapons. In early 1994, when a bomb exploded in a church in East Beirut, Lebanese authorities uncovered a terrorist ring that answered to Geagea personally. The government found evidence linking him to a series of bombs, car bombs, and assassinations. He was arrested and has been in prison since 1994.

see also aoun, michel; chamoun, camille; franjiyya family; geagea, samir; hobeika, elie; jumayyil, amin; jumayyil, bashir; phalange.


Abukhalil, As'ad. Historical Dictionary of Lebanon. Lanham, MD: Scarecrow Press, 1998.

Abukhalil, As'ad. "Lebanon." In Political Parties of the Middle East and North Africa, edited by Frank Tachau. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1994.

as'ad abukhalil
updated by michael r. fischbach

About this article

Lebanese Forces

Updated About encyclopedia.com content Print Article