Amal (Afwaj Al-Muqawama Al-Lubnaniyya, or the Lebanese Resistance Detachments; in Arabic, Amal Means "Hope")

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AMAL (Afwaj al-Muqawama al-Lubnaniyya, or the Lebanese Resistance Detachments; in Arabic, amal means "hope")

A Lebanese Shiʿite militia, AMAL was officially created in July 1975 by Imam Musa Sadr. Sadr had founded the "Movement of the Disinherited" in 1974, and established AMAL as the armed branch of this organization. Inspired by the al-Daʿwa movement, Musa Sadr advocated the establishment of an independent and democratic republic in Lebanon, one that would protect the interests of the Lebanese Shiʿite community and support the struggle against Zionism. Despite this, AMAL did not engage in fighting at the start of the Lebanese Civil War in 1975. As a result, it lost considerable support, to the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and groups associated with the Lebanese National Movement. AMAL also endorsed Syrian intervention in 1976, which cost it more support. However, the mysterious disappearance of Musa Sadr while in Libya in 1978, which transformed him into a popular Shiʿa symbol (analogous to the Hidden Imam), the success of the Iranian Revolution, and disillusionment with the PLO all contributed to a revival of AMAL's support.

In 1980 Nabi Berri, a lawyer and close associate of Musa Sadr, became leader of AMAL, which then became the chief Shiʿa organization in the country and a major factional political and military force. Following the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in June 1982, a scission appeared in the movement. Husayn al-Musawi, number two in the organization, founded the faction of "Islamic AMAL," which was more radical and aggressive and which sent guerrilla fighters to oppose the Israeli invaders. Progressively, under the impulsion of Musawi and Muhammad Husayn Fadlallah, Iran attempted but failed to gain control over the entire AMAL movement. In February 1985 Berri, who in 1984 had agreed to participate in a national unity government as minister of justice and minister of state for South Lebanon, proclaimed himself "minister of national resistance" and supported sending anti-Israeli commandos to South Lebanon.

In 1985 the Islamic faction of AMAL became part of the newly created Hizbullah. Thereafter AMAL, supported by Syria, and Hizbullah, supported by Iran, attempted to monopolize control over the Lebanese Shiʿite community, with resulting periodic deadly confrontations between their partisans. Despite its formal commitment to the Palestinian cause, there was friction between AMAL and the PLO, and there was occasional fighting between them in South Lebanon. After the PLO had been removed to Tunisia and could no longer protect the refugees, AMAL attacked Palestinian camps in the so-called "War of the Camps" that lasted from 1985 to 1987. After the 1989 Taʾif Accords and the 1990 victory of the Syrian-backed forces over the rightwing Maronite forces, the militias were disbanded (many of the remaining AMAL fighters were absorbed into the Lebanese Army). AMAL was transformed into a political movement, still with the backing of Damascus. After the 1992 elections Berri was elected speaker of the Parliament, a post he still held as of 2004, becoming thereby the principal leader of the Lebanese Shiʿite community. In the 2000 elections AMAL made common cause with Hizbullah and between them won all the constituencies in South Lebanon.

SEE ALSO Berri, Nabi;Hizbullah;Sadr, Musa al-;Taʾif Accords.

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Amal (Afwaj Al-Muqawama Al-Lubnaniyya, or the Lebanese Resistance Detachments; in Arabic, Amal Means "Hope")

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