Karame, Rashid (1921–1987)

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KARAME, RASHID (1921–1987)

Lebanese political figure, ten times prime minister, born in 1921 at Miriata in North Lebanon, into a distinguished Sunni Muslim family, died in June 1987. Between 1948 and 1951, having obtained a degree in law from the University of Cairo, Rashid Karame practiced law. Elected deputy in 1951, several times a minister between 1953 and 1955, he became on 19 September 1955 the youngest-ever prime minister of Lebanon. Opposed to certain policies of President Camille Chamoun, he resigned on 19 March of the following year. In October 1958, converted to the reformism of the new president, Fuʾad Shehab, he formed a new government, which he led until 1964, except between May 1960 and October 1961. Head of the Shehabist parliamentary bloc, he supported the election of Charles Helu to the presidency of the republic in 1964. Once again prime minister between 1965 and 1969, he was confronted by the first violent incidents between the Palestinian resistance and the Lebanese state. His resignation led to a stalemate that lasted six months and was only resolved by the accord between the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and the Lebanese authorities, signed in Cairo on 3 November 1969.

The failure of the Shehabists in the elections of 1970 relegated him to the corridors of political power. On 28 May 1975, when the civil war had just broken out in Lebanon, the Palestinians and their allies forced him on President Sulayman Franjiyya as prime minister. Very quickly, he found himself at odds with the Christian camp, which demanded the intervention of the army in the conflict with the Palestinians. In March 1976, Franjiyya stripped him of all portfolios in favor of Chamoun, but Karame did not present his resignation to the new president, Ilyas Sarkis, until September. Not siding unequivocally either with the Syrians or the Palestinians, he found himself progressively losing influence. In July 1983, a year after the invasion of Lebanon by Israel, he joined a pro-Syrian coalition, which allowed him to return to power and become, the following year, prime minister in a government of national reconciliation. In 1986 he failed to persuade President Amin Jumayyil to endorse a truce agreement signed by the leaders, or warlords, of the three largest sectarian militias. Confronted by hostilities between these militias, the "war of the camps" between the Amal and the Palestinians, plus a significant financial crisis, he offered his resignation on 4 May 1987, but it was not accepted. On 1 June Karame was assassinated in an attack that brought down the helicopter returning him to Beirut from Tripoli. His brother, Omar Karame, succeeded him politically and became prime minister in December 1990.

SEE ALSO Jumayyil, Amin;Karame, Omar.