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A thesis submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of A r t s to the Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences at the American University of Beirut

Beirut, Lebanon September 1997





Approved by:

\ Dr. Samir Khalaf, Professor

Social and Behavioral Science Department


, Dr. Adith Harik, ~ssociatk Aofessor Political Science and Public Administration Department


Member of Committee

Dr. Patricia ~ a b f ,Assistant Professor Social and Behav~oral Science Department

Member of Committee

Date of Thesis Presentation: September 30, 1997



I, Hayat Nabeel Osseyran

authorize the American University of Beirut to supply copies of my thesis to libraries or individuals upon request.

do not authorize the American University of Beirut to supply copies of my thesis to libraries or individuals for a period of two years starting with the date of the thesis defense.




My deepest thanks goes to my sister Nabila, my brother Nader and Mary Bozoyan who is the secretary of the S.B.S . Department. They did a great job of'cooperating on typing my thesis. 1would also like to thank all those persons in the different organizations allied to the Asaads, Osseyrans, Amal and Hizbullah for their cooperation. Above all, I would like to thank my friends and my colleagues at work for their constant encouragements.


Havat Ossevran for Master of Arts Major : Sociology Titte: The Shi'ite Leadership of South Lebanon: A Reconsideration

The overall intention of this thesis was to assess the impact of nearly two decades of civil strife on the efforts of Shi'ite leadership both old and new, in redefining their objectives, reorganizing their resources, and modifying their ideological rhetoric to meet the exigencies and nascent post-war transformation.

The mobilizatjonal efforts of pre-war kinship leaderships (i.e. Asaad and Osseyran families) as well as contemporary parties (i.e. Amal and Hizbullah) were examined less in light of socially determined variables or a modernization process i n Lebanon or its South than in terms of their capabilities as mediating agencies. The perspectives advanced by Cameron and Tilly were found relevant for diagnosing 1) the rhetoric of the four groups; 2) the consistency of their respective concrete acluevements or practices; and 3) their organizational means, capabilities and degree of flexibility and innovation.
Data required for the research was based on original information, especially in the cases of Asaad and Osseyran families. The latter, when compared to those of h a 1 and Hizbullah, were not as methodical in documenting their nodes uf organization and achievements. Therefore, by the very nature of the study, one had to rely on a variety of scurces, including: 1) official records, statements and position papers 2) participant observation and personal interviews, both semi-structured and open-ended.
A few strihng conciusions can be inferred from our analysis of the four leadership groups. First, although they are inclined to espouse similar aims and

objectives, they have pursued different instrumental means for reaching and maintaining power. Second, while the different adaptive means or mobilization leaders often resorted to failed to reinforce broader, secular and national loyalties, they have been relatively effective in providing some of the benevolent, welfare and developmental needed services at the local, communal and partisan level. Finally, the adaptive strategies of the Asaads, Osseyrans, h a l and Hizbullah have all contained some aspects of both traditional as well as modern practjces. Therefore neither pre-war leaders are totalIy traditional and inflexible, nor are contemporary leaders exclusively modern or progressive.


ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS ..........................................................

Page v

ABSTRACT .................................................................................

I . INTRODUCTION ................................................................

1 . HISTORICAL OVERVIEW ................................................ 13

13 A . Asaad ..................................................................................

E. Political Mobilization in the Context of Mediating Agencies



1 1 1 . IDEOLOGICAL CLAIMS AND MODES OF ORGANIZATION ................................................................ 35

A . The Asaads ............................................................................. 37
B . The Osseyrans.......................................................................... 56
C. An Emerging Politicized Generation ............................................... 74

E . Then Came the Challenge of the Orthodox Group: HizbuIIah



I . From "Islamization" to "Lebanonization" ................................................



2 . Institutional Organization" ..................................................................




A . Asaad's Democratic Socialist Party ................................................ 115

B . Osseyran's Home of The Arab Orphan ............................................


A . .4mJ ' s Educational and Social Institutions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1 . Al-Sadr's Institutions ...........................................................


3 . Mrs. Randa Berri's Institutions ............................................... 137

B . Al-Mahdi School: A Sample of Hizbullah's Educational Institutions



VI . CONCLUSION ....................................................................
A Similarities between A1 -Asaad and Osseyran . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


B . Differences between Asaad and Osseyran ........................................


C . Similarities between Amal and Hizbullah .........................................


D. Differences between Amal and Hizbullah ........................................

E. The Shi'ite Community of South Lebanon: A Reconsideration .................

To my parents Nadia and Nabeel Osseyran


Perhaps no other feature of Lebanon's socio-cultural and political life has
received as much attention as the nature and changing patterns of its political leadership.

Long before Lebanon was embroiled in protracted civil unrest, observers were puzzled by the tenacity of its leadership and its resilience in adapting to changing local political circumstances and regional ideological shifts.
Studies of various dimensions of leadership - scholarly, impressionistic and popular - are legion. Scholars like Gjlsenan, Harik, Hourani, Khalaf, Khazin, Messara, Salibi, among others, have explored leadership issues from different perspectives. These

studies covered such topics as elite circulation, parliamentaq politics, the participation of
notables in national politics, presidential crises and the changing forms of patronage and

primordial ties.
Some (Gubser 1973; Hudson 1973; Lemarchand 1972; Norton 1987) focus on
the dysfunctional manifestations and consequences. Nepotism, graft, corruption, absence

of civility and the prevalence of self-serving and particularistic rather than universalistic
interests and their implications for political instability, are common targets of complaint.

Others are more inclined to view leaders in more balanced terms. While they do

not overlook their obvious disquieting manifestations, they dwell nonetheless on some of
their hnctional consequences as well. They are able to do this by looking at both their enabling as well as their disabling features. For example, Khalaf (1987) argues that while

the adaptive strategies leaders often resort to may have failed in reinforcing broader,
secular, civic and national loyalties and public interests, they have been effective in

providing some of the cultural, benevolent, welfare and developmental needs and

services at the local and communal level. Judith Harik, likewise, argues that "the Lebanese government will find it difficult to accomplish the massive tasks of
reconstruction without some reIiance on traditional leaders and their institutions (Harik,

In spite of the diversity of viewpoints and inferences one can extract from such
studies, they all converge on a few overriding themes and patterns. The most consistent,

perhaps, is the survival of traditional foms of leaderstip and patronage and the adaptive

strategies they evolve to extend and reinforce their client and power base of support.
After nearly two decades of protracted strife, it is interesting to reconsider the
dynamics and evolving attributes of such a seemingly stable and persisting feature (i,e.
client-patron relationship, kinship organizations, religious and confessional associations, network alliances). Tilly (1 978), Cameron (1 974) and Nortori (1 987), among others,

examined in further detail and different contexts the role and the dynamics of these
adaptive mediating structures, particularly in times of unrest and consequent sociocultural and political transformations. Several studies have been carried out to examine the social and political mobilization of the different comrnunjties in Lebanon. The studies usually examined the mediating structures of mobilization, those adaptive agencies that either prompted

cohesion or maybe dispersion within the communities (Early 1971; Entelis 1974; Harik
1993; Schatkowski 1 969; Suleiman 1967).

For example, Karl W. Deutsch. in his elaboration on the concept of "social

mobilization", asserts that as increasing numbers of a population are socially mobilized,
their demands will eventually be translated into increased political participation. He does

not, however, make clear how such a translation occurs. More important, Deutsch and

others with a Deutschian view (Apter 1965;Lerner 1958; Rokkan 1970) assume that
these transformations will lead to the inevitable erosion of primordial ties and loyalties.

T h i s view also conceives the transformation as passive and inevitable. These and other
associated views are criticized by several scholars (see, among others, Cameron 1975;

Huntington 1971; Norton 1987; Tilly 1978).

Cameron identifies three major weaknesses in Deutsch's view and in much of the

similar literature on political mobilization; (1) The failure to explain the process of
induction into new patterns of commitment and behaviors; (2) the assumption that

political mobilization is an aspect of a larger process of political modernization, particularly insofar as the latter is defined in terms of nation-building and political
integration; and (3) the view that political mobilization is socially determined and, hence,
the dependent variable in processes of social change. Some of the studies mentioned earlier (Harik 1993 ; Entelis 1 974; Early 1 97 1;

Suleiman 1967) tried to show how the so-called rational-secular instruments and mediating agencies of a national state (ie. political parties, labor unions, voluntary
associations etc.) became "tribalized" with time. Others, on the other hand, tried to

prove how communal and family associations, restructured and extended themselves to
adopt seemingly rational-secular attributes. In relative terms, the Shi'ite community was
the last community to organize or participate in such mediating structures, at least as

measured by the number of recorded and approved voluntary associations. This relative delay in formal organization and mobilization was one of the primary reasons why the

community was an important recruiting ground for leftist parties advocating a radical

change for the Lebanese socio-political order (Khalaf, 1991). This, however, should not

be taken to mean that it had no form of organization. Pre-war mediating structures (ie.

feudal-like family associations and other non-governmental voluntary organizations)

were the initial and predominant forms of mobilization. Of these, the Asaads and Osseyrans are perhaps the most visible prototypes.
Competing contemporary, formal, pseudo-ideological party organizations such as

ArnaI and Hizbullah have newly emerged to contest their supremacy and patronage of disenfranchsed groups. The Asaads and Osseyrans no longer enjoy the hegemony and
prominence they once enjoyed. One of the focuses of this study will be an exploration of
the capabilities of the traditional organizations and institutions of the Asaad and

Osseyran families, before and during the war, to adapt to competition from new Shi'ite

mass organizations. These will be compared to the capabilities of Amal and Hizbullah.
The intention, in other words. is to investigate the dynamics of familial leadership
amongst changing socio-political forces. Recent evidence appears to indicate that in times of civil unrest and communal hostility, the so-called traditional and primordial ties are likely to be reinforced (see

Khalaf 199 1 ;Nasr 1994). Within this context it becomes relevant to explore the
strategies that various forms of leadership evolve to adapt to such transformations and
extend and consolidate the basis of their support and credibility.

Analytical Perspective

The study of the transformation of prewar public spheres or mediating agencies

(ie. Asaads and Osseyrans) is of particular interest, since scholars had always observed

changes in their popular support prior the outbreak of civil unrest. Scholars like
Hottinger (1 966), Norton (1 987) and Hudson (1 968) saw that real power was dipping

out of the hands of the zu 'amaand their kinship organizations as early as the 1960's.

Such leaders were able, it was argued, to circumvent their obsof escence by extending and

redirecting the basis of their support and services. Within this context, it becomes
meaningful to document and account for the strategies the Asaads and Osseyrans evolved to ward off their imminent decline. Naturally, various Lebanese communities were not uniform or consistent in

experiencing urbanization and societal transformations, which disrupted their cohesion

and solidarity. For example, Christian communities because of the disruptive circumstances associated with the civil disturbances oft he mid I 9th century, experienced
symptoms of the decline of family-based leadership relatively earlier than other

confessional groups. Hence, they also felt the need to mobilize and organize kinship and
other voluntary associations to cope with and adapt to such dislocations (see Khalaf,
1987). Khalaf and Denoeux when examining the mobilization of leading, urban

communities (ie. Maronites, Sunni, Ski'ites migrants etc.) found that the Maronites early

source of mobilization and social cohesion rested on the organization of three porverful

mediating structures, their well organized party system (ie. Kataab) and powerful
religious and educational institutions. They used these mediating agencies before and

during the war to meet some of their socio-economic, political and moral needs such as
social cohesion in times of crises (Khalaf and Denoeux 1987).

The Druze community of Mount Lebanon, on the other hand, having faced

government neglect and a drastic decline in services since the onset of war, mobilized on
confessional and communal lines, much as the Maronites and Sunnis had done before

them. Early during the war, the Druze leader Kamal Jumblat reinforced his zu 'amu
(leadership status) by reactivating the Progressive Socialist Party (PSP), thereby

extending his feudal and primordial loyalties to incorporate a broader base of support.

His son Walid who inherited both the tribal and party leadership upon hs father's
assassination in 1977 also sustained t h s process of mobilizing the Druzes into a pseudo-

ideological party line. Walid, to a considerable extent, reinforced the same proclivity; ie.

efforts to broaden the ideological parties or secular associations which continue to

display a fairly large residue of personal and communal sentiments.

Some of the war-generated dislocations, particularly those in the wake of the mountain war of 1983, must have prodded Ju~nblat to establish the Civil Administration

of the Mountains (CAOM). This was the first effective mediating structure in the
conservative Druze conmunity that made an attempt to respond to some of the urgent

and emergent socio-economic, health and educational needs of the community From
this study Harik ( 1 993) confirms the reconciliation of the continuing primordial ties with

change. In this sense traditional political patronage went hand in hand with other
adaptive instruments of modernization.
Earlier pre-war studies of such adaptive agencies displayed similar tendencies.

For example, lfe histories and case studies of so-called civiclrational instruments of a nation state (ie. political parties, labor unions, state agencies and voluntary associations)
revealed syn~ptoms and manifestations of "retribalization" and parochialization because

of the persistence of communal loyalties. These studies included Khalafs (1 968) on

labor unions, Samar Illiya's (1984) on the Lebanese Family Planning Association, Shadi

Karam's (1972) on the Office of Social Development, hlichael Suleiman's (1967) and

Labib Zuwiyyah's (1 972) on political parties.

To varying degrees, the studies converged on one underIying theme or persistent
socio-cultural reality, namely that despite expressed concerns with rational planning and

structures, all the organizations came to reflect the delicate sectarian balance, regional

and communal loyalties, and other non-rational considerations which permeate the rest of
Conversely, seemingly primordial associatjons (Maqassed, Amiliyyah, and

Orthodox Youth Society etc.) were able to transform both their structure and functions
to accommodate changing circumstances and emergent vital needs. The latter

associations examined by Schatkowski (1 969), Early (1 97 l), Entelis (1974) and Wehbe
(198 1) respectively, expressed similar cases of adaptation in the different comn~unities

(ie. Sunni, Sh'ite, Orthodox, Maronite). Here as well, one sees persuasive evidence of

how popular leadership support was extended through formal bureaucratic and rational
mediating structures. They are dl instances of traditionally oriented agencies that proved

highly capable in mediating cultural and social innovations to their constituencies,

without undermining their traditional and conventional ties and loyalties.

In other words, neither seemingly rational and formal associations, like the State's
Ofice of Social Development and the National Family Planning Association, were free of

particuiaristic and clientelistic considerations, nor were the so-called traditional

associations such as Maqassed, Amiliyyah and other cotnmunal and kinship organizations
bereft of rational and bureaucratic features.

Given the sectarian nature of hostility and the deep-seated fear and paranoia it
generated among religious communities, it is understandable why comn~unal identities
should become the basis for collective action. Therefore, the m a i n focus of my study is

to examine the different means of mobilization experienced by the Shi'ite community of

South Lebanon in an effort especially to assess the extent to which contemporary
leaderships conform to or depart from pre-war patterns.

Scope of Study

When discussing mobilization, mobilizing agents or mediating structures and their

development in the Shi'ite community of South Lebanon, it is necessary to identify and account for the approach I was using in my exploration. Most of the literature on the
community and especially on its leadership (particularly extensive on Amal and

Hizbullah) have continuously used an approach which emphasizes the importance of

socio-political factors in the mobilizatior~ process (Deeb 1986; Nasr 1985; Norton 1986; Shapira 1988). Such a perspective assumes the emergence of Amal and Hizbullah, to be
largely a byproduct of migration, socio-economic cl~anges in the Shi 'ite community (ie.

Urbanization, migration, and social cleavages within the community etc.). Significant as

these are, some of the inherent capabilities, such as the nature of leadership within the
community which are acting dynamically to mobilize the masses, are often overlooked.
ln my analysis, I have not provided extensive elaboration on the nature of

modernization in Lebanon in the early 1960's. This, affer all, has been ably and amply

done by others (see, for example, Ajarni 1986,Halawi 1992; Norton 1987). In other
words, the mobilization of Asaad, Osseyran, AmaI and Kzbullah has been examined less
in light of socially determined variables or a modernization process in Lebanon or its

South than in terms of their capabilities as mediating agencies. More concretely, an

attempt has been made to document and account for how such mediating agencies
manage to acquire and adapt continuously to different means of organization, promotion, strategies and resources needed for recruiting members and extending the base of their leadership support.

There is much within the perspective advanced by Cameron and Tilly which are relevant to the exploration we had in mind, particularly since they dwell on considerations such as the structural organization of ~nediating agencies, their availability, access and manipulation of resources necessary for mobilization including,

for example, arms, men, money, and governmental resources.

Three related dimensions - ideological, organizational and programmatic -

extracted from Cameron's analysis ( 1974) regarding the capabilities of mobilizing agents,
seemed of particular relevance to our study:
1) The degree to which "ideology" is manipulated and adapted to local

discontent, or moral needs is of vital importance in determining the continuous success

or failure of a mobilizational effort. This dimension of study raises a number of important questions. How did different Shi'ite organizations use ideologies (ie. Islamic
etc.), to recruit and mobilize their constituencies? When and why were their shifts in their ideologies? How did they articulate, rationalize and disseminate such ideological

shifts in their strategies? For example, when and why did Hizbullah calf for an "Idamic
State" in Lebanon? When did they shift to call for " Lebanonization"? Likewise, when did

Arnal call for the "Deprived Shi'ites" and why a11d when did its leaders start to call for
the "Lebanese state" and "Lebanese identity"? Have the Asaads' or Osseyrans' political

trends and ideologies (ie. nationalistic, co~nmunal etc.) changed between pre and post-

war times.
2) It is equally important to assess the ability and the extent to which the
organization of a mediating agency is adapted to local situational factors. This is critical
in determining its success jn penetrating the existing social structure and extending its

mobilizational mechanism. Tilly's concern with the availability and access to resources is

also appropriate in our analysis of the institutional abilities of the four leadership groups.

For example, what have Amal and Nzbullah incorporated and made use of in mobilizing
their organizations? Was it their access to wealthy clients, arms,or governmental

resources that reinforced their mobilization? Did An~al's claim over Majlzs al Junoub and
its resources extend its ability to provide infrastructure services and therefore reinforce

its image? What were the Osseyran's resources for mobilization before the war and how

did their situation change during times of crisis?

3) What ace some of the concrete activities and programs that Asaad, Osseyran,

Amal and IiizbuIIah created to meet the salient social, welfare and other vital needs of

their communities? What specific programs or activities, did they support? Were they
consistent with their ideological and organizational strategies? Did they reflect transient or persistent needs, local or national interests, et c. The overall intention here is to assess the impact of nearly two decades of civil
strife on the efforts of Shi'ite leadership, both old and new, in redefining their objectives,

reorganizing their resources. and modifying their ideological rhetoric to meet the

exigencies and nascent post-war transformations. What were the roles of Anal,
Hizbullah, Asaad and Osseyran groups on the communal level? In the absence of a stable
and leading government capable of promoting developrr~entand safeguarding equality,

what was the significance of the presence of Amal, Hizbullah, Asaad and Osseyran?

Methodology The data required for my research was generally based on origind information,

especially in the case of finding out about the organization and inherent capabilities for mobilization (i.e, resources, modes of adaptation, functional capabilities etc.) of the

Asaad and Osseyran families. The latter did not document their modes of organization

and their achievements as more contemporary leaderships did (i.e. Arnal and Hizbullah).
Hizbullah in particular has a fairly adequate archive of their structural units and their

respective roles, achievements and capabilities.

Therefore, by the very nature of the study, I had to rely on a variety of sources of

information to verify and insure the validity and accuracy of my data.

1. Official records, statements, position papers and other such materials were consulted to shed some light on the objectives underlyj~lg the different ideologies or

programs of the leadership groups under study. Sinlilar materials were also used for
studying the organizational structure and implement atjon of specific associations or

programs. My case studies for this were al-Asaads' Democratic Socialist Party,
Osseyran's House of the Arabic Orphan' benevolent society and Amal's and Hizbullah's

educational institutions. I have chosen all categories of Arnd institutions in the South
namely; 1) al-Sadr's, 2) Nabih Berri's, and 3) Mrs. Randa Berri's as case studies.
Hizbullah's institution in the South that was studied was al- Mahdi school representing Hizbullah's educational and social institutions. 2. Due to my regular visits to the latter organizational institutions (all except al-

Asaads) since I worked with them on several social projects, I observed their mode of
work, organization, behavior etc. in order to see the extent to which the old forms of
leadersh~ps and relations were persisting in what seemed essentially new organizational

forms. This for example, means J tried to observe and find out how the Osseyrans
society's administrational staff and committees are organized. Are they formal or

informal? Are most of the members of the society's committees Osseyrans or relatives of
the family? Is the funding of the Osseyran's institution mostly private family donations or

contributions from religious or national groups etc.?

To the eaent possible, I explored the difference between the origin of funding
between the different organizations of Amal, Hizbullah, Asaad and Osseyran. I also

observed the mode of dress, behaviour, and patterns of communication and interaction in
the different organizations, which reveal much about their intrinsic beliefs and ideologies

and the differences between them. For example, does the htjab of HizbuIIah institutions

differ from that of the Amal institutions? Who are their reference groups? These could
be easily extracted from their literature, posters, emblems, campaign slogans and the I i ke.

Other observations were made in terns uf behaviour and attitude amongst staff, workers
and volunteers within the respective organizations. For example how do party members

act in the presence of the feudal-style zaim? Is it a feudal like relationship (i.e. zaim follower) or a party-based relationship (i.e. on more equal terms)?
3. In addition to the above observations, 1 carried out personal interviews, both

semi-structured and open-ended, with as many as possible of the officials, directors, staff

and members of the institutional organizations mentioned earlier. I probed into matters
such as the reasons for the emergence of these organizations, their human and financial
resources and modes of adaptation to states of crisis in wartime. Above all, I tried to

find out to what extent the political programs, ideologies or beliefs of Asaad, Osseyran,

Arnal and fizbullah are implemented within these institutions, and the differences among




Powerful notable families represented the majority of the Shi'ite population in

South Lebanon, prior to 1975, The hryks, the big men, the zu 'umu were the
descendants of the landed families. The leadership of the za 'imwas the organizing

principle of social and political life (Ajami, 198h: 63). Due to deep respect and oftenunquestioned loyalty and trust the za'inr inspired and commanded he played the role of

the judge, the educator, the social worker and the healer. His word was generally heard
and believed. This was the apparmit way the za 'im was portrayed by his sympathizers,

but there was also latent dissatisfaction.

A. Asaad

A power ul za'ama in Jabal 'Arnil first emerged during the Ottoman period. It
was confined to the Asaad family whose authority rested on several prevailing

conditions. The first reflected and embodied tribal features, particularly those inherent in
the deference and respect the young are expected to display towards the old. This i s also

apparent in the respect of a small tribe to a larger one and of a newly existing one an
older one. This meant the inevitable za'tima of al-Saghir (prior name ofal-Asaads)

over other lesser feudal families a!-Zein and al-Fadl. Secondly, there was a vacuum in
Shi' ite leadership, wluch was required to mobilize its followers in labal 'Amil on

communal and familial lines (al-Akhras, 1985: 1 5). Thirdly, there was a noted absence of religious challenge to the power and influence the zu 'nnra enjoyed. This was at a time

when the Shi'ite religious leaders of Jabal 'Atnil had fled to Iran and Iraq, to escape the
abuse of the Turks in the 1800's. Those remaining religious leaders were not allowed to
participate in the political life of the community and, therefore political action became a

virtual monopoly of the political za 'uma.This gave them greater freedom and mobility and, certainly, enhanced opportunities to reinforce and extend their hegemony. Finally,

the Asaads received considerable support from the dominating Turks.

The Sultan of the Ottoman Empire assigned Abdal-Hamid Kamel al- Asaad as the ,nrltan el-bar (sultan of the provinces). Kame1 al-Asaad, Abdal-Hamid's father, was also
appointed by the Turks as a member of the majlis al-maB 'uihaan (council of delegates) a form of parliament. These latter positions, in the Ottoman dominated government,

gave the Asaads and their supporters protection against Turkish, political and financial

oppression of the Shi'ites.

Therefore the Asaad za 'uma was the sole za 'uma in Jabal 'Amil with no
competitors. It was an inherited za 'uma starting from Moharnmad bin Hauaa al-Waili

(the ancestral name of the present Asaads) through to AIi al-Asaad, to Hamad Mahmoud

al-Asaad, to Khalil al-Asaad, to Kamel Khalil al-Asaad mentioned previously, (who

reaffirmed the za 'ama in the family) to Ahmad Abdul-Latif al-Asaad (Karnel's nephew)

to his son Kamel (al-Akhras, 1985: 34). Mohammad Bin-Hazaa al-Waeli who is said to

have inherited the province of Jabal 'Arnil from the emir Ham &Din Bechara, one of the
Emirs of a t Ayyubs (Saad, 1980: 4 1-42).

Kamel al-Asaad as sole leader in Jabal 'ArniI, allowed no competitors to

chdlenge his leadership (Saad, 1980:43). It was only through him that negotiations were made or messages sent to Jabal 'Arm1 from foreign leaders and officials. During the time
of the Arabian Revolution in 1924, a message was sent to Kamel al-Asaad by Emir

Faysal in which the Emir probed his readiness and willingtiess t o attack the Turks settling

on the sea shore with Asaad's thousands of men in order to overthrow the Turks and to
put up the Arabian flag in all areas of Jabal 'Anul. Kamel al-Asaad wavered towards t h s
move in case of failure (Safa, 1979:222).
After the victory of the Arabian Revolution and the announcement of Faysal

himself as the King of Syria, the "King Crane Committee" was sent to Lebanon to
investigate the social and political situation and needs of the Lebanese people, king

Crane was a predominately American committee formed after President Wilson's

declaration of the principle of self-determination of nations. France and Britain

absented themselves from this committee since one of its functions was to seek
independence rights of the colonized Arab states. Kamel al-Asaad gathered all
representatives of the Muslim sects of Jabal 'Amil and appeared before the King Crane
Committee to declare h i s support and demand for the unity of the Syrian provinces and the rejection of all foreign intervention or domination in Lebanon, especially that of the

French (Saad, 1980: 56). Kamel al-Asaad supported the unity of the Syrian and Arab

states in opposition to the French again in the extensive meeting of Wadi Huj ayr. That
eventful meeting convened at a time the French were trying to foment internal division

and conflict in opinions among the Lebanese concerning their occupation (Rida, 197 1:

Kamel al-Asaad died in 1924, having no sons to inherit his :a 'ama (since the
males were the traditional inheritors) but only daughters. Therefore, the official heir of

his za 'amawas his brother Abdul-Latif, who entered political life publicly in 193 5 before
the Second World War by nmning for parliamentary elections. The two members of parliament before the 1935 elections (padiament ary seats were highIy influenced by the

French authorities in the Lebanese state) were Fad1 al-Fad1 and Najib Osseyran, both
coming from very influential families in the South but with pro-French learnings. Al-Fad1

had died in 1935 and regional parliamentary elections took place to fill his parliamentary
seat. The French supported Bahij al-Fadl, the son of the former Fad1 al-Fad1 against the

other Abdul-Latif aI-Asaad who was supported mainly by the youth of the growing

French opposition in Lebanon. Bahij al-Fadl's victory was inevitable under such political
circumstances of French influence on the elections.
Abdul-Latif al-Asaad died in 1936 leaving his za ' t ~ m a to his son Ahmad. Ahmad
al-Asaad received his education at the Maqassed school in Saida and later married his

cousin Fatima (his Uncle Kamel's daughter). Ahmad al-Asaad's formal involvement in
politics was delayed due to the unsettling events of the Second World War.

Ahmad d-Asaad formed his own electoral list in 1943 with other prominent
figures in the South, including Adel Osseyran. This list was pitted against the list of

Yusuf al-Zein, a powerful feudal :a 'im at the time. Ahmad al-Asaad was appointed
Minister of Defense in 1943 due to the overwhelming victory he and his list managed to


By the 1947 elections, serious rivalry developed between Ahmad al-Asaad and
the other ascending leader in the South, Adel Osseyran, and as a result they formed two

opposing electoral lists. Ahmad al-Asaad's whole list won except for his candidate for
Nabatiye who was displaced by Adel Osseyran. Ahmad al-Asaad's victory again assured

him st cabinet seat, the Ministry of Public Works. In the 195 1 parliamentary elections alAsaad's victory was even greater; leaving out Adel Osseyran hirnsetf this time. This
election was referred to by people then as the round of the fourteen sticks, tneaning the

elections in whch Ahmad al-Asaad could guarantee victory for any person who was on

his list, even if he were a stick, not necessarily having any qualifications at a l (al-Akhras,
1984: 56). His alI-embracing victory this time allowed him to contest and win the

speakership of the Parliament.

The year I 95 1 brought about upheavals in Lebanon's political life. Prime

Minister Rjad al-Solh was assassinated and President Bechara al-Khoury was overthrown

by a peaceful revolt and replaced by Camille Chamoun. The latter president dissolved
the parliament two years after its elections (its official term being four years). During his

leadership, Chamoun was an ally of Adel Osseyran while a rival of al-Asaad.

In 1953 again, Ahtnad al-Asaad and Adel Osseyran formed the two competitive
electoral lists in the South and for the first time Ahmad a1-Asaad nominated his son

Kanlel on his list. The majority of Adel Osseyran's list won this time with the exception of h a d al-Asaad and his son Kamel ody, from the opposing list. AdeI Osseyran then became Speaker of the House of Parliament for three consecutive two-year terms due to

his victory in the 1957 and 1960 elections.

Ahmad al-Asaad, the very popular za 'im of the South died in 1 96 I . Al-Asaad's leadership was legendary due to the very deep love of his people fbr him, especially the peasant population who admired his modesty. good heart and social wit. With his death, the mantle of his traditional leadership and 4 r 0 'umaand the popular base of his suppo1-t passed to his son Kamel.

Karnel al-Asaad had studied law in France and pursued his politics alongside his
father beginning with his election to parliament in 1953 as mentioned above. Like his father before him, Kamel became Speaker of the House, at the comparatively youthful age of 27. He also managed to secure his virtual monopoly of that position for fourteen

years. His attitude towards politics and political life in the South was different from his

father's. He was not as close to his inherited popular base of support. He also assumed a
more distant but rather intellectual approach to political life. Krunel's involvement in an armistice agreement with Israel on the 17th of May 1984, led to the se\Iere decline in his
popularity in the South. Then the widespread militiamen using their armed forces (ie

forced him to evacute the area. Atnal, Palestinian Armed Forces, ctc.) during the war.

Kame1 returned to the South in order to run for parliamentary elections in 1993, forming his own list. This list competed against a very powerful alliance of political
parties, feudal families and independents, therefore having little chance for success,

especidiy under the heavy influence of armed groups and their use of force (Le, notably
Amd and Hizbullah which will be discussed later). In the 1992 elections some of al-

Asaad's followers and campaigners were beaten and threatened (i.e. especially by Amal's

His bid for the 1996 elections was even more distressing. Competing against

essentially the same list as in the 1992 elections, he was again defeated. Al-Asaad's
relationship this time with Hizbullah and other prevailing groups (except Amal) was less

tense than in 1992. There were even behind-the-scenes negotiations between aI-Asaad
and Hizbullah to exchange votes on election day despite Hizbullah's criticism of d-Asaad

as a feudalist and as a contributor to the 17th May Agreement. Hizbullah at the same time was also negotiating an electoral agreement with Amal's other main rival Habeeb

Sadek (a leftist who had been on Berri's 1992 electoral list and who had formed his own
list this time). Al-Asaad's objective by his alliance with Hizbullah was to threaten Berri,

and break h s dictatorship and monopoly over means of services (ie. Council of the South, governmental services, etc.). Forty eight hours before the election, a t Asaad was

abandonded by Hizbullah (who abandoned Sadek as well) after it was talked into an

electoral alliance with Berri by the Syrian authorities massif, 1996: 1 87). As a result, al-

Asaad was left alone picking up marginal candidates (i.e.Rafic Shahine, Philip Khaury

and others who were supposed to be on Hizbullah's list before) in addition to his list
members from the 1992 elections. However, from 1992 to 1 996, an attempt was also
being made by Kamel's son Ahlad, to create a new independent (non-kinship)
movement, called Lubna~l ul-Kafaat (Lebanon the skillful). The movenlent's main aini

has been to speak for and empower the so-called silent majority in South Lebanon who
have become disillusioned and alienated by war politics and war politicians (interview with Ahmad al- Asaad in 1992).

B. Osseyran
Osseyran was originally an Arabian family that lived in Iraq and was affiliated

with the bani Assud, the tribe which is said to have fought alongside the imam-MI

(peace be upon hm) in the famous battle of Karbala in the year 61 A.H. In this battle the
three sons of the bani-Asscrd tribe leader Mathaher al-Asaadi died. These sons were
Habib, Zaid and Ali. ARer their death, the sole inheritor of the tribe's leadership and

wealth was Mi's son Haidar, who pursued his war against the Ummayads in Iraq. This
continued until Abdullah Bin Mohammed known,as the safuh (persecutor) became ruler

of Iraq. He sought to persecute inheritors of different tribes especially bani Assud who
then sought refuge in Syria. In 15 19, another war was raged this time by the Turks

against the Ummayads in Syria and the Turhsh sultan then, ordered the persecution of
the Shi'ite wali in Aleppo and every other Shi'ite (Osseyran, 1980: 4). It is said that

about seventy thousand Shi'ites were executed and the rest managed to survive by escaping the country. Haidar's son al-Mir Haj fled to Baalbeck, al-Hirmit where he had


children, Ali and Osseyran. Unhappy with their father's second marriage from

al-Zuayter family in Baalbeck, A11 leR home to settle in a village called Lalaa in Western

Biqaa and Osseyran settled in Saida which was very wet1 known for to its busy harbour marfa' bar al-cham (harbour of the Syrian provinces). Osseyran was the first Shi'ite
family to settle in Saida at the time when the

Turks treated the Shi'ites as outcastes

(since Saida is predonlinantly a Sunni town even until today).

The Osseyran family in time, split into two branches. One branch, which worked in merchandise and owned around fifty villages in the South, was represented by al-Haj
Hassan Osseyran. The other, more political, branch of the family which also possessed

large amounts of wealth and land from inheritance and trade was represented by Ali
Afandi. The Osseyrans originally received support from Iran especially against Turkish

exploitation of the Shi'ites in the 1860's. Iran assigned Ali Afandi as general consul of

Iran in Saida and its surroundings. The Iranians, because of their dominant role in trade.
influenced the assignment of al-Hajj Hassan Osseyran "Shahindra"of the merchants in

Saida (head of the merchants) with approval of the Turks (AI-Akhras, 1985: 4).

The Iranian protection gave the Osseyrans, their workers, and their men many
privileges. For example, they were exempted from military service with the Turks in the
expansion of the Ottoman Empire and their merchandise and agricultural produce were protected from the heavy taxes usually paid to the Turks. These privileges, along with
their increasing wealth and services, reinforced the social and political position of the

Osseyrans in Saida and its surroundings particularly in i.e. Zahrani area where they
owned large areas of land.
Abdullah Osseyran succeeded his father as consul of Iran after his father's death.

Abdullah, during Lebanon's struggle for independence, was a prominent opponent of the

French presence in the country after the hard struggle for liberation from Turkish

domination. Therefore the air of revolution and liberation continued and increased under
the French domination. In the 1 920ts, the French tried to repress fiercely tlus

revolutionary trend and persecuted its leaders (i. e. Adharn Khxjar). Tlie Osseyrans

were main contributors to this revolution, especially Abdullah Osseyran md his nephew
Rached whose wife's brother was Adham Khanjar. But Abdullah's eldest brother, Najib

Osseyran, was a French ally, which was a source of contlict between the two brothers. The French had allowed for parliamentary elections to take place but this was only to release tension against them theoretically. In fact, however they would not allow

for any of their opponents to succeed (i. e. the French essentidly appointed their favored
candidates) by intervening during election day, therefore affecting the results (al-Akhras,
1987: 14). The French assigned one place to the Osseyrans and gave this place to Najib

Osseyran, their ally. Najib then became Vice-Speaker of Parliament for six years.

The same conflict that existed between Abdullah and Najib was carried over to
Abdullah's son, Adel Osseyran aRer his father's death. Adel was a graduate of the American University of Beirut (B.A. and M.A. degrees in Political Science in 1932 and
1942 respectively). Adel was a radical anti-French activist whose main aim was to

mobilize the Southern youths, intellectuals, educated as well as peasants, against the French and towards Arab unity. Adel's first public protests against the French was in
193 6 which included around fifty thousand persons in Nabatiye, after which he was

imprisoned by the French. The protesters in Nabati ye, along with those in Saida, headed
by Ma'aruf Saad formed a large demonstration leading to the prison in whch Adel, who had Ied the protest, was held in Beirut. Adel refused his uncle Najib's intervention with

the French for h s release as he saw this mediation as an insult (al-Akhras, 1985: 18).

The French then decided on their own to release Adel to avoid further upheavals. In 194 1, the French formed a cabinet that would cooperate with them and therefore tried to please Adel with a ministerial post. He refused it because of his
poIitica1 position against the French and their politics. Then Alfred Naccache, Prime Minister at the time, assigned Dr. Fouad Osseyran as Minister of Health, Public Works

and Agriculture University ( A l - W a s , 1 985 : 28). Dr. Fouad Osseyran was the first
gynecologist and obstetrician in South Lebanon and a graduate of the medical school of
Saint Joseph. He was also the founder of the first hospital in the south, the Osseyran


De Gaulle, the popular leader of Free France, along with British support,

declared Lebanon's independence in 194 1 The above cabinet, assigned by the proVichy French occupation in Lebanon, resigned in 1943 when the British entered Beirut
with Charles de Gaulle who was in exile at the time in opposition to the Vichy government. This did not mean the approval of the pro-Vichy Lebanese government
whlch reacted furiously to the formation of the first independent Lebanese government in
1943 and who had imprisoned all its members, including Adel Osseyran.

Adel, with h s colleagues (i.e. Camille Chamoun, Abdel Hamid Karami, al-Mir
Majid Arslan, etc.) after being released from prison due to massive demonstrations in all
parts of Lebanon, became one of the leading men of the independence which was granted
to Lebanon in 1943 by De Gaulle.

Adel was rewarded with a ministerial post (Minister of Commerce) in the 1943
Lebanese cabinet. H e then became Speaker of the House of Parliament for six years

from 1953 to 1959, (due to the victory of the majority of his electoral list during these
yews as mentioned previously against his main rival in the South, Ahmad al- Asaad).

Adel's whole list, himself included, lost in the 1964 elections against his rivals, winning
back his parliamentary seat in 1968 along with another member of his family that he had
supported, Sarnih Osseyran.

Adel, who had always represented the Qada of Zahrani, did so for the last time in
the 1972 elections, after which there were no elections for twenty years due to civil strife

and nlilitia warfare. His son Ali took over his father's political role in 1993 when he was officially elected Member of Parliament and then assigned minister of state. Ali ran for
the second time in 1996, winning representation for Zahrani with a relatively impressive

and substantive victory (Ali Osseyran received the third hghest number of votes in the
South after the Speaker of the House of Parliament Nabih Berri and a fizbullab

candidate, Nazih Mansour).

The rivalry of the Asaad's and the Osseyrans, before the war, was not so apparent in everyday life as is the case with rival groups during the war (j.e. Amd and Hizbullah).
Their rivalry was most significant during parliamentary elections and other electoral

campaigns. Only small-scale physical conflict took place between the Asaad
sympathizers and the Osseyran sympathizers in the rival villages (i.e.throwing stones or tomatoes at each other). Otherwise, they had peaceful, ever1 amicable, relations most of

the time.

C. Arnal
Of the more contemporary groupings and organizations that evolved during the

war period, the Arnal movement and Hizbullah party are, clearly, the most prominent.
Amal was formed by Imam Musa atSadr in 1975 and marked the beginning of
militant Shi'ism in South Lebanon. Musa al-Sadr was born in Qom, Iran, in 1928, the

son of an important religious leader, Ayatullah Sadr al-Din al-Sadr. He attended primary
and secondary school in Qom and college in Tehran He did not intend to study religion,

but instead hoped to follow a secular career It was only upon the urgings of his father,
who believed that Riza Shah was destroying Iran's religious institutions, that he discarded
his secular ambitions and pursued an education inJiqh (Islamic jurisprudence). Initially
he studied in a Qom rnadr~~.~,~c~h (religious school), and while still in Qom he edited a

magazine, Makutib- lsluwi (Islamic Schools), which is still published in Iran. One year

after his father's death in 1953, he moved to Najaf, Iraq, where he studiedfiqh under the
pnarja' al-knbrr.(the greatest reference of religious matters), hluhsin al-Hakirn (Norton,

1987: 161).

Musa al-Sadr visited Lebanon, which he claimed is his ancestral home, for the
first time in 1957. During this visit he made a very strong

and positive impression on his

coreligionists. He moved to Tyre in the early 1 960's to assume leadership of the Shi'ite

community of South Lebanon, with the active support of his teacher and mentor, Muhsin at-Hakim. Very early in his political leadership, he displayed the ability to attract a wide
array of supporters, ranging horn Shi'ites merchants malung their fortunes in Africa to
petty bourgeois youth. Imam Musa, as he was popularly called, set out to establish himself as the paramount leader of the Shl'jtes conununity. His timing could not have

been more auspicious. At the time of his arrival there were a number of signs of incipient
political organization including a remarkable expansion in family associations, small

political discussion groups, and other social organizations that often carried political
import (Khalaf, 1972. 578-98). Thus, while he did not single-handedly launch the
community's political consciousness, he capitalized on the budding politicization of the

Shi' ites community, invigorating and rationalizing it (private interview with a senior

associate of Musa d-Sadr, 1 984).

Imam Musa helped fill a yawning leadership vacuum that resulted from the
increasing inability of the traditional political leaders to meet the rising needs of their
clients. He sought to enter the political arena by politicizing his role as a religious cleric, a complete departure from customary clerical acquiescence. He was also appalled by

what he described as the longtime mm'ib (sufferings and misfortunes) of the Shi'ites

from poverty, disease. and Sumi and Christian prejudice and maltreatment (Ramazan,
1988: 182). He urged the Slu'ites not to accept their lot as something predeternlined.

Rather, he prodded them to set out to achieve social and economic justice and political
equity through organization.

The government's ullresponsiveness to deteriorating conditions of the Shi'ites in

the South, and the worsening security there because of PLO-Israeli clashes, especially following the influx of Palestinians in 1 970-7 1, moved al-Sadr, to formal political action.

At a rally in 1974 in Ba'dback he launched, his Harnkat a/-Mahroumeert (Movement of

the Deprived) He called upon his followers to rise up against their oppressors, struggle

for their rights, and even endure martyrdom, if necessary (al-Nahar, 18 February 1974).
Amal, an acronym for gfwaj al-mu yawamah-uI-Llibnuniyah (Generations of the

Lebanese Resistance) was founded by Imam Musa as a militia group attached to the
Movement of the Deprived, in order to protect the Shi'ites community at the outbreak of

civil war in1975 as well as to defend the South against lsraeli invasions.
A-Sadr, at a most critical moment in the political history of hs community,
vanished during a trip to Libya in 1978. His disappearance focused S hi'ites discontent

and determination to achieve equity, and made al-Sadr a martyr. In the ten months

between March 1978 and January 1979, three tnajor events transpired, that accelerated

the mobilization a f t he Shi'ites community and contributed to the consolidation of

Shi'ites political influence in a revitalized Amal. In March 1978, Israel launched its first

major invasion of Lebanon, Operation Litani. In August 1978 the Imam disappeared.

Finally, in January 1979, the Islamic revolution in Iran toppled the Shah.

Husain al-Hussainy, lawyer and ex-speaker of the House of Parliament took over
Arnal during 1 978- I 980. He believed, like Imam al-Sadr, that Arnal should remain a

pliant socio-political tool of the Shi'ites establishment; nameIy, an organization through

which the Shi'ites will continue their fight for reformation of their social, educational,
health and political status through the government, its institutions and funds (Norton,
1987: 31).

In 1980, al-Hussainy was replaced in new party elections by Nabih Berri, a much
younger lawyer from a modest family in the Jabal 'Amal village of Tibnin. Indeed, the

rise of Nabih Berri to the presidency of Amal represented the emergence of a new
generation of mobilized middle-class Shi'ites. Berri, whose major credentiJs were his

years in a mainstream organizing cadre of Amal, had long been subject to some criticism

from more conservative sectors of the community. These critics included, of course, the

old-style feudal leaders who had always been opposed to Arnal's activities (ie. Kame1 dAsaad); but they also came to include al-Husaini and the religious scholar Shaikh

Muhammad Mahdi Shams al-Din, who had taken over al-Sadts former position at the
head of the Higher Shl'ite Islamic Council founded by al-Sadr. As Deeb observed, the
latter political and religious Ieaderships noted that the takeover of Amal by Berri

represented the triumph of the militia over the political leadership of Anal @eeb 1986).
Nabih Berri fought during the civil war in the name of the deprived Shi'ites ulltiI
he became minister in 1984. During the 1992 elections Berri formed his own electoral

list in the South which ran in the elections with very little competition (ie. al-Asaad's list

which was Berri's only rival was weak and was also oppressed practically during
elections by militiamen of bothAmal and Hizbullah). The elections brought Berri and his

list a sweeping victory, thus leading him to become Speaker of the House of Parlian~ent.
It was the first time in Lebanese history that a fighter and the head of a militia would be

incorporated into one of the state's highest authorities and responsibilities (ie. Presidency,

Speaker of the House of Parliament, Prime Minister). Nabih Berri ran in the elections
for the second time in 1996, again forming his own list after facing more difficult
conditions and realities than in 1992. For example, Berri's 1992 list members had
disintegrated and many were refusing to fornl an alliance again. Those who refused

included Hizbullah, as well as Mi Osseyran and Habib Sadek dl of whom disapproved

Berri's dictatorial authority and hold on services such as the allocation of governmental
positions, social services, and Mujlis al-Janub. Berri finally reached a comprise with

Hizbulhh and Ali Osseyran, only a few days prior to the elections and his list won again,
allowing him to retain his position as Speaker of Parliament. (Nasif, 1996: 18 1- 189).

D. HizbuIlah
A major critic and enemy of Berri's Arnal during the war was the other

temporary Shi'ite movement, Hizbullah (The Party of God). Hizbullah emerged in the Shi'ite community in the early 1980's as a reaction to the Israeli invasion of Southern
Lebanon and to the triumph of the Islamic Revolution in Iran. Hizbullah was led by
Sheikh Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah, who by 1983 became the leading pol itical and
religious figure among Shi'te militants.

Sheikh Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah was a graduate of the Sh'ite college in

Najaf, Iraq, where he had apparently supported Iraqi Da'wa. The latter organization had
an Islamic Shi'ite trend, fighting for the rights of the Shi'ites and against their social and

political oppression. Its leaders and main organizers were predominately graduates of
Najaf. The Ba'ath party, which took a grave view of the Shi'ites'subversive propensities,

carried out extensive operations of suppression against the sources of religious education

of the Da'awa organizers such as the college in Najaf. Their students were subjected to
detention, torture, deportation and even execution. These punitive measures constituted

a major set back to the Shi'ites' organizational efforts and generated a wave of protests
in the Shi'ite world, principally in Lebanon.

As a result of the deportation palicy launched by the l raqi Ba'th regime against
the foreign ulama, several dozen Lebanese clerics, who had spent their formative years in
the melting pot of Najaf, virtually all of them pupils of Muhammad Baqir al-Sadr (Musa

d-Sadr's cousin), arrived in Lebanon in the early 1 970's. Najaf graduates, along with

other Lebanese, formed the Lebanese IsIamic Da'awa Pafly, modelled on the Iraqi party

of the same name This organization took full advantage of Lebanon's pluralism,
operating openly, while maintaining contact and forging a mutual aid network with the mother organization that functioned secretly in Iraq. The target population of the Lebanese Da'awa was the generation of young Shi'ites who were previously organized in
the "Lebanese Association of hluslim Students", founded by Shi 'it e graduates of the

Arab University of Beirut. The Lebanese Da'awa and its cadres in the students'
association found their spiritual leader in the unique person of Muhammad Hussein


Fadlallah arrived in Lebanon in 1966 from Najaf, where he had been born in 193 5 to a weI1-known Lebanese family of learned Shi'ites. Seven years earlier his father had

taken the family to Najaf from Aynata, not far from Bint Jubeil in Soutl~ Lebanon,
Shaykh Fadlallah settled in the Nab'a quarter of East Beirut, an area heavily populated by Slu'ites from the South and from the Beqa'. There, as the representative of his master
and teacher Abu al-Qasim al-Kho'j, (the supreme religious authority of the Shi'ite world), he strove to establish himself as a ranking mujiahid (teacher and interpreter of Islattuc

law) with an acknowledged standing of his own. In this period, which saw the impressive success of tlle Imam Musa al-Sadr, Fadlallah opted for a quiet mode of
activity, far removed from the political realm. Fadlallah, however, was irked by Sadr's

determination to lead the Shi'ite community, considering himself to be the ranking

personality in terms of education and erudition. For quite sometime though, Fadlallah's

political ambitions were not clear and he remained in al-Sadr's shadows (Shapira, 1988:
124). Fadlallah soon cultivated support from another trend, whose members were ready
to acknowledge his standing, and which found partial organizational expression within
the framework of the Lebanese Da'wa.

Seeing the great success enjoyed by Amal's recruitment efforts within the Shi'ite

community, the Da'wa circles began to pander over the attitude they themselves should

adopt towards A m d . This state of affairs, in which the Lebanese Da'wa maintained its
separate existence alongside Amd, persisted until the Islamic revolution in Iran.

FoIIorving that upheaval, and against the backdrop of Muhammad Baqir al-Sadr's
execution in Iraq in April of 1980, the Lebanese Da'wa was dissolved, apparently at the behest of senior Iraruan circles. Nevertheless, its members continued to maintain their

Da'wa identity. The Islamic revolution in Iran took place at a time when the Lebanese

Shi'ite community was in deep crisis, generated by the nlysterious disappearance of Imam Musa al-Sadr. Having lost its charismatic religious leader, Amal brought to its
helm Nabih Berri, a visibly more secular leader. As we saw, it was his paramount

objective to promote the interests of the Shi'ite community within the framework of the

Lebanese state and the complicated reality of Lebanese politics. Iran came to believe
that Amal, by espousing secular national interests, was incapable of advancing IranianIslamic interests. Hence, the golden opportunity the Lebanese war afforded Iran; namely

the prospect of a breakthrough in Lebanon, was fading away. It was then that the

Iranians made their decision to support the creation of a Shi'ite lslamic movement that would provide an alternative to Anla1 and help inculcate the revolutionary Islamic
ideology in Lebanon.

Hizbullah, with Fadldlah as its spiritual leader, was thus founded in 1984,
initially aiming to appiy Iranian policy in Lebanon's unique political, social and economic

structu-re,enabling Tehran to translate its goal into effective action. That goal was to
establish an Islamic movement acknowledging the political and religious leadership of the
late Imam Khomeini, and gearing itself to overthrow the existing Lebanese regime,

replacing it with an Islamic regime on the Iranian model (al-Sadr; 1979: 18-3 5).
Thus, within the Shi'ite community in Lebanon, and alongside Musa al-Sadr's
movement, Hizbullah evolved emphasizing its Islamic Shi'ite roots and its affinity with

the spiritual centre in Najaf. At the same time, this new trend rejected the national

identity to which al-Sadr had vowed allegiance in h s efforts to gain official legitimacy

and recognition as head of the Lebanese Shj'jte conmunity. It was only in the
parliamentary elections of 1993 that Hizbullah became politicized within Lebanese mainstream politics. This was because the reforms they called for in 1985 had been

accomplished. In the South, Hizbullah won two parliamentary seats and since then they

have remained within the main stream of Lebanese politics. Thus, they ran again in the
1996 elections, and this time they would not accept less than four candidates on Berri's

Iist. Othenvise they threatened to form their own list against Berri's, allying themselves

with Habib Sadek and al-Asaad. This, however, does not mean that Hizbullah's

affiliation to lran has terminated or is being undermined.

From the beginning, the spiritual religious tie between Hizbullah and Iran, along
with Iranian material support, have sustained and consolidated the development of a firm
bond to Iran (Faksh, 1977: 47). Some of this support that was invested in the south and

how it helped to meet the needs of those rejecting the traditional political system will be
discussed later.

E. Poiitical Mobilization in the Context of Mediating Agencies

Before the onset of civil war Lebanon's Shi'ites were, fbr long, been considered

the most disadvantaged confessional group in the country. By most, if not all, of the
conventional measures of socio-economic status, the Shi'ites faced poorly in comparison

to their non-Shi'ites cohorts. For example, using 197 1 data, Joseph Chamie noted:

The average Shi'ites family's income was 4,532 Lebanese pounds (LL; 3 LL. = $ 1 in 1971), in comparison with the national average of 6,247 LL.; the Shi'ites constituted the highest percentage of families earning less than 1,500 LL.; they were the most poorly educated (50 percent with no schooling vs. 30 percent state-wide); and the Shi'ites were the least likely, in comparison with their cohorts f r o m other recognized sects, to list their occupation as professionaUtechnicaI, businesslmanagerial, clericd or craftsloperatives, and the most likely to list it as farming, peddling, or labour (Chamie, 1976/ 1977: 179).

Although they lagged behlnd their countrymen by all the standard measures of socioeconomic status, the Sh'ites were not insulated from the process of modernization that affected Lebanon as a whole. The bonds of their social isolation began to be broken

by the intrusions of the media, agricultural mechanization, and improved transportation.

Their schools, comparatively, were inferior in quality. Yet education, especially at the

primary level, became far more readily accessible. In short, the Shi'ites community was,
before the Lebanese war, already caught in the throes of socioeconomic change, change
that would undermine the traditional political system and make ever larger numbers of

Shi'ites available for political action (Norton 1986).

The decline of the agrarian sectors (the main source of income for southerners)
and the continuous Israeli bombardments, had been an important impetus for internal as

well as external migration. Internal migrants, often landless, poorly educated, and
unemployed, typically found that the Beirut slums offered only squalor and misery. On the other hand, external migrants tended to be somewhat better educated. While slum

dwellers often had no choice but to maintain their village-based political alliances, the

external migrants typically stepped into contemporary political alliances in their overseas
locations. Thus, the overseas Shi'ites population was not cut off from Lebanon but instead maintained close ties to home. One result of these emerging ties was that the

migrants became an important source of funds for politicd movements that would recognize and preserve their newly achieved socioeconomic status. Not unexpectedly, such change had an impact on the Shi'ites of the South and
their leadership. People, who were once essentially irrelevant to the political system,

became increasingly determined to assert their political will. For example, Ahmad Ajarni,

a very wealthy migrant working in Africa, became a Member of Parliament in the Z 992

elections merely due to his wealth, having no previous experience whatsoever i ti public

Michael Hudson, among others. has noted that one of the most interesting
developments of the post World War II period was the gradual modernization of the

Slli'ites political leadership (Hudson 1968). One might question the extent to which pre-

war leaders displayed "modern" or emancipatory features. Nonetheless, before the onset
of war, the Shi'ites were beginning a political awakening which was to play an irnport,mt

role in shaping their destiny in the 1970's and I 980's. There were, however, no signs about the direction that awakening would follow (ie. towards modernization of the

political system or reactivation of traditional and personal authoritative systems disguised

within modem institutional structures). It is only now, aRer more than twenty years of
struggle for power and for social reformation that we can attempt to find out the
direction that the contemporary Amal and Hizbullah and the primordial Asaad and

Osseyran have led the community into. Long under the influence of either the Asaads or Osseyrans, who controtted land,

wedth, and access to the political system, the Shi'ite youth, the emerging wealthy dass,
and the educated were becoming discontented with the situation. They became

j~~creasingly attracted by party slogans pledging equality, improvement in social and

economic conditions and above all, the modernization of the politicd system. As a
result, quite a large number of Shi'ites were drawn into parties along a relatively broad ideological spectrum ranging from the Lebanese Communist Party, to various Fida'i

organizations, to the parties promoting Arab Liberation (ie. Arab Liberation Front), not
missing out local non-Shi'ites sectarian parties such as the Druze Progressive Socialist Party and the Maronites' Kataeb. But as Norton noted, not aI1 pmcipants in such

organizations were motivated by political principles; tnany joined simply to gain a salary
(Norton, 1978: 160).

Well into the 1970's the Shi'ite awakening, again comparative to other

communities still lacked a structured movement to lead it and to translate it into

community power. As the Shi'ite community became more socially mobilized, the

charismatic cleric, Imam Musa al-Sadr, accelerated the process and gave it a unique cast.
The new movement, as it separated fio~n the leftist nationalist forces, began to crystallize

in the late 1960's and became active formally in the mid 1970's. This political movement,

later known as 'Arnal', embodied a new sect consciousness and enabled political activism
hitherto unknown, to compete with leffist groups, for the allegiance of the young Shi'ites

(Norton, 1 987: 3 1). It is in this sense that the nascent movements came to act as
mediating structures to absorb and organize the masses needy for mobilization.

It is evident in most political and sociological references to Lebanon in general

and to the Shi'ites of the South in particular, that prior to the war of I 975, leaderstup in
South Lebanon was held by a small number of feudal-like zu 'ama (the Asaads,

Osseyrans, al-Fadls, d-Khalils and al-Zeins). Moreover, the terms traditional,

clientelistic, personal and dictatorial have become common appellations in reference to

this kind of leadership based on zu hma. In addition to the familial roots of these
zu 'ama, their so-called traditional leadership was also a byproduct of factors such as

economic, social and political power. Political power was exibited by these z w

'ama in

their relationshp with the government and other external domains of power, as well as in

the means available to them for mobilization. Such means included, access to public ur
private service institutions, to financial donations and private wealth, to military

organization, to political party organization, and to external political and financial

support. Inheritance of a zu 'amawould be insignificant without the appropriate means for ma bilization and adaptation. This certainly must account for why a number of
kinship based zu ' m a lost their popular base of support, as well as their social and

political prestige before the war (i.e. al-Fadls, Bazzi, Safieddine etc.). On the other hand, the Asaads and the Osseyrans were still in the limelight just before the onset of the war
and before the emergence of the contemporary competing armed movements of AmaI

and Hizbullah. These movements, as we observed, sought to eradicate traditional

zu 'ama as well as to reform the whole Lebanese clientelist system. They also espoused

jihad (armed struggle) against the Israeli occupation.

From the stereotypes of Shi'ite traditional leaders like Asaad and Osseyran and

those of the progressive and reformist leaders or parties like Amal and Hizbullah, it is
legitimate to expect a clear-cut distinction between the two attributed leadership types.

For example, to a reader of modem Sh'ite history, it is made to seem that contemporary movements have sought changes in the Lebanese socio-political system that were never
recognized or attempted before. Actually, the highly visible activities of Amal and
Hizbullah during the war and their attraction of worldwide media coverage led to the

perception that they have been able to eradicate the political influence of feudal-like

families like the Asaads and Osseyrans.

On the other hand, the so-called traditional leaders who held social and political
authority for quite some time before the war, especially the Asaads and Osseyrans, see

the contemporary Arnal and Hizbullah parties as destructive to the overall Lebanese

situation. In other words, they are often perceived as less nationalistic movements having caused destruction and a sharp decline in econonlic growth, in addition to the
thousands of dead and disabled.
In this thesis 1 seek to investigate the ideological claims, modes of organization,
and the means and capabilities for mobilization of the four forms of Shi'ite leadership

under study. They have been able, to mobilize tens of thousands of South Lebanese

sympathizers at different periods of Lebanon's political history. Cameron, whose perspective is of assistance in this regard, rejected the traditional view of mobilization
that conceived of political induction as passive and inevitable (Deutsch, 1966: 493). His

approach, instead, examines how a mobilizing agent or organization adapts its ideology
to articulate and give meaning to local discontent. He is also concerned about how it

appropriates, for its own benefit, the resources of thelocal society, of penetrating it, and

adapting the organizational infrastructure already existing in society to its purposes

(Cameron, 1974: 140).

Judicious use of Cameron's approach will certainly assist us in providing answers

or at least exploring an array of questions vital for our understanding of the character

and changing forms of political mobilization:

I ) What form of organization did the Assaads and Osseyrans manifest before and
during the war ? 2) If they did display any recognizable degree of formal organization, what was their za 'ama based on ? 3) Either way, how did they manage to mobilize their

constituencies and political followers ? Were they traditional, rhetorical or are they more
innovative in their ideological trends and forms of mobilization ? 4) How did they react
to the emergence of opposing and competitive militant movements such as Amd and

Hizbuilah ? 5 ) How and why did the normally politically quietist and non-participant

South Lebanese discover their political and social voice in Amal and HizbulIah ? 6)
Finally, on what basis and upon what particular ideological formulations did these
organizations legitimatize their strategies and means for mobilization?

A. Asaads

The prominent role of al- Asaads was established more than 150 years ago. Their
za'ama extended throughout the regions and villages of the South, resting on severd

characteristics which included: I ) family background, 2) economic authority, 3)

hospitality and generosity, 4) the "carrot" and the "stick", and 5) its support by the

prevailing dominant authority, 6 ) services provided (, educatio nal, sociai,

economical), 7) military prowess etc.

Fanuly background and fanlily ties predominate in value-laden and traditional

societies that care about ancestral links. Power in a family is inherited and the populace

owes absolute allegiance to the new heir. This is clear in the Arabic saying ibn al-beyk, beyk (the son of a beyk is a beyk), a form of loyalty which reinforces the deep historical
roots of the za'im. To a large extent, this is how Ahmad al-Asaad inherited his

leadership from his father Abdullatif and then passed it on to his own son, Kamel.
Economic authority proves to be another major asset for a family's :a 'i7~11n,

derived largely from land ownership. This, in turn, provides job opportunities for the peasants. This source of economic authority, defined by their vast ownership of land and

their domination and political control of the peasants working on it, justifies labelling the

Asaads as feudalist. Moreover a traditional, especially rural za 'ama is inconceivable

without generous hospitality towards the rural population. The Asaads were clearly not averse to such normative expectations. Indeed, they were quite adept at them.

From time to time, a further characteristic of a traditional za 'umn, especially that

of a]-Asaads, employs threats ( f ~ r l ~ and l b ) seduction (larghih) to manipulate political

supporters as well as enemies. Tarhib,operating when one opposes the orders or

politics of a ,-a'inl, employs threats and restrictions of certain privileges or rights (the
stick). This approach can lead to the solution of conflicts employing the threatening

language of power. Seduction (the carrot) is used by a za'irn to 'reward' either

sympathizers or rivals and attract them to follow his political path. One example is a

=a'im's exaggerated welcome for his sympathizers and his concern about their requests
and needs. The 2.u 'imgets up in front of everyone at some public event to greet his

sympathizers, modestly and warmly. It is said that Ahmad al-Asaad used this mode of greetings and life-style with his people so consistently that it became the talk of the town.

This mode of behavior, favored by the people of Jabd 'AmiI is reflected in the saying
laiini wa iaa tighudini (greet me and do not feed me). This seductive attitude promotes the social and public image of the za 'im.

Incidentally, Goffman's dramaturgical approach for documenting the elaborate

"fronts","rituals" and "symptomatic" plays public leaders resort to in disguising their

incompetence and reinforcing their precarious leadership could be imaginatively and

fruitfully applied to such instances (Gofhan, 1959: 1967).

Finally, the leadership of al-Asaads was also favored by the political support of
the dominant authorities. For example, Kame1 al-Asaad was assigned by the Turks to the

majlis al-mab'uthan, a parliament-like council under the control of the Turks. His influential position in this t~lajlis gave the family certain priviteges such as exemption

from Ottoman taxes and from military service in the Ottoman's expansionist campaigns.
These privileges extended to the peasants working on the za 'im's land. For example, the
za 'imwould not only protect his workers from Ottoman exploitation. He would also

provide them with hedth, social and economic services.

A za 'im was acknowledged as his people's leader irrespectively of whether he

held a parliamentary or government post. This held true especially since parliamentary
elections were always corrupt to a certain extent or merely reflected the state's approval

or disapproval of a zu'im's election to parliament or participation in office (al-Akhras,

1985). Being a za 'im involved, quite often and in more tangible ways, more privileges

than being a parliamentarian. Parliamentary terms are often short and intermittent.

Za 'ama loyalty, on the other hand, extended indefinately with support, love, devotion and respect from a =a'ims followers. Moreover, a notable could not rely solely on his
deep-rooted family ties or his privileged economic and social status to sustain h s

za'uma. Those of JabaI 'Amil, as apparent in their militant political history, had to
acquire considerable military prowess. He had to be a nun who struggled, who fought,

and who even carried out battles in the name of the honour, pride and dignity of his
people or land. It was ady in this capacity that the traditional inheritor of a zu 'crtna
could be called a za 'im. For example, the first of the al-Asaads in the last two centuries

to become a prominent and powerful za it^ was Kamel Khdil al-Asaad, while his father

Khalil was not addressed as a za 'im but only as a notable.

Under the domination of the Ottomans and then the French, Kamel d-Asaad
constantly supported and encouraged Arab unity. When the Ottoman occupation ended

and the Allied Forces entered the Arabian states in I 9 18, Kamel al-Asaad cooperated
with King Faisal in raising the Arab flag for the first time in the village of Marjayoun.

That was the first time that an Arab flag was put up in Syria and Lebanon (Abu Samra,
1980: 9). Then, Kamel al-Asaad raised the second Arab flag in Nabatiye on the roof of

the house of another za 'im, Moharnmad al-Fadl (al-S hiraa, vol. 650, 1994:).

Kamel al-Asaad corisistently supported the unity of the Arab states by refusing to

sign a French peace treaty calling for the unification of Jabal 'Amil and Greater Lebanon.

He also supported the appointment of King Faisal as the king of Syria despite French
opposition (Al-'Urfan, 1947: 736). Even when revolutionary groups against the French occupation increased and got out of control, Kamel al-Asaad continued to oppose the French occupation. The destruction caused by small gangs arid militia groups escalated causing deterioration in

the security situation. The gangs started stealing and attacking property, especially in Christian villages. Some people believed that these acts were perpetrated by the French

create fear among the Christians so that they would request protection by the French

Wda, 1923 : 1 1 14). The French immediately proposed that their own national guard be used to put an end to the deteriorating security situation. Kamel al-Asaad, after consultation with other zu 'amusuch as Yusuf al-Zein and Mohammad al-Fadl, rejected

the French proposal since in his view it legitimized military occupation (al-Difaa, 1960).
On April 24th, 1920, Kame1 al-Asaad declared the follorving demands at the

prominent conference of Wadi Hujayr: 1) the demand for Lebanese to be independent

from foreign domination, especially that of the French, 2) the demand for the unity of

Lebanon with Syria, 3) the demand for Faisal bin Hussein to become king of Syria and 4)

last but not least, the demand for the protection of the Christians and their assets from
"revolutionary" gangs.

This call for independence as well as for Arabism while under the pressure of
foreign occupation and daily threats reinforced his za'ama. However, after his powerful and threatening speech, the French exiled Kamel al-Asaad with his supporters. The

French were, of course, hoping that such banishment would prompt him to change his
oflensive political position and rhetoric (Tamer, 1977: 16). His exile only reinforced his
determination. He persisted in his resolute rejection of French occupation (Hussayki,
1996: 34). The people of Jabal 'Atnil were moved by their leader's refusal to surrender

and by his integrity. His forced exile only made hrn more powerful and gave h i m more
credibility in their eyes. Such power, reinforced by the deep-rooted traditions of honour

sharaf and dignity karuma and clan-like with tribal values, was effectively used by the
To avoid further popular upheavals, the French allowed Kamel al-Asaad to return

to Jabal ' Amil Soon after, a high French military officer visited Kanlel's home in Taybe

in an effort to ease tensions and to ask for reconciliation (Sader, 1 972: 70).

Through his actions, Kame1 al-Asaad did not only reaffirm his own za 'nma but
that of his predecessors as well. The support granted to him at the time came from his

political principles and independent nationalistic political stance, largely a byproduct of his own beliefs and indigenous cultural values. It is this closeness and understanding that

a za'im had for the indigenous culture, including the religious and traditional values of
his people, as well as the support he had for their beliefs that reinforced his za'ama. He
came from the people, was close to them, yet ahead of them. Compared to that

relationship, there exists increasing political alienation nowadays in the South as well as

in other parts of Lebanon, for people feel that there is a great gap between their beliefs
and values and those of their leaders.
With the death of Kamel Khalil al-Asaad, his brother Abdullatif, succeeded him,
since Kame1 had no sons. Abdullatif s hereditary succession to his brother's za'uma did

not make him a za 'im.Inspite of his continued support for Arab unity and the relative

support he received from the younger revolutionary generation, he was not the mass
mover, the fighter for the tribal values so prevalent
a~ld entrenched

in the lives of the

Asaad sympathizers. Moreover, Abdullatif was not the generous and big-hearted man to

become the 'amelliyean za 'im (leader of Jabal 'Amil). Nonetheless, he remained a link

in the chain of the Asaad's za'uma, a link between the prominent and powerful zu 'uma of

Kamel al-Asaad and the popular and legendary za 'uma of Ahmad al-Asaad, his own son.

Ahmad al-Asaad who was born in 1908, and married to the za 'im's daughter
(Kamel Khalil al-Asaad's daughter, Fatima) became one of the most distinguished zu 'ama
of Jabal 'Amil. His name and charisma are still very meaningful to the people of South Lebanon today, irrespective of their feelings about him. Since he conquered the hearts

and minds of thousands of people across Jabal 'Amil, it is significant to understand how

he extended the popularity of the Asaads. Did he inspire his people with traditional ideas and beliefs or did he adopt progressive methods of mobilization and organization?
Ahmad al-Asaad, who entered formal political life in 193 7 as a member of

parliament, became an active politician nationally as well as locally, especially through

being elected Speaker of the House and also holding several ministerial posts. Ahmad al-Asaad championed for habization, especially for Nasserism, which
was favoured by large masses of the Muslim population of Lebanon in, the 1950's. For

example, after Abdel Nasser nationalized the Suez Canal on the 6th of July 1956, h n a d

al-Asaad, with his supporters in parliament, asked the Lebanese government to cut its
relations with the British and the French, who opposed the nationalization of the canal. Ahmad al-Asaad also criticized those members of parliament who continued to stress the
uniqueness of Lebanon in relation to other Arab states. He declared that there was no difference between Lebanon and other Arab countries and that any attack on an Arab

country meant an attack on Lebanon and vice-versa (Reports of the meetings of the
House of Parliament, 1956: 103- 104).

h a d al-Asaad's persistent rhetoric calling for the independence of Lebanon

within an Arab union impressed his followers at a time when Arabism and Nasserism

were at their peak in South Lebanon (among both Sunni and Shi'ite). At that time, the
one who waved the flag ofNasserism, as al-Asaad did, was almost as loved as Nasser

himself. Ahmad al-Asaad's strong political stand in favor of Lebanese independence and
Arab unity was reflected in h i s participation in the 1958 revolution against the authority
of Camille Chamoun, pro-western defender of the view of the 'uniqueness of Lebanon' rather than Arab Lebanon.

In May 1958, protests and strikes spread across Lebanon to pressure President
Chamoun to step down since no progress had been made in decreasing corruption in the
administration and courts. Actually, corruption had become widespread during Bechara

al-Khoury's era. The protesters were put down by military force. It was then that
Camille Charnoun asked that all protesters be tried, including Ahmad al-Asaad and his
son Kamel, then a member of parliament (al-Yusuf, 1958 : 128). However his request was not fulfilled since things got out of hand.

Chamoun ignored the people's protests, leading to widespread discontent and the
beginning of local resistance to his presidency. Ahmad J-Asaad decided to organize the

resistance in South Lebanon. He went t o such villages as Chibaa, Kfarshouma,

Kfarhamaarn, al-Habarie where he formed local committees as part of an initiative

toward a popular national resistance (Aboud, 1944: 141). From the South, aGAsaad
moved to the Syrian province of Baniyaas, where he armed the opposition and provided

them with military training (al-Nahar, No. 6941, 1958:).

The Lebanese government accused Ahmad al-Asaad of preparing for a coup

d'etat and sentenced him to death. The press supported by the government then
attempted to reduce the public's outrage at the sentence by writing that Ahrnad al-Asaad

had decided to abandon the opposition. Ahmad al-Asaad, however, demonstrated to his
people that a za ' i mshould never be afraid, surrender, or retreat from his beliefs. He

gave a press conference on the 18th of May 1958, stating the following:
Lebanese public opinion is well aware of all these distortions of the truth about the opposition and about my supposed withdrawal, spread through cheap and corrupt newspapers. Everyone knows who is weak and incapable and who is courageous and liberal.

Therefore I call on my people in Beirut, in the South and in other parts of Lebanon to be active in this struggle and to fight for the freedom of our nation from corrupt domination until we shed the last drop of our blood. We should work toward one goal, the pride and honor of our nation (A-Siyasa al-Beirutiya,
19%: 1).

-4lmad al-Asaad went on to encourage the uprising in Tyre, Nabatiye and other
bording areas of South Lebanon (i.e. Hasbaya and Marjayoun). He set up local councils

in both villages of South Lebanon in order to administer village affairs and to protect the
inhabitants from internal conflicts, disorganization and insecurity. These councils, in
actual fact, served like courts where people could protect their public and private rights (Suwayd, 1994:175). Therefore the villages would be more immune during resistance.

Ahmad al-Asaad remained active in organizing popular resistance inspite of foreign interference, especially from the United States of America, until Camille

Charnoun was overthrown. Fouad Chel~ab took over the presidency and established
military rule, hoping to clear out corrupt ion from the state administration (Reports of the House of Parliament, 1958: 668). He reaffirmed al-Asaad's power
Ahmad al-Asaad's =a'ornu addressed, to a large extent the needs and aspiration of

the peasants of the South. He understood their needs, feelings and thoughts about

prevailing issues. He was as close to the issues of his people's daily lives, whether a sick cow, bad crops, divorce in the family and so on, as he was to parliamentary and ministerial concerns. The generosity and hospitality, very important in a traditional
peasant society, were expressed in Ahrnad al-Asaad's open house, beif mafluh, where he

received his people any time. He was noted for hs identification with his sympathizers,

sharing their joys as well as their sorrows. Nevertheless, this zn 'otfla,with traditional
clan-like values and relationships, could not exist without formal institutional services.

As Mnister of Public Works in 1 947, a ministry he himself shrewdly requested, he was

able to make full and effective use of his o s c i a l position to extend tangible services to

his constituency.
As Mnister of Public Works, al-Asaad managed to complete the construction of

128 roads linking small villages in the South to each other. These roads included those

linking Harouf to Jibshi' jte, Saida to Maghdouche to Jbaa, Tyre to Qanaa to Hariss to

Tibnine, Adayse to Bint Jbeil, the road to upper Nabatiye, the road to Sidiqine, roads to East and West Zawtars as well as many others.
Between 1947 and 195 1, as minister, Ahmad al-Asaad also directed the

construction of the Tibnine Hospital and the Tibnine, Jezine and Nabatiye dispensaries.

In 1949, al-Asaad inaugurated a wide scale irrigation project on the plains of Kasmiye.

This project boosted the agricultural production of the area and generated a net profit of
seven million two hundred thousand U.S.dollars per year at the time (Qazan, 1955: 41)

In addition, al-Asaad initiated a Litani River project to extract drinking water and to
generate electricity. At the time, many villages had no electricity or drinking water, and
they drank from the same river water they washed their clothes in.'

Although al-Asaad's institutional services were limited, he was not as callous to hls people's needs as is sometimes reported. H i s niece, Dr. Najla Harnadeh, denies that he ever said: "Why do the people of Jabal 'Arnil want schools; nly son Kame1 is being
educated. " Dr. Hamadeh is the daughter of the ex-speaker of parliament and prominent

Shi'ite za 'zmof the Beqaa, Sabri Hamadeh, who was married to Ahmad al-Asaad's sister.

Dr. Hamadeh said that the statements commonly attributed to her uncle Ahmad, were

See Q u r m ' s book for more mformation on the additional projects al-Asaad initiated llke the post

and the telecommunications system, the schools ctc.

said by another za 'im.Moreover Dr. Hamadeh reported that Ahmad d-Asaad donated

his father Abdullatif s home, to his village Taybe to be used as a school, and she argued

"why doesn't anyone mention that fact?" She added that Ahmad al-Asaad was made to sound illiterate and ignorant by his adversaries although he reached the university level
and finished his first year at A.U.B.though he had to Ieave for personal reasons. In addition he spoke two foreign languages, English and French. Najla chdlenged the
disparaging portrayal of Ahmad al-Asaad in the media and their degrading attitude
towards a zu 'im who mobilized tens of thousands of supporters. She suggests that this

could have been due to the fact that Ahmad al-Asaad's zcl 'trma remained rural rather than

becoming urban at any time, even when he was Speaker of the House.
Ahmad al-Asaad's leadership in the Ministry of Public Works and his concrete
achievements there at a time when the South and all its villages were primitive, gave him
a substantial public boost. However, llis za 'umuremained based on traditional values,

resting primarly on his personal rather than government initiatives.

In 1947, al-Asaad received a group of Shi'ite qabcirkat or strongmen from

Beirut, who were f e d u l because they were not protected by a zu 'im.Other qubaduyat

in Beirut were protected by Beirut'szu 'amu,like Saeb Salaam, Riad d-Solh and Pierre
Pharaon. These Shi'ite qabahyat requested al- Asaad's protection because Racheed Baydoun, president of the Shi'ite party in Beirut, al-Talae, would not provide them with
protection unless they joined his own Talae group (al-S hiraa, No. 6 1, 1995:). Al-Asaad

welcomed their request for protection and with the encouragement of h a d al-Solh an

adversary of Baydoun's, Shi' ite qabadayat organized themselves into al-Nahda party.
Al-Nahda was a scout-like organization. Its center was in al-Bashura in Beirut

and it had branches in many regions and villages in the South. The motto of t l u s party

was 'Life and Renaissance,' with Ahmad al-Asaad at its head. To recruit members, the
qabadayaf,of al-Nahda toured the villages of the South providing the people with party identification. One day, these qabadayat returned to Ahmad al-Asaad telling him proudlv
that they had already

distributed 25000 pins. However, one of the very prominent party

members, Abdullah Ghuteimy, protested this superficial form of recruitment arguing that
the people should be convinced intellectually about the party and its principle aims (al-

Shiraa, No. 6 l , 1995). He was right, for al-nahda party was dissolved in 195 1 and
remained only an unsuccesssfuI effort towards formal organization. The clan-like

organization, mentality and personal allegiance to Ahmad al-Asaad in the South were
more deeply rooted and accepted than any rnade of formal organization.

Ahrnad al-Asstad was elected as a ~nernber of parliament in 1960 for the last time.
He died in 1961. His son Kamel was his father's political heir. His father had been

Allmad htyk, the beloved zcr 'imof the Asaad family supporters, and his mother was U r n
Kamel (Kamel's mother) the very influential and strong-nlinded daughter of the prior
za 'im, Kamel Khaljl al-Asaad. Kame1 thus inherited the most deeply rooted za 'urna of

Jabal 'Atnil.
It is said by many Asaad supporters that Urn Klrmel, a very powerful woman in

her own right, had a significant influence on her husband Ahmad as well as her son
Kame1 and their political decisions (interview with al-Asaad campaign manager in
Nabatiye, 1996). Kamel al-Asaad was the sole heir of the za'ama since he was the only
son in the family. He did not pursue his father's simple, local politics, becoming instead a

well-established political leader rather than a popular zu 'im.This approach marked a

change in the za'ama since it had rested mainly on traditional, confessional and kinship

loyalties and not on clear political principles, beliefs or stands. Kamel d-Asaad's rather

intellectual and sophisticated political attitude was not that of a traditio~lal za'jm in Jabal
'Amil .

Kamel al-Asaad started his political life early. At the age of 28 in 1957 he was elected Member of Parliament alongside his father. He became a ~nember of the cabinet

at the age of 3 1 and was elected speaker of the H o u ~ ~of s eParliment three times from
1968 to 1984. He was the first al-Asaad za 'zmto launch a clear political program

through the establishment in 1969 ofHarakut a/-Taw 'iyu (The Awareness Movement).

This movement was initiated at a time of unrest, when Palestinians and Lebanese had to
become more conscious of prevailing political circumstances deriving from the Arab-

Israeli conflict and the displaced Palestit~ians, and to learn to live peacefblly together. In
1970, this movement evolved into the 'Democratic Socialist Party,' of whch Karnel al-

Asaad was and still is the head. The party's main aim was to promote Kamel al-Asaad's ideological claims and political opinions regarding prevailing issues. (The party itself will

be described in a later chapter.)

Unlike his father, Kamel was not a modest, big-hearted, sociable and down-toearth :n 'im. He was seen as a feudalist, arrogant and moody. On the other hand, many
of his supporters saw his arrogance as pride (d-Diyar 1 988). Kame1 had clear and
consistent political beliefs. He criticized the Lebanese confessional political system and

he suggested that it was reaffirmed rather than dissolved by the National Pact. He does
not believe in the essence of the Pact, which from the very start emphasizes the

'coexistence' of two ideologies, religions or even seemingly nations (Christians and

Muslims, or more specifically Maronites and Sunnis) rather than the equality of all

citizens in one nation irrespective of their religion or sect. (Bullet in of the Lebanese

News Agency, 1975 : 15). Kamel strongly opposed this 'coexistence'of two political

communities, Christians and MusIim who tended t o have their own reference groups, whether Arab, Syrian or French, and their separate gods, whether Arab Lebanon, Islamic

Lebanon or Unique Lebanon. He wanted the Lebanese confessional doctrine to be

modified into a more secular arrangement whch avoided further internal confessional

conflicts and external intervention, such as Iran's help for a sector of the Shi'ites, Saudi
Arabia's help for Sunnis, and Western help for a sector of the Christians.
Kamel's disapproval at mobilizing along religious lines or external reference

groups made him naturally also oppose Imam Musa al-Sadr's move from Iran to the
South and his initiatives to mobilize the Shi'ite masses. He saw hmself, correctly it
seems, as Imam Musa-aI-Sadr's singular target. To Musa al- Sadr and his followers,

Kame1 beyk epitomized all that was wrong with Lebanese political system. In ai-Sadr's
view, Kame1 al-Asaad was the symbol of the political feudalist, a man whose political power stemmed from the skillful manipulation of confessional politics, much to the

detriment of the S hi'ite masses. He also saw al-Asaad as a formidable competitor

(Norton, 1978: 44). The early 1970's proved to be a period of serious struggle for power between the two protagonists, and one of the prime arenas for this contest was
the Supreme Shi'ite Council (al-Majlis d-Islami al-Shi'i al-A'ala).

In 1967, the House of Parliment passed a law (no.72/67), with all but one of the
19 Shi'ite deputees voting in favour of establishing a Supreme Shi'ite Council. This,

incidentally, was the first time a representative body was established for the Shi'ites, independently of the Sunni Muslims. Until the founding of the Supreme Shi'ite Council,
no position occupied by a Shi'ite rivaled that of the Speaker of the National Assembly in
terms of visibility and political influence. The establishment of the Council, with a

mandate to articulate growing Shi'ite demands within the political system, introduced a

new dimension to the distribution of power within the Shi'ite community. It also

introduced formal religious leadership, harshly criticized by Kame1 al-Asaad.

The Council was a sectarian one (Shi'ite) incorporating Shi'ite cIergy as well as
secular members. In 1970, the government created another in situation Majlis al-Janub

(Council of the South), with a capital of thirty million Lebanese pounds and a charter to
support the development of the region. Unfortunately, the Council quickly became more famous for its corruption than for its development projects. The Council became

dominated by Kame1 al-Asaad soon after its creation although it is said that al-Sadr was
the reason for its existence (Norton, 1987: 45).

The seesaw battle between al-Asaad, the traditional South Lebanon Shi'ite
leader, and al-Sadr, the Iranian-oriented Shi'ite religious leader, did not abate. It was
vigorously pursued by both men throughout the early and mid-1970's. By the end of
1 973, tensions between the two sides had risen appreciably. This, in part, was over a

pending change in the Supreme Shi'ite Council's by-laws that extended the term of the

Chairman Musa al-Sadr from six years until the retirement age of 65. This, of course,

meant that al-Asaad's "bete noire" would maintain and ekqend his political vantagepoint.
AI-Asaad attempted to block this change, but by Novenlber 1974, the Council had

denied the House of Parliament's and its speaker, al-Asaad's jurisdiction over the matter

and approved the change. In the intervening period, al-Asaad's partisans in the National
Assembly sharply criticized al-Sadr. In March of 1 974, henchmen of the Speaker
physically attacked deputy Hussein al-Hussaini, an important ally of al-Sadr, in the

Assembly chamber (Norton, 1987: 45). The growing influence of hlusa al-Sadr and the limitations imposed on the power
of al-Asaad reflected the increased politicization of the Shi'ites along sectarian lines. The

Shi'ites felt more protected by the religious leaders than they did by the traditional

leaders who demonstrated hardly any reIigious identification or practice. The Shi'ites
expressed ambivalence about their traditional leaders, particularly al-Asaad, perceiving
them as distant fiom their religious and co~nmunal traditions and mode of life. That is

why they saw no other alternative than to direct their allegiance to sectarian religious

leaders as others, notably the Maronitcs, Dmzes and Sunnis, had done before them.
However, a!-Asaad did not cease to exert his formal political influence as
Speaker of the House even as the country became engrossed in its first few years of civil

strife. For example, in 1976, when the presidential elections were about to take place,
Kame1 al-Asaad, living in West Beirut, was threatened by armed political and sectarian

groups who sought to stop the election fiom taking place. Al-Asaad refused to succumb
to the pressure or to the shelling in Beirut. He went to the House of Parliament, where

he encouraged the deputies to vote for the next president, who was to be Elias Sarkis.
The latter's nomination had been proposed by the Syrians and approved by the
Americms. He approved of Sarkis's personal and corrupt free politics but disapproved
of Sarkis's stagnant political involvement. Al-Asaad found Sarkis and his Foreign

Minister Fouad Boutros slow and fearful in taking necessary political risks. They

disagreed over matters such as the confiscation of weapons from illegal paramilitary organizations and roaming militias. The President refused al-Asaad'srequest that
weapons be confiscated, claiming that it was impossible to collect all arms until the arms

held by the Palestinians were collected, (al-Diyar, 12th April 1988).

In 1982, the country went into shock from the vast Israeli invasion. The invasion
marked a turning point in al-Asaad's political career, especially after the presidential
elections which had taken place after the invasion in that same year. Al-Asaad believed

that lsrael wanted to control the Litani River rather than the land itself. Furthermore, in his view, lsrael did not want presidential elections to take place in order to keep the
country weak, in a political vacuum.

The Speaker of the House, impressed by Bashir Gemayel's decisive personality,

his non-conformity to external authorities, his independent and nationalistic political

beliefs, had nominated him for the presidency. Here, the conflict started between alAsaad and the Syrian regime, with Hafez al-Asad at its head. Asad saw in the arrival of

Bashir to the presidency an Israeli plot while al-Asaad believed that lsrael did not want
the elections to take place. Besides al-Asaad believed in Bashrr Gemayel.
The elections did take place and Gemayel became president. Soon after, though,

Gemayel was assassinated and aI-Asaad pointed an accusing finger at the Israelis. A few
months later, Amjn Gemayel was elected to replace his brother Bashir. Al-Asaad was
soon in conflict with h i m over Lebanon'spolicy towards Israel. Al-Asaad wanted a fixed and stable strategy relative to lsrael so that Lebanon would not have to face one lsraeli

invasion and disruption after the other. This position led to the1 7th of May armistice

agreemant with lsrael in 1984. (al-Diyar, 12th April 1988).

This agreement, the Armistice, was a major factor in weakening d-Asaad's
popularity. Al-Asaad's argument for signing the agreement only two years after the Israeli invasion was the following: 1) the agreement did not include recognition of Israel

as a state and 2) the agreement did not mandate any relatjonship, cooperation, settlement
or peace with Israel. From al-Asaad's viewpoint, the agreement embarrassed and
cornered Israel aRer the deportation of the Palestinian forces from Lebanon. This, afterall, was Israel's excuse for the invasion as Israel continuously cited fear of Palestinian military actions across its borders and the security of its citizens as reasons

for its invasion. hioreover, Israel accepted the formal and consented borders of the
Lebanese state inspite of Israel's flexibility over its own borders, always open for
extension. The sponsor of this agreement was the USA, which had also guaranteed

Israel's withdrawal from Lebanese territory. The Lebanese government, for its part,
guaranteed that no military actions against Israel would take place from its side of the

border and that Syrian troops would leave Lebanese territory, just as the Israelis had wanted.

In spite of Lebanon's commitment to the agreement, including the evacuation of

Syrian troops, the Israelis showed no comtnitn~ent to it. Thus, in al-Asaad's view, this
agreement served to denounce lsrael and its lack of credibility, revealing its real intentions boldly to the whole world (Al-Diyar, 1 3th April 1988). The 17th of May Agreement caused great upheaval among the Shi'ites. Most of them opposed it since

they believed that Israel should evacuate without any conditions. This upheaval limited

al-Asaads credibility in the eyes of the politicized Shi'ites and therefore limited his ability
to mobilize his people. Al-Asaad faced an unsuccessful assasshation attempt. Even h s

sympathizers were followed, attacked and threatened (interview with al-Asaad

campaigner, 1996).

The political situation and mounting crisis associated with the notorious
agreement isolated al-Asaad politically reducing h s political influence and limiting his mobilizational efforts. Moreover, the rise of contemporary parties like Amal restricted
the physical and political movement of al-Asaads' sympathizers, obstructing the extension

of their base of traditional support.

The 17th of May agreement was ultimately annulled by the Lebanese governn~ent and largely by Israeli non-compliance and the rising and politically mobilized S h 'ites.

They saw no alternative other than to fight for the return of their land. Al-PLsaad was
offered external financial and political support to arm his men and create his own militia
that would fight for the rights of the Shi'ites. However, al-Asaad refused to get

embroilled in prevailing problems involving Lebanese sects and Israel, using sectarian

and military means (al-Hayat 1993). This is how Amal and Hizbullah stepped in and
turned the Israeli invasion and the deprivation of the Shi'ites into their own issues, using them to further their own organizations (see for example, Hamzeh & Dekrnejian, 1993).
Threatened on several occasions by Amd, al-Asaad moved to East Beirut and

then France, distancing him both geographcally and politically from the South until he
returned for the 1 992 elections. Moreover, his rejection of Syrian influence in Lebanon

which became active since the 19801s,increased the distance. Al-Asaad received almost

the same number of votes in 1992 as he later received in the 1996 elections, around
40,000 votes. This was an undercounting of h s support since a large number of h s

supporters, estimated at approximately 40,000, were restricted from leaving the occupied area zone in the South and thus could not vote.
However, despite Kamel al- Asaad' s distance from the South, al-Asaads were not without a politically active member. Kamel's son Ahmad returned from abroad to start

his political career. Ahtnad al-Asaad, was the first al-Asaad to initiate his political life by
giving little importance to hereditary traditional political conditions, starting instead an

independent political movement. Ahmad had been born in 1963 in Lebanon but spent

most of his school and university Iife in Egypt, Switzerland, France and the USA, and his working life in Holland. With an international education, the younger Asaad did not
believe in hereditary communal politics. Since 1992, Ahmad al- Asaad has supported a

non-heredit ary Movement called Lubnaar~ al-Kafaud (Lebanon, the skillhl). Since then,

Ahrnad has been calling for the reformation of the Lebanese political and administrative
system which he feels has been saturated with corruption, personal political allegiances,

communalism, sectarianism, and fealty since its creation. He blames traditional leaders, including his own family, for this clientelist and personalistic system as well as the nascent war groups and militias who have institutionalized clientelism and corruption
(Njdaa al-Watan, 23rd June 1994). AI-Asaad realizes that a radical change in the system

will take time and does not expect to see the fruits of his movement within a year or two
but rather possibly in generations to come, irrespective of their present reference group

such as Amal, Hizbullah, Asaad, Oseyran etc He feels that time is needed in order to
increase the awareness and political rights and then people will decide if they want
change and what kind of it.(personal interview, 1993).

B. The Osseyrans
Upon their arrival in Saida in the mid 1500's, the Osseyrans established their own

stores with the money they had brought with them from Iraq originally. They had always
worked in merchandising before their arrival in Lebanon. As merchants the family settled

in the urban city instead of its southern suburbs. Bringing us to about 50 years ago, the
younger generation of Osseyran was brought up and educated in Saida and Beirut at a
time when education was rare and relatively expensive and when most schools and

colleges in Saida and Beirut were run by missionaries. For example, most of the
educated family members, such as Adel Osseyran, Dr. Sharif Osseyran, Dr. Fouad Osseyran and Munir Osseyran, attended either the Evangelical school in Saida, known as
the American School, or the Ecole des Freres Mariste, St. Joseph.

The wealth of the Osseyrans grew and was passed on from father to son. Consequently, they faced increasing pressure from the occupying Turks. The Ottomans,
as is well known, imposed heavy taxes on merchants, peasants, estates

and production.

Moreover, they conscripted the young men exploiting them to expand the Ottoman

Empire. Only those with privileged positions or alliances were exempted (i.e consuls of

foreign countries etc.)

To free themselves from the Ottornans and their repressions, especially the

obligations of taxation and miljtary service, large and well-established families in the
south sought alliances with foreign countries. For example, the Abella farniIy, owners of vast service companies around the world now, became representatives of Great Britain

while the Riskallah family came to represent the Soviet Union. Similarly the Osseyrans

sought protection from Iran, which appointed Ali Osseyran, the family patriarch, as
consul of Iran in Jabal 'Anlil. According to Turkish law of the period, a person
representing a foreign country was considered an envoy of the leader or king of that

country and could not be treated simply as an individual. Therefore, this person had the
right to protect his land and assets as well as the people working for him (al-Akhras,
1985: 6 ) . The consuls of foreign states thus created their own areas of influence within
the 0ttoman Empire. These were generdly small, authoritative and sheltered

autonomous systems within a larger occupied land.

Due to the Osseyrans' protected status, poor farmers paying high burdensome

taxes to the Turks favored the latter's tbreign alliances. The Osseyrans bought land

from the peasants or sponsored them, protecting their families from military service
(Tabaja, 1985: 6). This is one of the ways by which the Osseyrans and other notable or

feudal families with foreign protection became large estate and lar~downers.

When the Turhsh Wali of Beirut went to Saida to visit the consuls in the early
around 19 10, he did not call on Ali Osseyran, the ody Slu'ite consul in Jabal 'Amil, probably trying to trigger the sensitive sectarian difi'erences in the Lebanese system, especially between Sunnis and Shi'ites. Ali Osseyran protested the intended slight ofthe
Shi'i te consul and considered it an insult to all Shi'ites of Jabal 'Amil. Following the

protest, the Sultan ordered the Wali to return to Saida and pay his respects to Ali

Osseyran as Shi'ite consul. To the Osseyrans and their proteges, this forced visit
reinforced their social status in an Ottoman-dominated land. From then on, the

Osseyrans bought more assets in Saida and the South, acquiring the palace of Fakhreddine in Saida where the farmers under their protection could market their

In 19 15 the Osseyrans participated alongside fellow Southerners in a

revolutionary movement against the Ottomans and their rule. By then, Ali Osseyran had

died, and h ~ son s 'Abdullah had been assigned consul of Iran. 'Abdullah, with family
members sheikh Munir, Mr Muhyial-Din, Rachid and Tuwf~q contributed to this revolt.

Finally, when Lebanon moved from one rule to another, from the Turkish to the French
in 19 the Osseyrans retained their social. economical and political position.

During the era of the French mandate, Count de Martel repeated the same
scenario with the Osseyrans that the Turkish Wali had previously. He paid visits to dl

Sunni and Christian consuls and notables in Saida except the Osseyrans and their consul.
The French were not different from the Turks at seeking to incite sectarian differences.
This time, it was Abdullah Osseyran who raised his voice in protest. Again, at the orders

of the occupying authorities, de Martel paid the Osseyrans the symbolic visit of acknowledgment and respect. Abdullah Osseyran received him in Sheikh Munir

Osseyran's home where other family members had gathered. The family expressed
strength and influence through its unity.

As opposition to the French mandate gathered momentum, the French authorities

tried to control the situation by responding to some of its requests, establishing 'Greater
Lebanon' in 1920 with a parliament, the members of whch were appoirued by the French

upon consultation with the prevailing feudal families. Abdullah Osseyran, with family
members, particularly Rached, contributed politicdly as well as socially and economically
to the revolutionary movements against the French. It is apparent that what established the Osseyrarw' authority attd sustained their

leadership at that time was not merely their political or ecoriarnic status. Equally
important was their protection of the Shi'ite farmers, workers and families. These

people appealed to the Osseyrans for help with their persorial problems, seeking social or
financial advice and aid. For example, some would go to the Osseyrans about marital problems, others, about employment or health problems (Tabaja, 1985. 12). This beit
mafhth (open house) syndrome as we have seen, was an important asset for notables and politically oriented families. Most members of the Osseyran family felt responsible for

receiving as well as serving Osseyran sympathizers. This was obviously made possible by
the fact that the Osseyran's were of high economic status. This kind of hospitality could
be equated to a family's pride and dignity.
Inspite of Najib Osseyran's appointment by the French to Parliament in 1925 and,

Ali and Abdullah Osseyran's appointment as consuls of Iran by the Shah of Iran, the

Osseyrans did not earn the za 'amu until the rise of Adel Osseyran, in 1936 during llis
first protest against the French in Nabatiye. Through this event and through time he

became a very prominent national leader who mobilized large sectors of his comnlunity

and influenced other sects and communities in Lebanese society. Following the demonstration in Nabatiye, Adel was imprisoned along with Sheikh
Aref al-Zein, Alfred Abu-Samra and Salim Abu-Jamra (al-Hayat,

~ u 1990). l ~ Upon

their release, they were wetcorned by huge crowds in the city of Saida and it was then
that Adel was given the title ;a 'im by the people. While in prison, Adel preached Arab

unity t o the French judges in court:

We, the citizens of Arab countries, are working to raise the standard of living in our countries and to implement our ideal of Arab nationalism. If your laws say that I should be prosecuted for a crime that I believe is nly right as an Arab citizen, then please prosecute because 1 do not want to fear dying whle fighting for a dignified and united Arab Nation" (al-Hayat, 14- 15 July 1990).

Inspite of his vision of Arab unity, he did not participate in the "Sahel
Conference," in the late 1930's which supported the formation of one Arab nation,
because it undermined the independence of the country of Lebanon withn that Arab
Nation. His fear here was the formation of an independent Christian Lebanon, with out

including other parts of greater Syria which had become part of Lebanon i. e. Shi'ite,

Druze and Sunni to Syria. Thls was one of the pre-eisting circumstances in the National
Pact. Until then Adel Osseyran's za 'ama was not based on formal organization but

rather on largely informal, intrafamilial and extrafamilial connections. As a rising za'im

of the fanlily. he received social support for his political career; some family members
contributed financial, social and medical care to southerners who were or became political supporters of Adel. Adel's cousin, Dr. Fouad Osseyran, previously minister of

Public Health, Agriculture and Public Works in 194 1, established the first private medical clinics in the villages of the South (Tyre, Bint-Jbeil, Zahrani) as well as a hospitd which

treated Adel Osseyran's supporters amongst other patients mainly from the South.

Wealthy and influential members of the family, like Rashid, Hasibb, Saeid and Armn,
opened their homes to the southerners providing them with medical and sociat services
and personal assistance. Others in the fanily, like the late Husayn, married to Adel's

eldest daughter Zuhur, provided them with job opporti~nities on his land holdings.
Hussein was known as Hussein al-Bidyasi, because he owned a very large village called

Bidyas amongst other tracts of land.

Rasheed Baydoun, whose brother Mohsen was married to Adel's sister Afaf, was

the founder and the head of one of the most well known Shi'ite institutions, al-Amelliya,
in Beirut in 1947 established to unify the Shi'ites in Beirut. He was also the founder of
the al-Talae party in 1944. Tbrs party associated with the Osseyrans rivaled Ahmad al-

Asaad's party, al-Nahda. Al-Talae won the support of the villages of the South, where

the population carried out huge demonstrations in its name, especially on formal
occasions. For example, on Independence Day, they organized festivities with extensive

formal physicai and spatial organization (Tabaja, 1985: 88).

With time the rivalry between supporters of al-Talae and al-Nahda became more intense. The traditional allegiances and traditional ties to their zu 'uma remained the
essence of dl other prototypes of organization and were the cause of the dissolution of
both parties (al-Akhras, 1985: 89). Adel Osseyran left the Talae before it was dissolved
because he did not believe in the way it operated or jn the basis on which it was established. He felt that it was factional, and tribal in character rather an ideologically

oriented organization (personal interview, 1 996).

Adel ran for parliamentary elections in 1937, carrying with him a formal electoral

progrm. This, it is claiwed, was the first in any South Lebanese elections. Previously,

nominees had been satisfied to tour the village m d meet the populace and leaders. In his electoral campaign, Adel expressed opposition to the French and caIIed for Arab unity.

He also opposed feudal, clan-like systems and politics. His electoral program
emphasized the need for reform in the social, economic and cdtural life of the country as
well as in its overall administrative system. What was significant in his program was his

call for compulsory elementary education and the unity of the educational programs in
the country and the Arab world in order to establish a unified Arab educational system.
Moreover, he proposed innovations in agricultural technology and the founding of an
agricultural school that would teach agricultural skills to the farmers of the South. As

one newspaper reporter noted in 1989: "Inspite of Adel Osseyran's sharp tongue and his

deep tone of voice, usually associated with the feudalistic zu 'umn, he differed in that he
was very well educated and that he largely depended on and promoted education and

educationd institutions" (al-Hayat, 29 September 1989)

When the Americans proposed the "Point IV" project during Camille Chatnoun's

presidency, it faced stormy opposition as American intervention in Lebanese affairs.

Adel Osseyran argued against "opposition for the sake of opposition" and said:

I reject all subtle or manifest poIitical intentions and plans that would harm our relations with our Arab frjends, but I cannot refuse an educational program offered to me and my people. We should take what we need and what will benefit us educationally and developmentally from this plan and leave its political projections to its authors (al-Hayat, 14th July 1990).
Osseyran, then, personally administered the construction and development of

fifteen schools in Zahrani and Nabatiye funded by the project. He was well known for

klS encouragement of educational and professional institutions at a time when university

level graduates were still rare in the South. He helped many young men reach decent

and influential positions i n the state; they were not only close to him; thev were highly
qualified (Tabaja, 1985: 84). Raymond Edde once said, "inspite of my political conflict

with Adel Osseyran, I have to admit that he is the first Speaker of the House to bring in very capable and well educated employees to the administration of the House, through whom he has organized its administrative procedures meticulously (interview, 20th April

Adel Osseyran's interests extended to sports and tourism. He encouraged the

renovation of touristic sites in Tyre, Saida and Shkeef in Nabatiye as well as in other
areas. He recommended that touristic and sports festivals and games be held in touristic
sites in order to develop the social and psychological life of South Lebanese citizens, and
to generate a reasonable income that could be used for developmental and educational

institutions (Telegraph, 12th May 1968).

Adel Osseyran was not satisfied to preach innovation in the social. developmental
and political spheres in his official capacities as minister or Speaker of the House. Since the government could not implement all his proposals because of inadequate regional

plans, lack of financial capabilities, or merely personal, sectarian, or regional political

factions, he established organizations at his own initiative to fulfill some of them.

Adel Osseyran founded his own charitable society, which he called Jam 'iyut al-

Ta 'awnn al-Rzfi (Rural Cooperative Society) in 1965. The organizational structure of

this society was modeled after British law governing the establishment and internal
organization of rural cooperatives. This society had an administrative board of six

members. Its objectives included: taking care of orphans, the needy and the sick, fighting
illiteracy, and training the youth culturally, educationally and vocationally (by-laws of the

Rural Cooperative Society)

The society's primary achievement jn 1954 was the establishment of the first
orphanage in the South, called Dnr a/-Ycrieem al-Arubi (The Home of the Arab Orphan).

Dr. Fouad Osseyran, who became the president of the society while Adel maintained his

commitment to politics, ran the institution.

A few years later in 1969, Adel also established the first technical agricultural

school on a piece of land that he owned in the village of Shukeen on the outskirts of
Nabatiye. He launched this institution in order to put into practice some of his

innovative ideas in agricultural. This private institution was destroyed by the

bombardment of the South during the lsraeli invasion of 1982. The activities of the

Rural Cooperative Society and especially of Dar al-Yafeernal-Arabi will be investigated

in the following chapter.
Adel also attempted to establish a party called Htzb a2-Shabaab ak-Arahi, to

organize well-educated youths mainly from the South. He laid out the principles and

aims of the party as well as its organizationd structure with fellow Southerners who
believed in the unity of the Arab states as well as in the independence of Lebanon. The
attempt to found the party was short-lived due to the upheavals in the country's political
situation in the late 1950's, notably the 1958 crisis precipitating the removal of Chamaun.
A n attempt to revive the party in the late 1960's was unsuccessful due to the prevalence

of other ideological groups in Lebanon like communist and fii7'ai groups and sectarian

parties Iike Amal (interview with Adel Osseyran in 1996). In Adel Osseyran's vision, political development went hand in hand with social
development. His positive attitude and encouragement of social institutions, social work

and education motivated a significant number of his family members to participate in

educational development and social work. What is even more significant is the active

role that women in the Osseyran family have played and the influential positions they have come to assume in the different socio-political fields. The Osseyran women have

also played a prominent role in the artistic and intellectual fields. They have always been
active and influential in Osseyran electoral campaigns, especially Zuhour Osseyran, the
daughter of Adel. Women in other political families in the South do not play as
prominent a role in politics. The most prominent Osseyran women to participate in these

organizations are:
1) Souad Osseyran, the wife of Adel, who established and led the traditional arts

and crafts organization, called the Artizma al-Janub. The organization promoted and
marketed the traditional handicrafts of South Lebanese women. The Society was almost

completely paralyzed by all the disruptions generated by the war. However, as soon as

the civil strife ceased, Adel's second daughter, Samia Ossevran Jumblat, artist and poet,

took over the Society and was elected as president. She had studied Fine Arts at Beirut
University College and then pursued her M.A, degree in Art in Florence, Italy. She organized private and collective exhibitions in Italy, Japan and Lebanon. Samia not only
took over her mother's role but she did that with personal qualifications and
achievements. Under her leadership, the traditional establisllment was modified though not totally changed.
2) Fayze Osseyran, the wife of Dr. Fouad Osseyran, was vice-president of the

Red Cross Society in the South for almost twenty years as of the early 2960's. She was a
religious woman with a modern and broadminded outlook towards the role of women in

society. Ex-minist er, Alfred Naccache, also nonunated her once to the Municipal

3) Tufiqua Osseyran also held different administrative posts in the Red Cross of

the South, including the vice-presidency, for thirty years. She only left that organization
a few years ago to join the administrative board of DUP. al-Yuteem al-Aruhi as well as to

head its 'Women Committee'.

4) Zeinab Osseyran was the Acting President of a prominent society in the South,

called Nzsaa Jabal 'Amil (Women of Jabal 'Amil Society) until she became President a
Few years ago. This society has been active in providing vocational training for young women in the villages of the South in such skills as nursing, knitting, typing and
5) Sanaa Osseyran is the coordinator of UNESCO's project for the Education of

6 ) Zahia Osseyran, Sanaa'a mother was the editor of one of the first woman's

magazines in Lebanon and one of the first Lebanese female delegates at the UN

7 ) Layla Osseyran al-Hafez is a prominent intellectud and writer, the recent

winner of a presidential trophy for significant intellectual work. Layla has also been a prominent dissenter, participating in political activist groups calling for Arabism and
support of the Palestinian cause.
8) Inaam Osseyran, a lawyer, became the first fen~ale Lebanese consul abroad.

She was appointed consul while serving in the Ministry of External Affairs in Egypt. In two years, she is expected to become one of the first female Lebanese ambAsaador.
9 ) Lamya Osseyran has been elected Vice-President of the Lebanese Women's

Council Southern branch.

10) Zuhour Osseyran, Adel's daughter, is the Vice-President of the administrative

board of Dur nl-Ycrteem al-Arrrbi. Moreover, she personally manages huge estates she

inherited from her late husband, Hussein Osseyran (Hussein al-Bidyasi) as well as from
her father. She is one of the wealthiest women in the South and possibly the only one to
manage such vast areas personally. Her role as an employer, her daily presence in the
South and her interaction with its people on a daily basis, has made her influential in her

family's political bend. She is referred to by most of the Osseyrans as urn al-'uyle

(mother of the family) gathering the whole fa~nily because she helps keep family members

in touch inspite of the internal family conflicts that occur. In addition, she maintains the
traditional practice of the beif mafiuh (open house), receiving guests from the South at

all times without the barriers imposed by a modern life-style.

The Osseyran women's involvement in public life has not been typical for a
traditional family. At the time Muslim women, especially Sh'ite women, were less

active in public life although they did help their husbands in their work or worked on their own to increase family income. One explanation for this preponderence of Osseyran women in public life, in comparison to their counterparts among Shi'ite

zua'ama like Asaads, Zeins and al-Fadls, is that they were not originally a rural family but
an urban one. The other families were originally rural and were more influenced by

traditional values and modes of life where women did not have great chances for higher
education and engagement in public life.

This urban-rural difference appeared in Adel Osseyran's lifestyle and his general

political attitude towards people and events. For example, he maintained a private
lifestyle less open to supporters than for example Ahmad al-Asaad did. The latter

opened his mansion in the rural village of Taybe to the Shi'ite crowds with general

hospitafity. Adel, on the other hand, lived in a modest two-story home in the middle of

Saida. Later on, he moved to Rmeile an area in the suburbs of Saida, where he lives in an average flat in a building that he had built for his children.

Adel Osseyran also rehsed the typical zu 'ama protection by armed henchman.
Both his nuclear and extended family also generally conformed to some of the typical aristocratic attitudes and modes of dress. They were not, for example, as close to the

rurd population of the South as Ahmad al-Asaad was. Nonetheless, they were respected
(al-Hayat, 29th Sept. 1989).

For these reasons, many describe the Osseyran's za'ama as bourgeois rather than popular. Ths characterization is especially true of Osseyran women, who were and still are ofien characterized as snobbish and pretentious towards others.
The Osseyrans had close ties with Shi'ite and non-Shi'ite 'aristocratic' and
influential families, who, at some point or another, contributed significantly in reinforcing Adel's za'uma. His main ties were with the Baydouns of Beirut, the Khalils of Tyre, the

Chalabis of Iraq, the Alamis of Palestine and the Druze Jumblatts. Much like other notable and prominent families, intermarriage has been
judiciouly employed to extend such kinship networks. Examples are legion: Adel
Osseyran's sister Afaf was married to Muhsin Baydoun. His sister Zahia was married to

Shafrq Baydoun, both men are brothers of the late member of parliament, the former

za 'imof Beiruti Shi'ites and the founder of the Amelliya Society and institution, Racheed
Baydoun. Adel Osseyran's wife, is the daughter of Ismail al-Khalil and the sister of the

late representative of Tyre, Kazem al-Khalil. His daughter Samia i s married to Jarnal
Jumblat, brother of Khawla Jumblat Arslan. Khawla Jumblat Arslan, herself wife of the

late Druze za 'imMajid Arslaan, is the mother of the present minister Talaal Arslaan.

Layla, one of Adel Osseyran's youngest daugl~ters, is married to A h a d C halabi, the

previous owner of the Petra Bank in Jordan and a shareholder in the MEBCO Bank as
well as in a chain of supermarkets and schools in Jordan. Now, he is the head of the
Iraqi opposition movement in London. Adel Osseyran's third daugther Afaf is married to

Ramzi al-Saiidi who is her cousin (from her mother's side) and the son of the late Kame1
al-Saiidi a well established merchant from the South. One of Adel Osseyran's sons in

law, Hussein, the husband of Zuhour, supported his electoral campaigns financially and
morally using his home to house Osseyran supporters. He also provided economic and
social assistance to these supporters. It should be noted that the impact of multi-faceted kinship networks among the

Osseyrans themselves, as well among their influential in-laws, decreased appreciably

during the war. The civil strife weakened family ties as family members drifted apart.

They also found their role, their activities and their assets being threatened by the

influence of emerging militias in the South, Amal and Hizbullah.

A few years before the civil war, Adel's eldest son Abdullah, twenty-f ve, was

assassinated. Abdullah, well prepared to succeed his father, was described by

southerners as intelligent, charming and modest, being closer and friendlier towards the
people than his strong-featured father. Abdullah, a graduate of the American Ut~iversity
of Beirut, was preparing for the 1972 parliamentary elections for the Qada of Nabatiye just before he was shot in front of his father on the doorsteps of his home in Saida (alHayat, 13th July 1990). The assassin, Samih al-Zein, was arrested and tried. When the

war started in 1975, he escaped with the help of his father's rival militia and armed

groups. Adel Osseyran, who always backed state institutions, refused to use the
traditional tribai form of revenge and ordered the government to take charge of the case,

but to no avail. The death of Abdullah Osseyran and the backing that the murderer

received from some al-Zeins created a family feud and restricted social relations between
the two families in spite of their previous intermarriages.
On the other hand, Abdullah's death eased the political tensions between Adel

Osseyran and his rival Kame1 al-Asaad. AI-Asaad was one of the first to stand by Adel
Osseyran after the murder, an act which brought the two leaders closer. Since the

incident, Adel Osseyran's health deteriorated and his political role was reduced. The

intervention of the militias was also prevalent at this stage. Adel never ceased to call for
secularism in order to avoid hrther internal armed struggles between sects fighting for
their perceived rights (al-Nahar, 17th Nov. 1 977). His deep belief in secularism even led

him to propose Patriarch Khreisk as a nominee in the presidential elections in 1976, soon
after the bloodshed between the sects had started. He nominated this Maronite religious

leader because of the latter's deep understanding of the situation, because of his neutral

attitude towards all parties, and because of his insightfuIness (al-Nahar, 23rd April

Years of internal strife and external conflicts with Israel passed, without the
Lebanese army interening to rescue these problems, especially in the South. Adel

Osseyran then acknowledged that the Shi'ite youths had potential for mobilization to
improve their deprived status as well as to fight against their primary enemy, Israel, but

he founded no formal organization to absorb them. He could see that Shi'ite youths

were seduced by money and arms provided by Palestinian movements, allowing them to
express their frustration at the deprivation and destruction generated by Israel. He

blamed himself and the other Sh'ite and non-Shi'ite leaders for not having foreseen the

consequences of the situation. He felt then that the members of the Parliament

representing the South should have fought there themselves, asking the rest of the
politicized Shi'ite youth to fight with them. He also admitted frankly and sorrowfully

that dl Lebanese-Lebanese and Lebanese-Palestinian and conflicts and wars had

weakened and undermined the Lebanese resistance to Israel because they contributed to cripping the treasury (al-Anwar, 18th June 1979). Beginning in the late 1970ts,Adel Osseyran was one of the first Shi'ite leaders to

encourage resistance against Israel. In 1979 he said " if only I were younger and in

better health, I would have wasted no time in going down to the battlefield and fighting
to save my country and my people. This situation only causes me pain" (al-Anwar, 18th June 1979).

In 1983, Adel Osseyran declared that the South would be liberated only with the
sword and with the will of its people who want to live with liberty and peace. He went
on to warn that the Southerners will continue to fight for their rights and their land,
especially when they know that the Israelis are here to stay (al-Nahar, 2nd December

At the outbreak of the civil war, Adel Osseyran always stressed the use of
negotiations to solve problems. When necessary, he cooperated with rivals like Kame1 al-Asaad and other leaders like Racheed Karami and Saeb Salaam and sought

reconciliation among all parties and sects. He emphasized the need for wisdom to spare
Lebanese further bloodshed (atNahar, 23rd March 1976). Nevertheless, Adel's belief in
the resistance movement against Israel might explain why he did not oppose the

emergence of Arnal and its politically mobilized Shi'ite youth. He felt that this was an

inevitable outcome of government impotence and inaction. It is then that he started to

restrict hls pacifist neutral approach to politics.

As armed groups took over the political arena with rhetoric or violent action,

Adel Osseyran preached compulsory army service for aII sects. He argued that a strong
and powefil army could only save Lebanon and that a country without such an army
was not a real country. He did not want Lebanon to continue to depend on the Syrian

Rada troops or the U.N. troops (al-Nahar, 3rd April 1978).

Adel also suggested modifications in the 1943 National Pact of which he was one

of its architects. He wanted the Pact to accommodate some of the arising changing

socio-political realities. He believed that sectarianism shouId no longer be the basis of state allegiance or allocation of power and privilege. Instead qualifications should be the criteria for distributive justice. He thought that the time had come now, afker the civil

war, to seek fbndamental changes in the National Pact towards secularizing political and
institutional positions and that the Taif Agreement and its meeting, which he had

attended in 1990, was only a temporary measure.

Adel Osseyran could not oppose the emergence of Amal and Hizbullah because

of his belief in the necessity of a resistance movement against Israel. He also accepted
the influence these groups had on their politically mobilized Shi'ite members, especially

the untraditional youth. He felt that this phenomenon was the inevitable outcome of a
government and leadership which were unresponsive to their needs and insecurities

(interview on May 1 995). On the other hand, he condemned their use of arms internally
against their fellow Lebanese citizens. He saw no justification whatsoever for such
senseless violence. His belief in national military and moral resistance against Israel and his mistrust of the United States' political stands and intentions, contributed to the renunciation of
the 17th of May Agreement in 1984. He had always believed that the USA should

guarantee Israel's withdrawal from South Lebanon on the basis of UN Resolution 425

and that popular resistance should not stop until then (al-Nahar, 18th November 1983). Besides working for dissolving the 17th of May Agreement, Adel's main role as a senior

moderate leader allowed him to negotiate between all fighting parties in Lebanon. Adel
Osseyran's continuous attempts at negotiations between all parties resulted from his
conviction that only the Lebanese people can and should solve their own problems. He
once declared:
After all the slaughter, the shooting and the destruction, how

can we hope for salvation? We can have a savior and save our country only by ourselves and only by cooperation and negotiations. We must put the past behind us and work towards a better future.
We can never depend on foreign nations who do not really care about our internal affairs. They only show sympathy and positive intentions to assist us because of their moral and strategic interest in our country (al-Nahar, 28 December 1 98 1).

Despite his efforts, all attempts at cease-fires were short-lived and in no time strife would break out on the streets again. In spite of his persistent calls for the use of wisdom in negotiations and inspite of his support for Amal's goals, Adel Osseyran did not escape the wrath of the young militiamen of Amal. They fought the so-called
traditionalists or feudalists (including Adel Osseyran) and their politics. Thus, they made
it difficult for the Osseyrans to enter their territory. They carried arms in a threatening

manner, trying to display power or superiority. Altl~ough Adel Osseyran and most of
the Osseyrans residing in the South did not leave, militiamen's use of force and arms

against community members who were not AmaI supporters or who were considered
traditional or feudalistic restricted the Osseyran's political and social roles. Although representing a traditional semi-feudal family, Adel Osseyran expressed

urban political values in his moderate approach toward various political groups. He also
had a fairly modern and progressive approach to socio-political organization and to
institutional development encouraging education and educational institutions at the

primary, secondary and vocational levels, through both governmental and personal
initiatives. On the other hand, Adel Osseyran shared the attitude of the traditional

'ama who

resisted foreign oppression, invasion and occupation. He shared the view of

the people of Jabal 'And, that land represents respect, dignity and pride. This is

demonstrated later in his attempt to establish "The Rural Cooperative Society" which

epitomizes hls conservative yet iru~ovative and independent values and how they were
effectively reconciled.

C, An Emerging Politicized Generation

From 1943 until 1975, the Lebanese polity functioned in a relatively stable

manner except for a short and difficult period during the 1 958 civil war. However, the
winds of change that began to blow then would undermine the established order and lead
to the rise of Shi'ite power. Rapid socio-economic modernization, the increase in education, urbanization, and the flood of petro-money brought about greater mobilization and politicization among the rather deprived Shi'ites (see Cobban, 1986). Political institutions are conditioned by tradition and culture, but they do not persist simply because they are traditional. People participate in politics, and hence in political relationshps, for instrumental purposes. As the usefulness of the traditional leader-client relationshp declined and, as the state proved incapable of redressing
citizens' grievances, the Sh'ites, like other Lebanese, sought alternative means of

overcoming socio-economic inequalities.

By the 1960'9, individual Shi'ites became more assertive politically. At that time,
the Shi'ites still lacked a structured movement to lead them and to channel their power in

the community. Frustrated by the slow pace of government reform and the lack of
responsiveness by the traditional elite to their emerging social and political demands, the

young Shi'ites joined leftist, socialist, and nationalist parties that advocated social and

political equality and open access to power (Norton, 1988: 160). They filled the ranks of
Communist, Ba'athist, Nasserist, and Arab nationalist groups, whose leftist, socialist, and
nationalist ideologies were antithetical to the dominant political structure. The first wave

of Shi'ite militants also came under the influence of the Palestinian resistance movement
in Lebanon, whose belief in national struggle and liberation helped to radicalize the
Shi'ites further. Indeed, they constituted a ready body of recruits for revolutionary action, as demonstrated by their alliance with the Palestinian movement in Lebanon and
with the LNM (Lebanese Nationalist Movement) in the mid 1970's. The LNM was a

coalition of IeRist-nationdist-Palestinianforces under Kamal Jumblatt's leadership that

sought to topple the status quo (Hudson 1978; Salibi 1976). In addition to engaging themselves in revolutionary and reformatory parties, the

Shi'ites were also creating and participating in youth, social, sports, and cultural dubs
springing up throughout Shi'ite dominated areas. Government-licensed family

associations, providing welfare setvices to members and assisting in job searches, were
being organized at an unprecedented rate among the Shi'ites (Norton, 1987: 34). Family

associations were founded in both rural and urban settings, and they duplicated many of
the services typically provided by a za 'im.Samir Khdaf reported that although the

Shi'ites only accounted for 12.8 percent of the family associations licensed during the
1930's (a total of 51, they accounted for 47.2 percent (or 77 associations) by the 1960's

(Khalaf, 1972: 567-598).

As the Shi'ite community became more socially active, the charismatic Shi7ite

cleric Imam Musa al-Sadr, as we have seen, accelerated the process and gave it a unique
cast. The new Shi'ite movement separated from the leftist-nationalist forces, began to
take shape in the late 1960's and made its formal debut in the mid- 1970's. For quite

sometime, religious leaders had not formally participated in leadership politics in the
South (Tabaja, 1985: 84). However, the arrival of Imam Musa al-Sadr in Tyre marked

the beginning of a change. Al-Sadr tried to widen the scope of the role Shi'ite '~ik~~rna

played, changing the juridical role they had traditionally played in the Lebanese Shi'ite

community into a leadership role for a broad-based campaign against social injustice. In
advocating this shft, al-Sadr aroused the fear of the established families and leaders of

Jabal 'Amil, especially that of Kame1 al-Asaad and Adel Osseyran, who advocated a
secular rather than religious form of leadership.

According to Nasr (1 9851, as early as 1975, the Shi'ite community corisisted

poljtically of three main groups: 1) Followers of the traditional leaders, including large
landowners, heads of clans, traditional clergy, tenant farmers, sections of the small

peasantry, minor officials, and the subproletariat; 2) Followers of al-Sadr's Movement for
the Dispossessed, including the new agrarian and commercial "emigrant" bourgeoisie,

small-scale artisans and merchants, the crisis-wracked peasantry, the new intellectual
elite (professionals and civil servants), young ofice workers, teachers, and new migrants to the cities (working class and low-level salaried workers in the administration and the service sector); 3) Followers of the Marxist and Ba'athst left, including some of the new intelligentsia consisting of professors, lawyers, journalists, and teachers; also poor peasants and agricultural and industrid workers.

Nasr adds that the movement spearheaded by al-Sadr gradualy effected a social

and political realignment withn the Shi'ite community itself He explains that al-Sadr
formed a multi-class bloc whose goal was to bring all parts of Shi'ite society together.

While I find Nasr's classification informative, I do not agree that the new Shi'ite

movement succeeded because it brought the different social classes in the community
together. Even in Nasr's classification itself, there is no significant gap in class difference
among the respective group supporters. For example. the traditional leadership did not support the rich and more privileged just as the Movement of the Dispossessed did not support the poor and working class in the Mancist sense. Actually, the contrary is, to a

certain extent, sometimes true. For example, Ahmad al-Asaad (the grandfather) was well
known for supporting the working class and farmers rather than the well-established
families. Observers designated al-Asaad as a hard-working leader with peasant values though dressed up in a formal suit. He seemed to identify with the peasant population
just as comfortably and easily as he did with the more affluent. On the other hand,

although Adel Osseyran was described as a feudalist and a bourgeois, he was well-known
as was shown, for encouraging educational and professional development for all (Tabaja,
1985: 3 1). Of course, this is not to claim that a class structure had not emerged in

Lebanon, but to say that where class consciousness seems to exist, it is often obscured by primordial identities. For example, Osseyran and al-Asaad's supporters included lawyers,
journalists and teachers they had helped appoint in various jobs similarly to Marxist and

Ba'athi st supporters that the latter had helped appoint.

In fact, Illiya Harik, I believe, correctly claims in the case of the Lebanese (arid
Iraqi) S hi' ites, objective socio-economic conditions and prin~ordial sentiments overlap so
much that it is difficult to separate one from the other (Hariq, 1974: 2 1). The depressed

economic status of the Shi'ites defines the boundaries of the communal reference group. It does not, however, lead to significantclass-based participation across religious groups. Actually, the significant and fertile feeling which mobilized the Shl'ites was their collective confessional consciousness which was enhanced by the widespread and belief that they suffered the costs of the extended conflict in Lebanon, far more grievously than

other groups in the country, and with very little to show for their grief. The Shi'ites
demonstrate a case in which primordial sentiments and socio-economic conditions

reinforce each other (Hariq, 1974: 82).

As for the several hundred thousand Shi'ites who settled, both permanently and
temporarily in and around Beirut, it became well acknowledged that urban residence does not necessarily erase sectarian identity and often has quite the opposite effect.

Thus, even though the Shi'ites moved away from the village, the village remained the
locus of their political relationships. Even as the value of the village-based political

relationships with the traditional m 'ama was declining. (Norton, 1988: 27). This study briefly takes into account the modernization process and the socio-

economic changes that occurred in the Shi'ite community of Lebanon, especially in the
South, but does not describe the process of social mobilization as a predictor of political

participation. The latter approach towards socio-political mobilization renders political participation as passive and inevitable. Instead, this study will follow Cameron's approach to the politicjzation process, which may be affected by organization itself, i. e.

Amal and later on Hizbullah. According to Cameron, a new political movement may
either succeed or fail in attracting new members depending on recruitment policies,

promotional drives, the ability to create a favourable image by espousing solutions for
current exigencies, and the ability to adapt organizations to the existing social

infrastructure or social reality (Cameron, 1974: 140).

Traditional Shi'ite zu ' a min the 1960's were becoming increasingly ineffective in

meeting the needs of their clients in the urban setting as well as in the deprived village

setting. In a sense, the traditional ru 'amawere facing a newly politicized generation

rather than a specific socio-economic class. As a result, in a single South Lebanese

family, you would find the mother an Asaad supporter, the father an Osseyran supporter
and the children espousing the beliefs of various ideological pwties such as Ba'ath.
Communist, AmaI or Hizbullah.

D. Musa al-Sadr's and Berri's Amal

Musa al-Sadr's Movement for the Dispossessed mobilized the Shi'ite community
at a time of general ideological crisis. Feudal and tribal values were breaking down. The

traditional concepts of religion were losing ground to the liberal ideoloa of the urban

market place. On the symbolic level, the movement was a struggle against the old ways,

against the alienation of the Shi'ite masses and the traditional relationship between
peasants and rural leaders, against the relationship between the masses and the central

government against the traditional status of the Shi'ites and their place in the history of Lebanon, against traditional religion as instilled by a non-flexible dominating ideology.

Imam al-Sadr's movement employed moral and religious rhetoric and themes
based on Shi'ite protest tradition. As a movement of moral rebirth and community

reorganization, it clearly was a reaction to the breakdown of rural Lebanon and the crisis
of the migrants to the cities. It was also a political movement in self-defense against
increasing Israeli attacks, and a means of pressuring the state to take action. The

movement's political program converged on four underlying objectives:

1) The gradual reform of the adnlinistrativc system, eliminating the confessional

distribution of civil service posts except at the highest executive and legislative levels. 2)
The creation of a chamber of religious representatives alongside the chamber of deputies
(parliament) to strike a balance between the sects and arbitrate among them. 3) The

change of the electoral law to ''allow for a better representation of the political
aspirations of the Lebanese public. " The proposed system was proportional, which would

clearly give the Shi'ites a greater voice in elections. 4) The overall improvement of the quality and morality of political life As Imam al-Sadr said in late 1974, "the movement
was not established to take power or win portfolios or seats in parliament. Our purpose

is to reform the political climate, not to elect politicians. We are struggling against
corruption and voter intimidatioq but it is not our role to influence the voter's choice." From the goals initially set out by al-Sadr, the social goals were the most
important for the movement: to challenge monopoly by the privileged in order to achieve a fairer distribution of wealth and to struggle against confessional and regional inequality. Next came the political goals: to increase the national participation and the political and

religious role of the Shi'ites and to force the state to adopt a serious national defense

policy. Economic and cultural goals were less important.

The movement drew heavilv on Shi'ite religious heritage, with its

symbolism, rituals, values and heroes. Shi' ite ideology had always been the principal
Islamic ideology of social protest. The movement attempted to reinterpret this ideology
and its manifestations giving contemporary meaning to the rituals and drawing out their
implications for the current struggle. In brief, it used religious symbolism to legitimize
political action.

Religious symbolism provided a direct transformation of social struggle into a

religious code, giving it a fiame of reference. " 1 invite all Southerners to demand their
rights because anyone who doesn't speak up for his rights is a mute deviltt, said the Imam

in 1984. "The price of tobacco hasn't risen in 12 years. Everything else has gone up
while the price of tobacco remains the same, as though it were zakat (alms) distributed to
the poor. They ask us to pay our taxes, and the money goes to the monopolists and their
accomplices. We've paid our dues, but do we have security? (Nasr, 1985: 13). Here,

al-Sadr uses his speech to express a class struggle between oppressor and oppressed,

between depriver and deprived.

The movement never ceased to use religious symbolism to evoke the Shi'ite
history of repeated revolutions in the collective memory of the community - revolutions

against the Umayyads, the Abbassids, the M d u k s , the Ottomans and the French.
Shi'ite history is symbolized primarily by the life of Imam Hussein, hero of the Shi'ite
community whose tragic story is reenacted every year during the holiday of 'ushura. The

movement would usually hold mass rallies on that day. Al-Sadr always recalled the event and the persons being commemorated and drew lessons from them for the current

The use of religious symbolism generated a cult around the charismatic leader, in
this case Imam al-Sadr. There were many signs of cult development during the critical
years of 1974-75. Al-Sadr's imposing portrait adorned walls of towns and villages and
was carried by demonstrators. One of the slogans most often repeated at mass rallies

was "our blood and our souls are yours, Imam. " Al-Sadr, furthermore, sought to create

unity between him and the masses, walking barefoot among the crowds and letting

himself be touched and kissed.

It soon became clear that the ideology of the movement was clearly controlled by its leadership, particularly by Imam al-Sadr himself. His themes, slogans, images and

even style were easily recognizable in pamphlets and on banners and wall posters and
political graffiti. However, in spite of his practical and spiritual leadership of Amal, al-

Sadr himself had no administrative position within it. Instead, he was described simply
as the organization's murshid ruhi, its spiritual guide.

Al-Sadr vowed to struggle relentlessly with his movement until the social

grievances of the deprived, meaning the Shi'ites, were satisfactorily addressed by the

government. As Kamal Salibi noted: "He even warned that he would soon have his
followers attack and occupy the palaces and mansions of the power ul if the grievances of the poor and oppressed were left unheeded" (Salibi, 1976: 78).

In 1967, the Parliament passed a law establishing a Supreme Shi'ite Council, which would provide a representative body for the Shi'ites independently of other

Muslims for the first time. The Council actually came into existence in 1969, with Imam
Musa al-Sadr appointed as chairman for a six-year term, a stunning confinnation of his
status as the leading Shi'ite cleric in the country and certainly one of the most important

political figures in the Shi'ite community. The Council quickiy made its presence felt,

demanding military, social, economic, and political reforms, such as improved measures
for the defense of the South, the provision of development funds particularly for the
construction of schools and hospital, and the increase of the Shi' ites appointed to senior

government positions.
One year aRer the formation of the Supreme Shi'ite Council, Imam Musa

organized a general strike "to dramatize to the government the plight of the population
of Southern Lebanon vis-a-vis the Israeli military threat" (Smock and Smock, 1 975 :

141). Shortly thereafter, the government created the Council of the South Majlis al-

Jmub with an operating budget of thirty million pounds. Although it is said that the
Council of the South was a victory for al-Sadr, it was actually his primary opponent,

Kame1 a]-Asaad, who dominated its operations. Throughout its history, Majlis a!-Janub

has been more famous for its corruption than for its supposedly philanthropic projects
(Norton, 1988: 45).
As discussed earlier, a1 Sadr and al-Asaad fought ongoing battles for the political

control of the Shi'ites throughout the early 1970's. By the end of 1973, tensions

between the two sides reached their peak, in part over a pending change in the Supreme
Shi'ite Council's by-laws that would extend the term of the chairman from six years until

the retirement age of 65. That modification would more or less ensure that al-Asaad's
rival would become part of the institution itself and that the traditional S hi'ite leaders

would face religious competitors in their role in the Shi'ite community.

Al-Sadr's political influence gradually replaced that of the traditional families.

That change in the Shi'ite power structure became clear in December 1974, when a byelection for a single parliament seat was held in Nabatiye. The candidate backed by the

Imam, Rafiq Shahin, and beat al-Asaad's choice by a two-to-one margin in a contest that
was widely seen as a test of al-Sadr's popularity. Still, even then, Karnel al-Asaad maintained considerable influence over government functions, bureaucratic appointments

and, of course, the Council of the South.

In addition to his campaign for social justice, al-Sadr also sought to motivate the

central government to adequately protect South Lebanon from Israeli attacks. With ths
objective, al-Sadr introduced the concept of armed struggle in his campaign to represent

and mobilize the Shi'ites frustrated with government neglect of their security. Following

the 1973 October War, al-Sadr declared that there was no "alternative for us except
revoIutio11and weapons," (Norton, 1988: 46). Declaring that "arms are the adornment

of men,"he asked all his listeners to vow to seize their rights or face martyrdom in the

The offensive nature of the movement's internal strategy appears in the text of the
Pact of the Movement of the Dispossessed (1 975): "Our movement is the movement of
every Lebanese who is deprived at present and worried about the future. If the ruling

class does not live up to its responsibilities, we will build the future by ourselves." By

ruling class, al-Sadr is referring to the traditional ruling families and their leaders, such as
the Asaads and Osseyrans in the Shi'ite community. "We want to save the country from

those who are plundering it and leading it to its destruction. " (Nasr, 1985: 15).
The movement's scope shifted gradually from political pressure tactics to the
creation of a military organization. At times, the movenlent used demonstrations, letters,

petitions and institutional pressures, as occurred from June 1973 to February 1974 and

from January to May 1975. At other times, it depended on armed mass rallies, strikes
and threats, especially from February to November 1974 and from May to July 1975.

Al-Sadr called for a Lebanese National Resistance, but he wanted to recruit those
Shi'ite fighters who had carried arms under banners other than Shi'ism. Therefore, al-

Sadr founded a new Shi'ite politico-military organization, Afwaj al-Mukcawamah ulLubnaniyu (AMAL or the Lebanese Resistance Battalion), which embodied the new
Shi'ite resistance. Amal was the militia arm of the Movement of the Deprived, formed to protect the Shi'ite conlrnunity in the civil war and to defend the South, which was largely

left on its own (Salibi, 1976: 48). Its creation marked a turning point in the evolution of
Slli'ite power. It transformed the Movement of the Deprived to one that would use arms

against its internal as well as external rivals.

Over the years that followed, Anal developed much more than a military
movement. It built its own broad-based political and social infrastructure. At the same time, it narrowed its focus from a movement representing all the underprivileged of

Lebanon irrespective of their sects to one representing interests of the sect that gave it
birth, the Shi'ites. From then on, it was Amal that mobilized the successful Shi'ite

doctors from Beirut to do volunteer work in Anal's rural clinics. The owners of Shi'ite
banks in Beirut, a group that had not existed before 1977, secured loans for Amal's

rehabilitation and development projects. Many of Arnal's expenses were met by the

Shi'ite emigrants of an earlier generation (Norton, 1988: 145). The emigrants could

fund Amal's projects because they also had their own long standing grudges against their
sect's so-called feudal leaders and many of them had become wealthy by working in

Africa and the Arabian Gulf.

One of Musa al-Sadr's significant development acts was the founding of a

vocational institute in the southern town of Burj al-Shimali, constructed at the cost of

half-a-million Lebanese pounds (about $ 1 65,000), with money provided by Shi' ite benefactors, the Ministry of Education, and bank loans. The institute was to become an
important symbol of his Ieadership. It st ill operates today under the administration of his

sister, Rabab al-Sadr, with an increasing number of branches, providing vocational

training for about 500 orphans.

Nevertheless, al-Sadr's efforts as well as motives, questioned by traditional leaders, were eclipsed by the violence that engulfed Lebanon in 1975. Until then, the Arnal Movemerlt was primarily conceptual, with appeals, which influenced the masses
rather than an established party with its own infrastructure and organization like those of

the West. This type of movement could be neutralized or could disintegrate with time.

The Imam's disappearance in 1979, as well as the Israeli invasion of 1978 and the Islamic Revolution in Iran in 1979 contributed to the mobilization of the Shi'ite

community and to the consolidation of Shi'ite political influence in a revitalized AmaI.

While Musa al-Sadr's fate remains a mystery, his disappearance has been of enormous
symbolic value to Harakat W as well as the trigger of its reawakening. More than a

few Amal leaders concede that a mish mawjuu', absent Imam is of greater value for the

political mobilization of the masses than one who i s 'present'. As one thoughtful
movement member said, the disappearance of Musa al-Sadr is the "single most important

thing" that happened to Harakat Amal.

Musa al-Sadr's Arnal demonstrates how a movement with a broad base and a

national ideological framework can be ineffective in mobilizing the masses. It becomes

more effective when it re-achannells itself on the basis of communal sentiments, grudges
and grievances. In Amd's case, mobilization increased, fueled by the communal religious sentiments and symbols that al-Sadr invoked. Before 1975, the Lebanese praised the

coexistence of the different sects and Musa al-Sadr first introduced himself as a fighter
and as the symbol of all the dispossessed. However, he could not hide the Shi'ite nature

of his movement for long. It soon became apparent that his movement could not
mobilize the masses to act and to revolt if it used national and cross-sectarian ideologies rather than the deeply rooted Shi'ite sentiments, used ever since the battle of h r h d a .

Al-Sadr wished to erase primordial and personalistic ties and institutions, but, in
- actual fact, he could not have institutionalized a more effective model of both. The

institutions he established symbolized his person and his name, known as al-Sadr

institutions. Nevertheless, al-Sadr's institutions are well known for their decent and

honest administrations, which is a welcome change from Lebanese institutional social realities. After al-Sadr' s disappearance, Hussein al-Hussainy took over the administrive

leadership of Arnal until 1980, when he was replaced through formal elections by a
representative of the younger middle class Nabih Berri. A well-informed observer notes that al-Hussainy was removed due to his rapid accun~ulation of wealth and assets. It has been said that d-Hussainy and his family had very limited financial means before h s leadership of Arnal and h s position as the Speaker of the House. His family's lifestyle

however, changed becoming very luxurious. Berri, a lawyer, represented the newly emergent Shi'ites, those of the younger
generation and who were not traditionally involved in politics. Berri, like many of his financial supporters, was born in West Africa, in Freetown, Sierra Leone, where many

newly politicized Shi'ites had sought and, in some cases, earned their fortuties. He was
educated in Beirut and Paris. He lived in the United States in the early 1960's and for a

brief period in the 1970's, acquiring a deep affection for the country. Berri was a
political activist and revolutionary since he was fourteen years old, as he once declared. He was constantly criticized by the more conservative Shi'ite leaders like his predecessor

al-Hussainy, as well as the religious scholar Shaikh Moharnmad Mahdi Shams al-Din,
who had taken over al-Sadr's former position as the head of the Higher Shi'ite Islamic

Council. Thl s is not to mention, of course, Kame1 al-Asaad's initid rivalry. Interestingly
enough unlike al-Asaad, Adel Osseyran had not stood against h a 1 but had previously supported Musa al-Sadr and encouraged twelve members of Parliament to vote for him

in the election for the president of the Higher Islamic Shi'ite Council. Adel Osseyran
did not dissuade his supporters fiom joining Amal and did not oppose the goals, which it

initially set out to reach. Therefore, it is very common to see parents of the pre-war

generation in the South who are Osseyran supporters and whose children are h a 1

supporters or activists. Thus, although Berri' s fight was against all traditional leaders,
not all of them stood against him initially.
Berri's Amal became a militia confronting the militias of the "other" Lebanese

sects, the armed foreign militias like the Palestinian Fada'iyin and their allies, as well as
the prime enemy, Israel. Furthermore, as the civil war intensified, Amal and Berri
became more ferocious in terms of intrasectarian Shi'ites conflicts, first against the

feudal-like families and later against the radical Hizbullah party, as well as against extrasectarian groups such as the communists, Maronites and Druzes. Most of the literature

on Amal suggests that the Shi'ites of Amal had organized themselves into a paramilitary organization which challenged many of the other paramilitary groups dominating the
Lebanese scene (Norton, 1988:60). However, according to Norton, such notions

misinterpret the significance of Amal. As a combatant force, the movement was oflet1 overshadowed by its adversaries; even its leaders were quick to recognize its military
weakness: "Ifyou go by arms, ammunition and equipment, we are probably the weakest party in Lebanon: The smallest organization is probably better armed and better equipped

than we are, but our strength lies in our ability to make the people, the masses, carry out our orders, and they do it because they know we are out to meet their demands (Norton,
1988: 60). While Berrj's latter observation overstates Amd's military weakness

somewhat, it does highlight the movement's real strength: its capacity for transcending
raw military power and, having done so, exerting substantial political influence in

In the South, where Amal has drawn much of its strength, and its growth, the
actual formal membership - as opposed to the number of its supporters - has been

incredibly small. In one major Shi'ite village, only 90 persons were members out of an
active adult population of over 1,500. In two other important villages, only 30 to 40

were officially designated as members. Yet each of these villages was considered an

Amal stronghold. The point here is that when we are dealing with Anal as a party and
not just a militia, we are dealing with a political movement, not a well-defined political
party in the Western sense. FolIowers are more easily swayed, cajoled or enlisted than
directed. Persuasion is the t e c h q u e for a man in Nabih Berri's situation. He can do no

more than the political mood of his politicaI unmbrella permits; if he forgets this nornl, he

risks finding himself without a following. For example, in the case of the ill-fated TWA
flight that was hijacked in Beirut, Berri could provide safety for the hostages, but their
release had to await the intervention of far more powerful actors, Syria and Iran. To

understand Arnal, it is important to perceive it as a political statement or a state of mind

to which the Shi'ites are affiliated ideationally, if not always officially. In more than a

few villages in the South, residents identify themselves as atnalists, yet they often have

no official connection with the organization. Of course, for more than a few villagers the
best politics was no politics, especially when the armed struggles between Arnal and

Hizbullah withn the Shi'ite sect, against any other group, such as Palestinians, Druzes
and Maronites and of course against Israel, was killing their children. This was a prevailing feeling that was expressed in the folk proverb rai'i al-baqur ahsun min siyasat

al-bashar (the opinion of a cow is better than the politics of the people).
While the Amal leadership advocated that the Lebanese political system be
restructured, the villagers' hdamental objectives were local. Most importantly, they

sought "security". Hence, they sought rehge in the first Shi'ite movement to use the

threat of arms to demand a legitimate government and governing institutions. They

denlanded especially that the army, which had become almost totally ineffective from the
onset of the war in 1 975, be rebuilt, that support for the Palestinian struggle be carried

out in Pdestine not in Lebanon, and that the militias, thugs, and marauders that
proliferated in all parts of the countty be disarmed (Norton, 1988: 6 1).
-4Ithoughthe Arnal movement had ample h n d s and weapons, its jnfiastructure

remained underdeveloped. As a result of the absence of a well-integra~edorganization in

the South, the label 'An~al' was sometimes free for the taking. For many Shi'ite villagers, the movement's name became synonymous with any collective self-defense activity carried out in the village. In at least a few cases, the Amal name was adopted by local

,rhabaub (youth) for whom it provided a certain legitimacy that they could not have had
otherwise. Furthermore, many S hi'ites who had previously belonged to the Arab

Liberation Front or one of the several communist organizations tested the wind and found that the time was propitious for a change of labels. This tendency to shift loyalty
became so serious that, in the spring of 1981, Amal temporarily suspended its

recruitment activities in the South because it had recruited so many members of

questionable loyalty and background. Moreover, more than a few Shi' it es merely found
it advantageous to support and even join the movement rather than overtly oppose it.

This stance resulted from Amal's powerful political and military domination. For

example, people who overtly opposed Amal during the war were not only criticized by
Arnal militiamen and local leaders but they were also threatened by force of arms. At times, their access to formal government positions was obstructed. This stance

intensified as Nabih Berri climbed to high positions in the state, ultimately becoming

Speaker of the House. However after 1982, many Amal members, not convinced of the movement or its leaders any more, dropped away when they found that their rationale for

remaining members of Amal had become much less compelling.

In contrast to many oft he other mi titias that populated Lebanon, Amal fighters
were paid very little, and economic necessity led many simply to attempt to earn a living

elsewhere whenever possible. Amal also had its shares of opportunists who were

perfectly willing to return to patron-client relationships outside the organization. For

these people, the movement was simply a temporary substitute for preferred patrons
whether this or that za'im or a competing political organization.

The developments described above are neither surprising nor seriously

dysfinctional for an emergent communally based organization such as Arnal. However,
the movement's weak infrastructure made it potentially vulnerable to co-option by those

who could manipulate the same symbols, that is, by the Shi'ite clergy.

Since 1 982, there has been a tug-of-war between Berri and Shaikh Muhammad
Mahdi Shams &-Din, then Deputy Chairman of the supreme Sbi'ite Council (now its chairman) for the leadership oft he Shi'ites. Shams a[-Din is from a better known
conservative background than Beni. He is a man grown accustomed to power and

discomfited by the loud voices oft he previously quiescent. Like Berri, however, Shams
&Din has been able to draw on the generous support of Shi'ite merchants who profited

by migrating to Africa. It is believed that, in the fall of 1982, for example, Shams &Din
was able to collect fifteen million dollars on a short tour of Shi'ite communities in West
Africa. Similarly, it is said that in February 1984, Berrj collected impressive donations

from wealthy Shi'ites in the Beirut area. These large-scale financial campaigns were not
prevalent before the war in the Shi'ite community. Donations were made on a smaller

scale personally or on a family relations basis, by Asaad supporters, Osseyran supporters

and so on. This time the money was collected by the Shi'ite communities in the name of

the deprived Shi'ites and ostensibly for the poor Shi'ite community. Both Berri and

Shams &Din controlled important political assets for the mobilization of their respective
followers; on the one hand, manpower, armed power and street popularity; and, on the other, the symbols of religious legitimacy and esteem. Unlike Shams al-Din who is himself a religious scholar, Berri acquired his religious legitimacy by following in the

footsteps of Imam Musa al-Sadr whose picture he still puts next to his own at all Amal


In addition to outside pressure from Shams &Din and of course al-Asaad and alHussainy, Berri faced challenges within Amal itself. Amal's ideology consisted of an
admixture of political and ideological perspectives, and more than a few members rejected its relative moderation and disorganization. One of the movement's twenty-five member Command Council, Husain Musawi, accused Arnal of collaboration with Israel

and of deserting its Islamic principles, a change which if not baseless was definitely false.
I n mid 1982, Musawi formed a splinter group the Islamic AmaI organization, apparently

with significant Iranian support. Amal, therefore, was never a tightly integrated organization, and the possibility of fissures in its organization was always latent.

Berri restructured Amal in 1983 when he was re-elected as its president. The
Amal Presidential Council was chaired by Berri and its members included Afif Haydar, a

well-educated and moderate Shi'ite from a recognized family in Ba'albeck; Hasan Hashim, a serious challenger to Berri from Zahrani. Imam Musa al-Sadr's sister, Rabab
al-Sadr and the Shi'ite Mufti, Abd d-Amir Qabalan. In reorganizing Amd, Berri eliminated "pro-Iranians" who were critical of his centrist politics and his unwillingness

to emulate the Iranian-Idamicrevolution model. Berri stressed that one of the objectives

of the reorganization was to limit the movement's military role and enhance its political role, in order to secure economic gains and improve social conditions for the Shi'ites.

One clear outcome of the convention held to reorganize Amal was the

confirmation of Berri's authority, as the first among equals though by no means the
unchallenged leader. Later on 'Akif Haydar was distanced from the Council as he was

overshadowing Berri with his charisma and intellect. Hasan Hashim resigned as a result

of personal conflicts with Berri since Hashim enjoyed considerable grassroots support in
the South, where he was widely credited with actively aiding the resistance against Israel

financially, when many of the other Amal leaders only provided rhetoric. Rabab al-Sadr,
who was also distanced, contested the decision, supported by those involved in her

brother's institutions in the South. 1t is well known by Southerners that large Shi'ite
donations fund her institutional services secretly to avoid the critical attention of Berri

and his men. Such secret donations became more prevalent after Amal started collecting
huge sums of inoney to build educational institutions, mainly for its supporters.
Moreover, the contest over collecting Shi'ite donations became more serious

when Nabih Berri's wife, Randa, established the "Lebanese Welfare Association for the

Handicapped". By giving it a national name, the Berri's were able to capitalize on it

politically. It is estimated that more than forty million dollars have been channeled from

Shi'ite and non-Shi'ite sources to this society and its institutions. However, Berri's
social service resources boomed when Amal supporters took over Majlis a l - h u b

(Council of the South) whch was separated from the Mnistry of Social Affairs in 1 980

and given independent status to handle social welfare and reconstruction in the South in
the aftermath of the 1978 Israeli invasion. According to Harik's study (1 994) from 1980-

1984, the Council of the South was led by Dr. Hussayn Kana'an who had close links to

Amd. At the time, the Council then had extraordinary administrative powers and

financial independence, allowing quick action to be taken. The Council oversaw the repair of roads, schools and houses; the construction of hospitals such as the one in
Nabatiye; and social assistance to needy families. Kana'an was subsequently replaced by
Muhammad Baydoun, an Amalist member on better terms with Berri. Unlike Kana'an he

was actually from the South and more under Berri's political influence. Under Kana'an
and more so under Baydoun, Amal's hold on social services in the South reinforced its

popular base of support, especially afier the Israeli invasion of 1982, when people were
dislodged from their homes and hundreds were injured. Thus, Amal's hold on substantial

funds, its ability to influence large-scale projects and to provide social assistance, at no
direct cost to Amal or Berri, boosted its image.
As Berri reached formal positions within the state, first as a minister and later on

as head of Parliament, he received more donations from Shi'ite emigrants. Responding to the human suffering in the South and benefiting from the increasing pool of funds and volunteers, his wife Randa began the construction of an ultra-modern rehabilitation

center for the handicapped, established in Sarafand in the Zahrani area. The official
opening of the center, still not completed, took place around one week before the

parliamentary elections of 1996 with a huge political festivity. The center, initially established by Mrs.Berrils 'Lebanese Welfare Association for the Handicapped' was given
the name Mujuma' Nubih Berri i'il Mu 'ayeen, (Nabih Berri's Compound for the

Handicapped) although Berri did not participate financially at the project.

As these developments demonstrate, on the one hand, the political competition amongst Shi'ite groups increased the competition amongst their social services and social

institutions. On the other hand, they drew on available finds and financial resources,

public and private, at no direct cost to their own movements. However, the rising
problem for such huge and image-oriented institutions is that once their programmes



was hard to resist the momentum for their expansion, especially since they were

able to accumulate more wealth. Thus, by the mid 1980's, social services and welfare

foundations, especially those huge ones, were becoming more common. Of course, since
these institutions added

to the legitimacy of the new elite, namely Berri, in the same way

the Islamic Maqassed and Arnelliya Society had long contributed to the prestige of the

West Beiruti Sunni Salaam and the Beiruti Shi'ite Baydoun families respectively wit11

whom they were linked, the new leaders found it productive politically to back these
services and related initiatives (Harik, 1944: 34).

With the end of war, Amal's militia days, along with the accompanying power and

armed influence, were gone. h a 1 has had to rechannel its political efforts, which had
become irrelevant and ineffective, especially since its leader has had to switch from military authority to the state's legitimacy, discipline and rhetoric. Amal made social
services its concern in order to institutionalize itself rather than disintegrate. The degree
to which h d ' s initial socio-political beliefs and principles are applied to its new role will

be investigated in Chapter Four.

E. Then Came the Challenge of the Orthodox Group: Bizbullah

Moderation has its limits, especially moderation without political and social

recompense. As it centrist leadership failed to deliver. Amal was increasingly seen as

ineffectual, serving primarily party members' hterest s.

the latter half of 1 983,

frustration was rising in the Shi'ite populated areas, and Hurakut Arnal seemed to be in

danger of losing its grip on the population. Berri worried aloud, on several occasions,

that he feared the moderates would be pushed aside, only to be replaced by extremists,
and he admitted that he was losing control in the streets (Norton, 1987: 99).

Growing numbers of believers among the young generation leR Amal and joined

Hizbullah. They no longer found in Arnal a cogent response to their fervor and their
desire to launch a jihad against Israel and to bring about a change in the central

government regime. Others were persuaded to change loyalties by means of stipends

paid to them and their families. The new members of the Shi'ite movement soon found

themselves drawn to a cadre of young, ofien charismatic cIerics, then in their thirties,
who offered the new recruits a personal example in the unwavering stands they took

(Norton, 1987: 121).

Indeed, the creation of Hizbullah by young clerics did not resemble that of other
movements and organizations in Lebanon. Hizbullah started off as a small group of clerics, disciples of the radical Shi'ite school of thought, without a distinct organizational
apparatus Led by Abbas Musawi and Sheikh Subhi Tufayli, they acknowledged the

Imam Khomeini as their religious and political leader (emotionally if not formally) and
identified with Iran's efforts to make Lebanon part of the Islamic RepubIic. Within a matter of months, tlis small group had become a mass movement. The founders were

joined by radical Shi'ites who broke off from Arnal and other movements and who
brought with them members from organizations such as Arnal al-Islami, the Association

of Muslim 'ulurna in Lebanon, the Lebanese Datwa, and the Association of Muslim
Students. These new Shi'ites forged a coalition which banded together under the front

organization of &bullah (S hapira, 19 8 8 : 124).

The direction Hizbdlah was to take differed from organizations or parties in the
conventional sense of the word. For example,Hizbullah, did not resemble organizations

in Western countries, in Islamic states or even its predecessor in the Lebanese Shi'ite
community, Arnal. It developed, instead, as an organization and

an apparatus adapted to

what was required for Islamic deed and for its members.

One might ask here, why the term Hizbullah was used to designate this emergent

radical Shi'ite organization. The word h t b in Arabic does not have the same
connotation as the word 'party' in English. The linguisticroot of the word of hizb defines

it as a community, sect, or a group of followers (Bustanj, 1966: 384-3851, However, Hizbullah ideology reflects the Qur' anic origins of its no~nencIature and its political

terminology. Almost all of the political terms that the Pmy uses in its political literature are derived from the Qu'ran. One Hizbullah leader argues that most Muslim activities

and 'movements' should be based on Qur'anic Ayats (Al-Muqdad, 1987: 8 1).

While it is true that the term Hizbullah appears in the Qur'an more than once, it is

used in a different context from current use by the Party. In s~irc~t nl-n~n'icklh (Ayat 56),
it is stated that Hizbullah are sure to triumph. Tabari interpreted the term Hizbullah here as Allah's followers or supporters. The term Hizbullah also appears with the same

connotation in surd al-mujadilah (Ayat 22), meaning soldiers of God to Tabari. There
is no evidence that the Qur'anic text implied an organizational structure for Muslim
activists. Nevertheless, contrary to Abu Khalil's claim that Hizbullah's leadership believe

the Qur'an's usage of the term Hizbullah refers to an organizational structure, Hizbullah's

official spokesman maintains that the movement is "not a regimented party, in the

common sense," for the idea of an exclusive "party" is foreign to Islam. To him

Hizbullah is a "mission" and a "way of life" (Kramer, 1987:2). Another Hizbullah leader

insists that Hizbullah "is not an organization," for its members do not carry identification

cards and are not assigned specific responsibilities. It is the "nation" of all who believe in
the struggle against injustice, and all who are loyal to Iran's Khomeini. To Iran's Charge

d'Affaires in Beirut, Hizbullah is not restricted to a specific organizational framework.

There are two parties, he concludes, Hizbullah or God's party, and the Devil's party

(Kramer, 1987: 2).

These definitions of Hizbullah's name indicate that Nzbullah emerged as an

attractive alternative perspective in the midst of a general public mood of moderation and

disillusion in political and social values and action. According to a recent interview with

al-Sayyid Hassan Nasrallah the main Spokesman of the party, Hizbullah was only the

name given to a growing Islamic trend, before the 1982 lsraeli invasion, one identifying
return of Muslims to Islam. The name also reflected a perspective among many youth
that it was impossible to fight the occupation with the old moderate conceptions and

forms. Therefore, this new framework began to emerge before the Israeli invasion
accelerated its growth, and Hizbullah was horn as a force of resistance in reaction to the

occupation. (Nasrallah, 1987:1).

Nasrallah added that Hizbullah grew from a Lebanese initiative. He argued that
it was founded by a group

of Lebanese, with a Lebanese leadership and that its grass


roots fighters were Lebanese and that its only aim was to end the occupation At the

same time our battle was against Israel which was backed by many countries of the world

and recipient of three billion dollars of the United States anually and with the most
sofist icated technology;We had to fight it with what we possessed, the will not with the

modest weapon we had ". Nasrallah added " naturally we asked for assistance , from any
party " He concluded that relations were begun with Syria and Iran in response to

Hizbullah appeal; other countries were not as responsive, for many of them thought that
what was going on in Lebanon did not concern them ( Nasralld~,1987; 2).

It is clear to a close observer of fizbullah literature that the idea of Wzbullah as a

pure Lebanese Islamic calling did approximate the truth in the first few months after the

movement's emergence in 1982. Since then, Iran has worked to make Hizbullah an
increasingly structured, centralized and accountable organization with close ties to the

Iranian regime.
In the latter part of 1982, Iran dispatched an advance force of revolutionary

guards ('Pasdaran') to Lebanon to take part in the jihad against Israel, and more

importantly, to help establish a revolutionary Islamic movement in Lebanon. Iranian

AmbAsaador Ruhani, who was then serving in Beirut, noted that the force, which arrived
via Damascus, numbered five thousand lranians who had come to "assist the inhabitants

of Lebanon'. Ruhani did not forget to emphasize that the Iranian fighters had been sent
at the request of Lebanon's president, Elias Sarkis, and of the Lebanese people (Shapira, 1987: 123).

The Lebanese clerics welcomed their Iranian 'brothers' and were sympathetic to
the aid these Iranians provided to the local population. The Iranian contingent depended

on Iranian funds to rehabilitate and expand the religious school system in Baalbeck,

restore the health-care system by establishing clinics and hospitals, and aid young Shi'ites
enrolled in religious educational institutions.
It was not long before Baalbeck, along with its neighboring towns and villages,

assumed an Islamic-Iranian coloring. The sale of liquor was prohibited, women were
compelled to dress conservatively and the city, which untiI then had been a thriving
center of international tourism, began to resemble Iran in every way. Huge posters of

Khorneini and other Iranian leaders appeared on its main streets and the presence of
those speaking Persian intensified the Iranian atmosphere.

The transforniation of Baalbeck ideologjcally, spiritually and socially represented

the onset of a new type of Islamic revolutionary movement that had never been seen in

Lebanon before. Nothing like it ideologically or materially had existed before. Soon,
this new Lebanese-Iranian movement began to spread to Shi'ites in Beirut and the South. Still, as a progressive party, Iljzbullah maintains as much secrecy as possible about the

nature of its power distribution. Due to the growing unauthorized use of its name by

persons acting indeperidently of the consultative coundl, Hizbullah appointed a

spokesman and published an official manifesto in February 1985 (Norton, 1987, 20 1).

Hizbulah, however, has never made other public statements about its structure.
While it is possible to compile a lengthy list of L,ebanese Shi'ite clerics and others who
are prominent in the movement's activities, it is impossible to assign to any of them a

specific office within the organization (Kramer, 1987: 3). The avowed repudiation of
formal structure, identified by Weber as a consistent feature of charismatically-oriented movements, sets Hizbullah apart from other large Lebanese factions, particularly from its

rival Shi'ite movement, Amd, which is governed by an elaborate formal herarchy of

elected and appointed officials.

Yet the rehsal to acknowledge formal structure could be deceptive. Hizbullah is

an ovenvhelnlingly Shi'ite movement for the establishment of an Istamic state through

the implementation of Islamic law. The authorities on that law are Shi'ite clerics' ulama'

and they occupy roughly the same place of preeminence in Hizbullah that the 'ulama

occupy in Iran's ruling Islamic Repubtic Party. Among the 'ukamathemselves, there
exist informal yet complex patterns of deference. Hizbullah began as a coalition of

'wlama, each of whom

brought with him his circle of disciples. The individual adherent

of Hizbullah is likely to be a 0[lower of the movement through a Lebanese Shi'ite cleric

who serves as his guide. That cleric may himself be a follower of the movement though
a cleric senior to him, and so on. These relationships, extending at their highest levels to

the Shi'ite world's foremost clerics in Iran and Iraq, provide HizbuIIah with enough
informal structure to enforce a modicum of internal discipline, implement higher decisions, and raise needed funds. There exists a parallel structure of authority in Hizbullah, that whch is intrinsic to
the large Shi'ite families of the Biqaa valley. The loyalty of these clans to Hizbullah may

owe more to intra-clan alliances and rivalries than to Islamic commitment. Similarly, the

pattern of identification with Hizbullah in the Shi'ite villages of South Lebanon partly
replicates established patterns of village loyalty. For example, many of the Asaad's supporters among the young generation, children of traditional Asaad sympathizers,

claim as one of their initial reasons for joining Hizbullah that they rejected Amal and its

actions. That is also why the latest elections showed the possibility of an electoral
alliance between Kame1 al-Asaad's Democratic Socialist Party and Hizbullah, but one
which dissolved a few days before the elections. In the southern suburbs of Beirut, where Shi'jtes have already shed their loyalties
to clan and village, allegiance to Hizbullah is generally expressed through submission to

Shi'ite 'ulama'. These thickly populated suburbs are not the largest bastions of Hizbullah

in Lebanon, but they constitute its intellectual center and the study center belonging to Fadlallah.
The role played by the '~lkrm~r in Hizbullah is based on the populace attachment

to the leadership of the 'ulamcr' in Muslim society. A well known Hadith by the prophet

Muhammad, stating that the 'uluma are the heirs of the prophets, is used by the
themselves (Abu Khalil, ideologists of Hizbullah, who are predominantly '~ilrmm
199 1 :393). In the highest ruling body of Hizbullah, Majlis al-S hura, only two non-clerics are reported to be members (Hussain ill-Mussawi & Imad Mughniya). Therefore, the

emphasis on the role of the 'ulrlrnu is a fundamental feature of the ideology of Hizbullah.
Moreover, the leaderstup of the Party, consistent with the thoughts of twelve
Shi'itesm, does not leave the interpretation of religious texts to the average Muslim.

Every Shi'ite has to follow the theological pronouncements of the ma!@ (authority)
strictly made explicit. This process, almost mechanical in nature, is made explicit by its
Arabic name, taqlid, which literally means imitation. This process reinforces the position of the alim by ensuring great reliance by the individual on him. tn the realm of politics, it

also ensures the utmost obedience by the individual to the rnarja, obedience accounting
for the effectiveness of the Party and its organizational discipline.

It has dways been less than clear as to the precise role al-Sayyid Muhanunad

Hussain Fadlallah plays in Hizbullah. Fadlallah has consistently claimed that he is not the
leader of any party or movement, though he does acknowledge his own influence among

the Shi'ites. Actually, it is unimportant whether he is or is not the leader (or guide, for
that matter) of Hizbullah. The important thing is that his message resonates throughout

the Shi'ite community. Theoretically, Fadlallah sought to establish an Islamic Republic

in Lebanon initially, with fellow leaders from Hizbullah (Mallat, 1 988: 37). The
convergence of several factors since 1989, however, has triggered a major shiR in
Nzbullah's political outlook.

1, From "Islamization" to "Lebanonization"

According to Nizar Hamzeh, few of Lebanon's political factions have mastered

the art of political maneuvering as Hizbullah has. During the 1980's, Hizbullah led a

military jihad against Israel, the West, and all those who opposed its vision of an Islamic Lebanon. Yet while there are still pockets of virulent militancy, notably in the South, developments indicate that Hizbullah has entered a new phase since 1989. T h i s phase could be called the phase of "politicaljihad'(Harnzeh, 1993: 32 1).
The shift in Hizbullah's orientation was tied largely to drifts within Iran's

leadership. Iran-creator, financier, and advisor to Hizbullah began charting a more

pragmatic course in politics after the death of Khomeini (Norton, 1991: 47 1-472). In
fact, the power struggles among Iran's top leaders were mirrored in Hizbullah's

leadership, as reflected at its extraordinary conclave of October 1989 in Tehran, attended

by two hundred Lebanese delegates. At least two major factions were reported to be at the center of decision-making for Hizbullah's future in Lebanon at this conclave. The first faction, led by Sayegh Subhi

al-Tufayli and Sayyid 'Abbas al-Musawi, (assassinated in February 1992) argued that it was hopeless for Hizbullah to wage jihad against the West when Iran itself was calling for a truce. They advocated rapprochement with other fundamentalist groups and
wanted the movement to operate within the mainstream of Lebanese politics, a position

digned with the view of Iranian president Hashimi Rafsanjani. The second faction,
representing a number of party cadres and led by Sayyid Hassan Nasrallah, and Sayyid

Ibrahim al-Amine, pressed for tighter party discipline and sought to keep Hizbullah in a

state of perpetual jihad against all opponents of an Islamic Lebanon. The Nasrallah

group represented former Interior Minister Ali Akbar Muhtashimi's militant faction within the [ranian leadership (Harnzeh, 1993 : 3 22). The first faction emerged victorious from the Tehran conclave. One of its main
spiritual guides was Shaykh Fadlallah who was reported to be behind what is called the

shift in objective from the "Islamization of Lebanon" to the "Lebanonization of

Hizbullah"(Shukayr, 1992: 10- 13). In fact, Fadlallahs message since the mid 1980's had

combined a call for adherence to Islamic Iaw with a plea fbr intercommunal tolerance, in
sharp contrast to the intolerance of many clerics who acknowledged a role in Hizbullatl.
While Fadlallah does not deny that he would like to live in an Islamic state, he believes that conditions in Lebanon cannot foster the creation of such a state, and he has said so

frequently and explicitly:

"At this point we must make a distinction between the state of one religious party

or the state with a vast majority of one view, in which religion is the state and, an institution like Lebanon, which is one of diversity" (Fadlallah 1984).

In any case, Fadlallah's 'Lebanonization' of Hizbullah has greatly undermined the position of extremists in the party. Furthermore, the continuing political decline of
Muhtashami and the victory of Rafsanjanj supporters in the 1992 elections to Iran's
Shura Council, have corresponded to an almost complete erosion of the power of

HizbuIlah's militant faction in Lebanon. Even Sayyid Hassan Nasrallah, elected to the
post of General Secretary aRer the assassination of Abbas al-Musawi, folowed the

rapprochement policy of his predecessor. Under the influence of Rafsanjani and

Fadlallah, Nasrallah, previously militant, encouraged the party to participate in the

Lebanese parliamentary elections, arguing that "it is important for the party to be represented in the Lebanese parliament in order to contribute to the elimination of

political confessionalism, one of the party's goals" (Hamzeh, 1992: 324).

Far Fadlallah, an Islamic state can only be built slowly, using dialogue, education,
and mutual understanding. He presumes, or purports to presume, that when "an

overwhelmingly majority of the people convert t o Islam, and when we have favorable
political conditions, then we could bring about an Islamic Republic" (Fadlallah, 1985:
15). Thus 'evolution' and not 'revolution' has become the main feature of Hizbullah's

policy. This change in approach must be examined also in its functional applications -

institutional, organizational, and behavioral. For example, what formal and

informai organizations did Hizbullah start with and how have they proceeded, changed or

2, Institutional Organization

As noted, earlier, Hizbullah leaders have always claimed that the movement is
"not a regimented party, in the conventional sense," for the idea of an exclusive "party"is

foreign to Islam. Hizbullah rather is a "mission" and a "way of life" (Kramer, 1987:2).

The movement's involvement in its follower's way of life became functional and obvious
when the states authority and institutions were weak. During the war, Lebanese sects and especially sectarian movements like Hizbullah, and to a lesser extent Amal, came to

determine collective action, shaping interaction between people and setting guidelines for their economic and political behavior.

The historical differencein mode of production, occupational opportunities and

style of life between the Sunnis and the Shi'ites left important marks on their intern4
modes of organization. Before the Lebanese state came into being, the Sunnis formed an

integral part of Ottoman rule and bureaucratic structure whereas the Shi'ites were not

even subject to the direct authority of the state. Instead they were organized politically

around feudal-religious families. Yet, as the younger Shi'ite generation became

dissatisfied with the authority of the feudal families, they started as we have seen, to
organize themselves around emerging 'uluma or religious men, starting with Musa alSadr and moving on to FadlalIah.

Hizbullah is thus based on a doctrine that Ali Kurani calls "HizbuIlah's

centralism", or the centralism of the 'ulnmu (Abu-Khdil, 1 99 1 : 3 94). Kurani associates
the Leninist theory of 'democratic centralism' to Hizbullah's mode of authority, for ail decisions must be taken by the leadership, the center of the party, and followed by the
members. The theory dso entails "the most rigorous and truly iron discipline" in the

party, which Lenin has credited for the Bolshevik retention of power (Lenin, 1970: 1 1). In Hizbullah, power originates with the 'ulamn, headed by the 'dim-qa'id (leader) and

flows down to the entire community.

The centralization of Hizbullah is regarded by Kurani as less intense than that of

tlle Da'wah party (Abu-Khalil, 199 1: 395). Where the centralism of Shi'ite 'rilamuis

concerned, an 'dimin a specific district informs the people about the actions required and their general outlines. The manner in which a certain act is executed is left to their
initiative, provided that the ' d i m 'intervenes when necessary.

This 'new'centralism should be seen in the context of the past experience of the
Da'wah party. The leadership of Hizbullah favors it because it allouls the organization to

adapt to various geographical locations atid to various Muslim countries. Moreover, the
centralism of Hizbullah protects the party structure from elimination by one blow from

the regime. It enhances the creation of different organizational formations, providing the
party with durability and avoiding control by the state. Thus, \;hat distinguishes

Hizbullah from other Islamic groups is that Hizbullah regards the entire ummah as a

framework for the party, whiIe other groups regarded the party as a framework within

the 'ummah' (Fadlallah, 1985: 9).

In Leninist theory, the factory should be the major venue of political agitation and

mobilization. [n the ideology of Hizbullah, the Inosque occupies the central stage on

which the dedsion-making process is based. The mosques in the dahiya, southern
suburbs of Beirut, in the South and in Baalbeck were transformed into arenas of political, cultural and jihad actions, in addition to being places of worship. The mosques were also used, especially during the war and before the politicization of Hizbullah, as

sanctuaries. Moreover, the latest, huge mosque recently built under the auspices of
Fadlallah is a place where the largest number possible of Hizbullah members can gather.
That mosque situated in 'Harit Hurayk' in Beirut has become the mosque of the urnpnah
of Hizbullah supporters for religious as well as intellectual and political ceremonies.

Besides the mosque, the other institutional meeting place for Hizbullah members
has become the Sh'ite educational institutions, hawzal. which are actually Sh'ite religious academies based on the Najaf model.
In the 1980's, two hmvzat were built in

Beirut, one in Baalbeck, and two more in southern Lebanon, in Tyre and in the village of

Sidiqine. The idea was that these institutions combined would form a radical religious
jnfrastmcture turning out disciples of the activist school by emulating the education the founders of the new institutions had received at Najaf. Najaf, in fact, became the source

of both inspiration and funding for the new hawzad in Lebanon (Shapka, 1988 : 1 1 6).
When Fadlallah, along with fellow Najaf graduates opted for a quieter mode of
activity far removed from the political realm. This did not mean, however, that there
would be no further institutional organization. He combined Stu'ite erudition, writing,

religious instruction and teaching in the hawzad with the founding of charitable
associations, schools, clubs, clinics and orphanages. Within this framework, Fadlallah initiated a welfare association Jam ' i a ta/-Mlrbcrrrat ~ I - K j ~ c ~ r in i ythe a Naba'a quarter,

which was geared to providing aid and social services, including education, to needy
Shi'ites arriving inBeirut from the South and the Beqaa in search of livelihood. This

society today oversees institutions in the South and the Beqaa as well as in Beirut. They
include five orphanases; one institution for the blind, deaf and mute; primary, secondary

and vocational schools; dispensaries four mosques and one huge Islamic Preaching
Center; and so on.
Fadlallah has frequently stated that there is no financial connection between the association and any other country, as it is always being accused of (meaning Iran mainly)

He adds that different philanthropists and organizations, local and foreign, personal and
public fund the projects. This assertion appeared in the society's latest catalogue,

Yunubee'rrl-Birr (Wells of the Provinces), which lists the projects completed and those
in progress between the years 1978 and 1997. Under Fadlallah's patronage, the
associatttion published a journal, al-Hikn~n which to tlus day serves as one of the main

mouthpieces of the sayyid, as Fadlallah is called by hs followers. As Fadlallah's

followers increased, so did Hizbullah's. It is, however, important to distinguish here

between Fadlallah's projects and Hizbullah's; they do not belong to the same fornial

organization although they cooperate on many occasions.

Fadlallah taught at the Naba'a Islamic Shari'a Institute, attended by students from all over Lebanon who were educated in a new activist form of Shi'ism. He also served
as a guide for the Shi'ite religious circles which found their place outside Musa al-Sadr's

movement. The sayyid cultivated their spiritual life and gave his patronage also to the

publication of the Lebanese Association of Muslim Students, u I - - ~ ~ I ~ I ~ ~ Lthrough I/LI~,

which he also spread out h s religious message. In this context, Fadlallah and the leaders
of Hizbullah, theoretically and practically, were working to establish an Islamic Republic

which included Lebanon, which they defined as a state ruled by IsIamic law (Mallat,
1988: 37). This objective was held until the mid 1980's, and its withdrawal marked the

shift from 'Islamization of Lebanon' to the 'Lebanonization of Hizbullah' as discussed

earlier. As Fadlallah has claimed, the evolutionary process of Islamization will take time

and i t is ody possible through education, institutionalized services and cooperation with other groups. In this effort, Hizbullah had been relying on a considerable number of organizational structures like those mentioned above, which were Fadldlah's personal
initiative rather than Hubullah's.

The only information available on Hizbullah's early structures is that the party
had a Shura Council (consultative) and a number of active committees (Deeb, 1986: 78). With Hizbullah's political shift, a visible organizational structure became necessary for relations with the public. Based on the various activities of the party newspapers, one

can construct a configuration of Hizabullah's organizational structure.

Structurally, a Supreme Shura Council, conlposed of 17 members heads the

party. Most of these are clergy such as Sayyid Ibrahim al-Amine, Sayyid Hassan
Nasrallah (the present General Secretary), and Shaykh Abu Salem Yaghi. The place of
Sayyid Abbas aI-Musawi, assassinated in February 199 1 , has not yet been filled. Ayatollah Shaykh Fadlallah, called al-murshid nl-ruhi or the spiritual guide of Hizbullah, is primarily a marja', an eminent religio-legal authority who keeps hmself above the organizational framework of the party, according to this account (Fadlallah,
1990: 8). In addition to the clergy, there are a group of security and para-military

leaders in Hizbullah. Many of these are Iranians, such as Hasan d-Askari and Ahmad
Sadqi. It is mainly the clergy, however, who influence the decisions of the Council. The
Supreme Shura Council is the highest authority in the party responsible for legislative,
executive, judicial, political and military affairs and for the overall administration of the

party. Decisions made by the Council are reached either unanimously or by majority
vote. In case of deadlock, matters are referred to Wali d-Faqih Ali Akbar Khamenei in

Iran (Harnzeh, 1992: 325). The organizational structure of HizbulIah is divided into thee organs. The first is the Enforcement Recruitment and Propaganda Organ which oversees three subdivisions.

The first, a network of preachers in the mosques plays a vital role in spreading

Hizbulah's doctrines and mobilizing hundreds of mainIy young Shi'ites to the cause of

Hizbullah. Second, the huwzat mentioned earlier, which are circles of religious teachng

are as important as the preachers are because they represent the basic element in
Ezbullah's recruitment process by its slow infiltration policy among the people. Third,
the research and propaganda section runs two radio stations, Suwf al-lman (Voice of

Faith), and Sawt al-Nidal (Voice of Struggle), and one television station, al-Munur (The
Beacon). In addition, Hizbullah has two publications: nl-Abed (The Era), the party's
mouthpiece which appears weekly, and al-Bilud (the countries), which appears monthly.

The second organ is J~hgd al-Binu (Holy Reconstruction) which is divided into
eight committees. This division provides services that range from medical care to financial aid, housing, and public utilities. For example, Hizbullah's Islamic Health Committee, with Iranian financial aid, built two hospitals and a number of medical and
civil defense centers and pharmacies in the various regions of the Biqaa' and Beirut


The third organ is the Security Organ, which is divided into three subdivisions.
These are the 1) party subdivisions section, in charge of protecting party leaders and

members; 2) Then there is the central security subdivision which it operates a network of
surveillance and intelligence-gathering operations inside and outside the country, and 3)

the operational security subdivision which carries out the decisions of the overall
Security Organ against Hizbullah's enemies. According to Kramer, Iran has contributed

between seventy million U. S . dollars and ninety million U. S. dollars, to the Security
Organ of Hizbullah (Kramer, 1987: 168). However, after the release of all Western

hostages and the cut in Iran's financial assistance to Hizbullah, estimated at 90%, the

party's leadership has lowered its activity to the minimum requirements needed for the
protection of the party leaders (Hamzeh, 1993 : 3 28).

The fourth organ is the Combat Organ, composed of two main sections- the

Islamic Resistance ( a l - . ~ f ~ ~ q ~ wa/-lslamiqya), umah and the Islamic Holy War (aZ-Jihad

a/-Islami). While the first one is in charge of suicidal attacks against Western and Israeli
targets, the second one leads the more regular attacks against Israeli troops in the South.

These latter attacks have constituted one of the two main strategies which, along with its
social services sustained Hizbullah's power and demonstrated its faithfulness to the holy

struggle against the Israelis. The Islamic Resistance has also been the main slogan behit~d

Hizbullah's entrance into Parliament. On Election Day in 1993, mosque preachers gave

fiery speeches mobilizing people to vote for the 'Candidates of Islam' or 'Candidates of
the Islamic Resistance'.

Between the 1 993 and I 996 elections, Hizbullah continued its Islamic Resistance

and its social services, which have included an extensive list of institutions specialized in
different types of services such as the construction of houses destroyed by the Israeli

attacks, especially in the spring of 1996. The intensity of these social services in the

South as well as the continuous struggle and confrontation against the Israelis have
increased the party's success in the last allied electoral list of the 1996 parliamentary

elections (ie. a list which included representatives of Amal, Osseyran, al-Khalil, atZein, Jaber and members of other parties and organizations).
The extent to which Hizbullah's ideology, its organizational methods, its imitation

of reference groups (whether Lebanese or Iranian) and its strategic shift into an
evolutionary phase are applied concretely, will be tested by an examination of one of its

main institutions in the South, al-Mahdi School. The operational relationship between
Hizbullah and Fadlallah's educational institutions will also be briefly discussed in Chapter

The study of the ideologies and modes of organization of the four leadership

groups, Asaad, Osseyran, Amal and Hizbullah indicates several findings. On the one
hand one sees that there are no clear-cut distinctions or profound differences in their
initial aims ie. : a) independance of Lebanon b) improvement of the living standards by

increasing the numbers of schools. health institulions etc. and c) the withdrawal of the
Israelis from Lebanon. However they differed in their means for mobilization. While al-

Asaad and Osseyran were rather more moderate in their political rhetoric and means,
Arnal and Hizbullah were sectarian and in most times militant. Negotiations and

compromise, the political instruments of the traditionals before the war were
marginalized during the war by the contemporary movements and their use of arms in

confrontations withn and betwen sectarian groups. Foreign influence was not unknown before the war amongst Asaad and Osseyran but it became rnuch more influential and
determinant amongst Arnal and Hizbullah at the onset of their political paths.

Nevertheless traditional groups also had their differences in their means for mobilization

just as contemporary movements did.

The differences between the Asaads' and Osseyrans' political ideology and

modes of organization could be briefly summarized by two factors: 1) the former

continued to be much more active socially and institutionally as well as in terms of

personal contact with their community while the latter's socio-economic achievements
became limited with time; 2) the Asaads' resistance to compromise with war leaders and

their political performances dominated by the militia ideology, isolated them with time while the Osseyrans' neutrality led to their political survival.
The differences amongst the contemporary movements, Amal and Hizbullah, are

distinctly shown in their main reference groups as well as their mode of organization. While Syria is the patron of Amal, Iran is the principal patron of Hizbullak And while Amal's organizational structure and its mode of operation are more fragmented and divided, Hizbullah's is just a little less than impeccable. While Amal's leadership consequently depends on a vertical personal leadership structure, Hizbullah operates
rather more horizontally and therefore institutionally.

One can also read from the above andysis that za'ama is not inherited but

achieved. Therefore za'imshrp, the structure of forming a personal leadership could be

transferred over time, from traditional to contemporary, from Osseyran and Asaad to

Berri's zu 'ama. To what extent Hizbullah's leadership remains spiritual rather than

personal, forming a ru 'amawill be analyzed in further chapters through the analysis of

the institutional practices of Amal and Hizbullah as well as Asaad and Osseyran.



Although tradition and culture condition politicd institutions, they do not persist only because they are traditional. People normally participate in politics and hence in

political relationships for instrumental purposes (Norton, 1988: 3 3). Therefore, they are

primarily concerned not about political participation but about the social and political
benefits that reflect on the whole society or com~nunity in one way or another.
However, according to Cameron, instrumental socio-political objectives in general

cannot be reached without the means by which the socially mobilized are inducted into
It is said that Lebanon's governing elites (including the Shi'ite elites), were unwilling to accommodate to Shj'ite demands, yet were unable to, contain or control them. These elites soon found that the newly politicized Shi'ites were readily recruited

by a wide range of opposition parties and militias. These new organizations promised
social, political, and economic advancement, as well as the accouterments of enhanced status - namelv, money and guns. They were also more than eager to offer opportunities
to strike against the symbols of the governing elites like the Asaads and Osseyrans.

How, then, did the Asaads and Osseyrans establish their own mediating agencies
in order to achieve their ideological and instrumental objectives, whether social or

political? Dar a/Yateem al-Arabi (the Home of the Arab Orphan) is one such mediating
agency established by Adel Osseyran and other influential and active members of tus

famiIy in order to promote some of his sociopolitical beliefs and goals.

While the Osseyrans opted for an orphanage, the Asaads established a political

party "The Democratic Socialist Party". T h i s is clearly a more formal mediating agency,

which promoted Kamel al-Asaad's political beliefs by emphasizing the socioeconomic

goals of society. A brief investigatio~l of both these kinship-oriented organizations, before and

during the war, will help in elucidating their organization, ideoogical practices and means
of mobilization (ie. funding, men, arms, private wealth, political power etc.).

A. Asaad's Democratic Socialist Party

Karnel al-Asaad initiated a movement in 1969 called Harukd al- Tmrl 'iyu (the
Awareness Movement). Its purpose, as its name suggests, was to enhance and awaken political awareness in the difficult times when Palestinians and Lebanese had to becon~e

more politically conscious and to learn to live peacefully together in order to face the
Israeli threat more effectively. This movement metamorphosed into the Democratic

Socialist Party in 1970

Al-Asaad established the party at the peak of his political power during the
presidency of CharIes Helou, generally regarded as an extention of the Fouad Chehab

regime. Both presidents supported Kamel al-Asaad and his father, Ahmad al-Asaad,

especially since the latter had played a significant role in removing Camille Chamoun
from power. At the same time, both presidents had endeavored to suppress Osseyran's
the activities in an effort to weaken h i m and strengthen his opponents, al-Asaads.

Al-Asaad had no interest in establishing social or educational institutions. He

believed that such institutions should be founded by the central government, the only

legitimate means possible for improving the public services sectors (ie. health, social,

economic and educational). But he also discovered that he could not promote his
political beliefs and socio-economic goals with his traditional set-up. Even his feudal and kinship-oriented supporters, with client groups who had backed his father and his famiiy for decades, included a better-educated generation who were not satisfied enough with prevalent ideological propositions or beliefs. Al-Asaad saw the y arty as a means of

change1.Thus, al-Asaad established a forma! party with a very formal organizational


The Democratic Socialist Pany was established as a purely Lebanese party, with
no external political, religious or sectarian reference group, loyal only to Kamel al-Asaad

himself. Interviews with influential and highly educated members of the party', revealed
that the whole party's ideals were concentrated on Kamel al-Asaad himself, his thoughts, political approach and independence. Instead of adopting his father's traditional

approach, Asaad supporters harbored the hope of modernizing the Lebanese political
system by following Karnel al-Asaad's more intellectuals' approach. The party had several avowed aims including:
1 ) The implementation of democratic measures across all government practices

and institutions; 2) the protection of individuals; 3) collective freedom, especially oft he

labor unions and syndicates; 4) the reorganization and empowerment of the Lebanese

economic system, the main source of the development of the country's political system;
5) the achevement of true equal citizenship through a free educational, health, and social services system; 6 ) the change from a sectarian division of labor to a system based on

Interview with Dr. Ahmad Amine Baydoun in 1994 interview with Dr.Ahmad Amine Baydoun in 1Y 94 and Dr.Rafiq Bdeir in 1996

qualifications in all government institutions and practices; 7) the promotion of the

younger generation's participation in the administration and in the implementation of

plans; 8) a positive foreign policy based on Lebanon's independence, its Arab identity and

its commitments.
Al-Asaad's party took a stand and initiated protest on every political occasion
that threatened the above principles (al-Asaad 1982). The party's power to act initially

came from Kame1 al-Asaad'sformal as well as informal access to political power. Beiny
Speaker of the Parliament, he had the authority to influence changes in social and
political affairs. The first Administrative Committee of the Democratic Socialist Party included
over a dozen political activists and close associates of Asaad

'. These were nlostly drawn

from traditional Shi7itefamilies from the South, strong backers of Asaad. The
Committee also included two Christian members, Adel Khalaf arid C tiarles Khoury, and one Sunni, Adnaan Akkawi. Since there was only one Asaad on the Cornnittee, the

party was not run predominantly by family members. Actually, Kame1 al-Asaad did not have a close relationship with family members and the family as a whole was fragmented.
Later years brought about additions to the party's administration, including Anwar al-Sabbah (ex-minister as well as ex-M.P. from Nabatiye), Sheikh Ibrahim el Berri (a relative of Nabih Berri) and Hameed Dakroub, all Shi7itesfrom the South and old

allies of al-Asaad. Another Christian, Nasr Awde, was also added.

In his rivalry with Musa al-Sadr for the leadership of the Council of the South, al-

Hassan Noureddine, Habib Khallfe, Taleb Hamze, Issaam Baydoun, Jaafar Charafeddine, Arafaat f i j u i , Abdel Amir Sadek, Nash'at al-Sdrnaan, Mohammad Melhem, Charles Khoury, Adnaan Akkawi, Adnnan al- Asaad and Adel Khalaf.


Asaad emerged victorious in the early 1970's. His influence over the Council of the
South lasted until 1984. Some, particularly Fouad Ajarni ( 1986), an Asaad opponent,
accused the Council of corruption as al-Asaad presided over it. Other observers claim
that no corruption had been observed in comparison with the time when the Amal affiliated Hasan Hashim took over the council. Corruption at that time meant providing public services mainly for supporters. Ajami, for example, claims that recipients of

services had to put d-Asaad's picture in their homes. On the other hand, corruption

nowadays means the abuse of vast amounts of wealth, the dependence on cljentelistic
services and the posting of pictures of Amal leaders on the streets or at project sites.

Rumours of corruption during Hasan Hashim's times caused h s removal from office.
This was especially true since he also wanted to run for Parliament after having abused

the Councils' services for his personal benefits) caused his removal from office.
The Party was active until the late 19701s,when the country's political power
balance changed and political militias were on the rise in influence and power. Because
the Party rejected the increase in armed Palestinian forces, Party members were

threatened and fiercely opposed. Al-Asaad at the time called for the disarming of the militias and gangs and the entrance of the Lebanese Army into the South, which was experiencing political upheaval from within and Israeli threats from without. The state
and its politicians were unresponsive to this demand, underestimating its necessity in

order to impede the declining security situation.

Militias, attached to almost all-political parties, were growing in the early 1980's.

Al-Asaad and his party members opposed al-Sadr's involvement in Lebanese politics
especially since he was Iranian-affiliated. Therefore they faced harsh threats and then kidnappings from Amal militia men during the war. According to Mohammad Melhem,

one of the initial members and supporters of al-Asaad's party, eighty-three party
members were kidnapped by Arnal and ordered to stop their political activities in the

Party and in support of al-Asaad. Mohammad Melhem himself was kidnapped from his

home in West Beirut by Amal's gangs and almost beaten to death because he was a very
active member of the Party and staunch supporter of al-Asaad, Mr. Melhem soon left

the Party because of the risk it posed to his life and because of personal conflicts with party members (interview with Mr. Melhem in 1994). Other supporters who left the party were alienated by the predominant 'rule of the few' (those close to al-Asaad acting
as though they were his mouthpieces) and by al-Asaad's stubbornness and lack of

flexibility in his political approach.

The Party, which never had a militia of its own, began to suffer from the lack of

security and the doninance of militias. The situation became so threatening that going to
the Party's ofice in Beirut or to any of its meetings became very risky. Attendance at

Party meetings decreased and the meetings soon had to stop. This situation intensified

after al-Asaad participated in the armistice agreement with Israel of the 17th of May,
1984. Militant forces attacked his family home in Taybe and even tried to dig up his

father's coffin. They were reacting against a symbol of the traditional governing elites.

The unrest generated by the 17th of May Agreement and its subsequent
dissolution, prompted Amd militiamen to make several attempts on al-Asaad's life in

West Beirut. Seeing no hope of changing or containing the disruptive political atmosphere in West Beirut, al-Asaad moved to East Beirut where he had more support
for his political views.
The Party was hnded until then by membership fees, income-generating activities

(not an efficent source), close supporters of al-Asaad's, and his personal contributions.

Its main offices in Beirut were al-Asaad's own law offices. Offices in the regions were
usually donated or rented for minimal fees especially around the election period.

Funding sources ceased during the war. Even al-Asaad's political supporters,
who could lend a hand financially from time to time, soon stopped their contributions

due to the decline of his political power and influence. Al-Asaad had to reIy on his own
private resources. He received several financial proposals from foreign political and
religious groups provided that he turn his political pwty into a militant rival group. AlAsaad refused these proposals. He held on to his party's autonomy and personal

independence and he was thus constantly accused of being stubborn, tribal-minded and
isolationist. He was also accused of preferring political affiliations with groups or

individuals on his electoral lists, much less powerful than him, so that they would not
compete with him in intellect or power. In this sense his opponents and some of his

previous allies of being a dictator and a typical feudal leader accused him.
Still, what is well known about al-Asaad's supporters, whether within the party or

not, is that they were committed supporters in all circumstances. They received little financial, social or political benefits during the war, they were constantly threatened, and

they were eliminated as job candidates for employment in state institutions and organizations. Yet, they did not stop supporti~~g ai-Asaad. For example, Dr. Rafiq

Bdeir, the head of the party's oflice in Nabatiye said that they never stopped participating
in social events (ie. mourning, celebrations, etc.) and public polit icd discussions on
behalf of al-Asaad and h s party. He added that he was constantly followed by
militiamen while driving and advised to stop his political activities. His own son could

not get a job in the South and had to seek employment in Beirut (interview with Dr. Bdeir in 1996).

The party revived its political activities after the cessation of armed conflicts and the disarming ofmost militias in 1991. Its spirit was at its peakjust before the 1992

parliamentary elections, when all its suppressed supporters had to confront reality. The
militias, theoretically dissolved, still iduenced political and social activities. Hizbullah

and especially Amal were threatening all citizens who voted against them. Therefore, the
dominating political situation was still against al-Asaad and his supporters, especially those found within the security zone (since that area had been an al-Asaad dominated

area politically). In the security zone, there were an estimated 40,000 votes, all
prevented from voting by the state and Lahed's South Lebanese Army, whch closed

down the frontiers. AI-Asaad and his party could not breakthrough t h e obstacles set up
to confront them. After the party elections, the party lost influence again especially as

Amds authority increased with Nabih Berri's election as Speaker of the House
From the 1 992 to the 1996 elections, the Party had few significant social services
and public political activities which at most included de~nonstrations held before the last

elections as part of their political can~paigning.In 1996, the party tried to change its

course by allying itself with politicians like Khalil al-KhaliI and Rafic Shaheen and
working out an alliance with Hizbullah. These steps held many contradictions and Hizbullah retreated from their agreement just before the elections.
Al-Asaad had to fund this election totally on his awn, even paying the registration fees for his nominees since all claimed that they couldn't afford it. At this stage, al-Asaad became isolated, politically as well as financially. Yet, he and h s party felt that they had

to run in the elections to make a political and moral statement. The party's political
isolation, lack of socio-political institutional funding for services, and the continuous

political domination of the opposition, made a victory impossible.

B. Osseyran's Home of the Arab Orphan

Dur al-Yafeem al-Arabi (the Home of the Arab Orphan) was established in Saida
in 1854. The president of the organization then was Adel Osseyran, the vice-president Dr. Fouad Osseyran, and the Administrative Committee included Hasseeb and Saeed
At the time, Adel Osseyran was Speaker of the House and Fouad Osseyran the
only gynecologist and obstetrician at his dispensaries in the villages of the South as well

as his own hospital in Sajda. Hasseeb and Saeed Osseyran, were brothers who were known as wealthy land owners, generous and hospitable.

The idea for the society of which the orphanage is part of, came when Adel
Osseyran held a powerful political position and had enough funds to allow him to
translate some of his plans and dreams into reality, at least partially, besides promoting

government services. As a medical doctor experiencing the everyday hardships of the

newborn and child abandorunent and mistreatment, Fouad Osseyran wanted an

institutional framework for improving the living standards of these children rather than

taking them to his own home or hospital Hasseeb and Saeed Osseyran always provided

financial and support for the family's social and welfare activities, thus demonstratitig the

cooperation and unity amongst the Osseyran family members.

The principal aims of Dar ul-Yuteem al-Arubi were in brief 1) care for the Arab orphan, the elderly and the abandoned, 2) training for the Arab orphans to become
professionally and economically independent through 3) education in a special school and
later in a vocational or technical school which prepared them for a career and taught

them independent living skjlls.

The Society was a purely benevolent association having no political, religious,

sectarian, communal, partisan or ideological aims in theory or in practice. In fact, the society's by-laws are very strict about this issue (Brochure of Society, printed in 1996, p.

A financial boost to the Society came from the sale of a piece of land owned by
over fifteen shareholders from the Osseyran family. They decided that their individual
profit shares would prove more effective as combined fundins for the project. The

family proceeded to rent land from the government, called wad, which is land that can
only be used to build welfare or religious institutions. They rented this land for 99 years

in 1954. With the money left, they built the orphanage on a small-scale.
Before the official opening of the orphanage in 195 5, only one year aRer
establishng the society, the Administrative Committee established a Women's Committee
to help in the development of the project,

particularly to organize its official opening.

This committee consisted of Osseyran women given the opportunity to work dongside

Osseyran men on public projects at a time when women's public role was minimal in the
South. Adel Osseyran's mother "urn 'Adel", rather old by then, was the president of the
Committee. His wife, Souad al-Khalil, was the vice-president, Tawfica Osseyran was

secretary and Adel Osseyran's sister Afaf, married to Mohsen Baydoun, was the treasurer.

President Chamoun, an ally of Adei Osseyran's, inaugurated the orphanage with a

formal cocbail reception and bazaar for traditional Lebanese handicrafts, held at the only
hotel in Saida then, Tanious Hotel. Money from the Society's budget was not used for
the opening expenses, which were covered by contributions from the family women. For

example, Adel Osseyran's wife, who was and still is a talented artist, painted ten paintings

for the event, other Osseyran ladies made embroidered tablecloths and bed covers, etc.

The revenues from the bazaar contributed to the starting budget of the orphanage. The
opening of the orphanage was rather formal with no public political gatherings. The idea
of the bazaar, which included mainly home-made and traditional products, was a not so

familiar idea, for it is more prevalent Lebanese culture to have political mahrajanaaf and
huge crowds of political supporters at similar inaugurations. However, those were the days when the Osseyrans were at their financial, social and political peak. The society and the orphanage remained kinship institutions until 1958. In 1954 Hasseeb died, and then in 1957 Saeed Osseyran died. Their deaths affected the institution financially and morally. Since Adel Osseyran felt that he could not divide his
time between the society and his political career, Dr. Fouad Osseyran took over the

presidency of the society and its orphanage. Adel Osseyran then had to give even more
time to his political campaigning and activism to counter Fouad Chehab's "cold war"

against him. Chehab became president then after Camille Chamoun who was removed
by a revolution. Adel Osseyran had been an ally of Charnoun's economic renaissance in

the country, though not necessarily hs political ally. Adel had opposed Chamoun on several occasions the most significant of which was h ~ opposition s to the entrance of the

American Marines. Still, Adel also became a target, and the orphan's society also
suffered indirectly, receiving less gover~~rnental support (interview with Tawfica Osseyran).

In 1959, Dor a/-Ydeem uk-Aruhi became registered in the Ministry of Social

Affair's new program for subsidizing qualifying social institutions that was initiated by
President Charles Helou. The Society then created a large public committee and enrolled
a larger percentage of extra-familial members. Although the family members still

dominated the institution, their financial contributions decreased due to the death of

some influential supporters, the increase in the Ministry of Social AfTairs' assisstnce, and
the decrease in cooperation between Dr. Fouad Osseyran's family and the rest of the
Osseyran family. It is important to state here that the orphanage has always been a non-profit
institution. It does not charge enrollment or other fees from students. The Ministry of

Social Affairs usually subsidizes forty percent of the students and the rest are subsidized
by the Society.

Funding was also derived from family friends and relatives as well as from yearly

fundraisins activities (i.e.Jftaars, dinners, exhibitions). Tours from immigrants abroad to

raise funds for the Shi'ite institution were and still are as not as common as they became

later with most Shi'ite religious and political organizations. Funding only became a
serious problem during the war. The weakening of the Osseyrans' political influence and the strengthening of

religious, sectarian and ideological parties and their militias (ie. Amal, Hizbullah,
Palestinian Liberation Movements, Syrian and Iraqi Ba'athist etc.) seriously weakened
the Osseyran institution. Government aid became minimal whle emergencies becane

costIy. For example, the reconstruction of bombarded walls, windowpanes and blownup pipes was an additional cost that no institution with a marginal budget could bear.
Income-generating activities were curtailed by the insecure and unstable war situation.

Above all, the institution did not seek affiliation with any local or regional reference

political groups that funded social and educational institutions in Lebanon (ie. Syrian,
Iraqi, Libyan and Palestinian troops or Amal, Hizbullah and other groups). In 1982, a

faction of the Osseyrans allowed the Palestinian Liberation Organization to ally itself

financially with the institution. The fanuly was outraged and the PLO retreated immediately. Offers by HizbuIlah to support the institution financially and expand it were

also refused. The farniIy felt that the organization belonged to them and that political
strings with any foreign or Iocal financier shoufd be avoided.
The institution also suffered financially because it was a Shi'ite institution in a

predominantly Sunni area. Although sectarian considerations were always present before
the war, they were greatly intensified during the war. A predominantly Sunni orphanage

was established in Saida soon after the Osseyran institution. It was called Dar Ri ' q i r l t r -

lYateem (the Home for the Care of the Orphan). Referred to by the community as the
Sunni orphanage, it became a natural competitor to the so-called Shi'ite orphanage in the sectarian Lebanese mind.

In summary, its lack of political, sectarian or religious affiliations, its label as a

Shi'ite institution in a Sunni town, dispersion of the family and its financial support
during the war were all factors that weakened Uar aZ-Yuleem a/-Arubi. Moreover, the

composition of the administrative committee of the orphanage was becoming

traditiol~ally oriented and almost two- thrds of its members were unqualified to meet the
social, educational and psychological needs of the orphanage and its children.
The absence of new blood on the committee, both Osseyran and other, made the
committee suspect. The administrative committee was accused of acting in a dictatorid

manner. It is important to note that in such a hnship institution, the respected elderly
members of the family control, morally at least, any administrative malpractice. They
feel that any malpractices will reflect on their family name. The elderly in the family are
stil very protective of their traditional values and status and are upset with those of the

younger generation who do not hold on to them theoretically and practically.

When Dr. Fouad Osseyran, the head of the institution, died in 1993, elections
took place and b s eldest son, Dr. Imad Osseyran, was elected as the new president with an administrative committee of 1 1 members. It is said that Dr. Fouad Osseyran had
personally funded the orphanage at times of war crisis (Dr. Imad Osseyran).

The new administrative committee included Zuhour 0sseyran as vice-president,

Hajj Hussein KhaIife as a second vice-president, Ramez Osseyran as secretary,

Mohammad Jawad Wehbe as Treasurer, and Mrs. Tawfica Osseyran Bidawi, Dr. Malek
Abdullah, Yusuf Khatoun, Ali Halawi, Mustafa Ghaddar and Mustafa Hassan as

consultant members. Osseyran members still hold the key positions but with greater
participation from the outside.

The new administrative committee came into being while the country was coming
out of the war and the influence of the militias. This cessation of civil conflict brought

the institution into a new era for the following reasons: 1) removal of the pressure of

surrounding militias, 2) a new active women's committee, and 3) an increase in support

from of foreign and local secular organizations.
These changes relieved the institution of responsibility for the children of
militiamen forced on it and the pressure of these militiamen to use the premises to

organize their activities as well as their diversion of funds from the institution. As for the new Women's Committee, it was headed by Mrs. Nada al-Fadl

Osseyran, its vice-president Mrs. Bahia Koteish Hallaq, its treasurer Mrs. Tawfica
Osseyran Bidawi, its secretary, Mrs. Aziza al-Saleh and its public relations promoter,

Mrs. Leyla Osseyran Sabbagh. This committee formed four main operational subcommittees: the educational committee with Dr. Leyla Osseyran as its head 2 ) the

Financial Committee with Mrs. Naziha al-Fadl Osseyran as its head, 3) the Development

Committee with Mrs. Donna Badredddine Osseyran as its head. As is clear, it is a

predominantly Osseyran committee. They revived their old public role and used their

extensive social relations to involve more women and to support the institution's

The institution's religious, sectarian and partisan independence throughout the

war encouraged many foreign organizations to support it financidly and technically. For
example, the Francophone Organization equipped the institution with a new vocational
school for the older students. The World Rehabilitation Fund helped the institution to
renovate its bedrooms extensively. The Middle East Council of C hurches helped in

providing furniture. Educational and health programs were made with the cooperation

of the American University of Beirut in order to enhance its health and services system. These are examples as to how the neutrality of the institution's policies supported its
activities and functions during peace rather than during war.

In general, secular and foreign organizations other than those funding warlords and sectarian parties preferred to fund neutral organizations.
Therefore, as the institutions regained its stability politically, financially, socially and administratively, it started to flourish and expand. In addition to its new vocational

school, including a sewing and handicraR school, it is hoping to open a nursing school, a
very modern library and educational center, a big concert and festivities hall, and new


The atmosphere of the orphanage and its educational and boarding system is
relaxed in comparison with the institutions of Arnal and especially Hizbullah since no

ideological discipline or direction is applied. The children receive one hour of religious
studies based on basic religious values. Veiling is not compulsory for staff or students.

Staff dresses in their everyday clothing and students in their uniforms. On the other

hand, inspite of the administrative changes implemented, the institutional administration, and especially its head, continues to be accused of holding too tight a grip on decision

While we have described the institutional organizations and modes of

mobilization of the Asaads and Osseyrans by a study of samples of their formal

institutions, we will wait to analyze form (ie. traditional, modern, religious, secular,

particular, universalistic etc.) until after we describe the samples of institutions of the
more contemporary Arnal and Hizbullah in the next chapter.


The exanination of Asaad's Democratic Socialist Party and Osseyran'sHouse of

the Arab Orphan institutions revealed to a certain extent their mode of organization,

application of their rhetoric and their means of mobilization. More specifically, locally as

well as regionally, it examined their rhetoric and means of mobilization, in terms of the presence of political and economic reference groups. These political and economic reference groups played a role in inhibiting the process af socio-political mobilization of

some groups (ie. Asaad and Osseyran) and stimulating it in others such as Amal and

A. Amal's Educational and Social Institutions

The extent to which dominant political and econornical reference groups affected
the means for mobilization, mode of organization and rhetoric of Arnal and Hizbullah will

be examined in this chapter. However, the investigation of the development of Amal's

institutions cannot be traced by examining one of its institutions only because its institutions are divided into three separate categories which, in some cases, are not connected. Thus, the institutions Musa al-Sadr established during his leadership of h a 1
are totally ditierent from those Nabih Berri's Amal established. The latter are more connected politically to the Arnal-affiliated Lebanese Welfare Association for the

Handicapped of Berri's wife, Randa, who has recently establislled Mujamma ' Nubih

Berri 'il Mu'uqeen (the Nabih Berri Complex for the Handicapped). Therefore it i s

necessary to investigate the three categories of institutions separately, these are the

institutions of 1 ) El-Sadr 2) Berri's Amal, and 3) Mrs. Randa Berri.

1. ALSadr's institutions

As the Shi'ite community became more mobilized under Musa al-Sadr's

leadership in the South, he soon turned into an activist social reformer. He sought to enter the political arena by politicizing his role as a religious cleric, a complete departure

from customary clerical acquiescence. He urged the Shi'ites not to accept their lot and
set out to achieve social and economic justice and political equity by establishing

instrumental institutions and associations. Some of d-Sadr's more specific and instrumental objectives in achieving social

and political equity through institutional organization included (Nehme; 1988: 67):
1) Fighting poverty and begging in the streets of Tyre. 2) Training a team of professional religious teachers and sending them out to the viIlages
to spread religion, science and knowledge.
3) Opening schools with theoretical and practical branches

4) Initiating a plan for wiping out illiteracy

5) Estabtishing orphanages
6) Establishing a center for reiigious teaching in Tyre

7) Establishing the Higher Islamic Shi'ite Council

8) Establishing the organization called Huy 'crt NCISYIII al-Januh, the direct precursor to
the Council of the South

9) Establishing the Front for the maintenance of the South.

10) Initiating Harakaf af-A4uhroumeen,(Movement of the Deprived) and integrating it

into the Lebanese Resistance Front, "Amal".

1 1) Establishing and developing the "Islamic Message" Scouts.

In the early 1960's al-Sadr started his fight against street begging, and He

prohibited individual charity to those beggars and encouraged collective charitable work
to help them. In 1968, al-Sadr became the sponsor ofJarniTyat al-Bir waul-Zhsamt,

(The Society for Charity and Welfare), an old society in Tyre established to carry out
limited charitable work. Al-Sadr wanted to transtbrm this small organization into a

major institution, and by 1969 the society came to include around one thousand

volunteers. The main activity of this society was to provide scholarships for needy

Most of al-Sadr's institutional initiatives concentrated on orphans, on providing females with job training and on war assisting causalities. He also became involved in other social causes such as the improvement of the living standards of tobacco farmers and the improven~ent of the water and irrigation system in the South.

In 1963, al-Sadr established Bed al-Fntuf,(Home for Girls) a dressmaking school

for females with headquarters in Tyre, which later on became extended to more than 90

villages in the South. An institution to teach nursing was also established .It had a one
year program until 1969 when the school's program was developed into 'Practical

Nursing Skills', a higher level of education taking almost two years. All the students had

to learn and abide by Islamic principles as well as professional ones. Most of the students
enrolled were from needy backgrounds in Tyre and its surrounding villages. They were not necessarily al-Sadr sympathzers, but at the same time not opponents. They followed
the regular government 'Practical Nursing Program'. Students paid enrollment fees

unless they were orphans. This nursing school still exists in Tyre.
In order to

teach Islamic principles, al-Sadr established an association called the

"Society for Islamic Teaching" in 1966. It sent Shi'ite clerks to private and public
schools in the towns and villages of the South in order to teach religion and religious

principles to the younger generation.

The increasing number of volunteers and the increasing recognition of al-Sadr's

movement, especially by the Shi'ite migrants, the main source of funds for h s projects

encouraged al-Sadr to expand his assodation's services. In 1 969 Jtznr 'i,vtrla/-Bir w a a!Ihsaun established one of the first vocational schools in the South, called Muussassui
Jabal 'Amil, (Jabal 'Arnil Lnstitution). The institution targeted youngsters who were orphaned or came from very poor backgrounds and needed to Learn a vocation. It

enrolled about five hundred students each year again with nunimal enrollment fees and
again orphans entered for free. This institution existing today offered training in different vocations including carpentry and electricity. At one point, al-Sadr introduced Persian
carpet making, a new enterprise in Lebanon. The industry became very successful and

productive especially in the early 1 970ts, and it engaged a large number of femaie

workers. These workers reached about one thousand over the years during which the
project was operating most successfully (early 1970's to late 1980's). The industry is still
located today in West Beirut. It continues to primarily employ orphaned females

primarily as well as those who are in desperate need of work to support their families.
Al-Sadr's institutional work went from one success to the other. In 1978 the

beginning o f the Lebanese war, he opened the 56-bed al-Zahraa Hospital at Khalde' near
Beirut. Alongside, he established Mudinat ai-Zuhrm ui-Thaqufiya wa al-Mihauriyya wu
al-Tamrid, (The Zahraa Cultural, Vocational and Nursing School) at Khalde near Beirut.

This institution included schools for nursing and dressmaking and orphans, all within a six-story building.

This association became known as al-Sadr Institutions. Their main source of

funding was the Lebanese immigrants in Africa and al-Sadr's growing number of
supporters in Lebanon. They sympathized strongly with the emerging Shi'ite Ieader

who intended to free Shi'ite farmers from their feudal landowners and to free the Shi'ites

as a whole from oppression in their own country. Al-Sadr's supporters continued to

finance his projects even after his disappearance. In fact, his sudden disappearance in
1978 intensified his followers' support. His sister Rabaab, who has administered his

institutions since his disappearance, continued the same strategies. In 1982 she
established an institution in Tyre for orphaned girls, necessitated by the ever-rising

number of victims of the Israeli aggression in the South.

Al- Sadr's voluntary associations have always had a credible, honest reputation.
They follow the relevant government programs with special focus on vocational training.

While they require religious education and commitment (ie, prayers, veiling etc.),
especially for boarders who go home infrequently, religious symbols and rituals are not

very pronounced. The one austere symbol is al-Sadr's picture in all main offices. The

dress code of the workers in the institutions (ie, teachers, administrators etc.) can be
described as modest, the form of dress usually seen in the South (ie. shirt or dress just below the knees and long sleeved shrt or top with a fashionable scarf worn in a

fashionable mode). The dress code, interpersonal communication style, and the whole
working atmosphere reflect the Southern life style but with slightly more emphasis on

Islam and its practices in everyday life.

Funding for al-Sadr Institutions was sufficient until several other programs began
competing for the Shi'ites' wealth, especially those of the Lebanese emigrants. The competitors include the Shi'ite M u f t i(nowhead of the Higher Islamic Shi'ite Council)

Sheikh Moharnmad Mehdi Shams &Din and Nabih Berri and Randa Beni, all of whom
have established their own societies, organizations and institutions aRer the

disappearance of the Imam.

2. Berri's Amal institutions

Harakut Amal lil-Mahroumeen (the Amal Movement of the Deprived) was

established in 198 1 by Nabih Berri separately from al-Sadr's institutional establishments

and socio-political organizations. The Movement of the Deprived drew on the majority of Shi'ite finds, locdly and internationally, to establish their own educationaI
institutions, later known as M~assas~~aaf AmuI al- T ~ ~ r b m v i ~ (Amal's yn Educational Institution's). These institutions were tot alty independent of al-Sadr Institutions,

financially and administratively. AmaI's educational institutions consist of five noncharitable social institutions since they do charge rather a minimal amount. The

institutions are dispersed between al-Baysariyya in the Zahrani area, Abbassiya in Tyre,
Toul near Nabatiye and two in Baalbeck in the Hirmel area.

According to the Martyr Bilaal Fahs administrator of Toul much of the financial
support of Arnal was solicited during the war, especially between 1985 and 1991

(Nehme, interview in March 1997). This was a period when the influence of Amal as a
militia was at its height and it was able to collect funds from numerous sources. Besides

receiving substantial contributions from wealthy immigrants, Amal militiamen exploited

the Ouzai Port, taking a tax on all imports. This form of extortion was widespread during

the war. Other militias, particularly Jumblatt's PSP and the Kataeb Party, made effective

use of such clandestine practices. AmaI also monopolized the oil refineries in the South
with the support of wealthy Lebanese emigrants who aspired for hgh politjcd positions.
According to Nehme, the income generated by each association was meant to

support a new institution elsewhere. At the same time, the income generated had to cover the full expenses for running the institution. He explained that the BiIaal Fahs
Institution became self-sufficient soon after its foundation and contributed to the

establishment of other benevolent associations. The Toul institution has 1,200 students of whom 150 are orphans or come fiom a
needy background. These students either supported by the school or by the hhnistry of

Social Affairs. It shouId also be remarked that Arnal's institutions are profit making and
self-sufEcient, established at a time when qualified government schools were scarce.

Hence, they are preferred over government schools and are comparatively less expensive
than private and missionary schools. The profits made by the school are managed by the

Amal's Educational Society.

The Bilaal Fahs institution, taken as an example of the achievement of Amal's

educational institutions, follows the official Lebanese educational program. In addition,
once a week the students attend religious instruction. Also, once per week at the

intermediate level, they are taught how to read and memorize the Qur'an. The official school curriculum includes English and French, as well as Arabic. According to Mr. Nehme the school does not give priority to children of parents
allied to the movement. However, the institution clearly states that children whose

studies are subsidized by the Party must be the chrldren of Amal martyrs or needy famiIies. As in al-Sadr associations, the Arnal symbol posted inside the institution is

adorned by the portrait of the Amal Society founder Nabih Berri and ofien by that of al-

Sadr as we11 the original founder of the Arnal movement. Posters of Amal emblems and
Amal flags we used during special occasions and festivities organized by Amal Scouts or
Party members at the school. Veiling is compulsory for teachers but not for students.

The veiling of the teachers is moderate and worn fashonably. Most of the teachers are
not personally veiled outside their work as in the al-Sadr institutions, but only put the

veil to maintain the religious identity of the institution. Discipline on school grounds is

moderate, when compared to those of al-Sadr and Hizbullah.

3. Mrs Randa Berri's institutions

With the enhanced status of Amal and Nabih Berri, there was a substantial
increase in the sources of funding, through both government (ie. Ministry of the South

and the Council of the South etc.) and private public donations. In the same year that
the Ministry of the South was formed, 1984, Nabih Berri's wife, Randa, inaugurated a

center for the physical rehabilitation and training of the handicapped in Dahiyah. Theoretically independent of Amal, the pilot project grew into the Lebanese Welfare

Association for the Handicapped with headquarters in the Barbir quarter of West Beirut
(Harik; 1993: 2 1). Other small centers were soon opened in the South and a prosthetic

factory opened in Tyre. However it seems that the centers have not been used efficiently. Also, in 1984, the Lebanese Welfare Association for the Handicapped started
to use Amal's influence on the Lebanese emigrants as well as on other foreign

associations and organizations in order to raise funds for a multi-million dollar center for the handicapped to be built in Sarafand. A tour of the African, American and European

countries, where the wealthiest Lebanese emigrants are present, raised millions of dollars

between the year 1984 and 1996, the years of the center's official opening.

T h i s most recent project, the Sarafand Center, was built on a piece of land half of
it belonging to the government and the other half donated by a wealthy Lebanese
emigrant was officially inaugurated, although still incomplete, with a huge celebration

just a few weeks before the parliamentary elections of 1996. The project, started by the Lebanese Welfare Association for the Handicapped, was given the name 'The Nabih

Berri Complex for the Disabled'. As planned the Complex includes 3 major sections: 1)

the medical and social center and rehabilitation center, 2) the vocational training section
and 3) the housing and hospital section.

The Center's clinics, planned to cover 23 medical fields and specialties, are still operating well below their capacity. According to the coordinator of the center, Randa
Berri's brother, dependence on volunteers, especially medical, has not been reliable, so

the present medical professionals are being paid and the rest will come with time. The

medicd service provisions available are usual dispensary medical services, at regular

dispensary fees unless the Ministry of Health or Social Affairs subsidizes the person.

The vocational training section was established to provide the disabled with
technical training and later job placement. Today, this section is operated as a general vocational school with around 3 00 students, out of whom only 10 physically disabled

were encouraged to enroll. Students pay enrollment fees like any other vocational
schools in the region. This section hopes to integrate more disabled students in the
future since they are the target population of the project. The housing and hospital division, the second phase of the project, will not be
ready before 1997 according to the publications of the association. As is clear from the
building site, it will take much longer. The hospital is designed to accommodate 200 in-

patients. The housing unit has been allocated for certain employees working in the
comples. Once the construction work is finished and the equipment installed, the

working staff is expected to reach 24 1 doctors, technicians and employees (According to

a brochure published by the

Association in 1996). According to Mr. Assi, the

components, whlch are presently functioning of this multi-million, ultra-modern project,

require a monthly running cost of LL 70,000,000. This amount is bound to increase

appreciably if other sections are added. As one enters the Center, it is very apparent that
the employees who are non-disabled exceed the number of disabled who are clients of the center or even that are given the opportunity of employment there. This project has been criticized by foreign and local specialists for its inability to

achieve its aims, for its absorption of capital, and for its shortsightedness, especially that
its sustainability is extremely costly in comparison to its function.

Towards the end of the discussion on Amal's or Arnal supported institutions (ie.

Rmda Berri's) several fundamental matters stand out:

1) The segmented leadership practice of Amal was reflected in three independent

institutional administrations. The first institutions founded by the Amal Movement

founder, al-Sadr became totally independent financially and administratively of Amal's
institutions. The latter institutions were established as a result of Nabih Berri's

foundation of jarn'iyat arnal l'il mahroumeen (Amal Movement Society)

B. Al-Mahdi

School; A Sample of Hizbullah's Educational Institutions

H~zbullah's social and educational institutions have, since their inception,

paralleled their militant Islamic Resistance movement. Its institutiond services form part

of the social setup meant to accomplish Hizbullah's political goals in Lebanon. The

operational mode of these institutions reflects, to a large extent, fizbullah political and

religious beliefs and practices.'

It is important to note here the difference between the development of

Hizbullah's and Arnal's voluntary and benevolent work. Amal's institutions, like its
political structure, reflect a much more individualistic and personalistic leadership and
inspiration. For example, al-Sadr personally pushed for organization amongst the Shl'ite

and for the establishment of formal institutional solutions to their socio-economic

probkms. These institutions were initiated by al-Sadr himself and bore his personal

name until his disappearance (apart from those his sister continued to establish on her

own). Nabih Berri, on the other hand, started a separate set of institutions through the
society he established, The Society of the Movement of the Deprived. This new set of

institutions within h a 1 came to have an independent administration and indept funding

sources. Later, al-Sadr's and Nabih Berri's institutions became competitors for the same

finding sources. At the same time, Randa Berri also started an independent society and
institution, which became a third competitor for funding sources.

On the other hand, Hizbullah's horizontal leadership structure and its coliective
approach to the development of its institutions allow for more consistent, non-repet itive,

and integrated institutions. At the same time, Hizbullah's institutions cooperate with the
Mabarrat Welfare Society headed by Fadlallah. In an interview with the Director of al-

Mahdi school, one of Hizbullah's schools in a district called Ghaziya, he expressed the

1 I would IIke to note that I only took one case of Hizbullah instituhns and not several as in Anial's case since Hizbullah ~nstitulionsare unitcd admillistritivcly and financially. h a 1 conbins Werent leaderships heahng dBerenc and independent organizations. The reason for investigating the different institutions in this thesis is to study how they reflect on their respective leadership smcturcs organization, rhetoric and means for moblizatian. It is not my aim to study the organizations as an end in themselves bur only as conrete cases for exanlirution.

party's hope to integrate HizbuHah and Fadlallah's institutions administratively since they

both have similar educational programs and incentives. These include social, health and
educational services dong with teaching Islamic faith, religion and its discipline. According to Sheikh Munir Makki, the director of al-Mahdi school and a

graduate of the Lebanese University and Universite St. Joseph, the school is linked to a
Higher Planning Committee of Specialists, which monitors and coordinates dl the

educational institutions of the Party.1

The program supervisors work with the specialists on the Planning Committee and

decide on the implementation of changes in their subject areas. The Planning Committee
is part of the overall Educational Program Committee which is linked to an Education

Committee in Iran which funds these projects. The same goes for all specialized councils within Hizbullah. For example, the Lajnat-ul-lmdaad (Extension Committee) in Lebanon, which helps needy families by providing scholarships and grants, is administratively and financially linked to the Extension Committee in Iran. Sheikh Munir, a coordinator of al-Mahdi School in Ghaziya reveaIed that he has total independence in running the school in Ghaziya. For example, in coordinating with
the different supervisors, he selects books and methodologies without any external

supervision. Sheikh Munir abo enjoys freedom in recruiting his staff without consulting the Party.The school serves 12 villages around Ghaziya. Around 70-80 percent of the
students enrolled have parents who are Hizbultah affiliates, though not necessarily


For example, the heads of specialized departments in aI-Mahdi School include 1) Dr. Hassan Sheib, professor at the Lebanese University and a graduate of France, he is the head of the French Program at the school, 2) Hussein Yassine, who has a B.A. in Maths, is l l c hcad of the Math Program 3) Rola Sadek, a graduate of AUB, is the supervisor of the English program etc.

The school in Ghaziya is one of nine al-Mahdi schools: one at Ouzai in Beirut,

one in Sharqiya, Ghaziya, al-Majadel and Ain Qana all four in the South. The rest are in
the firmil area of Beqaa'. Hizbuliah's Construction Association, called Jihaad al-Bina

(Construction Struggle) builds all schools. They design and construct the schools using
Party affiliated architects, engineers and laborers. In case of any thefts or misuse of the
Party's funds, perpetrators are penalized harshly according to Islamic law. Business and

construction contracts within Hizbullah organizations are usually limited to the spoken
word of commitment, honored according to Islamic law. Therefore, rarely does one hear
of compt activities and services.

Al-Mahdi school in Ghaziya coniprises a nursery and an elementary school. It is

very bright and colorful, w i t h an attractive interior design for the children. The children

and the staff are both disciplined. Veiling among the staff and the older girls is
compulsory. Moreover, the division of labour within the school is respected, true for all
the Party's committees.

The children are given religious instruction once per week about Islam, the
Qilr 'anand

the social and religious values Muslims should abide by. Yet Hizbullah

symbols or emblems are not prevalent in the school. There are only a few religious
~ l ~ o t t that o s emphasize Islamic values in general and the Islamic Resistance fighter in

particular. In general, the whole environment is rather gay and friendly.

Sheikh Munir claims that the aim of the school is innovation and not profit. The students pay a minimal fee that ranges from LL. 1,000,000 to LL. 1,200,000 for ages 3 to 12, while receiving, in his view, a hgh quality education. On observation, the school
appears to have a fairly adequate educational system. One of the main reasons for its

success is that Hizbullah's educational institutions, like most of its benevolent

associations, are generally hnded by the IsIamic Republic of Iran generously and the
funds are used effeciently.
According to Sheikh Munir Makki, the school does not aim to serve only those

whose parents are supporters or otherwise affiliated w i t h Hizbuilah. On the contrary, the

school aims to serve all sections of the society equally. Its ultimate goal is to have a
faithful Islamic community that will resist Israel and all other oppressors. Above all, the

name of the school "d-Mahdi" refers to the Shi'ite's 12th Imam who disappeared soon
after his birth and who is expected to return before Judgement Day. Therefore, the name

of the school represents its philosophy; that al-Mahdi school constitute part of the
resurgence and the spread of IsIamic values and faiths as well as education until
Judgement Day. According to Sheikh Munir, the distinction between moderate Islamic
practices and radical Islamic practices, constantly made by politicians, and does not exist.

He says that there is only one Islam with one set of moral values preaching tolerance, but

war against Islam's oppressors. Therefore, he adds that "we have no problem at all in
accepting and tolerating religious differences in our institutions and in other institutions

around us as long as we not forget our Islamic duties and commitments, which require us
to further our education and knowledge."

It is becomes clear that Hizbullah's educational institutions have a clear set of

goals, providing educational services of a high quality in conhination with the teaching

of Islam and of the need for Islamic resistance. The goals are clear within its institutions
and its cadres. The st& and administrators are practicing Muslims who are well

educated and trained. Institutional extention of their holy message is their obvious goal
and instrumental mediating agencies are their means. Prior to five or six years ago, the term 'lGzbullah institutions', suggested a rigid and closed atmosphere within the

institutions, bold religious or party symbols, and a less open staff. More recently,
openness, flexibility, tolerance and modernization (ie. equipment used, training of staff,

education of personnel, stmctures built, etc.) have become more aligned to instrumental
objectives. Hizbul lah's choice of their teaching staff has become more selective; selection

of persons of a higher educational and social background, however, is not always an easy

job, for those persons usually prefer to remain independent of a party's stamp, especially
if they are economically independent or well off. This is not to mention that they can not
succeed to attract those people as friends or sympathizers. Thus, inspite of Hizbullah's
recent tendency towards more openess and flexibility, its success recruiting a high percentage of calibre and non-party affiliated staff is still low.

Fadldlah's Mabarrat institutions operate similarly to al-Mahdi schools. They

have similar educational, social and religious programs as well as a non-personalistic

approach to the administration. The main difference, however, remait~s in funding sources and reference groups. While Wzbullah's educational institutions have Iran as a

financial and moral reference, Fadlallah denies a direct financial or political relationship

with a specific country, insisting that funds are generated from the faithful, Lebanese and
non-Lebanese equally.
Fadlallah's institutions include nine main ones: three orphanages, one in Beirut,

one in the South, and one in al-Hirmil; a very modern institution for the deaf and mute in
Beirut; five large schools in the South, Beirut and al-Hirmil areas; and a technical school

i n one of the orphanages. Fadlallah l~as also built several mosques, particularly the latest
one in 1996, which cost more than thrty miIlion doliars and is to become the mosque of

all Shi'ites.

Again, however, Hizbullah's educational institutions and al-Mabarrnt are social not welfare institutions. Social institutions are those whose aim is to fill a gap in the

social, educational and health needs but at the same time are not free of charge. Welfare
institutions are charitable institutions fulfilling the same gaps as the socia1 institutions but

free of charge. Therefore, students enrolled in the Mabarrd pay a nunitnal school fee though, well below the average of private schools. With these fees and other sources of
funding (ie. khums and z a h l , taxes imposed by the Muslim religion for charity), the
institutions hope to meet their running costs.

However, both Hizbullah and Fadlallah organizations have developed wide

networks of income-generating projects, which they hope will sustain the running costs

of their massive and wide-scale organizations. These income-generating projects include

petrol stations, super markets, butchers shops, retail shops, etc. The extent to which local and regional political and economic umbrellas will continue to sustain their
institutiond organizations remains a question.

Towards the end of the discussion on Amal's or Amal supported institutions (i.e.
Randa Berri's) several fundamental conclusions stand out: I ) The segmented leadership
practice of Amal was reflected in three independent institutional administrations. The
first institutions founded by the Amal movement founder, Al-Sadr, became totally

independent financially and administratively of Amal's institutions. T h i s second set of

institutions were established as a result of Nabih Berri's foundation of Jam 'iyatAmall 'zl

Muhruumeen (Amal movement society) after Musa al-Sadr' s disappearance in 1978 .The
third set to be revealed were those of Mrs. Randa Berri who sought to widen the scope
of social work outside her husband's political leaderstlip of Arnal. The Lebanese Welfare Association for the Handicapped, an apparently broad-based non-personal or sectarian

title for the work with disabled could not have suggested a more political and personal
title for the center than the Nabih Berri Compound far the Disabled. However, although

all institutions were established under the strong political influence of Amal' name, they

not only became fragmented administratively but also financially. Their financial funders
became also segmented depending on whch of the thee institutional leaderships they

associated themselves with.


The aim of this thesis was to explore the dynamics of the traditional kinship organizations of d-Asaad and Osseyran in the changing socio-political situation before
and during the war period. The dynamics of Asaad and Osseyran organizations were
compared to those of the more contemporary parties of Amal and Hizbullah in order to determine their differences and their similarities. Comparisons between the dynamics of
the kinship-oriented Asaad and Osseyran organizations themselves were necessary to

avoid lumping all kinship organizations into one category. The same is true for the
contemporary groups for they have their differences as well as their similarities. This kind of analysis helps to better understand the process of survival of some groups and the demise of others. Hopefully this way we have been able to document the "adaptation" of

some and "retribalization" of others. These functional and dysfunctional features of

those which bear relics of feudalistic, and non-feudalistic, personalistic and universalistic

and above dl traditional or modern.

This investigation could not have been done without the use of i~~stmmental

means and dimensions (using Cameron's approach) for diagnosing I ) the rhetoric of the
four groups; 2) the consistency of their respective concrete achievements or practices;
and 3) their organizational means, capabilities and degree of flexibility and innovation.

Therefore, I will start by describing the similarities and differences found between
the Asaads and Osseyrans, using the dimensions above within the limitations of this


A, Similarities between al-Asaad and Osseyran

Inheritance or ascription was limited to the socio-economic background of the

Osseyrans, for a za 'ama was a status that could not be inherited, but only achieved. As
noted earlier most of, the Osseyrans, with all their high social status, were only

recognized as notables and the highest post that they reached in the past was that of counsel (Adel Osseyran's father and grandfather Ahdullah and Ali). It was only when

Adel Osseyran became a political activist, when he fought and demonstrated for his
beliefs and in defense of his country's independence that he became a mass mover and a
za'irn. He did not inherit a za'ama; he only inherited a privileged socio-economic status.

The rest of the family were known simply as notables since they bad not acheved a

za 'u~tla. Even Dr. Fouad Osseyran, who earned ministerial posts, remained a notable
and a politician for a short period of time (2 years) Therefore, a za 'ama required specific qualifications, personal talents, motivation and initiative.

Ahmad al-Asaad was also the son of a notable, Abdullatif al-Asaad, and that only
made him a notable by birth. He worked hard to mobilize the masses with his modesty,

social wit and political maneuvering He did not inherit his position as a zcr 'im but he

acltieved it afier his great uncle Kamel al- Asaad had acheived it last. On the other hand
Kamel Ahmad al-Asaad did not become a za'irn, but rather a professional politician.
Therefore, the strict stereotyping of a za lama with feudalism, inheritance and ascription needs to be qualified.

Al-Asaad and Osseyran manifested secular rhetoric and ideologies throughout

their political careers. To a large extent, this was reflected in their socio-political practices. One of t tie principal aims of the Democratic Socialist Party was to secularize

the Lebanese political system, which Kame1 al-Asaad preached on all occasions even

outside the Party. Al-Asaad's party included Christians. He also cultivated a wide base

of Christian support outside the Party. On the other hand, in addition to secularism, Adel's interest was the unity of Arab nations rather than the narrow politics of
sectarianism. This was one of the reasons why he called the organization he established

Dar al-Yafeemal-Arabi, (Home of the Arab Orphan), and not the Islamic or Sh'ite

Orphan. The orphanage enrolled needy children who were not-necessarily Shi'ite or
Lebanese (ie.Sumis, Christians, Palestinians, Syrians etc.). Both leaders did not have external political or financial reference groups.

Therefore, when the so-called "war of the foreigners on Lebanese land" broke out, Asaad
and Osseyran were inevitably marginalized. Their refusal to use force and to arm their

men made them militarily weak with little influence at a time when guns and tanks took
over politics and negotiations.

Their foreign policy was moderate and flexible, viewing Lebanon as a state that
needs to open up and cooperate with its neighboring Arab countries. With their western

educational backgrounds, they communicated more effectively with Western countries,

taking what was usehl for modernization and industrialization and ignoring what was considered incompatible with Lebanese identity and integrity.
As for their political practices within their communities, they became autocratic
to some extent, using persuasion sometimes and anger other times. Violence between

rival group members was largely factional and traditional. According t o TilIy, primit~ve
violence exists on a small scale and a local scope, and participation by rival members has

inexplicit and not necessarily clear political objectives (Tilly; 1979:90). No m i l i t a r y power was ever used, but fighting took the form of physical brawls and violent confrontations.

B. Differences between Asaad and Osseyran

The Osseyrans were known for their benevolent social services, which were
personal, family-oriented, and institutional. The Asaads especially after Ahmad al-Asaad, did not invest persond effort in such associations. Adel Osseyran, on the other hand,

encouraged the establishment of social and educational institutions and therefore was

able to use personai initiative while in power, encouraging the rest of the family to participate financially and morally. Adel Osseyran believed in private establishments
provided that they would only be complementary to government services. Moreover, he

preached compulsory and free education and therefore tried to apply free and non-profit
education in his own institution. As for al-Asaads, it was mainly Ahmad al-Asaad who

established an extensive network of social, health, and developmental services while in

power, especially when he was Minister of Public Works. His son Kame1 al-Asaad
exercised limited personal initiative in promoting and improving social services in the
South. fis party always blamed the government for its neglect in providing them.

Al-Asaad family's cooperation and unity was always limited and the divisjan of labor among them was not clear. On the other hand, the Osseyrans, inspite of their
intermittent family squabbles, put up a tight and united front when necessary. The

establishment of the predominantly Osseyran orphanage institutionalized their unity to some extent at least. Their interest in a wide range of' public social, political, health,

educational and cultural activities, formed a network that inevitably promoted their
family name before and even during the war, since they never left the South and many
helped in social and health crisis situations. This public work created different networks
and social relationships that in turn reinforced their status. On the other hand, Kame1 d-

Asaad's reliance on his political party to reach his socio-political objectives was not enough. Party members were generally Asaad supporters and the functional means of

communicating with other groups (ie. social, health, development services etc.) were absent.
The Osseyran's, especially Adel Osseyran's, encouragement of family women to
join and assist the fanlily in its public activities increased the number of campaigners in
the family. It also softened the harsh image that the Osseyran men son~etimes displayed

in public.
With their wide network of social services, including institutional services, and

their presence in many prominent public positions, the Osseyrans had to remain flexible
and open without offending any g o u p publicly. This has always been reflected in Adel's political style, which included neutralism and negotiations, while maintaining their personal and institutional moral and financial freedom and independence. AI-Asaad and
his party had total autonomy, financial, political and especially social. Therefore, the

party could not communicate with others through the application of concrete programs on their behalf. Therefore when Karnel al-Asaad lost his formal political posit ion through which he could serve, he became more isolated socially.

However, one cannot evaluate the Asaad leadership without describing their
supporters historically who have been emotionally tied to Kamel al-Asaad, his father Ahrnad a1-Asaad and even notables further back in their family's history. Although they
were not getting socjo-economic or political benefits from their leader or party throughout the war, they rarely failed to offer their leader their full support even when
they had to pay the price for it. These followers and cIient groups were originally

Ahmad al-Asaad's personal supporters. They were extremely devoted to hm, for he