“Movements” of the past and deadlocks of the present


Ahmad Beydoun

“Movements” of the past and deadlocks of the present

Did the violence of the 19th century generate a society prone to civil war?



It is no wonder that in a society, whose recent history saw each of its major political crises turn into violent civil strife, some observers, be they specialists or not, anticipate the outbreak of another war, whenever a difficult crisis with no foreseeable solution emerges. Such is the case of the Lebanese, today, facing as they do the current crisis that cripples their political system and that was revealed (rather than emerged) more than a year ago. Naturally, they recall the latest war that swept through their country between 1975 and 1990 as well as older crises that led to civil strife, such as in 1958 and in the 19th century, or the so-called “movements”[1] crisis that raged for about two decades in the mid -1800s and attained its peak and its end in 1860.


However, The Lebanese who know their country’s history well, might also recall other situations where serious omens of civil strife spread or where violence erupted before it was brought under control by external influential forces which had a dissuading presence in the country or had no interest, under the given circumstances, in fomenting war. Such was the case in 1918-1920 and in 1936[2].


By recalling previous crises, one tends to let wars of the past pervade the way the present crisis is perceived and dissected. Such an attitude is reinforced by a hasty tendency claiming that all wars are the same regardless of any change of circumstances or facts, no matter how important.


The question that has to be asked: will previous wars necessarily generate new ones? Or will they be a source of contrition and learnt lessons, enhancing thereby the desire to reach peaceful solutions for political and/ or socio-political crises?


This chapter cannot include but a general diagnosis of the first war of the three that were waged in Lebanon in the 19th and 20th centuries. This diagnosis aims at unveiling constant denominators that were passed on to existing conflicts, if such denominators do exist. It also aims at deducing the unique features of the present crisis in comparison to the previous ones, attempting at the same time to verify the existence of links between these past wars and the potential violent tensions currently prevailing in Lebanon.


Different evolutions


The events of 1840-1860 were inaugurated by a general rebellion against unbearable policies adopted by the Egyptian occupation forces and their ally Prince Basheer Shihab II. The rebellion was general in the sense that it unified the ranks of the various religious denominations of the coast and the mountain, notably between the Maronites and the Druze. This unity was mainly expressed in memorable popular uprisings such as that of Entelias and Dayr al-Qamar. We tend to forget, though, the other events that preceded or followed these two popular movements by months or even years.


In fact, prior to the general  insurrection, the Maronites had adopted for a certain period of time, the project of Basheer Shihab, and accepted thus to fight the Druze who stood against him and the Egyptian ruler, Ibrahim Pasha. The Druze believed, then, that such a war, waged against them by the Maronites, aimed at breaking their back, so as to cripple forever those who were for long the powerful lords of the southern mountain.


Therefore, at the end of the insurrection, the Druze became more attached to their leaders who  returned from exile and attempted to regain the feudal privileges they had lost, and which had been a heavy burden on Maronites. Prince Basheer had in fact released the Maronites from a great part of that burden before the arrival of Ibrahim Pasha, only to indulge later on, with the Egyptians, in more unjust measures, straddling Christians and Druze alike. These measures were worse than any previous feudal privileges the two communities had ever known[3].


Such was the situation in the mountain after 1841. But it was not the same for the two camps. In fact, the Druze held on to the customary guarantees of their status in the mountain as a substitute for their small number and to make up for lagging behind the new trends induced by the Europeans. These trends should have led them to change existing patterns of investment in agriculture, education, industry and commerce alike. This was what the Christians did in the second quarter of the 19th century, and even before that[4].


Actually, the Christians had already started to appreciate the advantages of independent work and its association, in many cases, with what amounted to private landownership rights. It would be true to say that Private ownership was not fully applied in the 1840s from a purely legal point of view. However, the decline of feudalism during the rule of Basheer had made it a fait accompli in practice[5]. As a result, the first glimmers of patriotic aspirations and dreams of national independence started to appear among the Christians, as mirrored in the works of their scholars.  Christians were, thus, calling for either autonomy in an expanded mountain with an integrated economic system or for a Syrian kingdom open to Christian activity. In fact, Boulous Nujaim had no hesitation in describing such activity as “isti‘mar”, an Arabic word that meant ‘umran .i.e., cultivation or construction[6] at that time. However, Syrian nationalism had not by the middle of the nineteenth century gained acceptance at the level of Christian leadership, i.e., the Church. It was rather advocated by ‘heretics’, such as Boutros al- Bustani[7], converted by Anglo-Saxon missions and whose horizons were broadened by an Arabism movement founded in the Syrian provinces by Ibrahim Pasha as a means of countering the legitimacy of Ottoman rule[8].

While espousing modernization, this Maronite leadership found itself trapped in a paradoxical situation. On the one hand, it was weakening feudalism by empowering elements that were opposed to it, and by promoting the status of peasants’ sons who aspired to be priests and monks.  On the other hand, this leadership was still feudal in its origins in the 1840s and the church had become by then, despite the fact that it followed a different way of accumulating capital and managing labour, the leading feudal lord in its own right. Patriarch Youssef Hubaysh had combined utter allegiance to prince Basheer II and Druze allegiance to his person, since he was seen as the guardian of a system of values akin to theirs[9].


A Mixed partition


Following 1841, the Maronites, headed by the patriarch, failed to promote a stable national rule except through the reinstatement of Basheer II at Beit Eddeen .Such a solution constituted an absolute nightmare for the Druze[10]. When the Ottoman statesman Omar Pasha had failed to reinstate stability, the mountain was divided into two Qa’imaqamates (provinces) each having a sectarian council with judicial capacity[11]. The two Qa’imaqamates fared no better[12]. This led to the system of Shakib Effendi in the aftermath of the “1845 movement”. Feudal lords worked hard on sabotaging this new formula since it delegated some of their prerogatives to the councils and to the local governors and persisted in their efforts to violate[13] and paralyze the new system.


Nevertheless, the new system failed to solve other issues such as that of the mixed districts (cazas), notably in the southern province. There, power was given to the large minority of Druze while the Christians were left to wonder whether, according to religious affiliations, they were expected to follow the Christian governor in the North or his Druze counterpart in the South ,where he headed a bunch of dignitaries to whose authority the Christians were reluctant to submit again[14].


Under the regulations of this partition which lasted 15 years, the rising fury of the new enlightened Christian forces was  directed against both the Druze and the northern Maronite feudal lords. This mounting anger was eventually to culminate in the Peasants’ revolt led by Tanius Shahin, who proceeded to establish his own rule, dubbing it a “republic”, in Kisrwan in 1858. The new republic lifted the load off a part of the Northern Mountain by expelling landlords not only out of their own farms but out of their own homes as well[15]. Some historians found a correlation between the above- mentioned movement and the ascendance, within the church, of new forces which resulted in the election of Boulus Mas‘ad, a son of a peasant, to the headship of the Maronite church upon the death of Patriarch Youssef Al khazen in 1854[16].  Such views are corroborated by the unconditional support on behalf of the church of the rising movement at its early beginnings and the aspirations of religious dignitaries to set up their own direct rule of the mountain[17]. However, due to the institutional vocation of the church and its overall interests, the church could not relinquish its unifying and reconciliatory role and persist in its support of a movement that became violent and chaotic. It opted, thus, for an ambivalent position dictated by interrelated clerical interests and sectarian considerations. This allowed the new patriarch to turn a blind eye when Youssef karam led a campaign to put an end to the republic of Tanius Shahin[18].


Friction and sparks


The result of this internal situation was persistent frictions between two denominations: the Druze who did not manage to find any other solution to maintain their inherited status except to rally, as a somewhat unified bloc, around feudal leaders who rose from the ashes of the Basheer-Egyptian era, and on the other hand, the Maronites who were witnessing the emergence of new forces which linked agriculture to international trade and were embracing new professions and lifestyles. This resulted in further social differentiation within the ranks of the Maronites. Moreover, Maronite individuals were able to consolidate their positions, since they were being defined by their professional achievements rather than by their inherited social standing. They also started, under the leadership of the church, to strengthen sectarian ties, lending less importance to family and town identities. Thus, new power paradigms emerged embracing voting rights and the right to chose. This persistent friction sparked confrontations because of the social intermixing of the two communities and because the question of the administrative authority in the southern province remained unsolved for the Christians as was the case of the socio- economic authority for the Druze[19].


The underlying factor, fuelling such extended frictions in the southern province in particular, was the fate of feudalism .Feudalism often served to mask sectarianism as a system promoting both solidarity and conflict. It had often minimized its manifestations and prevented it from assuming an autonomous form, and from being controlled by a majority whose ultimate aim would have been to remove feudal allegiances at least in one community. The first omen of civil war was, in fact, the loss by the feudal lords of absolute allegiance to their authority, which was guaranteed by the ottomans and the traditional system they had installed, but was now opposed by one community while the other still considered it to be a safe haven for which there was no substitute .[20].


This feudal crisis took place in an ottoman and international environment that exacerbated it and embraced its sectarian dimensions. The Ottoman Tanzimat or “organizational measures”, inaugurated mainly under European pressure, by the Noble Rescript (Khatti Sharif) in 1839, were largely controversial. While some voiced their disapproval of certain notions, others welcomed them, while still others were totally opposed. These measures were thus partially implemented and a subject of controversy and reluctance depending on the advantages or disadvantages the central administration found in their implementation[21].


In Mount Lebanon, the new Christian forces welcomed the new measures regarding feudalism, and the consecration, by the Decree of 1856 (Katti Hamayoon), of equality among the Sultan’s subjects regardless of religion. However, the same forces opposed the consequences of such measures, reinforcing as they did central administration, and weakening at the same time the prerogatives of local governors ,which was equated in their eyes with autonomous rule[22].


By contrast, the Sunnite majority rejected this equality in rights which was induced, in its opinion, by a growing European influence in the sultanate, coupled with an enfeebled ottoman rule. The supporters of the new measures were considered, thus, as agents working for the Europeans[23]. Moreover, the Ottoman administration was not always honest in its will to implement reforms that deprived it of its privileges and prerogatives[24]. The Druze, on the other hand, felt this Sunnite resentment in the coastal cities vis-à-vis the new reforms and thought of proving their devotion to Islam through attendance of prayers at mosques and flaunting their newly-found devotion. Soon, however, they resented the tendency to centralize the administration and deny them autonomy over their region. They also grew weary of the Sunnite preachers sent to spread Sunnite faith amongst them[25].


Europe: a double- edged sword


On the European side, British influence had by then attained its peak in the Ottoman Empire, notably in the Syrian provinces. This was particularly the case after Britain led the Syrian fight against Mohammed Ali and helped solve the Egyptian problem. France, on the other hand, was quite embarrassed by its support of the Egyptian invasion and soon decided to play the unconvincing role of mediator[26]. The British attempted, thus, to seduce the Maronites in the hope of replacing the French. However, the Church perceived the British as heretics and fought British and American Missions as best as it could[27]. Hence, the British turned to courting the Druzes who were favourable to their initiative. Being a Catholic empire, Austria had better luck with the Maronites. However, its success was limited and short- lived due to the adherence of the Church to its French protector. The Orthodox, on the other hand, sought the protection of the Russian Tsar[28].



This distribution of protection (which was entrenched during the Mutasarrifiyya era 1860-1914) provided the respective denominations with a feeling of relative security vis-à-vis the state, and bestowed legitimacy on any interference by these protective states in Ottoman policies. However, it also exacerbated Muslim resentment of protected communities. This is how massacres spread to Damascus in 1860,where more than 5000 people were killed in one day on July 9 in what was the peak of violence in that wretched year[29].


Strangely, the majority of Damascus victims were Orthodox though the Lebanese Orthodox took the side of Druze not that of the Maronites in the events of 1860 and in other confrontations[30].


The “Movements”: made in the mountains


In anycase, one cannot deny the role of European powers in the “movements” of the 19th century in Lebanon. However, one cannot accuse the European consuls and their superiors or assistants of having direct responsibility for the waves of civil violence in Lebanon .In other words, these Europeans did not create this violence. In fact, the French tried to pacify the uprising of 1840 but to no avail[31]. The British, on the other hand, attempted to protect Basheer III from the Druze, only to abandon him later on etc[32]… Moreover, there is no proof to the direct involvement of foreign consulates either in the conflict of 1845 or in the massacres of 1860. They simply tried to protect those who sought refuge from ottoman rule, after each wave of civil violence. European countries also intervened to force the ottoman emperor to take measures to counter the spread of violence. They even took the liberty of taking these measures themselves when the need arose. This is how the British sent their fleet in 1840 and the French both in 1841 and 1860. In addition, both coordinated their political action in 1845[33].


The ottoman officials, in the mountain, knew that civil violence caused them embarrassment vis-à-vis European countries and increased their intervention in the affairs of the empire. At the same time, they opposed the rapprochement between Lebanese communities and any of the foreign countries the Ottomans suspected. Therefore, they crushed any step they considered as a move away from the empire.  They spread discord among the straying party and its opponent relying on an existing predisposition for war and replicating a known tactic used to deal with insurrection within the empire. In fact, the ottomans did not invent this tactic in the mid -1800s,since it was the way feudalism dealt with similar matters. During the “movements” era, they were stumbling out of such a behaviour rather than inventing it[34].







Nevertheless, one has to admit that not all ottoman rulers had the same attitude towards preventing bloodshed or dealing with insurrection. Mustapha Pasha, Omar Pasha, Wajihi Pasha and Khorshid Pasha were no match to As‘ad Pasha, Khalil Pasha, Shakib Effendi and Fouad Pasha in this regard[35]. In any case, the behaviour of Ottoman officials- in its different forms- was not unlike what was expected from them. In fact, one may accuse the likes of Wajihi Pasha and Khorshid Pasha of either turning a blind eye to planned atrocities or being accomplices to the planning. However, neither ottoman nor European attitudes can explain the wave of civil violence that spread in these times.


What does this all mean? It means that the civil violence that swept the country was genuinely civil or locally-based, sparked by socio-economic transformations that heralded similar ones at the socio-political levels. These transformations were imposed by some and opposed by others. The capacity of outside forces to split a given community and mobilize the other respectively stems from the mountain’s history itself. Depending on the angle one chooses, this history may include the years of Egyptian occupation or may extend to the past three centuries. Whether in the former or the latter eras, Mount Lebanon was always affected by the changes stirring in its immediate ottoman environment and the fluctuations of relations between this environment and the rest of the world and its most influential powers. It would, thus, be ludicrous to blame the rest of the world its major transformations and how that paved the way for the violence that gripped Lebanon, simply because it affected its society. Such blame would suggest that the Lebanese should have isolated themselves from the rest of the world or that the world should have given the Lebanese the prerogative of engineering its whole history so that to exclude all that could generate violence amongst them. Instead, the Lebanese had better wonder whether they did their best to use other means, besides civil wars, to cope with the inevitable obligations of history. Once such questions are answered, one can ask how others are to be blamed and what can be attributed to simple misfortune.


A classification of legacies


What legacy did the movements of the 19th century leave us with that might justify the likelihood of a civil war every time we face a difficult crisis? The answer includes three elements: 1. constant structures created and rooted in a certain period and passed on to future eras; 2. Past scenarios that are supposed to be recreated in the present and the future; and 3. events or series of events, that are unique by nature and cannot be passed on from era to era but could be repeated occasionally due to an intrinsic relation with constant structures.


Regarding the “structures” we have inherited from the movements of the 19th century, we can mention what was dubbed “sectarianism” or the designation of religious denominations as units of conflict and substitutes to feudalism. However, the movements were simply –in the words of Marx- the violent midwife of sectarianism. It did not create denominations or their disposition to play this role. In fact, the denominations that met in 1920 were not, in their social composition and power, the same as when they first formed in 1861. Moreover, they were not equal in their formation as sects or institutionalization as such, rather than mere conveyors of other forms of group solidarity. However, the model passed on by the ‘Mutasarrifiyya’ imposed itself, though in a ‘modified form’, on the new partners forcing them to embrace it and reproduce it through various paces and patterns. The erstwhile confrontation between Maronites and Druses was now a confrontation between Christians and Muslims. The state and the city –Beirut in this case- became the main stage of this confrontation, a factor that did not figure in the structures of the 19th century[36].


Today, we might be standing at the threshold of a new transformation where distinctions between Muslims and Christians have become politically insignificant, and have been replaced by new dividing lines between the various sects i.e. the Sunnites, the Maronites, the Shi‘ites, the Druze, the Orthodox, etc… These lines of division need to be redefined and might prove undulating and ever changing. The situation is not new. It was clearly seen as such when the Lebanese political society was looked at from Beirut, rather than Paris or Cairo, for instance. However, the divide amongst sects rather than religions seems to be more exacerbated in the current crisis. “Gender” experts assert, nowadays, that the distribution of humanity to females and males has become, due to change of roles, obsolete. Such is the case of the division of Lebanese into Muslims and Christians today.


As for the inherited scenarios, one cannot acquit old wars of either its facts or myths, exploited by existing wars to justify their cause and continuation or by efforts aiming at sparking a new war with the purpose of attaining certain objectives. Old scenarios are, in fact, used to emphasize existing divisions among the various communities. However, they may, according to the circumstances and the will of decision-makers, fuel another war or become a source of collective indignation or mockery. The truth is that old scenarios are not passed on to us without being altered and we all have our version of any given war or event. There are, therefore, various conflicting versions of the same war and its motives. The questions we ask about wars are reflections of our own questions coupled with questions about the era during which this or that war took place. In fact, the spiritual fuel of any war is not past images, despite their importance, but rather current violence itself through its realities and stories. This violence is founded on what we once called “the exacerbation of differences” where every divergence in views between two communities is turned into a ‘contradiction’ that shuns peaceful solutions[37].


As for inherited circumstances, the movements of the 19th century showed Lebanese incapacity to deal with the accumulation of changes through peaceful means. The Lebanese failed to recognize the different balance of forces within their society and did not act accordingly. This incapacity was not due to constraints imposed by third parties, as their leaders always communicated with each other and exchanged demands during those days, without any major obstacle. When they reached agreement over a given problem, they always managed to implement it without anyone preventing them from doing so.



What is being repeated?

This was later repeated. It was, in fact, agreed upon that the pact of 1943 would serve as the guideline of public policy. It was, however, seriously violated, on the eve of 1958[38], and during the 60s when supporters of reform and economic growth turned a deaf ear to those calling to preserve the role of the state and national security and vice versa. We came, thus, to the war of 1975 after which the Ta’if Agreement was signed to put an end to the cycle of violence in the country. That agreement was, unfortunately, not fully implemented. It was also violated in many ways. The Syrians rejected the question of their withdrawal from Lebanon and the Arab identity of Lebanon was understood to mean steering Lebanon’s affairs from Damascus. The only articles within the Ta’if agreement that were implemented were transitional or distributive political reform articles such as those pertaining to the distribution of parliamentary seats, and the handing of the executive power to the cabinet ,whose posts were also distributed according to sectarian considerations.  All other articles, pertaining to the dynamic chapter of the agreement, i.e. to the elimination of political sectarianism, were dismissed. All those who received a share in the deal seemed quite content with what they had received and only demanded –when there was any demand- to be given their full share, no more and no less. Such content drained the country and prevented any reform or proper governance.


These realities remained hidden under the rule of the neighbouring master. They were only unveiled when the main Lebanese political actors were left to communicate directly with each other. Unlike what some might think, the new situation was not revealed because the old ruler still had some followers to obey him in Lebanon –even if that was true. Neither was it revealed because the other Lebanese actors followed other foreign countries –even if that was also true.


It was rather revealed because Lebanese leaders, and hence Lebanese communities, became compelled to put behind them a political system that had long become dysfunctional and posed a hurdle to national independence, security, and development, confining the country’s choice to either collapse or explosion.



Freezing peace, generating violence


We believe that the reasons behind violence in Lebanon do not lie within the previous wars but rather within the peace settlements that were adopted in theory and in practice in Lebanon.  In fact, these settlements established a system of relations among various communities whose socio-historical structures underwent major transformations. Unfortunately, the failure to take into account these transformations strengthened the chances of war. We believe that it was not war that led to the formation of communities, though it might have consecrated them and altered their orientation and development. It was rather that these groups waged wars as the only available means of renewing their internal structures and their relationship with other stakeholders. War imposed itself because the afore-mentioned system and settlements were thought to have a sustainability that was neither deserved nor acknowledged by history. Therefore, it is the various “pacts” or “agreements”, rather than previous wars which are thought to be everlasting that are more worthy of being considered the real cause of future violence.


We thus believe that averting war suggests, among other things, the Lebanese adopt a pact among themselves to alter the existing system of governance if need be. The desire to maintain old systems despite changing circumstances, and consequently denying history itself, becomes sooner or later a will to kill and die.


A new pact suggests, however, the holding of negotiations amongst stakeholders who believe that new changes should be incorporated in the self image each one retains of themselves, of other parties, of the country and of the whole world. Such is the effort that is required and that the various Lebanese parties may not have the capacity to deliver, since each still clings to a self image that existed years ago and since each believes that the country has one fate settled once and for all a thousand years ago, if not more. There is no doubt that there are certain constants in every political system. However, political systems should always live up to the tests imposed upon them by the various social, historical and political changes because war becomes probable when constancy is valued more than survival and when the former is made the enemy of the latter.



** Professor in the Institute of Social Sciences at the Lebanese University


[1] Many books were written regarding the “Movements” of the 19th century and the war of 1975-1990  which is not the case of the events of 1958.Regading the Movements refer to

-Adel Ismail, Histoire du Liban du XVIIe Siècle à nos Jours,volume  IV, Redressement et Déclin du Féodalisme libanais (1840-1861), Beirut 1958.

– An analysis of  this book and other books dedicated to the movements of the 19th century can be found in the following

Ahmad Beydoun, Identité confessionnelle et Temps social chez les Historiens libanais contemporains, Beirut 1984, third part, chap. II.


Ismail has also published an Arabic synopsis of his book entitled  “The era of chaos and unrest 1840-1860” in Lebanon: history and legacy, (in Arabic), Beirut 1993. Volume II, p. 3229-382


regarding the war of 1975-1990 ref:

Ghassan Tueni, Une Guerre pour les Autres, Paris 1985.

Samir Kassir, La Guerre du Liban, de la Dissension nationale au Conflit régional, 1975-1982, Paris-Beirut 1994.


Regarding the events of 1958 ref :

Caroline Attie, Struggle in the Levant, Lebanon in the 1950’s, Oxford 2004.


[2] Regarding the events of 1918-1920:

Meir Zamir, The Formation of Modern Lebanon, Cornell 1988, chap. II

Regarding the events of 1936

Meir Zamir, Lebanon’s Quest, The Road to Statehood, 1926-1939, London-New York 1997, pp. 199-213

[3] For an account of the 1840 Rebellion, see ,Ismail, Histoire…, op. cit., volume IV, pp. 39-103.

[4] Regarding the socio economic transformations that led to these ‘movements’, see

Dominique Chevallier, La Société du Mont-Liban à l’Époque de la Révolution industrielle en Europe, Paris 1971.

[5]  Chevallier, La Société…, op. cit., pp. 80-81.

[6] Jouplain, La Question du Liban, Paris 1908, p. 529

[7] A reading of the political texts of Boutros al-Bustani in

Nassar, Nassif, Towards a new society, fundamentals to the critique of sectarian societies, (in Arabic), Beirut 1970, p. 16-32

[8] With reference to the Arabism of Ibrahim Pasha,see

Zein Noureddine Zein, the emergence of Arab nationalism”, Beirut 1968,pp. 45-46 and 187-188 (of the Arabic version).


[9] Regarding transformations within the church,see,

Chevallier, La Société…, op. cit., pp. 245-256.

Sharara ,Waddah, On the origins of sectarian Lebanon, (in Arabic), Beirut 1975 pp. 63-39


Regarding the role of Patriarch Hobeish in the beginning of that period,see,

Ismail, Histoire…, op. cit, ,volume  IV, pp. 71, 113-117 et 133.


[10] Idem pp 113-115

regarding the relation between Basheer II and Druze Dignitaries refer to:

Abu Shaqra Hussein Ghadban (narrator) and Abu Shaqra Khattar Yussef (editor), movements in Lebanon during the times of the Mutasarrifiyya, (in Arabic) p. 1-24


[11]  Ismail, Histoire…, op. cit., volume IV, pp. 284-289. Unanimity was prerequisite in both councils. Otherwise the decision is referred to the Wali (governor of Sidon). The two Qa’imakams could also be removed by that governor. If we consider that this system was the first institutional form of sectarianism in Lebanon, we must admit that the unanimity of vote required and the foreign Arbitration imposed in case no unanimity is reached, were elements that accompanied the birth of that system.  The truth is that it accompanied it throughout its history. During the Mustasarrifiya times, there was an administrative council. However, power was given to the Mutasarrif (ruler) who was not Lebanese. The various dignitaries from various denominations sill relied on European councils to gain leverage vis-à-vis the foreign ruler as well as vis-à-vis each other. During the French Mandate, power was given to the high commissioner who had the right to suspend the constitution, remove the president, dismiss the cabinet and dissolve the national assembly. Lebanon did not reach a removal of foreign arbitration and unanimous vote as a prerequisite for keeping the decision making process as an internal one excpet during the three decades following the independence of 1943 in other terms for 30 years out of 160 years which constitute the real age of sectarianism. We believe that the 30 years were an exception, and the reestablishment of the former conditions (which failed to prevent conflicts, anyway) is impossible. To overcome the unanimity (which is impossible and will cripple the authorities) and foreign arbitration conditions (which might be implicit or explicit) depends on overcoming political sectarianism altogether which is something the Taef Agreement seems to have recognized. However, what happened to that agreement clearly demonstrates that overcoming sectarianism is not an easy task to say the least.

[12] ISMAIL, Histoire…, op. cit., volume IV, pp. 175-201


[13] idem, p. 301

[14] Id, p 216-219

[15] Id, p. 321-327

[16]  Chevallier, La Société…, op. cit., p. 271

[17] Ismail, Histoire…, op.cit.,volume IV, pp. 324-325

[18] Chevallier, La Société…, op. cit., pp. 277-278 and 289



[19] Sharara, origins, id, p52-60

[20] Ismail, Histoire…, op. cit.,volume IV, Conclusion

[21] Regarding the impact of the movements on sectarian relationships in Damascus ref:

Iskandar Bin Yaacoub Abacarius, tTime stories of Mount Lebanon events, (in Arabic) edited by Abdel Kareem Assamak, London 1987, p253-254

Regarding the same topic in Mount Lebanon ref:

Abu Shakra, movements…, id, p32-34


[22] Regarding the fight of both Druze and Maronites against the Austrian Omar Pacha and the will of the Maronites to reinstate Basheer II ref:

Ismail, “ the Era of Chaos and Unrest…” , in Lebanon: history and legacy, id, Volume 2, p 352-354

Also ref: Ismail, Histoire…, op. cit., Volume IV, pp. 257-261


[23]   Chevallier, La Société…, op. cit., pp. 267-269

[24]  Id, p 269

[25] Ismail, Histoire…, op. cit., volume IV, pp. 139-140 and 188

[26] Riad Ghannam, Lebanese provinces during Egyptian Rule 1832- 1840, (in Arabic),  Chapters 4, 5, 6, Beirut 1988,


IsmailL, Histoire…, op. cit, volume IV, pp. 16-17

[27]  Chevallier, La Société…, op. cit., pp. 256-260

and Ismail, Histoire…, op. cit., volume IV, pp. 156-160

[28] Ismail, ibid., pp. 106 et 146-148

[29] Abacarius, time stories…. , id, chapter 8



[30] Ismail, Histoire…, op. cit., p. 137 and Ismail, « the Era of Chaos », id., p356

[31] Ismail, Histoire…, op. cit., pp. 78-88. On the other hand, Ismail (id, p 73-77) asserts that the British and the Ottomans encouraged the rebels and provided them with promises and arms. However, the movement of 1840 was a collective rebellion and was not a civil war.

[32] Ibid, p 110-111 and 121.

[33] Ibid, p. 73, 89-99, 154-156, 277-280, 333-334, 346-351

[34] In 1840, disarming the population and arming the formal authority became the objective of the Ottomans when dealing with the Lebanese crisis. It aimed at disempowering the feudal lords and replacing them with civil servants. However, this tendency truly materialized during the times of the Mutasarrifiyya. Regardless, the Lebanese tend till today to arm their respective communities.



[35] In the references we cited, there is a depiction of the Ottoman rulers. All these references commend the second group while accusing the first of partiality, conspiracy, neglect and corruption


[36] Ahmad Beydoun, The Discontinuous Republic, Sources of the Lebanese System after the Ta’if Agreement, (in Arabic), Beirut 1999, p461-463


[37] id, p 295-296

[38] Chamoun, accepted, unlike other Arab leaders, the “Eisenhower Doctrine” and engineered the defeat the leaders of the opposition in the parliamentary elections of 1957.

ATTIÉ, The Struggle in the Levant, op. cit. pp. 108-121 and pp. 141-148.