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The Lebanese National Movement (LNM) (Arabic: الحركة الوطنية اللبنانية) was a front of parties and organizations active during the early years of the civil war in Lebanonmarker. It was headed by Kamal Jumblatt, a prominent Druze leader of the Progressive Socialist Party (PSP). The general secretary of the LNM was Mohsen Ibrahim, leader of the Communist Action Organization in Lebanon.

The LNM was one of two main forces during the first round of fighting in the Lebanese Civil War, the other being the militias of mainly Christian Lebanese Front which comprises the Phalange, the National Liberal Party and others; as well as parts of the Maronite-dominated central government.

Composition

The LNM had been founded out of the Front for Progressive Parties and National Forces in 1969, as a self-proclaimed "democratic, progressive and non-sectarian" front. Its membership was overwhelmingly left-wing and professed to be secular, although the fairly obvious sectarian appeal of Jumblatt's Progressive Socialist Party (PSP) and some of the Sunni Arab nationalist organizations in some cases made this claim debatable. However, to say that the LNM was a Muslim organization would be a gross oversimplification. Its main ideological positions were: the abrogation of sectarianism, political and social reforms, the clear proclamation of the Arab identity of Lebanonmarker, and increased support for the Palestinians. Soon after the outbreak of the war, it announces the creation of an executive structure, "the central political council".

Among the participants in the LNM were the Lebanese Communist Party (LCP), the Communist Action Organization (CAO), the PSP, the Syrian Social Nationalist Party (SSNP), both the pro-Syrianmarker and the pro-Iraqimarker Lebanese Baath factions, al-Mourabitoun (a Nasserite group) and several other minor Nasserite groups. Several Palestinian organizations joined the LNM, notably many from the Rejectionist Front. Both the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) and the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP) were active participants.

Above and beyond this, an ‘alphabet soup’ of other lesser-known smaller Parties were associated with the LNM, namely the Revolutionary Communist Group – RCG, the Front of Patriotic Christians – PFC, the Democratic Lebanese Movement – DLM, the Movement of Arab Lebanon – MAL, the Arab Revolutionary Movement – ARM, the Partisans of the Revolution, the Vanguards of Popular Action – VPA, the Organization of Arab Youth – OAY, the Units of the Arab Call – UAC, the Movement of Arab Revolution – MAR, the Sixth of February Movement, the 24 October Movement – 24 OM, the Lebanese Movement in Support of Fatah – LMSF, the Knights of Ali, the Black Panthers, etc. Most of them were marginal political organizations of revolutionary or populist trend (Arab nationalist, Libertarian-Anarchist, Liberal-Idealist, radical Socialist, Marxist-Leninist, Trotskyist, or Maoist) that emerged in the late 1960s and early 1970s, and despite their rather limited base of support, they were quite active. Anti-status quo, Pan-Arabist, and pro-Palestinian in policy, they strived for a social revolution that would transform Lebanese society, therefore sharing the same objectives as the leading LNM secular parties – the recognition of Lebanonmarker as an Arab country and unwavering support for the PLO. However, apart this minority of committed idealists, the vast majority of the remainder ‘movements’ were actually façades or ‘shops’ (Arabic: dakakin) – slightly politicised neighbourhood militias operating under grandiose pseudo-revolutionary labels – set up by PLO factions (mainly Fatah) in an misguided effort to widen its base of local support among the unemployed Lebanese urban youth.In most cases, their small poorly-disciplined, ill-equipped militia establishments were ad-hoc formations made of lightly-armed and largely untrained Christian or Muslim youths that rarely surpassed the 100-300 fighters’ mark – about the size of an understrength company or battalion. Some groupings were lucky enough to possess a few jeeps or pick-up trucks fitted with HMGs and rocket launchers but others, for the most part, fought on foot as light infantry, with small-arms pilfered from the Government forces, acquired on the black market or obtained via the Palestinian factions. Those groups either unable or unwilling to raise their own militias played only a political role, keeping themselves out of the 1975-76 savage street battles and sectarian killings, with some of their militants preferring instead to join the medical relief agencies organized by the LNM. The decline of the LNM in the late 1970s, culminating in its collapse in the aftermath of the Israeli invasion of June 1982, sounded the death toll for many of the minor Lebanese leftist organizations. As the war progressed, many of these small factions – at least the more politically-oriented ones – were destroyed in the violent power struggles of the 1980s. For the most part forced to go underground, some evolved to Islamic fundamentalist groups, whilst the less politicized simply degenerated into criminal street-gangs that engaged in assassinations, theft, smuggling, and extortion. As a result, only a small fraction of the truly ideological-committed groupings did manage to survive the war to re-emerge in the 1990s as politically active organizations.

At the beginning of the war in 1975 the different LNM militias grouped roughly 25,000 militiamen (not including allied Palestinian factions) against 18,000 right-wing militiamen. Manpower was distributed as following: the PSP militia and the LCP militia (the popular Guards) each had 5000 men; the SSNP militia had 4000 men; and the pro-Iraqi Baathists, the pro-Syria Baathists, and al-Mourabitoun militia 3000 each. The others militias shared the remainder.

Lebanese Civil War participation

As fighting escalated, the LNM allied itself with the umbrella Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), and created the "common forces" (القوات المشتركة). They received financial aid and arms from many countries such as Libyamarker, Iraqmarker and Yemenmarker. In the early 1976, the LNM controlled 80% of Lebanon's territory. But as its relations with Damascusmarker deteriorated, the pro-Syria Baath branch, Amal, and an important SSNP faction left the movement or halted their participation.

In June 1976, the Syrian Army, fearing that a Palestinian victory would weaken its own strategic position, received a request from the Lebanese Front to intervene on their behalf. After strong initial resistance, the LNM/PLO forces began losing ground, and once the Arab countries eventually approved the Syrian intervention after the Cairomarker and Riyadhmarker conferences, the common forces accepted a cease-fire. The Syrian forces then took on the role of a deterrent force, the "Arab Deterrent Forces" (ADF), between the belligerents. In 1977, Walid Jumblatt became the head of the LNM after the murder of his resigning father, Kamal, in an ambush widely accredited pro-Syria Palestinian militants working for Syrian intelligence. Despite this, Walid aligned himself with Syria, and maintained a good working relationship with Syrian President Hafez Al-Assad (who had shared with his father a mutual distrust).

In 1978 the Israelimarker Operation Litani in southern Lebanon was partly directed against LNM militias, then fighting alongside the PLO after relations improved with Syria. In June 1982, the Movement was virtually dissolved after the Israeli invasion of Lebanon, and replaced by The Lebanese National Resistance Front ( ), which commenced resistance operations against the Israeli Army in September of that same year.

References

  1. Fawwaz Traboulsi, "La réforme par les armes"
  2. Investigating Bashir Gemayel Part I: Bashir and the Israelis [1]


See also



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