Harakat Amal (Shi'ite Movement of Hope)
Date of Birth: 1938
Quote: "Lebanon cannot survive without unity."
I was born in Sierra Leone of a merchant father who moved to Africa to escape the harsh economic conditions of South Lebanon. As a child my family returned to Tiblin in South Lebanon. My family is a large one in South Lebanon, but I still lack the connections of traditional Shi'ite leaders. In 1963, I received a Bachelor of Law Degree from the Lebanese University and was elected as president of the National Union of Lebanese Students in 1963. I practiced law in Beirut until 1980. I later joined the Movement of the Dispossessed, which was formed by the Shi'ite religious leader Imam Musa Sadr in the early 1970's. In 1975, Harakat Amal became a military wing of Imam Musa's movement and I became a member of Amal's politburo. Finally, on April 25, 1980, I was elected to be the president of the Amal Command Council. Amal was an organization that sought a greater role for the Shi'ite population in Lebanon. In 1985 Israel withdrew from Lebanon but left its South Lebanon Army (SLA) in the Security Zone in South Lebanon. Amal provided resistance to the SLA and was heavily backed by Syria. However PLO strikes on Israel from South Lebanon resulted in Israeli retaliation in South Lebanon and a lot of bloodshed. I was determined to show Israel that Amal could control the PLO in Lebanon and thus remove any pretext for Israel to maintain the security zone. Consequently, in May 1985, with the support of Syria, Amal laid a siege around Palestinian camps in Beirut. The camp wars ended in 1988 when I lifted the siege. Eventually, the Lebanese Civil War ended in 1990, and a government was formed. Since June 1991, I have been a member of the Lebanese Parliament. On October 20, 1992, I became Speaker of Parliament, a position traditionally reserved for a Shi'ite leader under the Taif agreement. With this position I have been able to strive for a more united Lebanon closely allied with Syria.
Background Biographical Information:
Political Allies and Opponents:
My Greatest Contributions:
One of my greatest achievements is being a part of the Parliament that passed 267 laws and was able to lift Lebanon from the ravages of war to a more stable country. Another one of my contributions is the fact that Amal was able to neutralize the PLO in South Lebanon during the "camp wars" of the late 80's. This showed Israel that Amal was an organization that could control radical groups and that therefore Israel should withdraw from its security zone in South Lebanon.
Foreign Policy Positions:
Because of the presence of Syrian troops and aid to Lebanon, Lebanon's closest ally is Syria. When Israel invaded the country, the Muslims of Lebanon clearly saw that Syrian help would limit Israeli intervention. Historically the country has been close to the United States. If Syria makes peace with Israel, Lebanon is likely to follow especially since Syria has strengthened its position in the country in recent years. However the Maronite Christians do not favor an alliance with Syria.
Role Playing Notes:
Speech on November 14, 1995; Foreign Broadcast Information Service: Middle and East Asia Studies
The New York Times, Oct 21, 1992
Reuter's World Service, Jan 2, 1996
Xinhua News Agency, Jan 11, 1996
Arab Press Service Organization, Nov 21, 1994
Augustus Norton; Amal and the Shi'a, University Of Texas Press
Elie Salem; Violence and Diplomacy In Lebanon, I.B. Tauris Publishers
Theodor Hanf; Coexistence In Wartime Lebanon, I.B. Tauris Publishers
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