Read Regarding the Elections of Bashir Gemayel - The Other Story
“A far more serious short-coming of the Israeli alliance with the Lebanese Front was revealed by Bashir Gemayel’s assassination on September 15. No other Maronite leader combined the ability to govern Lebanon in these difficult circumstances with a political orientation acceptable to Israel, let alone pro-Israeli.” (Itimar Rabinovich, The War for Lebanon 1970-1985, Cornell University Press (1985), P. 144)
“لكل خائن حبيب” (Lebanese National Movement/Resistance Front saying on Bashir Gemayel; translation: Every Traitor has a lover, or the original saying: This is a reference to Habib Chartouni from SSNP who killed Bachir. Therefore the translation is not "Every Traitor has a lover" but "Every Traitor will be killed" [taken from the comments section])
“لقد قتلوا حلم لبنان” (Lebanese Front/Lebanese Forces saying; translation: They murdered the dream of Lebanon)
“."اديت مضمونه (القسم) طوال ثماني سنوات المقاومة، و اتلو نصه في بدء ست سنوات الحكم (Bashir Gemayel: Undelivered inauguration speech 1982, Tuesday 15/9/1992. Annahar, P 7; translation: I worked for the essence of the oath through eight years of resistance, and now I will read its script at the beginning of six years of rule”
“Bashir, when he wasn’t murdering people, was a likable man. He had great boyish charm” Robert Dillon, US ambassador to Lebanon in 1982 (John Boykin, Cursed is the Peacemaker, Applegate Press (2002), P. 74)
“With the death of Bashir Gemayel, thousands mourned while thousands others cheered” (al-Jazeera documentary: War for Lebanon)
“كان بشير جميل يجسد كل ما لا نتمناه لهذا البلد، لكن الاغتيال إيذان بأفدح الكوارث.
خاطرة في طريق العودة: اليوم عيد الصليب. لبنان على الصليب مجدداً. و غداً يجب ان تمطر شأنها شأن كل ثاني يوم العيد."
Translation: “Bashir Gemayel represented everything we don’t wish for this nation, but the assassination was alarming for other disasters.
A passing thought on the way home: Today is the holiday Day of the Cross. Lebanon is on the Cross again. Tomorrow it should rain like every second day of the holiday.”
(Fawaz Traboulsi, About Incurable Hope: Journals of the Siege of Beirut 1982, Riad el Rayyes Books (2007), P.74)
“Sharon and Bashir’s understanding was that, once Israeli troops reached Beirut, they would link up with Bashir’s militia to surround it. Bashir’s militia, the halange, would then do the dirty work of going door to door in Muslim West Beirut slaughtering Palestinians until the PLO fled Lebanon like rats from a burning house.” (John Boykin, Cursed is the Peacemaker, Applegate Press (2002), P. 77)
“Be very, very careful. Remember, they are not interested in your welfare. They are only interested in their own welfare. There can’t be a simply Christian Lebanon. That is not realistic.” Philip Habib & Dillion to Bashir Gemayel (John Boykin, Cursed is the Peacemaker, Applegate Press (2002), P. 77)
The Historical Fiasco
In an earlier post, I displayed why Bashir Gemayel will never be a legitimate president of Lebanon, and henceforth the man who was blown to kingdom come was just a political actor. Bashir Gemayel, prior to one month of the Israeli invasion, informed US ambassador Dillon that the Israeli invasion was on its way to Lebanon. The plan of Ariel Sharon to invade Lebanon was two-folded: annihilate the PLO and install a government. According to Philip Habib, Lebanon has always been considered a ‘second’ country to sign a peace treaty with the Israelis after Egypt. In 1981, Sharon displaced to the US diplomat his plan to invade Lebanon and link up with the Lebanese Forces. Actually in January 1982, Sharon secretly met with Bashir Gemayel to finalize his plans and preparations, and hence, the United States diplomats decided to share this information with us:
“Sharon meanwhile pressed ahead with his plans for Lebanon. In January 1982 he flew to Lebanon to scout out the lay of the land that he expected to invade. First stop: Beirut. His host was Bashir Gemayel, the Maronite ally who had sparked the missile crisis in April. This invasion would be a partnership of the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) and Bashir’s Phalange militia. The IDF would do the large-scale heavy lifting; the Phalange would handle up-closefighting that Begin didn’t want Israeli troops exposed to. Bashir took him to Beit Meri, a suburb in the hills surrounding Beirut, to show him the panoramic view of the city. Sharon pointed to the Muslim sid of town, which had become the PLO’s stronghold, and told Bashir, “Israel will not enter West Beirut… Our presence there would cause complex political problems for us. West Beirut is your business…” Though Sharon spoke with Bashir in hypothetical – “If there is a war, take that hill” – there was little ambiguity that they were coordinating plans for an invasion they both knew was just a pretext away.
That evening Bashir brought Sharon to meet his father Pierre (whose attempted assassination had sparked the civil war in 1975), and former president Camille Chamoun, who had invited the Syrians in 1976. The men were all keen to have the Israeli army invade Lebanon to kick out the Syrians and Palestinians for them. Chamoun pressed Sharon, “Whill you really come to Beirut, as you have said? Or all this just a talk
“We’ll get there! Don’t you worry.” (John Boykin, Cursed is the Peacemaker, Applegate Press (2002), P. 53)
Bashir Gemayel promoted himself as the next Lebanese president after Sarkis when Zahli crisis occurred, and he got it from the US, and eventually from the Israelis when Sharon became Minister of Defense. In the US administration, Secretary of State was a lunatic subjective General, called Al Haig, who was in total agreement with Sharon to just go there and “finish the job” as fast as possible. He never understood the situation; however, he provided the cover for Ariel Sharon’s suicidal invasion of Beirut and crippled the ones who opposed him, such as Philip Habib, Morris Draper, Lewis (US Ambassador), Violetes, and Dillon (US ambassador to Lebanon).
Now Bashir got caught up between two entanglements, the first was Bashir’s entrance to West Beirut once the Israelis formulated a siege on it from East Beirut, and he knew that his Lebanese Forces are no match to the PLO as well as their allies, the Lebanese National Movement. Hence, he hesitated a lot about sending his militia men to slaughter inside West Beirut. Even Elie Hobeika in al-Jazeera’s War for Lebanon displayed how much Bashir was pissed off from Israeli pressure to enter West Beirut. Philip Habib (now head of the US Presidential Diplomat Convoy) and Morris Draper were angry from Bashir for subduing blindly to Sharon at first. Actually Sharon was the other angry man from Bashir. “The Begin, after all, did not want to risk his own boys in hand-to-hand combat. The link-up did happen, at Baabda June 12, and Sharon and Bashir did have the PLO and several thousand Syrian troops trapped in West Beirut.” (John Boykin, Cursed is the Peacemaker, Applegate Press (2002), P. 77). Actually Sharon exploded more than once on Bashir Gemayel with words: “Do something!”. Bashir told Phil. Habib about Sharon’s stubbornness: “What Arik wants, Arik gets”.
Now Bashir Gemayel’s plan was simple, get the PLO evacuated out of West Beirut because he won’t be able to face them alone, and then install himself as President of Lebanon through the US administration’s political influences on the regional level, and with the fire power of the Israelis. The Israelis and the US administration didn’t trust each other that much when Ariel Sharon was the Minister of Defense. In any case it worked fine for Bashir Gemayel. For those who argue that Bashir Gemayel is the legitimate President, I ask them: Would Bashir Gemayel had become Lebanese President if he didn’t have the Israeli fire power underneath his hand?
During all the time the Israelis were bombing West Beirut, Bashir Gemayel never regarded them as invaders. The only invaders to Bashir Gemayel were the PLO and the Syrian Army (of whom his father co-requested to enter Beirut and disarm the PLO). The best reference would be Morris Draper, who discloses the whole entrance of the Israelis publicly after 20 years later, when Bashir Gemayel and Walid Jumblatt (head of the Lebanese National Movement genetically from his father, the late Kamal Jumblatt. Phlip Habib worked hard to get the “National Salvation Council” meetings to roll, and that was the easiest in order to get the Lebanese at least to agree with each other, and henceforth limit Sharon’s interventions. After a lot of talks with Bashir Gemayel, Philip Habib was successful in convincing Bashir to call his “thugs” away from Walid Jumlatt.
And here I shall quote:
“This was to be the first meeting of the ‘National Salvation Council.’ Habib had coached Bashir ahead of time – “Look, if we get these people together, I don’t want you to insult them” and Bashir said “oh, yes” – but it quickly dissolved into a shouting match between Bashir and Walid. “Bashir was at his most arrogant,” says Draper (who speaks perfectly well Arabic by the way). He was, after all, the Israelis’ ally who had invited them to invade in the first place and had asked them a few days earlier to stay around Berut until they could get him elected President of Lebanon. So he had no interest in helping get them out. He and Walid just shouted accusations back and forth and argued about changing the constitution and about whether Bashir should be the next president about whatever else came to mind. They nearly went at each other with fists, “It was just murderous,” says Draper. “Had there been any Palestinians in the room, I think Bashir would have cut their throats. It was just aweful.” (John Boykin, Cursed is the Peacemaker, Applegate Press (2002), P. 76)
Fawaz Traboulsi, in his journals writes the following: “
الاجتماع الأول لهيئة الإنقاذ. سركيس يرى أن اللقاء – و خاصة لقاء وليد و بشير – هو اليوم الذي كان ينتظؤه منذ ست سنوات. يعرض الشروط التي نقلها فيليب حبيب عن الاسرائليين. تعليق وليد جنبلاط: اذا، مطلوب رأس المقاومة الفلسطنية.
بشير مستعجل لضرب الحديدة وهي حامية، و تثمير الاحتلال على صعيد التركيبة اللبنانية. يدعو المسلمين الى أن "يلحّقوا حالهم"، والا فلن يبقى سني واحد يشارك في الحكم.
وليد لبشير:" أنت مستفيد من الاحتلال الاسرائيلي"
بشير: "كلنا يمكن أن يكون مستفيداً"...
ويتسائل وليد جنبلاط عن موضوع الانسحاب الاسرائيلي على جدول أعمال الهيئة، فيجيبه الوزان : "هذا تحصيل حاصل"
First Meeting of the National Salvation Council. Sarkis consider the meeting, specially between Walid [Junblatt] and Bashir [Gemayel], as the day he has been waiting for to happen for the past six years. The conditions of the Israelis, which were transmitted through Philip Habib, were discussed. Wqlid Junblatt comments: “So, the head of the Palestinian Resistance is demanded”
Bashir, in a hurry to hit the iron when hot and harvest the [Israeli] invasion on the political scale of the Lebanese combination, requests that the Muslims should “hurry with themselves” or else there won’t be one Sunni to participate in the rule.
Walid to Bashir: “You are benefiting from the Israeli invasion”
Bashir: We all are potentials to benefit from the invasion
Walid afterwards asks on the topic of the Israeli withdrawal on the Committee’s agenda. Al-Wazzan (Prime Minister then): till that comes…
(Fawaz Traboulsi, About Incurable Hope: Journals of the Siege of Beirut 1982, Riad el Rayyes Books (2007), P. 17 – 18)
As far as the Israelis, we know what they had planned for Bashir, and we know from my earlier post that Bashir was supposed to be the US’s candidate for presidency, but as far as we know, we never tackled what were Bashir Gemayel’s plans for the country, had he lived. Actually, Phil Habib calculated that Bashir, without the neighboring Arab nations, won't last a bit. In a secret meeting in Naharriya (Israel) with Sharon and Begin, a huge confrontation errupted. We know for sure that the Israelis wanted to install head of the Southern Lebanese Army as the Lebanese Army Commander or minister of Defence, but Bashir declined. A huge confronation exploded between Begin and Bashir, because Begin needed to face-save himself with the Israeli Parliament, but again Bashir wouldnt accept. Eventually, Bashir agreed to normalize relations. Habib told him that he needed at least a year to establish his hand over Lebanon. Begin the next day of the meeting leaked to the Israeli Press about Bashir's secret visit. More importantly, several sources always refered to Begin talking with Bashir as "Son". The assassination of Bashir Gemayel left Sharon's "Phase II" plan shattered.
As far as we know, Bashir's visit to Saudi Arabia (upon US advice) didnt win him with the whole of Lebanon. He remained viewed by a lot of political actors and masses as an Israeli installed President (till current day the debate rages on). By also visiting Sunni leaders, Bashir also failed to win over the residents of "West Beirut". After all, in less than a month West Beirut was burning to the ground from Israeli cannons installed in East Beirut, with Sharon himself visiting Bashir Gemayel more than once. If someone tells me it is a coincedence that "Operation Peace for Galilee" proceeded and Bashir Gemayel was by chance elected. Nevertheless, this is one story that shall remain most controversial among different never-ending controversies through-out the history of Lebanon. Bashir Gemayel though will remain as the youngest man to be elected as a president through out this complex cyclone like history.
As for his platform, I am dedicating a special section on that matter. Luckily, we have several references on investigating what he had in his mind, and can at least deduct his ideas regarding Lebanon. This will be discussed in Part II. I also would like to stress that only constructive debate to be allowed in this thread.