chapter  3
40 Pages

Lebanon under the Shadow of Revolution: The Druze and the From Baghdad Pact to Eisenhower’s Doctrine: Foreign Policy as a

ByFirst Civil War

William Roger Louis’s and Roger Owen’s book1 defines 1958 as a “revolutionary year” for the Middle East, as it certainly was in the case of Lebanon. For the first time since the establishment of the National Pact in 1943, Lebanon became embroiled in civil war, posing the greatest challenge to the Lebanese political system since 1920. The outbreak of the war not only pointed to the deep crisis of the Lebanese political system but also threatened Lebanon’s existence as an independent political entity. The causes of the war are multiple and have been widely studied in various volumes; this chapter will focus on the political activity of the Druze leadership during Chamoun’s presidency and examine its contribution to the crisis which preceded the war. Chamoun’s election was unanimously supported by the Druze representatives, but most striking was the backing of Kamal Junblat. Junblat believed that the election of a new president would bring about the political change towards which he had worked for many years.2

It was not long before his hopes were dashed. The Lebanese journalist Iskander Riyashi described Junblat’s fervent support of

Chamoun’s election as president as signaling a break with the time-honored rivalry between al-Mukhtarah and Dayr al-Qamar.3 Yet the first signs of conflict between Junblat and Chamoun began to surface mere hours after the election. Junblat considered Chamoun’s success a product of the efforts of the National Socialist Front, and promptly insisted that Chamoun repay his debt to the movement by adopting its reform program as the new government’s official platform, especially since he claimed that Chamoun had in fact signed the NSF’s covenant.4