Libmonster ID: U.S.-1222
Author(s) of the publication: N. MOKHOV

The shootings in Beirut and elsewhere in Lebanon in early May 2008, which claimed dozens of lives, drew attention to this small Middle Eastern country. The Lebanese government has declared illegal a telecommunications network established by the Shiite Hezbollah party in the country, and also removed Brigadier General Shoukair, the head of security at Beirut International Airport, on suspicion of supporting a Shiite radical movement.

These two decisions were the reason for the active actions of Hezbollah combat units, which, after brief exchanges of fire, occupied West Beirut and set fire to the building of the pro-government TV company Mustaqbal TV. Despite the relatively rapid ceasefire, the situation in Lebanon remains tense due to the ongoing political confrontation between the pro-government camp, which enjoys Western support, and the opposition, which is backed by Syria and Iran.

The confrontation between these two blocs has characterized the country's political life for several years. Subject to the Constitution, Emil Lahoud left the post of President of the country on November 24, 2007. The Parliament has been trying to elect his successor since September 25, 2007. However, the leading Lebanese parties cannot agree on a compromise candidate and are forced to postpone the meeting dedicated to the presidential vote. The pro-Western camp, represented by the March 14 Movement coalition, controls the government and has a parliamentary majority, but it is not enough to provide the quorum (two-thirds of deputies) necessary for the undisputed election of the president. This circumstance is actively used by the pro-Syrian opposition, led by the radical Hezbollah party and popular Christian politician Michel Aoun.

The absence of the President adds to the political crisis that Lebanon has been in since the February 2005 assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, who took an anti-Syrian stance. For more than a year, opposition lawmakers have refused to attend parliamentary sessions in protest at the government's policy of blocking the work of Parliament. Categorically challenging the pro-Western guidelines of the executive branch (and mainly the continuation of the work of the UN-established international commission of inquiry into Hariri's assassination), in November 2006 the opposition withdrew 5 of its ministers from the Government and has not recognized its legitimacy since.

The support of the overwhelming majority of Lebanese Shiites for the opposition camp, and the majority of Sunnis and Druze for the pro-government coalition, determines the relevance of the study of confessionalism, which characterizes the socio-political life of the country and is considered as one of its traditional problems.


The geographical features of the territory of present-day Lebanon over the centuries have contributed to the influx of various religious minorities who were persecuted in neighboring regions. The mountains provided natural protection, and the abundance of water resources so rare in the Middle East and access to the sea created favorable conditions for people to live and develop trade.

In 1861, an international commission signed a protocol that defined the principles of the existence of an autonomous territory within the Ottoman Empire, called " Mutassarifia of Mount Lebanon "(less than half of the territory of modern Lebanon). The intervention of European countries became necessary as a result of repeated, mainly Maronite-Druze* bloody conflicts. According to the agreements, this autonomy was governed by a Christian non-Lebanese ruler for a six-year term, based on a council consisting of 12 members representing the main faiths living in the autonomy (Maronites, Druze, Sunnis, Shiites, Orthodox, Greek Catholics).

In the 19th century, the gradual weakening of the Ottoman Empire and the expansion of Europe contributed to the strengthening of the influence of major European powers in Lebanon, which provided patronage to various religious communities. So, France traditionally acted as the defender of the Maronites, England-the Druze, and the Russian Empire took on the role of patroness of the Orthodox.

The Moutassarifia of Mount Lebanon laid the foundations for what later became known as the political representation of confessional communities and began to define the specifics of Lebanon's political system and social life. The Mutassarifia system, which lasted until 1914 (abolished by the Ottoman Empire), provided the autonomous territory with a relatively quiet existence all these years.

After the defeat of the Ottoman Empire in World War I

* Maronites - adherents of the Maronite Christian Church. They live mainly in Lebanon and in small groups in Syria, Egypt, North and South America, and Cyprus. Maronite religious communities emerged in the fifth and seventh centuries. in Northwestern Syria. The legendary founder is Mar Maron. The residence of the Maronite Patriarch is located in Lebanon.

Druze-adherents of a Muslim religious sect; one of the branches of Ismailism. They live in Lebanon, Syria, and Israel and Jordan. The Druze sect emerged in the early 11th century under the influence of the preaching of the Batinite missionary Darazi (named after him) among the Ismailis of Egypt and Southern Lebanon. They form a closed community, headed by ukkal (intelligent, knowledgeable), who lead the mass of believers (jukhal - ignorant).

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France received a mandate under the Anglo-French Sykes-Picot Agreement to govern a large part of the Middle East, and on September 1, 1920, announced the creation of Greater Lebanon (within its modern borders). In this mandatory state, the French administration consolidated the principles of political confessionalism and the supremacy of the Maronite community (the most numerous in the established state at that time). Under French influence, on May 23, 1926, the Constitution of Lebanon was adopted, which is still in force today with a significant number of amendments. During the French mandate in 1932, the only population census in the history of Lebanon was conducted, which served as a statistical basis for determining the political "weight" of communities and, accordingly, the distribution of power among their representatives.

Due to the weakening of France during World War II and partly with the assistance of Great Britain, Lebanon was able to gain independence (independence day is considered November 22, 1943). The basis for the creation of an independent Lebanon was an unwritten agreement between large Maronite and Sunni families, called the National Pact concluded by Bishara Al-Khoury (who became President) and Riyadh Solhom (who became Prime Minister). The national Pact included two fundamental conditions for Lebanese statehood. First, the Christians refused the patronage of France and supported the country's independence in exchange for the Muslims ' rejection of the ideas of Arab unity and, above all, the entry of Lebanon into Syria. Secondly, the National Covenant provided for the preservation of confessionalism.

Among the most important aspects of Lebanese political confessionalism, it is necessary to note the assignment of the post of president to a Maronite, Prime minister to a Sunni, chairman of parliament to a Shiite; distribution of ministerial portfolios, leadership positions in the civil service and in the army among representatives of different communities (with parity between Christians and Muslims). The ratio between Christians and Muslims in Parliament was recorded as 6:5. Within the framework of these quotas, deputy mandates were distributed among people from different faiths.

In fact, there were about 20 confessional communities in Lebanon, of which only 17 received official state status - 13 Christians (Maronites, Greek Catholics, Orthodox, Armenian Catholics, Armenian Orthodox, Protestants, etc.), 3 Muslims (Sunnis, Shiites, and Druze) and a Jewish community.

The confessional communities were responsible for a wide range of issues related to the personal status of the Lebanese. Communities were granted independence in regulating divorce issues, inheritance rights, and so on. Civil marriage did not exist in Lebanon and still does not exist today.

The gradual change in the demographic situation in favor of Muslims led to a tightening of the demands of Muslim elites for the redistribution of powers in the political system, which was one of the many reasons for the civil war that began in Lebanon in 1975.1 The civil War of 1975-1990 showed the vulnerability of the confessional division of Lebanese society. During the war, the conflicting sides, of course, could not be identified strictly by religious criteria - the left-wing Muslim National Movement enjoyed the support of some Christian social groups (especially communists and people from the Orthodox community). The warring forces also had ideological contradictions (especially at the first stage of the war), which does not allow us to say that the division into right and left is unambiguously inapplicable to the conflict. However, the key criterion for separating the parties to the conflict was precisely the religious attribute.

During the war, targeted violence against representatives of "foreign" faiths became widespread. For example, the forced displacement of Muslim (Lebanese and Palestinian) minorities from Christian regions: the capture of Karantina and Maslakh by Christian forces in January 1976, followed by a massacre and the relocation of Muslims to West Beirut; 2 the fall of Tell Zaatar camp in the summer of 1976 after 52 days of siege and 70 assaults, which led to similar consequences. 3The capture of Christian-majority areas by the combined Lebanese-Palestinian forces led to similar situations (for example, the capture of Damour in the winter of 1976, the capture of Mtein and Aintoura in the spring of 1976).4. It was not uncommon for murders to occur while checking documents on the roads, when Christian (or Muslim) militants were shot only for other religious affiliations5.

Violence against non-believers led to the mass relocation of minorities living in "foreign" surroundings to the regions of their "own" faith. This migration contributed to the formation of a considerable number of homogeneous enclaves. So, most of the Christians left Tripoli. The districts of Jbeil, Kesrouan and Metna became almost entirely Christian. Beirut was divided into western Muslim and eastern Christian parts. The same thing happened in Shuf (we can cite the example of the Christian Deir Al-Qamar). The sectarian fighting has thus reinforced the mutual distrust of communities and reinforced the division of Lebanese society into sectarian sectors.

In order to reach an agreement on ending the war in September 1989, 62 Lebanese deputies (31 Christians and 31 Muslims) gathered in the Saudi city of Taif with the assistance of Saudi Arabia, Algeria and Morocco, out of 73 surviving parliamentarians of the 1972 convocation. b On October 22, 1989, the deputies managed to agree on the text of the agreements (called the Taif Agreements), which were subsequently adopted by the Government of Lebanon. put an end to the war 7The Taif accords 8, which became the basis for a set of major amendments to the Lebanese constitution, provided for a new balance of confessional forces in the system of power: reducing the powers of the Maronite president and expanding the powers of the Sunni government and Prime minister, an equal number of Christians and Muslims in the parliament (expanded at first).-

* Personal statute - a set of norms that determine the position of an individual in the field of his personal and property rights.

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up to 108 deputies, and then up to 128 deputies), and so on.

One of the socio-political results of the Taif Accords was the granting of the state status of the 18th Lebanese community to the Alawites.9 Obtaining state status led to the inclusion of Alawite representatives in the system of parliamentary and administrative quotas. Thus, the Alawites received and still retain two deputy mandates and several senior positions in the executive authorities.


The idea of the need to overcome the confessional specifics in Lebanon that hinder the construction of a secular national community with a common Lebanese identity has been repeatedly expressed by Lebanese politicians throughout the country's history. Well-known statesman, founder of the Progressive Socialist Party Druz Kamal Jumblatt said this back in the 1950s and 1960s. Jumblatt advocated the unification of the Lebanese education system, the development of a unified methodology for teaching national history, the replacement of denominational courts by civilian ones, the gradual abolition of denominational quotas in the state administration and the army, and the creation of conditions by the State for harmonious socio-economic development throughout the national territory.10

Based on his approach to the development of Lebanon, these reforms should have led over time and with the change of generations to the deconfessionalization of Lebanese society. The implementation of this set of measures would help to spread and establish a national identity instead of a multitude of communal worldviews and identities (by analogy with the process of formation of European nations in the XVIII - XIX centuries).

After the first serious armed confrontation between Lebanese political and religious blocs in 1958, Jumblatt described the Lebanese crisis not as a conflict between Muslims and Christians, but as a struggle between adherents of political confessionalism and supporters of secular civil society. 11 Of course, this characteristic reflects a purely personal position of Jumblatt, who did not find support among traditional Muslim leaders (but the idea of secularization was supported by a constant opponent of Jumblatt, the leader and founder of the right-wing Christian party "Kataib" - Pierre Gemayel).

The Taif Accords of 1989, which became the basis of the political structure of post-war Lebanon, repeatedly noted the need to abolish confessionalism. Section 2 of the agreements on political reforms notes the temporary nature of the confessional principle of forming a parliament and the prospects for its deconfessionalization. Under the agreements, the non-denominational parliament was planned to be "balanced" by a senate "in which various religious branches will be represented and which will deal only with fundamental issues" (the Senate has not yet been created). The abolition of confessionalism was presented in the Taif Agreements and in the new version of the Constitution as the "main national goal", which was planned to be achieved in several stages. 12

Following the Taif Accords, the postulates of political confessionalism and the simultaneous determination to abolish them were reflected in Lebanese legislation. The "temporary" procedure for forming the Parliament and Government on the basis of confessional quotas is still maintained and operates in practice. The formation of a parliament based on quotas is set out in article 24 of the Constitution, and the formation of a Government is set out in article 95 (A). The Lebanese Constitution (Article 19) grants the right of leaders of "officially recognized communities" to apply to the Constitutional Council to review the constitutionality of laws in a number of areas (including in matters of personal statute).

Currently, calls for deconfessionalization and building a modern secular society can be heard from a wide variety of participants in the Lebanese political scene. Christian politician Michel Aoun is in favor of secularization and modernization of social and political life, describing the current situation as a division into "confessional and communal stalls" 13. Former Prime Minister Selim Hoss stated that the confessional system is the cause of all the Lebanese crises that have not stopped since independence in 1943,14 He supports the abolition of confessionalism. and the well-known politician Walid Jumblatt (son of K. Jumblatt), who declared on April 16, 2005 in Toulouse (France) during the Socialist Forum on Euro-Mediterranean Cooperation that "a confessional system cannot lead to true democracy"15A similar position on this issue was expressed by the permanent Chairman of the National Assembly and leader of the Amal Party, Nabih Berri, who stated that confessionalism is unacceptable for Lebanon.16

Even the Party of God (Hezbollah), which is so far removed from Western secularism, is in favor of abolishing political confessionalism, according to its Secretary-General, Hassan Nasrallah.17 Such a position of Hezbollah is not due to the desire to secularize public and political life, but to the expectation of supporting the largest Shiite community. For confessionalism, which presupposes quotas in parliamentary elections, prevents Hezbollah from gaining wider representation in this institution and limits its ability to influence Lebanese politics.


Despite the almost unanimous agreement of politicians on the need to abolish confessionalism, it persists. Quotas for elections and appointments to public authorities and the army still apply. The legal independence of communities in the regulation of issues related to the personal statute is still preserved. One of the few measures that could be implemented in the post-war period as part of the policy of abolishing confessionalism was the removal of the religious section in the Lebanese identity card.

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Even though there is a widely recognized need to unify the curriculum, and especially the history curriculum (in order to "strengthen national identity and integration"), 18 Lebanese politicians and intellectuals have not been able to agree on the content of a single national history textbook.19 Versions of the story differ depending on the school's affiliation with a particular community. And the right of communities to have their own schools is enshrined in the Constitution (Article 10).

This remarkable stability of confessionalism can be explained on the basis of socio-cultural and political analysis.

1. Socio-cultural analysis

For most Lebanese, the confessional worldview is familiar and natural. Calling themselves Lebanese, they continue to de facto recognize themselves and their compatriots as Lebanese, differing in confessional criteria and not reducible to a single type of national citizen.

This unusual phenomenon (for modern Western thinking) can be confirmed by a number of evidence and data from sociological surveys. Thus, a representative of the Greek Catholic community named Rima claims that there is a strong confessional division in the daily life of Beirut residents. She bluntly says that all her friends are Christians, and she communicates with Muslims mainly for work. At the Institute of Tourism, where she received her higher education, only Christians also study. The institute is located in the eastern Christian part of Beirut. When asked about tourism education for Muslims, she calmly replies: "In West Beirut, there is exactly the same institute for Muslims, so it is convenient for everyone - you don't have to travel far."20

Ahmed, a student at the American University, in an interview with the French journalist and orientalist Alan Gresh, admitted that students "do not mix", "people of the same faith mostly become friends". Ahmed argued: "And even if we are united after the assassination of Rafik Hariri, distrust is growing - everyone is silently asking about the thoughts and motives of others."21. At the same time, the American University in Lebanon is famous for its open and cosmopolitan atmosphere.

In connection with the regulation of personal statute issues (including inheritance rights) by confessional courts, the conversion of Sunnis to Shiism became widespread, not for doctrinal, but for practical reasons. Shiite religious institutions estimate that an average of 350 Lebanese convert to Shiism per year22. Among Sunnis, as among Shiites, a woman inherits only half of what her brother receives. However, if the deceased parents left only daughters, then their rights to inheritance among Sunnis and Shiites differ. In the case of Shiites, all inherited property goes to their daughters. But for Sunnis, part of the inheritance goes to their paternal relatives, and only a part goes to their daughters. In practice, there are cases when these relatives take everything for themselves.

Hassan and Sana Tawil, the parents of two daughters, converted from Sunni to Shia more than 30 years ago for similar reasons. Sana admits that despite formally converting to Shi'ism for the sake of her children's well-being, she actually remained a Sunni and raised her daughters 'on the basis of Sunni values'23That is, without recognizing the legal guidelines of her community, she moved to another one, retaining her actual commitment to her community. However, this apparent injustice of Sunni law, in Sana's view, did not lead her to reject confessionalism in general.

In a survey conducted in November 2006, Lebanese people were asked to rank their personal and social identities on a seven-point scale (from 0 to 6). According to the results of the survey, out of the 10 proposed identities, the most important ones for Lebanese are family (5.38 points), Lebanon (5.31), religion (4.75) and sect (4.53). This is followed by commitment to oneself (4.47), one's profession (4.04), friends (3.84), political party (3.66), Islamic Ummah (3.24), and last but not least, self-identification with the Arab world24. Representatives of different faiths have different priorities-Druze people are more likely to recognize their Arab identity than their Islamic one; Sunnis and Shiites are more likely to recognize themselves as Muslims than Arabs. Despite the difference in the priorities of self-identification among representatives of different communities, all of them are aware of their confessional identities at the same high level. At the same time, it should be noted that a strong commitment to religious communities is combined with expressed patriotic feelings towards a common homeland for all.

In the second part of the survey, Lebanese people were asked to rate the value of five factors on a seven-point scale : confessionalism (the degree of self-awareness as a member of their confessional community), religiosity (the place of religion in life), feelings of group threat (how much the respondent feels threatened by other groups), commitment to the leader (assessment of the degree of loyalty to the leader), life satisfaction (assessment of one's own well-being and satisfaction received from life). The highest rating of the Lebanese people was given to their commitment to the leader (5.56 points). This is followed by confessionalism (5.50), religiosity (5.07), and a sense of group threat (5.02). Lebanese people rate their life satisfaction significantly lower (3.99 points). The results of both parts of the survey also show that Lebanese people are characterized by a high level of loyalty to leaders, while their political parties (and, consequently, their ideological doctrines) are weak.

Similar confessionalization is also typical for schoolchildren. A survey conducted in April-May 2006 among schoolchildren aged 12-18 showed that most of them (61.3%) have a best friend from the same community as the respondent. 23% of the students surveyed have a best friend who belongs to the same religion, but to a different community. And only 13.6% of students have a best friend who professes another religion (2.1% found it difficult to answer).25.

Only 19.9% of students believe that religion is an important factor in choosing friends (78.4% believe that religion does not affect their choice of friends). Vme-

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Table 1

Do you support the adoption of a law allowing civil marriages to take place?



Orthodox people



















I don't know








Source: The Monthly. Beirut, N 64. November 2007. p. 13.

At the same time, as Lebanese people grow older, their religious identity increases - 45.6% of students believe that religious considerations do not affect their choice of friends, 40% recognize this influence, and 10.5% consider religion an important factor in determining the choice of friends.

It is quite obvious that the abolition of confessionalism requires gradual and comprehensive reforms affecting various aspects of public life. The adoption of a law allowing civil marriages to be entered into at the request of the parties is seen as one of the first and very harmless steps along this path.26 In a survey conducted in September 2007, Lebanese people were asked whether they supported the adoption of a law allowing civil marriages to be performed at the request of the parties (without abolishing the existing procedure for religious marriages). The majority of respondents (60.4%) answered negatively, 35.6% were in favor (4% found it difficult to answer).27.

It is interesting to note that in comparison with the answers to the same question in February 2007, the number of opponents of the introduction of the right to civil marriage has increased. In February 2007, 45.3% of Lebanese were against, 30.2% were in favor, and 24.5% were undecided.

The above results of opinion polls strongly indicate that confessionalism is taking root among Lebanese people. Most of them still have a clear sense of their confessional identity and declare their commitment to leaders (rather than ideological doctrines). In this regard, calling the political system of Lebanon confessional, it is necessary to add that this system is adequate to the views of the majority of citizens of the country.

2. Political science analysis

The stability of confessionalism in Lebanon is also explained by the peculiarities of the country's political process. Despite the statements of Lebanese politicians about the need to rid the country of confessionalism, these same politicians, in other situations, declare themselves as representatives of the interests of certain religious communities, and not ideological doctrines (designed to support Lebanese people regardless of their denomination). Thus, Michel Aoun, given his alliance with the Shiite parties Hezbollah and Amal, stated that he would not recognize the successor of E. Lahood as president if his candidacy did not receive the approval of Shiites, who, in his words, represent "a third of the Lebanese people"28. Following the resignation of E. Lahood as President on 24 November 2007, which led to the temporary exercise of presidential (i.e. Maronite) powers by the Sunni-led Government of Fouad Siniora,Aoun accused the pro-Government camp of deliberately disrupting the interfaith balance to the detriment of Christians. 29 Later, Aoun complained about the "crisis situation of Christians in Lebanon", their "formal presence" in the government and in the executive and judicial authorities. In this regard, he made a proposal to redistribute ministerial portfolios "in favor of Christians" .30

This communal (rather than national) attitude is typical for many politicians. In particular, Robert Khoury, Deputy Chairman of the National Liberal Party (Christian sense), singled out "ending the marginalization of Christians"as one of the main tasks of the future President. 31 Fuad Turk, Secretary General of the Supreme Greek Catholic Council, in a speech at the Council meeting, strongly condemned the" national discrimination " of the Greek Catholic Church. communities. According to him, this discrimination is manifested primarily in the small number of senior government positions held by Greek Catholics.32 The odious leader of the Lebanese Forces Samir Jajah (the only politician from the civil war era who was convicted and served time in prison)also spoke about the need to "restore the role of Christians in Lebanon".33.

In addition to the confessional rhetoric of politicians, it should be noted that all Lebanese parties still express, along with a certain ideology, the interests of a particular community. The staffing of political parties is based not so much on ideological as on confessional principles. Thus, Hezbollah and Amal represent mainly (if not exclusively) the interests of the Shiite community; Kataib, the Lebanese Forces, the Free Patriotic Movement, the National Liberal Party, and the National Bloc speak on behalf of Christians. Sunnis pin their hopes on the Future Movement of Saad Hariri (son of Rafik Hariri), and many members of the Progressive Socialist Party, like its leader Walid Jumblatt, are Druze. 34

Loyalty to "one's own" party is evident in the regions where a particular community is predominantly located by external signs (photos of party leaders, flags, and other symbols). While photos of Hariri's father and son abound in Western Beirut (a predominantly Sunni region), in the eastern Christian part of the capital, the ubiquitous symbolism is indicative of the fact that the Sunni-dominated city of Beirut is still in the Middle East.

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Table 2

Which of the presidential candidates do you support?



Orthodox people





M. Aoun







B. Harb







N. Lahood







M. Suleiman







A. Gemayel







R. Salame














I don't know








Source: The Monthly. Beirut, N 64, November 2007, p. 11.

Table 3

Which president will you consider legitimate?



Orthodox people





Chosen by the pro-Syrian forces







Chosen by anti-Syrian forces







Anyway/I don't know








Source: The Monthly. Beirut, N 64, November 2007, p. 11.

with the support of Christian parties (mainly Kataib, Lebanese Forces, and M. Aoun's Free Patriotic Movement). In the south of Beirut, in the Shiite areas, there are obvious sympathies for the Hezbollah and Amal parties. A similar correspondence of symbols to confessional parties is noticeable in other regions of the country.

The cohesion of communities around their" representative " parties is confirmed by the results of opinion polls. In the context of an acute political conflict between the anti-Syrian forces (based on the Future Movement, Kataib, the Progressive Socialist Party, and the Lebanese Forces) and the pro-Syrian opposition (the Free Patriotic Movement, Hezbollah, and Amal) each of the parties nominated its own candidates for the post of president. The candidate from the pro-Syrian camp was Michel Aoun, and from the anti - Syrian forces-Boutros Harb and Nasib Lahood.

In an October 2007 poll, Lebanese people were asked which presidential candidate they supported.35

As can be seen from the results of the survey, the overwhelming majority of Shiites are in solidarity with "their" political parties and almost unanimously support their candidate M. Aoun and the commander of the Lebanese army, General M. Suleiman (who is positively evaluated by Hezbollah). An extremely small number of Shiite respondents (2.7%) expressed the opposite position in relation to "their" parties, supporting one of the candidates of the anti-Syrian camp.

Similarly, the majority of Sunnis (56%) and the overwhelming majority of Druze (82.2%) support the candidates of the political camp in which the parties "representing" these communities are located - B. Harb and N. Lahoud (as well as the former President of the country, Amin Gemayel, one of the leaders of the anti-Syrian coalition). Only a small percentage of Sunni and Druze respondents expressed support for the candidate from the opposite camp, M. Aoun.

Christian respondents, as well as Christian parties, were divided roughly equally between two opposing camps: Maronites - 40.4% for the pro - Syrian candidate and 36.4% for the three anti-Syrian ones (B. Harb, N. Lahoud and A. Gemayel); Orthodox-29.1% for the pro-Syrian candidate and 39.5% for the three anti-Syrian ones; Greek Catholics - 34.6% for the pro-Syrian candidate and 38.5% for the three anti-Syrian candidates.

Pro-Syrian and anti-Syrian forces interpreted the articles of the Lebanese constitution stipulating the procedure for electing the president in different ways. In connection with the escalation of the conflict in late 2007, the anti-Syrian coalition "March 14 Movement" threatened the opposition with the election of the president at a parliamentary session without a vote.

* It is necessary to note the conventionality of defining these forces as "anti-Syrian" due to the fact that Syria is traditionally the most important factor for the subjects of Lebanese politics, which has repeatedly led to a change in their positions regarding this regional power.

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participation of opposition deputies (the coalition claimed that such elections would be legal under the Constitution). In response, the opposition stated that it did not recognize the president elected by deputies from the "March 14 Movement", referring to the fact that the constitution requires a quorum of two-thirds of deputies for the first round of presidential elections (and the "March 14 Movement" has 68 deputies out of 127). In this regard, the opposition threatened that if the president is elected by anti-Syrian forces without a two-thirds quorum, it will hold its own elections, in which an alternative president of Lebanon will be elected.

In the course of a survey, representatives of different faiths were asked which president they recognize as legitimate - elected by pro-Syrian or anti-Syrian forces.36

Again, the results of the survey indicate that Lebanese people respond according to the position of the party that "represents" the community of a particular respondent. The opinion of 68.2% of Shiites coincides with the position of the parties "Hezbollah" and "Amal", and only 1.6% of Shiites recognize the president from the opposite camp. 59.3% of Sunnis and 78.6% of Druze recognize the president elected by the coalition, which includes the " own " Future Movement and the Progressive Socialist Party. And only a small number of people from these communities recognize the president from the pro-Syrian camp. Christians are characterized by a relatively equal division with a small margin in favor of anti-Syrian forces.

* * *

Lebanon's confessional identity is preserved not only because of the specific identity of Lebanese people and the actions of the political elite. Religious leaders of various communities take an active part in politics, thereby influencing the formation of political loyalty of believers. Along with the Maronite Patriarch Nasrallah Boutros Sfeir, who plays an obvious and significant role in Lebanese politics, 37 there are examples of Sunni and Shiite religious leaders. Commenting on the internal political crisis, the Sunni Mufti of Lebanon, Sheikh Mohammed Rashid Kabbani, has repeatedly expressed support for the anti-Syrian government of F. Siniora in his speeches and sermons. 38 On the contrary, the deputy head of the Supreme Shiite Council, Abdel Amir Kabalan, justifies the position of the pro-Syrian camp in his speeches and sermons.39

Thus, while political parties and politicians, expressing the interests of a particular community, confessionalize politics, religious leaders, interfering in the political sphere, politicize religion. It is obvious that both these processes complement each other and strengthen the confessional character of the country.

1 Along with demographic changes, one of the key causes of the civil war was the active anti-Israeli activities of numerous Palestinian armed groups from Lebanon. After the defeat of the Palestine Liberation Organization in Jordan in 1970, Lebanon became the main springboard for anti-Israeli operations by Palestinian militants. In an effort to avoid a repeat of the Jordanian events in Lebanon at all costs and hoping to "gain a foothold" in this country, the Palestinian movements managed to create a strong alliance with the Lebanese left-wing movements. Israel's retaliatory military actions, aimed more at Lebanese targets than at the Palestinian resistance, have become a serious factor in destabilizing Lebanon. These actions of Israel "overlapped" with the Lebanese internal political contradictions and contributed to the radicalization of right-wing movements (mainly of a Christian persuasion) that had a negative attitude towards the Palestinian armed presence on the national territory. See: Timofeev I. V. Kamal Jumblatt, Moscow, Progress, 2003, pp. 292-297, 317-320.

Timofeev I. V. 2 Decree. soch., p. 380.

Gresh Alain, Vidal Dominique. 3 Les 100 cles du Proche-Orient. Paris, Hachette Litteratures, 2006, p. 528 - 529.

4 Documentary film " Harb Lubnan (The Lebanese War)". Al Jazeera Satellite Channel, 2004; Timofeev I. V. Decree of soch., p. 380.

5 Testimonies of Lebanese and Palestinian leaders in the documentary film " Harb Lubnan (The Lebanese War)"; Timofeev I. V. Edict. soch., p. 362.

6 The full Lebanese Parliament, elected in 1972, consisted of 99 members.

Gresh A., Vidal D. 7 Op. cit., p. 527 - 528.

8 Hereafter, the text of the Taif Agreements is quoted from:

9 The number of Lebanese Alawites is 37,876 people, which is 0.82% of the country's population (another 5 thousand Alawites received Lebanese citizenship by naturalization in 1994). See: The Monthly. Beirut, N 64, November 2007, p. 30.

Timofeev I. V. 10 Edict op., p. 261 - 264, 267, 268, 275, 276, 351 - 353.

11 Ibid., p. 252.

12 Hereafter, the Lebanese Constitution of 23.05.1926, as amended, is quoted on the website of the Lebanese National Assembly:

13 L'Orient-LeJour, Beyrouth, 5.11.2007. Here and further, the newspaper is quoted at its email address:

14 Cit. by: Volovich A. A. Lebanon and Syria after Hariri: a test of strength. - See: Collection "Middle East and Modernity", Moscow, Institute of the Middle East, 2005, N 25, p. 285.

15 Ibid., p. 292.

16 Statement by N. Berry dated 14.04.1991. See: The Monthly. Beirut, N 64.., p. 23.

17 X's statement Nasrallah dated 2.07.1995. See: The Monthly. Beirut, N 64.., p. 23.

18 One of the tasks provided for in the Taif Agreements.

Gresh Alain. 19 Les vieux parrains du nouveau Liban. Here and further, the article is quoted from its electronic version on the website of the newspaper "Le Monde diplomatique" -

20 Recording of a conversation with Rima Lahoud. Beirut, 17.11.2007 - Personal archive of the author.

21 Cit. by: Gresh A. Op. cit.

22 L'Orient-LeJour, 10 - 11.11.2007.

23 Ibidem.

24 See hereafter: a survey conducted by Information International in collaboration with Charles Harb (American University of Beirut) in November 2006.

25 See hereafter: survey conducted by Information International in April-May 2006.

26 Due to the absence of the institution of civil marriage in Lebanon, those who wish to enter into it are forced to travel outside the country (as a rule, Lebanese go to Cyprus).

27 See hereafter: surveys conducted by Information International and published in: The Monthly. Beirut, N 64.., p. 13.

28 L'Orient-LeJour, 16.11.2007.

29 L'Orient-LeJour, 27.11.2007.

30 L'Orient-LeJour, 4.12.2007.

31 L'Orient-LeJour, 1 - 2.12.2007.

32 L'Orient-LeJour, 12.12.2007.

33 L'Orient-LeJour, 22.12.2007.

Gresh A. 34 Op. cit.

35 Survey conducted by Information International and published in: The Monthly. Beirut, N 64, p. 11.

36 Ibid.

37 Cardinal N. B. Sfeir regularly comments on various aspects of Lebanese politics (for example, electoral legislation or the positions of certain politicians), and also takes an active part in negotiations on political issues. In Washington and Paris, he was accepted as a representative of the "Maronite community "(see: Gresh A. Op. cit).

38 In particular, see L'Orient-LeJour, 7.11.2007 and 8.12.2007.

39 In particular, see: L'Orient-LeJour, 14.11.2007; 8, 22, 29.12.2007.


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