Civil War in Lebanon, 1975–92 by Edgar O’Ballance (auth.)

By Edgar O’Ballance (auth.)

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24 Civil War in Lebanon, 1975-92 THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY At a meeting of the National Assembly on 21 October, which was poorly attended owing to the dangerous situation on the streets, Kamal Assad, a Shia, was reelected as chairman (speaker). In the ensuing debate, Premier Karami attempted to justify his decision not to use the Lebanese army to restore order, saying it would have meant that Lebanese soldiers would be fighting against the Lebanese people. He also rejected the idea of partitioning the country, a move favoured by some Christian politicians.

Posing as a man of peace, he was lobbying to be given a seat at the Geneva Peace Conference, which he hoped would soon be reconvened. It was therefore not in his interests for the fighting to continue. As Syria had several hundred Saiqa commandos in Beirut, it too was able to exert considerable influence. Saiqa had been able to seize control of large sections of Muslim areas from the PLO, simply because it was better armed, better trained and better disciplined than any of the Palestinian groups.

Syria had ignominiously lost its small navy of about 26 missile and torpedo boats during the October War of 1973, and although a few had been repaired and recommissioned they were not used adventurously. Israeli naval craft, hovering outside Muslim Lebanese ports, hampered the smuggling of arms to Muslims. The following day (7 November) Karami claimed that General Hanna Saed had lied to him about the cargo of the freighter and Jumblatt demanded the general's dismissal for openly siding with Christians.

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