Chapter 13:

1984, The Kataeb politbureau expel Geagea from the party.

Between 1981, 1982 and 1985, the Lebanese Forces and the Christians suffered important military defeats. In 1981, the “Battle of Zahleh” had ended in a rout but had marked a stupendous political victory and a turning point in the Lebanese war. The war expanded, marked by dramatic developments until October 13, 1990, the budge on-stroke that knocked down that Lebanese Christians.

Amin Gemayel was President of the Republic. The Christians had more or less saved their entity. In 1982, Israel had an upper hand on every level, in 1984, Syria had succeeded in sweeping back, in force, on the formerly lost territory. It was after the suspension of the May 17th Accord between Lebanon and the State of Israel, and the dire policy of the Christian leaders who then pulled the strings.

From September 13, 1983, until February, 1984, Lebanon was also blasted by a heart wretching defeat and rout in the Chouf and Aley Mountain. The Lebanese Forces were bereaved of a champion to follow and support, a charismatic, clairvoyant and impressive leader, one with the “Baraka”, that divinely inspired luck, to guide and back them to victory. The Lebanese Forces, flagged by internal rifts and clashes of interests, had ventured head long into a Druze-Christian region strong with Israeli military and political support. The Israelis had lost faith in them because they smelled backlash and backfire. After a smashing, but allegory victory, the Lebanese Forces, left on their own without leadership, suffered the most serious setback in the history of the war. The Army left its scar on the Christian community and detonated the latent feuds between their “Chiefs”.

Amin Gemayel had backed out of his promise to help the Lebanese Forces by dispatching Lebanese army troops to take over from the Israelis who had decided to pull out from the area as a symbol of annoyance. Gemayel kept stalling in the hopes of annihilating the Lebanese Forces that blocked his action. The Lebanese militia men, under the command of Samir Geagea, were in total disarray, outnumbered by the Druze, backed by the Syrians and Fatah dissidents. The battle was murderous. Thousands of innocent Christian civilians were massacred and those who could, fled in wretched conditions. The Chouf and Aley became a Druze fiefdom with not a single Christian among them. Harsh and loud arraignment against Amin Gemayel was voiced. He became the target of sharp criticism, scorn, indeed grudge.

Samir Geagea, commander of the Lebanese Forces in the Chouf said in an outcry of anger, “Amin Gemayel’s main objective was the annihilation of the Lebanese Forces so he could be the only Spokesman and Savior of the Christians.

More than ever before the fracture in the Christian ranks went deeper. Unrest increased and expanded. The Lebanese Christian society began to reject any idea of a State controlled Nation. They would rather defend a Christian fiefdom where they would feel safe and proud. Isolation for a better protection became a motive power.

In the meantime, Amin Gemayel was trying to put the pieces together of his shadow State. His first move after the abrogation of the May 17th Accord, was his first official visit to Damascus. It was March 6, 1984. Six days later, on March 12, 1984, the Lebanese traditional political leaders, both Christians and Moslems, as well as Druze and Shiat militia commanders were meeting in Lausanne, Switzerland. All except the Lebanese Forces were represented. Walid Jumblat and Nabih Berri, self assured and arrogant with their recent victories owed entirely to the Syrian backing, and Israeli lack of faith in the new Christian leadership, believed for a moment they had it made.

In Beirut, fostered and stimulated by popular support, and frustrated to be blatantly ignored, the Lebanese forces announced they were unconcerned with the discussions and results of the “Conference”, for it only aimed at consolidating Syrian hegemony over Lebanon. They confirmed they were ready for war against the Syrian forces and their allies, whatever the price.

The power-base was all the more despoiled because only the Syrians were to blame for their misfortune and the damage done to them and they were now granted every right in Lebanon. The outcome of the Lausanne Conference somehow reinforced Syrian predominance. They were the victors and would crush and hold the Christians in their grip.

The Lebanese forces decision-maker, the “troika”, Hobeika, Geagea and Pakraduni decided it was the right time to strike and safeguard their place in the Christian fiefdom. They first disregarded Amin’s orders to close down illicit ports and dismantle the “Barbara” checkpoint. The two were interlocked. Arms, goods, drugs and fuel were forwarded through them. They yielded fortunes no one could possibly do without. The insurrection plan was put forward . Samir refused to comply because the stakes were too high. The war treasure had to be preserved. Of the three men, only Samir Geagea was in the front. Hobeika and Pakradouni laid low.

On March 11, 1984, the Kataeb Party politbureau decided to expel Samir Geagea from the Party. The following day, the Intifada was underway. The three “hardline independentists” of the Kataeb Party were not on the same wave length. However, they got together on a common ground and for a common objective to bring their power-dream to fulfillment, and at the same time reinforce popular support, each for himself.

Bashir’s myth was revived. The base and the people were reminded of Bashir’s line and spirit . Bashir who dared venture with “dangerous” foreign allies and never gave up hope. Bashir who had led the Christian people from one miracle to the next and turned every defeat into victory and every promise into a dream fulfilled! The power-base had already come around to the way of thinking and planning of the “three men”.

Samir Geagea, was a military man, a tough guy, dogmatic, ambitious and pious like all highlanders. He managed to mislead public opinion into believing that he was a thinker, a philosopher, a mystic, and above all, a promoter of a Lebanese Christian entity, a Lebanese Christian State. He had an army of over 1,000 loyalists ready to die for him, in addition to new recruits from the Chouf. He had “ready” money from the Barbara “checkpoint”.

Elie Hobeika, the “Mukhabarat” man, the secret Syrian ally, operated and exercised his influence slyly. He did not need to work on anybody’s feelings. He felt unbreakable. He despised and hated Geagea and he felt this was his chance, if ever, to use him then oust him. His power lay not in the number of men around him but in his occult nature and ways, and on the ascendancy he had had in the Kataeb Party since the assassination of Bashir Gemayel. His organization, the “Intelligence and Security” was, beyond all doubt, the cornerstone of the Kataeb Party and the Christian war and Cause. It was a cinch he could lure his way to the top then eliminate his opponents, the Kataeb Party leaders, the Lebanese Forces and Geagea, when the time was right.

The Troika’s “Third Man”, of no less importance, was Karim Pakraduni, the foxy politician. He was the go-between, the smart glib-talking lawyer no one could do without, and who could dish up the same subject in every shape. He and Hobeika successfully allayed the Kataeb Party. Amin Gemayel’s suspicions grew and he entertained well founded fears. With the scene set, the opponents reassured and resting on their laurels, Pakraduni and Hobeika successfully carried out the March 12/1985, “Intifada”.

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