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VOLUME

2, ISSUE

1 – APRIL

2008

PAGE

59

DISTINGUISHED DRUZE - 3

On May 8, 1964, he won at the parliamentary elections for the sixth time. In 1965, he began joining together Arab nationalist and progressivist politicians into a Nationalist Personalities Front. In 1966 he was appointed Minister of Public Work and Minister of PTT. He also represented Lebanon at the Congress of Afro-Asian Solidarity, and presided over the parliamentary and popular delegation to the People’s Republic of China in 1966.

wing Lebanese demanding the abolition of the sectarian quota system that permeated Lebanese politics, which discriminated against Muslims. The LNM was further joined by Palestinian radicals of the Rejectionist Front, and maintained good relations with the officially non- commital Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO). The Palestinian presence in the ranks of the opposition was a new development compared to the 1958 conflict.

The Lebanese Civil War

He supported the Palestinians in their struggle against Israel for ideological reasons, but also to garner support from the Palestinian fedayeen based in Lebanon's refugee camps. The presence in Lebanon of large numbers of Palestinian refugees was resented by most Christians, but Jumblat strived to build a hard core of opposition around the Arab nationalist slogans of the Palestinian movement. Demanding a new Lebanese order based on secularism, socialism, Arabism and an abolition of the sectarian system, Jumblat began gathering disenchanted Sunnis, Shi'a and leftist Christians into an embryonic national opposition movement.

Build-up to Civil War

On May 9, 1968 he was reelected Deputy for the seventh time. In 1970, he was once again appointed Minister of the Interior, a reward for his last-minute switch of allegiance in the presidential election that year, which resulted in Suleiman Franjieh's victory by one vote over Elias Sarkis, who was considered the odds-on favourite. As Interior Minister, he legalized the Communist Party (LCP) and the Syrian Social Nationalist Party (SSNP). In 1972, Kamal Jumblat was awarded the Lenin Peace Prize by the Soviet Union. The same year, he was reelected Deputy for the eighth time. The following year, he was unanimously elected Secretary General of the Arab Front, a movement supportive of the Palestinian revolution.

In April 1975, a series of tit-for-tat killings culminating in a Phalangist massacre of Palestinian workers, which prompted full-blown fighting in Beirut. In August 1975, Jumblat declared a program for reform of the Lebanese political system, and the LNM openly challenged the government's legitimacy. In October a new round of fighting broke out, and quickly spread throughout the country: the Lebanese Civil War had begun.

During the period of 1975-1976 Jumblat acted as the main leader of the Lebanese opposition in the war, and with the aid of the PLO the LNM rapidly gained control over nearly 70% of Lebanon. This prompted Syrian intervention, since the Assad regime feared a collapse of the Christian-dominated order. Some 40,000 Syrian soldiers invaded Lebanon in 1976 and quickly smashed the LNM's favorable position; a truce was declared and the fighting subsided. The conflict remained unsolved, however, and during 1977, violence again began to

increase.

Death and legacy

On

March

16,

1977,

Kamal

Jumblat

was

assassinated.

In

2005,

his

son

immediately succeeded him as the

Walid Jumblat, who main Druze leader of

Lebanon and as head of the PSP.

The 1970’s in Lebanon were characterized by rapidly building tension between the Christian-dominated government and Muslim and leftist opposition forces, demanding better representation in the government apparatus and a stronger Lebanese commitment to the Arab world. The conflict took place more or less along the same sectarian and political lines as the 1958 rebellion.

Extremely literate and considered by friend and foe alike to be a talented writer, Kamal Jumblat wrote more than 1,200 editorials in both Arabic and French. He left hundreds of publications, held hundreds of press conferences and delivered hundreds of political speeches d u r i n g i n t e r n a t i o n a l , r e g i o n a l a n d l o c a l c o n f e r e n c e s a s well as within the Lebanese Parliament.

Both the opposition and their mainly Christian opponents organized armed militias, and the risk of armed conflict increased steadily. Jumblat had organized his own PSP into an armed force, and made it the backbone of the Lebanese National Movement (LNM), a coalition of left-

His political, philosophical and contributed to the enrichment of Ara

literary works b and worldwide

libraries.

So far, only twenty-five of

manuscripts have been published.

Many

his books

and

books were

also

published

about

his

life

and

genius.

AL FAJER - THE DAWN - DRUZE INTERNATIONAL MAGAZINE

EMAIL: ALFAJER_THEDAWN@HOTMAIL.COM

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