The history of Lebanon during the 1943-76 period was dominated by prominent family networks and patron-client relationships. Each sectarian community had its prominent family: the Khuris, Shamuns, Shihabs, Franjiyahs, and Jumayyils for the Maronites; the Sulhs, Karamis, and Yafis for the Sunnis; the Jumblatts, Yazbaks, and Arslans for the Druzes; and the Asads and Hamadahs for the Shias.
The Khuri Era, 1943-52
Lebanon's first president after independence was Bishara al Khuri, elected in 1943 for a six-year term; reelected in 1949 for a second term, he became increasingly imperial in his actions. According to his opponents, his regime was characterized by a narrow political structure supported by a strictly sectarian framework, and it did little to improve the economy.
In June 1952 an organization called the Social National Front (SNF) was formed by nine deputies led by Kamal Jumblatt (also given as Junblatt), head of the Progressive Socialist Party; Camille Shamun (also given as Chamoun), former ambassador to Britain; Emile Bustani, a self-made millionaire businessman; and other prominent personalities. This front dedicated itself to radical reform, demanding that the authorities end sectarianism and eradicate all abuses in the governmental system. The SNF founders were encouraged by people claiming to be dissatisfied with the favoritism and corruption thriving under the Khuri regime.
On May 17, 1952, the front held a meeting at Dayr al Qamar, Shamun's native town. The meeting was attended by about 50,000 people and turned into a mass rally. The speakers criticized the regime and threatened rebellion if the president did not resign. On July 23 the Phalange Party, led by Pierre Jumayyil (also given as Gemayel), also voiced its discontent with the regime. On September 11 the SNF called for a general strike to force the president to resign; the appeal brought all activities in the major cities to a standstill. This general strike is sometimes referred to as the "Rosewater Revolution" because of its nonviolence. President Khuri appealed to General Fuad Shihab (also given as Chehab) the army chief of staff, to end the strike. However, Shihab refused to become involved in what he considered a political matter, and on September 18, Khuri finally resigned.
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