The Lebanese Forces (LF) emerged as a political power in 1976 under the leadership of Bashir Jumayyil. At that time various Christian militias joined forces to bring about the destruction of the Palestinian refugee camp at Tall Zatar. In August of that year, a joint command council was established to integrate formally the several militias, but also to achieve a higher degree of independence from the traditional political leaders, whom many of the LF rank and file regarded as too moderate. Jumayyil first took control of the military wing of his father's Phalange Party and then proceeded to incorporate other Christian militias. Those who resisted were forcibly integrated. In 1978 Jumayyil subjugated the Marada Brigade, the militia of former president Sulayman Franjiyah, killing Franjiyah's son, Tony, in the process. In 1980 the same fate befell Camille Shamun's Tigers militia.
Thus, by the early 1980s the LF controlled East Beirut and Mount Lebanon, and Jumayyil was its de facto president. But Jumayyil did not confine the LF to the military realm only; he created committees within the LF structure that had responsibility for health, information, foreign affairs, education, and other matters of public concern. Jumayyil established links with Israeli authorities, and he consistently battled with Syrian forces. Important feature of the LF's operations were its legal (official) and illegal (unofficial) ports and the revenues generated by the transit trade. In this way, the LF took over the traditional role of the state as a provider of public services.
Following the 1982 assassination of Bashir Jumayyil, the LF suffered serious organizational cleavages. After numerous succession struggles, Elie Hubayka (also seen as Hobeika)-- notorious for his role in the Sabra and Shatila massacres of 1982-- assumed the leadership of the LF. But when Hubayka signed the Syrian-sponsored Tripartite Accord in December 1985 against the wishes of President Amin Jumayyil, LF chief of staff Samir Jaja (also seen as Geagea) launched an attack on Hubayka and his loyalists and defeated them. Interestingly, Hubayka, who was once noted for his close ties to Israel, in late 1987 was headquartered in Zahlah, where he headed a separate pro-Syrian "Lebanese Forces".
In 1987 the LF was one of the most important political and military actors on the Lebanese scene. As leader of the LF, Jaja wielded power rivaling that of President Jumayyil. Jaja embraced a hardline, anti-Syrian position and revived ties with Israel. The LF operated television and radio stations and published a weekly magazine.
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