LEBANON: PROSPECTS FOR THE SHIA COMMUNITY

Created: 10/1/1984

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Lebanon:

Prospects for the

Shia Community Wt jp3

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Lebanon:

Prospects for theShia Community

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Lebanon: Prospects for the Shia Communit

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bcljeve stability is unlikely in Lebanon unless (he government address-cs ihe economic stagnation in Shia Muilim areas and (he Shia demand for political power commensurate with their numbers. Failure to do so will drive embittered Shias to challenge the central government by instigating sporadic violence with rival groups. This would prevent politicalor economic recovery.

orst case scenario, mainstream Shias, bereft of hope in the status quo, would risk starling another full-scale civil war. They could not winSyria would oppose them, but the disruption they caused would strengthen Christian sentiments for partition, postpone Syrian and Israeli troop withdrawals, add to regional tension, and distract attention from US policy initiatives.

We believe that the moderate leaders of Lebanon's Shias arc more likely to adopt militant policies than risk ousteronstituency disgruntled over their failure lo compel the government to address Shia grievances. The main factors affecting Shia frustrationtagnating economy, Chris-tian-Sunni intransigence, Syrian reluctance to support Shia demands, and failed attempts to gain reforms within the constitutional system.

Amal leader Nabih Barri and other moderates are competingand with pro-Iranian radicals for the allegiance ofHis position will be underminedjinless he obtainsfor his community.JUdt.

rill continue their efforts to win broad Shia support for establishment of an Islamic republic.

Radical fundamentalista minority in thecontinue to seek every chance to attack US and other Western personnel and facilities in Lebanon. They probably will rely on the terroristincluding kidnapings, assassinations, and vehiclehave proved effective in the past two years and were recently used against the US Embassy Annex in East Beirut.

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In our judgment. Israel'* continued presence and policies in southern Lebanon will stiffen the Shias" resolveight Israeli soldiers using guerrilla tactics and ihwan Israel's effortsacify southern Lebanon. Israel'! disruption*of the southern Lebanese economy and punishment of whole Shia neighborhood! for the attacksew will, in our view, harden Shia and government leaden against direct talks with Tel Aviv. If Israel moved torowing Shia resistance movement, initial successes probably would give way to an even more sophisticated resistanceShia radicals would gain supporters, while the United Stales would face renewed accusations in the Arab world of abetting Israeli militarism.

An Israeli withdrawal from much of southern Lebanon would address one of the key issues driving Shias toward extremism and would temporarily eaie the Shias' anger. Shia radicals, however, would continue to attack Israeli advisers and their surrogate Army of South Lebanon. 3oth moderate and radical leaders would claim responsibility for improving the Sbiai' condition. The lull in Shia activity, however, would soon give way to renewed Shia demands for redress ofeconomic and political grievances, -

Ltbaaoti: Prospects for Ihe Shia rommunilyal

Seta community of Lebanon it the poorest, least educated, tod traditionally the most politically under-repecaeMod of Lebanon'a major rdigcommuni-lies. Itecti and fastest growing confes-lional group. The Shiai compose aboutcrccnl of theme^he^ajoHty within a

nuiitb. concentrated in the Beirut area bul with af easternin be able tohe, ebxae.robable Iba they wiO do to unless they aretake in and derive benefit*ew program of political and economic reform* for all LcbtBcae jp, I

Rh-alrtcs among current Shia leaden enfreg tonal difference* have created competing power center* in the Sma community. Shia solidarity eolbpted with the dbappearanoc aad probable murder ia Libya8 or the charismatic Shia leader Imam Musa il-Sadr. Al-Sadr founded the Higher Shb Islamic Council, the community* highest rdigiou* authority, and Amal.hia militiaolitical movement (see. Shaykh Muhammad Mabdi Sham* al-Diuhe meat influcnibl

Amal Secretarynrri and atost of ab bigh-bvd Amal colleague represent the moderatekaderahii

* ritical struggle pit* religious and accuUrwho seel rcdreta of Shia grievances through -political change and constitutional reform against Ihcae who advocate the overthrew of the Lebanese political tyitcm. Key radicalou*bg thb view btttudc Shaykh Muhammad Husaynrowing, and Shark* Subhl al-Tufayll. The terroriit* Huaaya al-Musawi and other members of iheMusawi dan from the Bekaa Vulkyre secular leader* of the radical movement 'seerB] nagaaaa.

Underlying

Once *ccmiagly content wiih theire believe the Shias inerca*ingly reseat ihcir role at the undcrcbs* of Lebanese socieiy. The prevalent altitude loward Ih:mong Ihc Lebanesepaniculariy thend wealthy Sunnione of contemr

Since independence. Lebanese lovernmcnls have withheld money for agricultural development in southern Lebanon, where poor Shia tobacco and cilru* farmen form the ma^wiiy of the population.

Christian and Sunni resistance to political reform deepen. Shb feeling* or

I The Sbias:bo passivelyS jjni prinucy for more than twolonger accent the Lebanese formub for powerthatbased on the numericalconfessional groupshbs believe thatentitle themreaiet voic-they resent

Chriitian-Sunnl maneuvers to preserve the sutus quo.

lo our view, the Shb community baf pohibal radical>ralion that started during the Lebanese civil war. and continued to build. An indicator ofhe number and Increased

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ofterrorist-guerrilla el-lacks and urbanimiued b, Shias against their perceived enemies in Lebanon. For example, iherc were two spectacular MM of Shia lemjrum9 and againrtiind at lead siiccording wpotitieathia attacks against Uracil force* in south' crn Lebanon that started In] continue almotl

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Another indicator of the radiealijaiion process bai own the gradual hardening of Amal chief Barrii public position toward the Lebanese Government, it'll Chimim leaden, and tlx Israelii over the pan twoBuni miW appuli for reconciliation and "justice" for alt Lebanese2 have given way to more pointed demands for Shiaarn,has ihown increasing willingness to order his militia to aght Hefed Sbia youths to attack the Israeli* in southern Lebanon in September

e believe that Barri hatarder line because he fcan losing his leadership position to more radical element* vithio or ftttde the mainstream

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came close to losing control of the militia In} and inbocause of his reluctancehe Lebanese Army aBJ I

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In our view. Amal leaden such a* Nsbih Bani express ihe sentiments of mm Shia* in callingtrong central government that will end the Itracli occu;ution of southern Lebanon, improne theivingiant key government post* tostep* to icviac the confessional system. Bani'i moderate approach relic* on an orderoutlook thai dialogue andcan foster ebange in the uatui quo His poaiKon in theand eventually in Amal will be endangered unVcsi he demonstrates lhai he can obtain tesulu eaBj*

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C^fyuiMuUim. Amal leaders blame political sector-lanism. tooted In the confaiioiul system, for Shia troubles. They believe, tytwa. whichgovernment .controlledon the basis of sect, mutt be chanted. according to political cahcrv-ers. Even Aaal nodCraia have proposed rcstri-.ua* appoint menuloo* coaieiboul haes to tcsutvParadotKally. however, they want to reallocate pom in Ibe government and civil serviceeflect ih* current strengths of Lebanese relit ion groups,to diplomatic oriicn It. i

foreign KmUuiv. The complete withdrawal offorces from southern Lebanon dominates the Shlai' foreign concerns. Silas who were pleased by Israel's cipubaon of Pacinian guerrilUs from sou (herntwo years ago ih view ike Israelis as aa oppressive occapaiioa force, aecordiag toew Shits cooperate with Israeli ottoals and belong lo the Israek-tponiored Artny of South Lebanon, most probably wjll continue lo oppose the Israeli occupational

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Economica! officials want the Bet-rut government to divert funds from militaryjo^cbmldSjtiajrcai^ the fighting in Beirut

housing, health care, and public utilities bead the bit of immedxale Shia dcmandi Amal also iasiiti on reform in the maaagemeai of industry, agriculture, and loartsm, as wellhe establishment of aus *ys(em that could create tong-lenn economic opportunities for the ShiaifJPa |

Miiiemi Pofffc Then our view, have yet toonsensu! on what political positions will satisfy them. Although*!hey could by claim lo the primeeventually Ihcof their numbers, to far lbey have not doe* so We believe thai the appointment of Amal chief Bar as Minmer of Justice and Miaow, of Suit for the South andjUconjt ructionaot pUcate Ihc Shia

uUaleal Objrcll.faThe Lebanese Shia group* that killed or kidnapedS. French. Israeli, aad Saudi citUcos jn Ihc past two years want to cinel Western influence,hia revolt, andhomeini-.tylc

Itlamic republic in Lebanon, according toPre-Iranianpart of thetPany ofelieve thecad their troubles only by adhering tohamicS cveaiulW* byLebanese poetical system

Pro-lraniBn radicab recognirc ihey will need lime to recruit sufficient number! of Shiasupport their objectives.esult. Klrb Allah clerics haveropaganda campaign aimed at the youth and urbanised elemenii in the Shia community. The clerics use their weekly sermonimphasize the -injunices" tnlbacd on ih* Shiav aaaBBaaBaaaaaBBV

aMuaaaaaaa1aBa>aaBBV-iaad their

follower* BSC Iranian funds lo supply food,money to poor Shiaas wcU a* to Mtmmt9nfmmm>mm'^

aaaaaaaaaaaaBBataaaV dooon itress to the recip^nuthat Ay* collar. Khomeini it their beoefac-

The radicals rely heavily on the mosquesecruitment platforms. Theinstitution in tbcmorallo ihc radical message and help portray radical objectives as the proper course for -good" Shia Muslim* to folio* They ensure wufc dissemination of the radical message among uockrprmletcd Shias. Moreover, the use ofn our judgment, help*harpetween themselves and the conventional andpolitical panics.

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The subsequent withdrawal of the MNF in4 probably strengthened the radicals' belief thai tenonim can achieve their object ires. The bomb-ing of the US Embassy Annci io4 and the warnings of future attacks on US faciliiieaIn our view. HUb Allah's determination 'c continue thegainst the US presence in Lcb-iM-ic aajajjar g

nShafiag With Shiai Maronitc Christian resistance to major reformsto frustrate Shia aspirationsewof economic and political power. The Christians, in our view, arc determined to retain control of key institutions. In part becausewindling minority, they fear thai they ultimately will be swampeduslim majority. Unccnalaty about what win satisfy moderate Shias and certainty about the intentions of radical fundamental lit Shias heighten Christian fears.esult, we believe many Christian prefer to oppose concessions and withdrawhristian enclave than face the risks of ceding real power to the

We piunni Muslims to oppose reforms that give Shias influence proportionate to their numbers. Sun-nis have held power and privilege with the MaronitesJ, and we believe ihcy recognize that new amngemeata could enable the Shiai eventually so

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Sunnis. noncihcku. mat be more willing thanto make limitedShis moder-

ates. The Sunnistrong miliiiatrong foreign allythey anight open (Millar) support Moreover.Tin gsogiaphk ehspetwon of the Sunnis givesommon interest wiihshc Shias in opposing the breakdown of Lebanonnanas*-

he Draie. whose power is out of proportion to their small numbers, want to preserve the status quoesult of the Dghting over ihc past year, the Druic have rarssolidated their territory and increased (heir influence in the government. In our view, they fear change would diminish their rule auaas

suoopr^ne only minor changes inpolitic*Ifrustrates ShiaSyrian concern for Shia grievances is guided, in our view, by its interest inthe Christians. Muslims, and Druze weak and in preserving its key role in the intcrconfessional struggles. Syria's support for the Bikfayya security plan announced last July reaffirmed IIS intention to Oppose any militia that attempts to perpetuate instability, as song as the Lebanese Gormoeat coordinates its policies closely

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Shia Options

In our judgment. Shia leaders have Ihrecwork withver amen i.ombination of bargnning^ind military pressure, or resort io large-scale violence. None, in oarill quickly achieve major gains for the Sh iss

M'ilkmal chief Barri has tiatod publicly that he wanit full conirol of reeon-Structioa funds and mora poliiicat posts for the Shias from the government. To gain goveracnent support, Barri can argue thai his constituents are Lebanese nationalists "ho wish to avoid renewed sectarian violence and meddling by Syrilnn Jjfl^Bi I

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of formal channels. Barri and his colleagues can try to strike private deals withand Sunni leaden. Amal could pledgeupport traditional Druxe control in the Ash Shtif region and guaranteecommercial interests in Beirut in cachange for Drure support of Shia demands. To gain Sunni backing, Amal can promise not to push them out of their neighborhoods and businesses in West Beirut.

At ihc same time. Amal can solicit Syrian pressure on the Christians and Sustnts in the Shias' behalf Bam could argue lhal Syria's interests laebanese government and inonfrontation with Israel would be served bydomestic gains for the restive Shias- *JH) fo3

Amal, in our view, canolitical approach to gain Israeli withdrawal from southern Lebanon.appeals for UN mediation and for US pressure on Israel, combined with encouragement oTharaasing attacks against Israeli soieacn in the south, alto* Amal leaders to show their commitment to their followers.

Amal's choice of this option might produce lorac economic and political gaiaa sufficient to satisfy older Shias who mat be weary of civil strife. Without Syrian support, however, Amala political optionwould not yield concessions (bat satisfiedShias or permanently changer] the Shiu'

The chances ere slim that Christian and Sunni "haves" would voluntarily respondut's iaitia-irre* Indeed. Christian leaders, in our view, are inclined to see Ami 1'i attempts toolitical settlementign of weakness and anto oppose further reforms. Damascus, If faced with having so act alonebehalf of the Shias, probably would try to mediate and avoid taking sides. "flans*

Failure to resolve the major issues embittering the Shias would farther espose Amal officials to radical criticism and undermine their kadership positions Pro- Iranian and other radical Shias, in our view, would scire the opportunity toider follow-nif. in the community. Amal leaders probably wouldilence their rivals byarder line In demanding concessions and Israel's withdrawal. BnTaaaV

Bargaining Ccmkimti Wiik Military Pmtmtt. Amal leaders have the option of. takina military initiatives intended to weaken Christian-Sunni resistanceeforms and strengthen the Shias' political bargaining position. Increasingly bold initiatives, in our view, would show heightened Amal fruit niton with ihc political stalemate and willingnessisk casualties and hardships. Amal officials, ai ihis stage, probably would be reluctant to abandon completely thepolitical system and would link their military moves with appeals forundcrsisnding andjja^

In our view, Amal can raume inieimiticat shelling of Christian and Sunni neighborhoods in Beirut without

provoking direct Syrian intervention Amal offsets Is.

olderouM rde UaawaMaaBBaglto

lime militiacire allkey government and comfciUwiKiKS^Wesnki^

could hold West Beirut unless confronted by Syrian BwaaV I

Given Christian fears of Muslim hegemony, Miro-

irobably would resisi Amal's bargaining and pressure uctics. We expect they would pusheparate confessional enclave, try io forge an alliance with Sunni and Druxe forces byommonnd seek Israeli military support, f

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eaction to ihc Shu initiatives would heavily influence Sunm and Dim re response* Strong Syrian tarpon probab', would dam guarded Oruici coopt'ano' II*Syrian offioaii opposed Shu actions. Sunnii in Beirut. loofJag to Damaicuur would reaiil major concessions to the Shiai. dcipitc llieof ihciiatuuaunVal Murabiun militia. The Droit, with tittleain by helping the Shiai under these circan our new. would put distance between tbernsclvctaad the Shui and pom-bty oppose then anions gffaW

Miliary rnaVnnrr. Amal leaden could mobilize Shia lighteririve to establish byuslim-dominated government, centered on the Shias. Thrs would amountesperation moveotally frustrated Amal or the radicals lo shock the Lebanese politicaladical Shia push would prompt most Christians to resist feercely while they fortified an enclave in Jabal Lubnan (Mountactical alliance with the Druie, and soufht Israeli military intervention. Some Christians might flee Ihe country Initially, the Sunnis in Beirut would resist, but they later would lapse into sullen acquit?-

In ourhia drive against the government would fail. Syria would be willing to use many of0 troops in Lebanon to present the Shias from gaining the upper hand The secular government in Da ma teas fears that the Shias might support Its domestic Islamic opponent* and hdp to spread an Islamic revolution in the

A defeat of the Shias by Syria probably would leave Damascusostile Shia population. Attempts to medutca meaningful political accommodation among the confessional group*cease.would tee an opportunity to try to reassert their promiglcncc. thereby ensuring further turmoil. The defeat also would pave the way for radical Shiai to take over the political and military wings of Amal and attempt lo reorient and rebuild them over time 4jan1

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We believe Amal officials, currently the most widely recogniaed spokesmen for the Shias, will face glowing pressure* to obtain tangible gains far theirfit tad tsnt aged Shias base noi benefited 'torn Amal't military takeover of West Beirut lastand Nabih Barn's appointment to Ihe Lebanese Cabinet. Young Shbs-ranitalbcd by Muu al-Sadr't drive for Shia rights in the, by later Shia revolutionary tucccisc* in Iran, and by nine years of civilmote than tokenin ihc goverameat. Poor economicthe loogtunding grievance in the community, are worsening and are likely to fuel Shia bitterness

Even with increased economic reconstruction inInvestors would be strongly inclined lo bolster the capital-intensive service sector before helping the labor-intensive industries in Beirut and ihesector in southern Lebanon that five most Shia their livcli

The leadership positions of moderates such as Nabih Barri will become increasingly untenable, in our vbw. if they remain reluctant to order military action to alter the Shias' situation. Pubiie interview* indicate, however, that in the near term they believe that continued fighting will further weaken the Lebanese economy and diminish the chances for government and outside financial aid to the Shias. Fearonfrontatjqn^viih Syriar, troops will also make them cautious, i'

in the near term, Amal chief Barri probably will use ihe political option in the hope of gradually gaining concessions for the Shias. Judging from his actions over the past two years.ondlbtory in temperament and inclined to avoid riskylthough Barri tenses the Shias' frustration, he teems lo believe that hit Cabinet position and the lowered public activity of hit radical rivals since Syria's rcassertion of influence in Lebanon give him lime and freedom to maneuver politically4.

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We Ulmc. however, that growing Shiawill push Barri to take military initiatives or riskd tea lint ion of the Shia corn-

' new under way will become widespread unless

an outside po-et forces Christian* and Sunnii to meet Shu demand)reater political voice and nomlc1 v

Radicab will continue their efforts to win broad Shia lapport for the esublishment of an Islamic republic Toe longer moderate leaden fail to gain tangible benefit! for the community, the more weight the radical argument will have with Lebanon'. Shm

laipUcalboaa for the tailed States In our judgment, anksa the government addresses ihc economic stagnation in Shia areas and the demand for more political power in line with their mrmben. embittered Shias will spark recurring crises Inthai add to regional tensions and hinder US policy inltlaliv

Fundamentalist Shias wilTeoKTioue to seek opportuni tiea to attack US and allied personnel and facilities in Lebanon. They probably will rely on thendhave proved effective in the past two yean. The severity and scope of (be radical threat to US interests in the area will depend on the

of many Shias so join Ihc radical side.

In ourddressing ihe ke> issues dri-ingShias towardstagnation. II political undmcpreaenuiiernaalMaBVklpHHf 'G ajaah*uld facilitate retaining irioderatej in posi lloni'oT'leadenbip in thai communltyTftfgaiding economic stagnation, we believe any real stabilizationof Lebanon would require Christian and Sunni leaden to come to grips with the long-term dangen lo their security and business interests of an increasingly hostile, armed Shia population. Immediate action by the Lebanese Government to reconstruct Shia homes and improve social services in the Shia slums of Beirut, in our view, wootd serveunai interests and inereasejbe chances for tlabitiiy in the capital

Even minor improvements in the Shias' economic and political statu would bolster the position of moderate Shias and deflate the radicab'o the Shia communiiy.inimum, however, Christianprobably would complain about favoritism towardnd try to circumvent the aid programs. In an act of extremism, they could oppose the aid programs and seek Dmze and Sunni military support hi shelling Shia neighborhoodsnjfJJQ

Saudi initiatives also could help the Shias. An taiing of Ihc Saudi boycott of Lebanese produce would relieve some of the burden on Shia farmers

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Appendix A

of the Shia CooMnufiily

The icrm Shu or Shiite deme* from "Shutf ihcf Ali, ihc cousin and aoo-in-law of ihc prophel Muhammad Following Muhammad's death in ihe early 7ih century. Shia Muilimi iplit from orthodoi Sunni* over the iuuc of lucceuion to rcli-gioui and poliiKal Icadcnhip of (he Muslimnsisting that only Ah and his direct descendants possess qualities to rule. In response to persecution by the Sunniroup of Shias migrated to Lebanon late in thenlurj agaj

The Shias settled in the Mount Lebanon area and prospered duringh and IHhcenturiesf the Shia Faiimid Caliphate in Cairo. The dncline of Fatimid power, the Crusadernd the rite of the Ottoman Turks resulted in the Shiai' capulsion to the northern Bckaa Valley and southern Lebanon, where they were largely ignoredracuac |fjg> ^

In the south, where about half of the Shia populationheyajority in the distrlcu of Tyre, Sidon, and Marj'Uyun. In the Bckaa. theyajority In Ihe Ba'labakk and Al Hitmil diilrtCU.esult of Israeli-Palestiaian fighting in, Shia families began moving to Beirut'* suburban slums,t aJBB La* ^>

Wealth in the Shia community is unevenlyHashish farmer* in the Bckaa Valley and citrus growers on the southern coaii arc relatively well off. Menial laborers in Beirut and tobacco far men in the south, however, who mutt lease land from absenteearely subsist The French, "ho coat rolled Lebanon0 lo. concentrated their development effort* on Mount Lebanon and Beirut Successive Lebanese governments also have neglectedi Hi

Ayatullah Khomei

Eitherense of powerlcssnci* orack of desire to dbturb the status quo. influential Shia families such a* thehe Usayrans. and iheave done little to improve the sect'ssituation. Until the emergence in Lebanese politics of Imam Musa al-Sadr inby marriage to Ayatolla,hgrievances were ignored.'

9 until hit diwppearance and probable murder inl-Sadr succeeded in gain unrig Lebanon'* Shia populationolitical forcean of religion, be capitaliicd on the Shia respect for rclil'oui leadership. His formation of the Higher Shia Islamic Council, separate from the Sunni-dominated General Muslim Higher Council, fosicrcd solidarity on Ihc bast* of religious belief. Al the same lime, hi*eprivation of theawakened ihe Shuts to political action aa"""

The Shia Anakealng Domestic and regional developmentsS throughniformed lower -class Shiasraditionally passive group into an embittered and angry mass awaiting ft emergence of

The civil warnd frequent Israeli raids on Shia villages in southern Lebanon infear among lower-class Shias about theirsecurity The violence also demonstrated to the Shias the inability of the Lebanese Government and their traditional leaden to protect them Traditional chiefs, who had no militias, were discredited, and the feudal system of patronage in the Shia community ccamt gj|

Former President of the National Assembly Kamal al-Assad it anof the traditional Shu bosses whose influence has waned since the outbreak of the civil war. Assad's family connect ions have guaranteed tus membership in govcrnrnent for over JO years. Many young Shut, who increasingly coniidcr him ineffective, ignore or oppose him. according to local observers aaat

poor Shias. particularly the youth, started responding to any figures orgroups that promised to improve their lot. Meanwhile, according to academic studies, ruralwho migrated from the south to the capital to escape the fighting -ere embittered by having to live in the overcrowded Shia slums.ajfc;

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Threefiril major invasion of Leba-nor In March ihc disappearance of Amal founder Mmr in Augustand lh< Ubmk rcoloiion in Iran that toppled the Shah in9 acctkraird ihc nvotntiuiton of Uba<hia community and helped to focui Shia demand* lor greater political influence- The Israeli Operaiion Uiani. which, according io UNIF1Lclaimedhia lives, prompted many Shias to join Amal for protection Although the presumed "martyrdom" of Imam al-Sadr gave thenifying symbol of dtscoaocat wilh their situation. Ayatollah Khomeini'i uccess ina seemingly strong military/securitydemo nil ratedell-organized andShia community could accomphih. according to

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