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Digital Archive International History Declassified

1956

THE POLITICAL SITUATION IN LEBANON

This document was made possible with support from the Youmna and Tony Asseily

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    Lebanese government leaders debate military action against Egypt, and other countries scrutinize Lebanon's domestic situation.
    "The Political Situation in Lebanon ," 1956, History and Public Policy Program Digital Archive, Emir Farid Chehab Collection, GB165-0384, Box 14, File 20/14, Middle East Centre Archive, St Antony’s College, Oxford. https://digitalarchive.wilsoncenter.org/document/176139
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20/14

The political situation in Lebanon

Differences between the positions of various government officials in Lebanon regarding military action against Egypt have become obvious. Prime Minister Abdullah al-Yafi has decided to go along, all the way to the end, with the Muslim majority and the anti-Western elements in an effort to win Muslim public opinion ahead of the upcoming parliamentary elections. He feels that the voters have distanced themselves from him because he considered supporting the option of neutrality, which the President of the Republic and a number of ministers favour. He declared that he would continue pursuing this policy even if it contradicts President Chamoun's and the parliamentary majority’s wishes, and that he will not hesitate to submit his resignation from the cabinet if the President puts pressure on him to change his policy.

The President of the Republic senses Prime Minister al-Yafi 's determination to pursue this line, and is opposed to it, but cannot bring pressure to bear on him under the present circumstances for fear of a public outcry against him at this sensitive point in time.

Minister Salam is undertaking contacts with Syrian personalities to assure them regarding the Lebanese cabinet's support for Egypt. However, if the situation continues as it is, a counter campaign is expected to be launched, against the government's policies, by parliamentarians and parties that support neutrality, such as al-Kata'eb, alKutla al-Wataniya, and the PPS.

Expressions of support among the various parties have started appearing in the newspapers and conference. Syria and the Embassies of Egypt and Saudi Arabia are carefully watching Lebanon's position and drawing up plans to counter any delay on its part in supporting Syrian, Jordanian, and Egyptian activities against Israel and the West. One such plan calls for leftist workers launching a campaign of destruction against petroleum installations. They would also utilise trained gang members to create trouble in Lebanese areas that are close to Syria, in order to put pressure on the government to support Syria, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Jordan. They would also incite political parties, institutions, and workers' unions to demand weapons in order to form popular resistance groups as was done in Egypt, is being done in Syria, and will be done in Jordan. Contacts in this regard are already underway between, on the one hand, the labour unions in these three countries and, on the other, Supporters of Peace and extremist youth parties such as the Arab Nationalists and the socialists. The Lebanese Government will find itself in a delicate impasse, with regard to the request for weapons, because it fears arming a population that may harbour ill will towards it.

If these Lebanese elements fail to obtain the requested weapons, they will mount a popular resistance movement unified with its counterparts in Syria and Jordan, and obtain the required weapons from the large amounts that are pouring into Syria from communist countries, especially from Czechoslovakia,

Encouraged by the prime minister's positive position, the first thing that these elements, which are prepared to create trouble, will do is bring pressure to bear on the Lebanese Government to sever political relations with France and Britain.

The implementation of these measures will depend on the outcome of the of the United Nations' efforts to stop the fighting.

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