Lebanon Table of Contents
In late 1985, Syria sponsored yet another agreement among Lebanon's factions aimed at ending the ongoing war. On December 28, the leaders of Lebanon's three main militias--Nabih Birri of Amal, Walid Jumblatt of the Druze Progressive Socialist Party, and Hubayka of the LF--signed the Tripartite Accord in Damascus. Although this agreement resembled many previous failed Syrian initiatives to restore order in Lebanon, it was more comprehensive. It provided for an immediate cease-fire and an official proclamation of the end of the state of civil war within one year. The militias would be disarmed and then disbanded, and sole responsibility for security would be relegated to the reconstituted and religiously integrated Lebanese Army, supported by Syrian forces. More broadly, the accord envisaged a "strategic integration" of the two countries in the spheres of military affairs, national security, and foreign relations. The accord also mandated fundamental, but not sweeping, political reform, including the establishment of a bicameral legislature and the elimination of the old confessional formula, which was to be replaced by majority rule and minority representation. The accord differed considerably from others inasmuch as the these signatories were the actual combatants in the war, rather than civilian politicians. This factor engendered considerable optimism in some quarters but great trepidation in others where it was viewed as an attempt to reconstruct Greater Syria (see Glossary). The most vehement protests came from the Sunni community, which was prominent in politics but had little military strength after its militia, the Murabitun, had been crushed earlier in the year.
Jumayyil refused to endorse the agreement, however, and solicited the support of Staff Samir Jaja, who had been demoted only eight months earlier for his anti-Syrian, Christiansupremacist stance. Fierce fighting raged within the Christian camp between partisans of Hubayka and Jaja. On January 16, Hubayka fled to Paris, and then to exile in Damascus. Hubayka's defeat was a major blow to Syrian prestige, and Syria retaliated by urging the militias it controlled to attack Christian areas. The Presidential Palace and Jumayyil's home town of Bikfayya were shelled, and a series of car bombs were detonated in East Beirut. But the Christians closed ranks around their beleaguered president, and the Tripartite Accord was never implemented. Jaja, emboldened by his restored power, then challenged Jumayyil and the Phalange Party directly. In July he announced the creation of the Free Lebanon Army, which was to be under his sole command and was to serve as his personal power base. But LF loyalists fought this plan. On September 27, a 3,000-man force loyal to Hubayka launched a surprise attack across the Green Line from Muslim West Beirut against East Beirut. Hubayka's men, supported by Syria and their erstwhile Muslim adversaries, forced back Jaja's militiamen, and the invasion was stopped only when the Lebanese Army's Tenth Brigade and the Lebanese Air Force entered the three-way fray on the side of the president.
Data as of December 1987