History of the Lebanese Phalanges.
The Lebanese Kataeb Party was established in the fall of 1936 during the French Mandate over Lebanon. Since its early stages, the party believed in an independent, sovereign and pluralistic Lebanon that safeguards basic human rights and fundamental freedoms to all its constituents.
As such, the Kataeb became a main guarantor of the idea of Lebanon as a refuge for the oppressed minorities of the Arab East and struggled for preserving Lebanon as a liberal outlet where Eastern Christianity can socially, politically and economically flourish in peace with its surrounding. Throughout various stages of Lebanon’s history, in times of peace and in times of war, the Kataeb has sacrificed and lost thousands of its members in defense of man, freedom and peace in Lebanon.
Chronology of Main Events:
- In 1943 the Kataeb played an instrumental role in attaining Lebanon’s first independence from the French mandate and co-envisaged the currently adopted Lebanese flag that was signed by the Lebanese government of the time.
- In 1958 the Kataeb and its allies confronted the coup d’état by the United Arab Republic under the leadership of Gamal Abdel Nasser and succeeded in maintaining Lebanon’s independence and liberal identity.
- In 1969 the Kataeb opposed the Cairo Agreement, which legitimized military operations against Israel by Palestinian militiamen in South Lebanon; prompting many at the time to refer to the South as “Fateh Land.”
- In 1975 the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) attempted to take over Lebanon and turn it into what many perceived as an alternative state for Palestinian refugees that will facilitate their permanent settlement in the country. In light of this development that was coupled with the disintegration of state institutions on the political and security levels alike, the Kataeb (that was part of the Lebanese Resistance) found itself at the forefront of the battle for independence sacrificing through the lives of its members against this imposed reality.
- From 1978 until 1990, the Kataeb and the Lebanese Resistance clashed in fierce battles with Syrian Forces who were occupying large territories of the country resulting in an ongoing death toll among Kataeb members.
- In 1982 the leader of the Lebanese Resistance and president-elect Bachir Gemayel was assassinated when an explosion rocked the Kataeb headquarters in the Achrafieh area of Beirut. The architect of the blast was a member of the Syrian Social Nationalist Party. In the aftermath of the assassination, Amin Gemayel, current president of our party, was elected President of the Lebanese Republic.
- In 1990, the Lebanese War came to a close when Syrian Forces maintained their grip over the entire country leading to fifteen years of occupation during which President Amin Gemayel was exiled to France and the Kataeb Party fell under Syrian control.
- In 2005, the Kataeb extensively participated in the Cedar Revolution, which saw a cross-communal revolt against Syrian occupation. MP Pierre Gemayel played a significant role in shaping this revolution which led to Lebanon’s second independence.
- In 2006, the Kataeb Party suffered a tragic setback when gunmen assassinated Minister Pierre Gemayel by closely opening fire at his car.
- In 2007, the Party was dealt yet another blow when MP Antoine Ghanem was assassinated in a car bomb explosion in the Sin el-Fil area of North Metn.
The Kataeb Party today:
Amid the series of political crises that Lebanon witnessed since its first independence in 1943, which highlighted the shortcomings of the consensual and unitary system in peacefully resolving disputes and attracting foreign actors, the Kataeb calls for an objective assessment of the system’s limitations so as to guarantee the basic minimum of political stability, security and economic prosperity.
This approach necessitates reevaluating the existing gaps in the system while laying out modern and forward looking alternatives that various mixed or composite societies considered when addressing their bloody and protracted conflicts.
Hence, the Kataeb’s vision for achieving peace in Lebanon revolves around:
- Developing the political system along decentralized lines in order to genuinely guarantee basic rights and freedoms to all constituencies and thereafter constructively manage Lebanon’s cultural pluralism.
- Ending the pariah status of several Lebanese and non-Lebanese groups such as Hezbollah, Palestinian armed militias and other Islamists, and call for their immediate decommissioning.
- As a founding member of the United Nations, commit to all relevant UN Security Council Resolutions, primarily 1559 (2004), 1680 (2006), 1701 (2006) and 1757 (2007).
- In line with the Lebanese constitution and the broad Lebanese consensus on the issue, reject any form of permanent settlement of Palestinian refugees in Lebanon at the expense of their right of return.
- Safeguarding the Lebanese Christian community in Lebanon as a free and secure entity enjoying complete mastery over its destiny and future.
At present, the Kataeb is in stark disagreement with Hezbollah over many of its domestic and regional policies. The Party believes that Hezbollah is trying to impose its culture and will on the Lebanese society by means of its illegitimate arms, thus undermining Lebanon’s sovereignty and pluralistic feature. And by being ideologically and strategically beholden to Iran and Syria, Hezbollah is unilaterally transforming the desire of a considerable number of Lebanese who wish to live in a secure, stable, open and peaceful country into an imposed reality based on the culture of Jihad and martyrdom and confrontation with the international community.
The Party is also concerned about another factor of instability over its territories, which is the presence of Palestinian refugees with what accompanies it from regional and domestic ramifications. Notwithstanding that the Kataeb has recently attempted to improve the inhumane living conditions of refugees through Parliament, it remains concerned about latent or gradual attempts to force their permanent settlement in Lebanon. Owing to the fact that such an event will alter Lebanon’s fragile demographic (and political) balance, the Kataeb at present will remain watchful and opposing to any such development just like it was in the past and as its history attests.
The Kataeb Party also believes in a free and active Christian presence in Lebanon and sees an organic relation between the idea of freedom and the Christians. Freedom in Lebanon owes its existence in the first instance to a free and open Christian community that bestowed on Lebanon its liberal character from which other communities benefited. Lebanon minus its active and free Christians will automatically transform into another neighboring Arab country.
Currently, and since the end of Syria’s occupation of Lebanon in 2005, the Kataeb party is undergoing significant reorganization and attracting new members. It is indeed the Party’s independence and uncompromising past coupled with its staunch defense of Lebanese sovereignty and liberal values that marks it as a living icon for the prospective generations to uphold