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The Lebanese Army: Saviour of the Republic?

Eduardo W Aboultaif
RUSI Journal, 14 March 2016
Lebanon, Defence Policy, History, Middle East and North Africa
Historically, the Lebanese army’s neutral stance has been crucial to maintaining stability in the country – while its taking sides in political crises can precipitate violent struggles for power

The recent history of the Middle East is marked by military influence (both direct and indirect) over governance. Lebanon, however, has followed a different trajectory: although it was ruled by army commander General Fuad Shihab between 1958 and 1970, this represented a mediated solution to civil unrest. Here, Eduardo W Aboultaif analyses how the army has helped to preserve stability during periods of crisis, in the 1950s and 2000s, by remaining neutral towards those confessional groups struggling for power – the hallmark of what became known as Shihabism. When it failed to do so in 1975, Aboultaif argues, the armed forces fractured along religious faultlines and the country descended into a vicious, protracted conflict.

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