Inter-Community Cooperation in Ethnically Plural Societies. Shi`i-Maronite Relations and the Alliance between the Free Patriotic Movement and Hizbullah in Lebanon

At the intersection of political science, history and social anthropology, this dissertation asks for the givens and conditions of inter-communal cooperation in the ethnically-plural setting of Lebanon. It explores the social base of the party alliance between the mainly Maronite Christian Free Patr...

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Bibliographic Details
Main Author: Sakmani, Manuel Samir
Contributors: Ouaissa, Rachid (Prof. Dr.) (Thesis advisor)
Format: Dissertation
Language:English
Published: Philipps-Universität Marburg 2020
Politikwissenschaft
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Summary:At the intersection of political science, history and social anthropology, this dissertation asks for the givens and conditions of inter-communal cooperation in the ethnically-plural setting of Lebanon. It explores the social base of the party alliance between the mainly Maronite Christian Free Patriotic Movement (FPM) and the Shi`i Muslim Hizbullah (“Party of God”), which began in 2006, upon their leaders signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU). It analyzes the formation of this alliance against the historical background of Maronite-Shi`i relations in the area of modern Lebanon since the late 7th century, portrays its development and effects and reconstructs the social microstructure and the motives of supporters. The core period of investigation extends from May 2005 until May 2018, covering the time of the FPM-Hizbullah alliance (including the preceding phase of consultations) up until the 2018 Lebanese general elections (including their immediate aftermath). As of the 1960s, Shi`i actors gradually created a new Lebanese national narrative that countered the prevailing Maronite centered nationalist discourse. After the Lebanese Civil War (1975-90), this included especially Hizbullah. With the Syrian army present in huge parts of the country, the power relations had, for the first time in modern Lebanon, shifted in favor of the Shi`i community. Now, their counter-hegemonic activism received both Syrian and official Lebanese support. The formerly privileged Maronite community now comprised most opposition and thus experienced the exact opposite scenario. Since the Syrian withdrawal in 2005, however, the self-styled secular Christians of the FPM – notorious for their staunch opposition to Syrian tutelage – and the “pro-Syrian” armed Islamists of Hizbullah formed a previously unthinkable alliance that groups together huge sections of the Lebanese Shi`a and Maronites alongside other Christians. It withstood the storms of the 2006 July War (Israel vs. Hizbullah/ Lebanon) and the spillover effects of the civil war in neighboring Syria (2011–) in which Hizbullah is openly involved since 2013. This requires us to rethink notions, depicting inter-community relations in the region as a pervasive zero-sum game of sectarian make-up. This dissertation argues that the alliance that came about in the wake of the MoU is neither a mere opportunist elite project, as the grassroots have an important share in it, nor can it be explained exclusively in terms of a “minority alliance,” as multiple shared interests, common values and needs of the participating constituencies play an important role. The outcomes it yielded on the inter-communal and inter-personal levels moreover challenge persistent assumptions about the conflict-prone coexistence of religious communities in Lebanon and in the wider Middle East. In fact, the simultaneous belonging of the FPM´s and Hizbullah´s core constituencies to different religions and diverging socio-cultural milieus did neither pose principal obstacles to the parties´ close political cooperation nor to their bases´ progressive social integration. Contrary to conventional wisdom, the findings disclose a sphere of the social in Lebanon which neither sectarianism nor clientelism have ever successfully penetrated. The theoretical framework applied captures this sphere within the “field of inter-community relations,” under recourse to the field theory of Pierre Bourdieu (1930-2002).
Physical Description:373 Pages
DOI:https://doi.org/10.17192/z2021.0070