Fouad Siniora

From Aic-background

Jump to: navigation, search


Future Movement Senior Leader


"I think the brothers in the streets must realize that after five weeks nothing has happened and therefore nothing will happen after ten weeks. The government will not be brought down."

"We don't want Lebanon to be an arena of the wars of others. Lebanon is a nation, not an arena."

“We the Lebanese want life. We have chosen life. We refuse to die.”

"Let it be clear, we are not seeking any agreement until there is just and comprehensive peace based on the Arab initiative."

"The government considers the resistance a natural and honest expression of the Lebanese people’s national rights to liberate their land and defend their honor against Israeli aggression and threats."

Early Years and Education

You were born in Sidon, a Lebanese coastal city south of Beirut, in 1943. You are a Sunni Muslim. You have a strong background in English, first attending the American School for Boys in Sidon and then the American University of Beirut, where you graduated with a degree in business. Since then, you have always been strongly pro-business and a supporter of free trade. Your early careers were in business and finance, beginning with your position at Citibank and the Central Bank’s audit committee, where you held a senior position from 1977-1982. You also taught at the American University of Beirut through the 1970s. As a close friend of the late Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, you were then employed by his successful and growing business enterprises, led by a banking holding called Groupe Mediterranee, in 1982, with which you held a number of different positions.

Public Life

Your first position in the Lebanese government was finance minister, a position you held from 1992 to 1998 and again from 2000 to 2004. You tried to solve the nation’s debt between 1995 and 1998 but after leaving office, critics accused you of corruption, financial mismanagement, and increasing the debt. One of the main accusers was President Émile Lahoud, who had conflicted with the-then Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. You were cleared of these charges in 2003.

In November 2002, you were a key leader of the Paris II conference, which allowed Lebanon to get $2.6 billion. You then abolished most of Lebanon's duty taxes and introduced a Value Added Tax, under which Lebanon's public debt grew much larger.

In February 2005, the assassination of Rafik Hariri indirectly led to the withdrawal of the Syrian presence (which some refer to as an occupation) in Lebanon, which lasted from 1976-2005. You were then asked by President Émile Lahoud to form a government, which led you to resign from the chairmanship of Group Méditerranée and begin negotiating a new government. This was particularly important since it was the first government formed after the Syrian withdrawal from Lebanon, as well as the first government to include members of Hezbollah.

You became Prime Minister of Lebanon in July 2005 as a member of the Future Movement Party, a largely Sunni pro-Business party headed by Rafik Hariri's son Saad. This party, along with several small Christian parties, form the so-called "March 14 Coalition," a coalition of parties dedicated to maintaining Lebanon's independence from foreign powers. You were initially a very popular figure internationally, and in April 2006 you paid a high profile visit to Washington DC, meeting with President Bush and members of his Administration.

You were an instrumental figure in the 2006 Israel-Lebanon conflict, the July 2006 military conflict in Lebanon and northern Israel between Hezbollah and the Israeli Defense Force. Israel attacked Lebanon with the aim of destroying Hezbollah, but Prime Minister Ehud Olmert publicly vowed to punish all of Lebanon for not disarming Hezbollah. The infrastructure of Lebanon was devastated by the Israeli air force, and feelings reached such a fevered pitch that even you yourself grudgingly praised Hezbollah for defending Lebanon against Israeli aggression. Almost immediately after the hostilities began, you called for a ceasefire backed by the United States and United Nations troops. As a response to the war, you devised the Siniora Plan, a 7-point truce plan between Israel and Hezbollah, repeatedly stressing that the government of Lebanon does not control the actions of Hezbollah. The conflict resolved in a ceasefire, which went into effect in August of 2006, along with promises of aid packages and the installment of a UN force on the southern border to separate Israel from Hezbollah. You emerged from the war as a popular figure throughout the Arab world for your efforts to broker a peace deal, but so did the war's instigator, Hassan Nasrallah of Hezbollah.

Parliamentary Crisis:

Nasrallah emerged from the "July War" as the most popular Islamist leader in the Middle East, and his Iranian backers completely resupplied his militia within months, once again making him the commander of Lebanon's most powerful military organization. During the war, he swore to take revenge against those who opposed him, and he did not forgive you or your allies for accusing him of starting the war. During November 2006 he actually accused you and your government of siding with the Israelis against Lebanon. He followed this up with the accusation that your government only served Sunni and Druze interests, leaving the Shiites and Maronites out in the cold. In December 2006 Nasrallah and his Shiite allies staged a total walkout from parliament, demanding the creation of a more inclusive "government of national unity." In reality, this meant a government containing more members of Hezbollah. Two factors complicated Nasrallah's dissent: firstly, he allied with the Maronite faction of Michel Aoun, who accused your government of corruption and demanded your resignation. Second, the former pro-Syrian President of Lebanon, Emile Lahoud, seized on a procedural rule to declare your government illegal: the cabinet of Lebanon must represent all of its religious communities, and as a result of the Shiite walkout your cabinet no longer had any Shiite ministers. However, a majority of the Lebanese population continued to support you. You accused Nasrallah of attempting to overthrow the government and begin a new civil war, and swore that you would not bow to mob justice. Regardless, Nasrallah and Aoun were able to bring one million supporters into Beirut, accusing you of corruption and demanding your resignation.

Ultimately after 17 months of government deadlock and violent clashes in the streets of Beirut, an agreement was reached in Doha, Qatar in May, 2008. Pursuant to this agreement, a new president – Michel Suleiman – was elected, who in turn reappointed you as Prime Minister. During the parliamentary elections of 2009, you were elected MP from Sidon, while the March 14th Coalition won a narrow majority in parliament. Instead of staying on as prime minister, however, you stepped down in favor of Saad Hariri. Unfortunately, his government too fell victim to a Shiite-led walkout of cabinet ministers in 2011. Much political dysfunction resulted, in part due to the ever-escalating toll taken by the Syrian civil war, both in terms of refugees (as of 2017, Lebanon hosted 1.1 million Syrians) and violent clashes, such as 2013 armed conflict in Tripoli. For example, from 2014 to the end of 2016, Prime Minister Tamam Salam was forced to also serve as president. At the same time, you and other members of Parliament, having last been elected in 2009, continued to extend your own terms of office, with the next elections not due until May 2017. Finally, in October 2016 (and after 43 rounds of voting) Michel Aoun was elected president, and he asked Saad Hariri to again form a government as Prime Minister.

Domestic Issues of Concern

You are the senior member in parliament of the Lebanese Future Movement currently led by Saad Hariri, Rafik Hariri’s son. This means that you are against corruption and seriously committed to maintaining Lebanon's independence from all foreign actors, particularly Israel and Hezbollah's supporters, Syria and Iran. You believe that economic vitality is the key to securing Lebanon's independence, using Switzerland as your model; you devote much of your energy to improving trade relations with other Mediterranean states, and are generally an advocate of free trade. After the July War you are concerned with attempting to secure more investment to rebuild the shattered Lebanese infrastructure. Having seen how easily your small country can be destroyed, you are completely against trying to disarm Hezbollah by force, and even in the current crisis you are committed to reintegrating the militia into the framework of the Lebanese military, not outright destroying it.

This policy of accommodation restricts your choices in the present conflict: you do not want to fight Hezbollah, but for the good of Lebanon you do not want to set the precedent that street protests can bring down an elected government. You have also accused Aoun of cynically allying himself with whoever can help him become President of Lebanon. Ironically enough, Nasrallah wants more power in government to keep Hariri from asking the UN force to disarm Hezbollah, and this UN force might soon be all that stands between your government and a new civil war.

Pursuant to your election promises, you are committed to finding and punishing the killer of Rafik Hariri through a UN international tribunal. Most of the region assumes Syria was behind this act, but you have been quiet on the matter. All the same, you remain adamant in pursuing Lebanon's independence from all foreign meddling, most especially that of Syria and Israel. Your staunch defense of Lebanese autonomy has sometimes led to conflict with other regional powers, but this policy has made you a very popular figure at home, Hezbollah notwithstanding.

Role-Playing Notes

You came to power as a pro-western business figure without strong sectarian ties: although you are a Sunni, you have never dabbled in religious politics; you came to power in 2005 precisely because you were the champion of an issue (Syrian withdrawal) that cut across religious lines. Unfortunately, the current crisis has complicated your attempts to remain ecumenical: as the Maronites and Shiites line up against the government, you are increasingly identified as the leader of the Sunni community. You are unhappy with this role, and do not like to frame any conflict in religious terms: to you the parliamentary crises came as a result of individual aspirations, not ethnic tensions. You are not a very religious figure, and identify more with the secular values of the West, which you feel could take root in cosmopolitan Lebanon.

Your relationship with the West itself, however, has noticeably darkened since the July War. You were previously willing to reach a live-and-let-live agreement with the Israelis, but their massive strikes against all parts of Lebanon, particularly commercial centers like ports and the Beirut International Airport, have made you much less forgiving of Israel's actions. You are no longer willing to sign a peace treaty with Israel, and the best Israel can hope to get from you is cold neutrality. This coldness has affected your relationship with America as well. Though you remain committed to trade goals that the US strongly encourages, you have not forgotten that G.W. Bush ordered an emergency resupply of Israel during the July War, or that American stalling at the UN prolonged the war for several weeks. You have better relations with the Europeans, and are hoping to use them as a counterweight to any parties that might want to destabilize the country further. You are a reserved individual, and thus unwilling to make fiery speeches like Saad Hariri, but you have nonetheless hardened as a result of recent years’ events, and have become more suspicious of many governments you previously courted as allies, particularly in the West.

(Alternative spellings of your name: Fouad Sanyoura, Fuad Siniora, Fouad Saniora, Fouad Seniora)


Personal tools