Walid Jumblatt

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== You are Walid Jumblatt, Head of the Progressive Socialist Party and Leader of the Lebanese Druze Community ==

Image:Walid jumblatt.gif


“My view of the Arab-Israeli conflict is quite simple. The Palestinians must have an independent state of their own. Once they have achieved this state, I see no reason why the Arabs and the Israelis cannot bring peace to the Middle East.”

“I have never seen a minority [Hezbollah] that possesses thousands of missiles and weapons. If we were in a normal democratic country, we would have abided by the democratic norms, but this is a minority with weapons, a minority that decides to launch wars and make peace whenever it wants.”

“Iran is going to have the bomb, and when they do they do, the Arab world is finished.”

“I would rather be a trash collector in New York than a political leader in Lebanon.”


You were born in Mukhtara, Lebanon in 1949, heir to the powerful Jumblatt clan, traditional leaders of the Lebanese Druze community. Your father, Kamal Jumblatt, was a leading figure in the struggle for Lebanese independence, a charismatic and well-respected political figure who later allied with the Soviet Union, creating the Progressive Socialist Party (PSP) of Lebanon. As a member of the ruling family of the Druze, you were born to inherit responsibility for protecting a small and misunderstood religious sect. The Druze keep many elements of their religion secret, but it is a monotheistic faith in the Abrahamic tradition (as are Judaism and Christianity) that is an offshoot of Shiite Islam dating from around the 12th century. Since its founding, Druze have avoided persecution by living in the mountain valleys of Lebanon, where they have become the traditional enemies of Lebanon’s other unique native religious group, the Maronite Christians. You were born into the dangerous job of leading a people with no natural allies and a great many enemies: four of your direct male ancestors were either assassinated or died in prison, including your father and grandfather. You didn’t take this responsibility very seriously until the late 1970s, and you enjoyed riding your motorcycle through Europe (you are fluent in French and conversational in English) more than you liked dabbling in Lebanese tribal politics. Your life as a playboy came to an abrupt end in 1977, when the Syrian government had your father assassinated for defying their plans to control the politics of Lebanon. You inherited the PSP political party leadership, chieftainship of the Jumblatt, and overall responsibility for the Druze of Lebanon, a country then entering its third year of civil war.

The Lebanese Civil War:

From your assumption of leadership in 1977 until the end of the civil war in 1990 you functioned not only as the leader of the Druze community, but also their chief military commander. In a different era, you would have been called a warlord. Druze inhabit the middle of Lebanon, caught between the Muslims in the south and the Christians in the north, as well as being between the Syrians to the east and the Israelis to the south. To defend your community, your overall strategy was to play all of your neighbors off each other without becoming too committed to any one side. You kept lines of communications open with the Israelis after they invaded in 1982 to help their Maronite allies, but after their withdrawal in 1983 you became a strong ally of Syria, receiving large amounts of weaponry from Damascus. As Lebanon completely broke down during the 1980s, your tiny Druze realm became a bastion of stability; your PSP ran a highly effective civil administration, and your militias proved to be the best trained, fiercest fighters in all of Lebanon. The final ingredient in the Druze’s community’s miraculous survival during the war was you: while you don’t have your father’s charisma, you quickly became a keen political observer, capable of maneuvering your faction to always emerge on the winning side in every stage of the conflict. While you led your people very well during the war, you were not seen elsewhere as a hero: in 1983 your militias fought a war against the Maronites dubbed “the Mountain War” in which several dozen villages were ethnically cleansed of their inhabitants, resulting in the deaths of thousands of innocent Christians and Druze. These war crimes committed under your leadership didn’t come back to haunt you in the long run, however, because of your keen political instincts: you ultimately became a backer of Syria (this would not last!), and Syria essentially won the civil war in 1990, beginning a military occupation that would last until 2005. You were handsomely rewarded for your allegiance to Damascus: through the 1990s your party consistently did well in parliamentary elections (thanks to Syrian support) and you yourself were a cabinet minister in most governments. As Minister for Refugees and Displaced Persons you became keenly aware of the pressures facing the Palestinians at the hands of the Israelis (Lebanon has several thousand Palestinians living in refugee camps), and you still maintain that solving the refugee crisis is the key to any wider Arab-Israeli peace effort.

Rebellion and the Cedar Revolution of 2005:

By the year 2000 you had become an undeniable force in Lebanese politics. While high Sunni and Shiite birthrates have made the Druze a proportionately smaller community in Lebanon (only about 5% of the total) your community’s cohesion, combined with your political savvy and the goodwill of Syria, gave you disproportionate power across all Lebanese sects. You chose to gamble all of this in the year 2000, when you began publicly criticizing the role of Syria in Lebanese affairs; you asked Syria to more formally explain its legal role in the politics of Lebanon, and asked for a timetable to consider the withdrawal of Syrian troops from your country. Pro-Syrian members of parliament denounced you as a traitor and an Israeli stooge, but these recriminations didn’t stop you from sweeping the parliamentary elections in late 2000, which brought the PSP into power along with the Sunni bloc of industrialist Rafik Hariri. In interviews explaining your dramatic change of heart on the occupation you said, “I am finally following in the footsteps of my father. Now I can sleep at night.” Despite your newly clear conscience, Syrian threats against you became more direct, and you began spending more time in the security of your mountain castle, where you could continue to call for a Syrian withdrawal without having to worry about meeting your father’s fate. Your alliance with Hariri continued, primarily based on your common distrust of then-President Emile Lahoud, who both of you considered a corrupt pawn of Damascus. The political dam burst in late 2004, when Syria tried to amend the Lebanese constitution to extend Emile Lahoud’s term until 2007. For you and Hariri, this was the last straw. Hariri resigned from his post as prime minister, and you stepped up your calls for the end of the occupation. In February 2005, Rafik Hariri was assassinated by a massive car bomb. You went on record stating that Syrian dictator Bashar al-Asad had threatened to kill Hariri in 2004, and thanks to your admission an international outcry arose against the Syrian regime, and later against Hezbollah, which was also accused on involvement in this assassination. Within Lebanon, Hariri’s assassination sparked a massive wave of anti-Syrian demonstrations, directed by you and Hariri’s Sunni allies. Under your leadership (and with the support of the UN Security Council) Syrian forces withdrew from Lebanon almost entirely. May 2005 parliamentary elections swept your PSP into power along with a Sunni bloc known as the “Future Wave” led by Hariri’s son Sa’ad Hariri.

Hezbollah Opposition:

This revolution was not without its detractors. Hezbollah, Syria’s strongest remaining Lebanese ally and Lebanon’s largest Shiite party, hasn’t forgiven you for your role in publicly humiliating Damascus. Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah has accused you of being an Israeli puppet, and in mid-2006 one of your closest confidantes narrowly survived an assassination attempt many feel was aimed at you and orchestrated by Hezbollah. During Hezbollah’s July 2006 war with Israel you loudly denounced Hezbollah’s actions as irresponsible toward the rest of Lebanon, and accused them of being nothing but a servant of Syria and Iran. Indeed, in subsequent comments you have claimed that the entire war was nothing but a proxy battle between Iran and the US, though you did support Hezbollah, grudgingly, for defending Lebanon against the Israeli invasion on purely nationalist grounds. This has put you in an awkward position with the western world, particularly the US, which favored you after the Cedar Revolution, but strongly condemns your harsh opinions of Israel and reluctance to see Hezbollah disarmed. You have long said that the militant group should be incorporated into a larger Lebanese army, but you long felt that their weaponry and training were too valuable to be totally discarded. This changed in late 2006, when Hezbollah began actively trying to bring down the government of Sunni Prime Minister Fouad Siniora. They accused this government of being narrowly focused on Sunni-Druze issues and dismissive of Shiite demands for greater representation, a longstanding Shiite grievance. What made these demands especially dangerous is the newfound prestige Hezbollah enjoyed after surviving their 2006 war with Israel. They were able to call on support from other powerful factions, like the Shiite Amal party and Michel Aoun’s Maronite supporters. In fact, in the longer term the relationship between Hezbollah and Michel Aoun’s Free Patriotic Movement has only grown stronger, with Aoun serving as President of Lebanon, with enthusiastic support from Hezbollah, since 2016.

Roleplaying Hints:

Unlike Lebanon’s other power players you do not represent a faction or a geographical region, but an entire people. The Druze are a tiny community surrounded by dangerous neighbors; they have no friends, only momentary allies and potential enemies. If you make one misstep in protecting your community, it could be disastrous for your entire people. You are not necessarily a utopian visionary, but you have calculated, using your impressive political insight, that standing with the west against Hezbollah, Syria and Iran is in the long-term interest of your community and Lebanon as a whole. You also believe that Syrian President Bashar al-Asad was ultimately responsible for a brutal murder of twenty Druze villagers in 2015. The villagers were killed by members of the al-Nusra front, but you blame the growth of Al-Nusra on the lengthy and brutal Syrian Civil War for which Asad is ultimately responsible. It is also true that you are not particularly fond of the west or its allies: you do not trust the French, are openly contemptuous of US policy in the Middle East, and want nothing to do with the state of Israel, which you call a criminal entity. Your outspoken nature has made you a frustrating ally for the West, especially considering the fact that, in terms of raw numbers, you don’t represent enough people to wield anything other than moral authority in regional affairs. Despite these constraints, your unique personal abilities make you a force to be reckoned with: you are called “The political weathervane of Lebanon,” because you always seem to know which way the wind is blowing, and at the moment, you have decided that your people will best be defended by refusing to join the government formed by Hassan Diab in 2020. Even though this has made you a very popular figure, you rarely leave your secure mountain fortress, and pursue life with intensity because you do not believe you will die an old man. As you once said in an interview regarding your personal safety,“When they will come, they will come." Or as your father predicted even more grimly, “Jumblatts are killed. We do not die in our beds.”












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