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INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS SCHOLAR Ernst Haas observed that the term "balance of power" has at least eight separate meanings. [1] The concept of "sectarian balance" is equally elastic and carries a variety of meanings. One can identify at least six distinct ways in which the term sectarian balance has been used in the Lebanese context. First, an equitable distribution of seats, or positions (say in a certain organization, the civil service, or the Board of Directors of a major economic association) between the main sects. Second, equal representation of Muslims and Christians, and Sunnis and Shi'is, in all major decision-making bodies [2]. Third, the "right" of every sect to independently select its representatives to important decision-making bodies. Fourth, a conscious policy, by a group or by the government, aiming at preserving, or restoring, the sectarian balance. Fifth, a state of equilibrium in the relations between Christians and Muslims, where neither religious group dominates. Sixth, and finally, a st ate of equilibrium in the relations among the main sects, without any sect exerting hegemony over the rest.

Here I would like to caution that my aim is not to legitimize Lebanon's confessional system, and its consequences as regards the sectarian composition of the governing bodies of the country's leading business associations. Rather, I try to show how such a composition follows a broad pattern that is best captured by the concept of sectarian balance. I am also sure that critics of the sectarian system will find even more problems with my concept of sectarian balance than the critics of Realism have found with the more established concept of balance of power. In short, I do not seek to unproblematize Lebanon's confessional system or the enduring tendency of operating by the government and societal groups alike within a framework defined by various sectarian balances [3]. The confessional system has been responsible for many frictions and conflicts within the Lebanese polity and has stifled the development of a secular and civil society. Nevertheless, successive governments and most societal groups have treated such a system as a given, and chose to operate within its contours, rather than attack its foundations. Finally, it is worth pointing out that looking at business associations from a sectarian perspective does not negate the need for examining other, and equally valid, questions about them, such as how they articulate the interests of their members, what strategies they follow in dealings with government and labor, and how effective they have been in influencing government policy.


Lebanon has a rich associational life, with labor unions, business and professional associations, and other interest groups all trying to exert a measure of influence over government policy. Private sector dominance in the Lebanese economy, and a relatively open political system, led to the formation of scores of associations that represent business interests. Business associations can be divided into national associations and sub-national or regional ones. At the national level, the most powerful associations are the Association of Lebanese Industrialists (ALI) and the Association of Lebanese Banks (ALB). Less important (but not inconsequential) national associations include the Federation of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, and Agriculture of Lebanon, the Assembly of Lebanese Businessmen, the Association of Insurance Companies, the Syndicate of Hotel Owners, and the syndicate of Bakery owners. The number of regional business associations (tajamu'at mantaiqiyyat) is considerably larger. The most important re gional associations are the Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture in Beirut and Mount Lebanon -CCIAB -- (the other four Chambers of Commerce and Industry are not as important), and the Beirut Traders Association. Of lesser importance are the other regional associations of merchants and industrialists. [4] Limitations of time and space prevent me from analyzing the sectarian composition of the governing bodies of all (or most) business associations in postwar Lebanon, although doing so is an enterprise task worth undertaking in a larger (and better funded) project.


The Beirut Traders Association (BTA) was established in April 1921, making it the oldest business grouping in Lebanon. [5] The historical dominance of the trade sector in the Lebanese economy, and the central role played by Beirut in the economy made the Association a fairly powerful body in the prewar (pre-1975) era. Since neither Christians nor Muslims dominated the trade sector in the capital, the difference between the number of Muslims and Christians on the Association's Board of Directors (Majlis al-Idarat) was either small, or nonexistent. [6] As the Shi'is and Druze had little economic presence in Beirut prior to the war, the Association's Board included far more Sunnis than Shi'is and no Druze. On the Christian side, the Greek Orthodox and Maronites were roughly equally represented, with smaller representation for the Catholics. By convention ('urf), the president of the Association is a Greek Orthodox, and the vice-president and general secretary are Sunnis. To provide a better idea about the prewa r sectarian balance, table I below shows the sectarian composition of the Association's Board of Directors that was elected in 1972 (last prewar election).


The Lebanese War, 1975-89, rendered the BTA, and other long-established business groups, virtually ineffective. According to the Association's s former president, Victor Kassir, "the Association had to cease its activities during the war because it was difficult for its members to move from one part of Beirut to another and meet in one location." [7] In the words of the Association's Sunni secretary general, Rabah Idrisse (1972-1998), the "war paralyzed the Association, as members (of the Board) could not meet to follow up on problems and pursue the priorities of the trade sector." [8] Despite the Association's near paralysis, economic transactions were maintained between merchants from the two sides of Beirut. [9] To paraphrase Idrisse, "at times essential supplies had to be brought in to West Beirut from the ports of Jounieh and Dbeieh (in then Christian dominated Lebanon)... at other times all of Lebanon had to be supplied from Southern ports (in then Moslem dominated Lebanon)". [10]

One major consequence of the Lebanese War was the increase in the demographic and economic presence of the Shi'is in Western Beirut. Accommodating the demands of Shi'i businessmen (and Shi'i politicians) for greater representation on the Association's Board of Directors was to prove one of the thorniest issues to confront the Beirut Traders Association in the postwar years. As will be seen later, the leaders of virtually all long established and sectarianly mixed economic associations had, in the postwar years, to work out arrangements with Shi'i businessmen (and Shi'i politicians) that, in general, increased the representation of Shi'is on their governing bodies. The politics surrounding the augmentation of Shi'i presence on the governing bodies of leading business associations will be examined with some detail in subsequent parts of the article.


The first postwar election for a new Board of Directors, to replace the one elected twenty years earlier, took place on 10 April 1994 and produced, for the first time in the Association's history, a Sunni dominated Board. Table 2 below shows the sectarian composition of the Association' Board of Directors elected in April 1994.

Only ten Christian Board members were elected as compared to fourteen Sunnis, giving the latter an absolute majority on the Board of Directors. Not a single Shi'i member was elected due to the withdrawal of all Shi'i candidates from the race following a dispute over the size of Shi'i representation in the 24 member Board of Directors, and the posts that would be reserved for Shi'is on the Bureau of the Board (the Board's executive body). According to sources, the Shi'is demanded six or seven seats on the Board, and either the vice-presidency, or the general secretariat of the Association, demands that were unacceptable to the Sunni merchants, and their political backers. [11]

Lengthy and acrimonious negotiations lasting till a few hours before the 10 April election between representatives from al-Nadwah al-Iqtisadiyyah (an almost exclusively Sunni group of businessmen) and the seven Shi'i candidates to the election failed to resolve the so-called "Shi'i problem or complex." [12] Complicating the problem was the presence of many powerful Christian and Sunni candidates who would not withdraw from the race to make room for the Shi'is on the Board. [13] No agreement could be reached either between the al-Nadwat al-Iqtisadiyyat and the Christian dominated Rally of Lebanese Businessmen (Tajamu' Rijal al-A 'ml al-Lubnaniyyin) usually referred to by its French name Rassemblement des Dirigeants et Chefs d'Entreprises Libanais -- RDCL --), partly because the RDCL could not agree on a short list of candidates due to internal competition among its members, and partly because some members of al-Nadwat al-Iqtisadiyyat were trying to lower the number of Christians on the Board in a last ditch e ffort to create more room for the Shi'is. [14] As a result, only one Sunni dominated list (14 Sunnis to 10 Christians) drawn, at the last minute, by al-Nadwat al-Iqtisadiyyat contested the election and won in its entirety. [15]

Not only was the victorious list unbalanced, but the way merchants voted reflected their sectarian affiliations. The Shi'i block of merchants boycotted the election, and so did many Christian merchants. The Sunni merchants participated heavily and voted for the "last minute" (14-10) list but not without crossing some of the names of the Christian candidates on the list. [16]

Consequently, there were significant differences in the scores of the winning Sunni and Christian candidates. The top thirteen scorers were all Sunnis, while the highest scoring Christian (Fou'ad Habib, Greek Orthodox) came fourteenth, receiving just one more vote than Khaled 'Itani (the lowest scoring winning Sunni candidate). The difference between the highest scoring Sunni candidate (Rustum Yassine, 961 votes) and the highest scoring Christian candidate (Fou'ad Habib, 864 votes) was 97 votes. [17] The results of the election created friction between Sunni and Christian merchants and especially between the former and the Shi'i merchants. [18]

The 1994 Board was an unbalanced one from a sectarian point of view. This was an unprecedented development in the history of the Association, and from the point of view of many Christian and most Shi'i merchants an ominous one. [19] Out of the ten Christians elected to the Board, three immediately resigned, at least in part to protest "the lack of balance" on the Board. [20] The Board replaced them by three other Christian members. [21] No attempt was made, however, to appoint Shi'i members to the Board due to the continuing disagreement between the Sunni and Shi'i merchants (and each side's political backers) over the appropriate number of Shi'is on the Board. [22]

There were repercussions from the 1994 election. The Protocol visit to the (former) President of the Republic, Ilyas Hrawi, had to wait for 18 months. [23] On the whole, the 1994 Board was not an effective one. Apart from the unbalanced composition of the Board, it did not include some of the most influential Christian merchants, such as Antoine Jazra, head of the Association of Ashrafieh merchants, and Andre Yared, head of the Association of Furn elShe bak Merchants. [24]

As a body of almost exclusively Christian businessmen, the RDCL also expressed its disapproval of the unbalanced composition over the 1994 Board of Directors. In a statement issued on 21 March 1996, the RDCL called for adopting measures to correct the situation within the Association of Beirut Merchants. [25] In a manner illustrating the close interconnectedness of sectarian, political and economic issues in Lebanon, the RDCL asked the (former) Maronite Foreign Minister, Fares Boueiz, to represent its viewpoint in any future negotiations for resolving the situation within the BTA. [26] The RDCL gave no explanation for why it thought it would be appropriate for the Minister of Foreign Affairs (also a deputy from Kissirwan) -- who had no business interests in Beirut -- to represent it in negotiations with Beiruti merchants.

The 1994 election greatly complicated relations between the RDCL and al-Nadwat al-Iqtisadiyyat. The two bodies had worked closely since the end of the war. In November 1990 they formed a joint delegation that visited then Prime Minister, Salim al-Hoss, to express the support of the business community for the first postwar government and to present the Prime Minister with some of the demands of businessmen. [27] In December 1992, the two bodies, along with three other economic groupings announced, with great fanfare, the formation of the Federation of Associations of Businessmen of Lebanon (Itihad Tajamu'at Rijal Al-A 'ma! Fi Lubnan). [28] Former President Hrawi was the main speaker at the ceremony launching the Federation. [29] Undoubtedly, the results of the 1994 election contributed to the premature death of the Federation of Associations of Businessmen of Lebanon. Nothing was to be heard of the Federation since then.

But the 1994 election did not constitute a complete break with the confessional system. As a majority on the 1994 board, the Sunni merchants had the votes to elect one of them as Association's president. A move like that would have constituted, however, a departure from the custom of having a Greek Orthodox president, and was probably not seriously contemplated by the Sunni Board members. Just one day after the 10 April election, 21 Board members (14 Sunnis and 7 Christians) elected, in accordance with custom ('urf), a Greek Orthodox president (Nadim 'Assi) and a Sunni vice-president (Rustum Yassine). [30] Such a concession to the confessional system by the Sunni Board members failed to heal the wounds of 10 April. The ten Christian board members who were elected to the Board felt cheated. The low votes they received, compared to their Sunni counterparts, could have meant only one thing: many Sunni merchants did not vote for them. [31]


Despite its ineffectiveness, the 1994 Board served a full four- year term. [32] But something was learned from the mistakes of the past. The April 1998 election was to be quite different from the 1994 one. The future ability of the Association to serve the interests of its members, and to maintain a measure of independence from the politicians, hinged on its ability to elect a more representative and sectarianly balanced new Board. This outcome, however, was not to be achieved without external intervention. The most controversial issue that had to be solved prior to the election was not to restore the pre-1994 equality of representation between Christians and Muslims on the Board. By 1998, there was little opposition from the Sunni merchants to returning to the pre-1994 formula of strict equality between Christians and Muslims on the Board. The main hurdle to be overcome had to do (as in 1994) with the appropriate number of Shi'i Board members. Unlike 1994, where no agreement was reached, there was heavy pol itical intervention this time around to resolve the "Shi'i problem." The solution was worked out between the (former) Sunni Prime Minister, Rafik Hariri, and the Shi'i Speaker of the House, and head of the Amal movement, Nabih Berri. According to sources, Bern first demanded six or seven Shi'i Board members, while Hariri initially offered three slots. [33] Following the habitual bargaining, the two men agreed on four Shi'i Board members to be nominated by the Shi'i merchants themselves in consultation with the Shi'i dominated Tajamu' al-Iqtisadiyyin al-Lubaniyyin. [34] This arrangement reflected the extent to which elections to sectarianly mixed economic bodies have become politicized in postwar Lebanon. There were limits to political intervention, nevertheless. The agreement between the Prime Minister and the Speaker concerned only the number of Shi'i Board members (and by default the number of Sunni Board members), and the manner in which they would be selected (i.e. by fellow Shi'i merchants). The selectio n of the candidates was done by associations of businessmen and not by politicians.

Giving a new twist to the concept of "sectarian balance", the RDCL nominated the 12 Christian candidates, the Sunni dominated al-Nadwat al-Iqtisadiayyat nominated the 8 Sunnis, and the Shi'i merchants in association with the Shi'i dominated Tajamu' al-Iqtisadiyyin al-Lubnaniyyin nominated the four Shi'i candidates [35]. In this rather peculiar (but one may say very Lebanese) fashion, an accordance list (la 'ihaat tawafuqiyyat was born that satisfied both businessman and politician. All independent candidates withdrew from the race, except for one, Hassan Badr al-Dine (Shi'i), who was soundly defeated. [36] Table 3 below shows the sectarian composition of the 1998 Board of Directors. It is yet to be seen whether the more sectarianly balanced 1998 board will enhance the Association's role as the main representative body of merchants in dealings with the state.


The Beirut Chamber is among the most visible economic bodies in Lebanon. Its long history (established in the 1930s), close ties to the state, (one third of the members of the Board of Directors are appointed by the Council of Ministers) and the presence of some of Lebanon's most powerful businessmen on its Board of Directors all have guaranteed it a prominent place in Lebanese society. In 1996, the Beirut Chamber counted some 6,000 paid members. [38] Merchants constitute the largest group within the Chamber, followed by industrialists. The CCIAB is one of a few sectarianly mixed economic bodies to have by custom a Muslim and not a Christian president. [39] The CCIAB has always included among its members Beirut's wealthiest Sunni merchants and industrialists, and as such can be viewed as a bastion of Sunni economic power in Lebanon. Since January 1972, the Chamber has been presided over by the Sunni millionaire 'Adnan Kassar. [40] In June 1997, Kassar was elected president of the Federation of Chambers of Com merce, Industry and Agriculture in Lebanon, providing a boost to Sunni presence in leadership positions in major economic bodies. [41] Until 1992, Christian (mainly Orthodox and Maronite) and Sunni merchants dominated the Beirut Chamber (just like the Beirut Traders Association). To give a better idea about the prewar sectarian composition of the Beirut Chamber, I shall briefly discuss below the results of the last prewar election to the Board of Directors of the Chamber held in December 1971.


In the early 1970s, competition between merchants and industrialists over appropriate rates of protection to be granted for local industry was at its climax. In late September 1971, the BTA held a nine-day strike to protest decree 1943, issued by then Minister of the Economy Ilyas Saba, which increased customs on most consumer imports to boost state revenues and help local industries. [42] The near paralysis caused by the merchants' strike, combined with intense lobbying by BTA led the Council of Ministers to revoke decree 1943 to the relief of merchants and dismay of industrialists. The competition between merchants and industrialists naturally spilled over to the elections of the CCIAB. The December 1971 election (for 12 of the 18 members of the Chamber's administrative organ) was probably the only really competitive election in the Chamber's history. [43] Two complete lists ran against each other -- one backed by industrialists (represented by ALI) and the other by merchants (represented by BTA). [44] The competition between the two lists had nothing to do with religion; nevertheless the sectarian composition of the two lists was almost identical. Reflecting the greater weight of merchants among the chamber's members, the entire list that was backed by BTA -- La 'ihat al-Inma aI-Iqtisadi (Economic Development List)-- was elected. [45] Table 4 shows the sectarian affiliations of the 18 members of the last prewar Board of Directors of the Beirut Chamber (the 12 elected on 21 December 1971 plus the 6 appointed by the government on 16 January 1972.)

Some commentators have looked with nostalgia at the December 1971 election of the Beirut Chamber because of its democratic, highly competitive, and nonsectarian nature. In this context, however, nonsectarian did not mean transcending sectarian considerations altogether, but on the contrary their internalization whereby they become part of the rules of the game that no player challenges. In late 1971, Victor Kassir, the powerful president of the Association of Beirut Merchants, was the main force behind the election of Kassar to the presidency of the Beirut Chamber. Kassir did not seek the presidency of the Beirut Chamber for himself or a fellow Greek Orthodox. For Kassir, and businessmen of his generation, it was unthinkable for anyone but a Sunni to preside over the Beirut Chamber, just as it was unthinkable for a Muslim to seek the presidency of any other major economic body, such as ALI, ALB, and ABM.


Like all other prewar economic associations, the CCIAB was adversely affected by the war. Nevertheless, it faired better than other economic bodies because business enterprises in Beirut and Mount Lebanon, representing most business establishments, needed its "stamp of approval" on all sorts of legal transactions, like deputation (tawkil), sponsorship of a businessman or an enterprise (Kafaleh), and buying or selling a business establishment. Through the fees it charged,46 the CCIAB had a steady source of income that enabled it to maintain a staff and to render a range of services to businesses, particularly the issuance of certificates of origin (shahadat mansha ) for exporters; and the economy at large through releasing annual reports on the state of the Lebanese economy, at a time when no other body was providing such data. Kassar's impartial and competent leadership also helped in preserving a role for the CCIAB, albeit a small one, in the Lebanese economy and society [47]. In brief, the war weakened the CCIAB, but did not break it.


Shortly after the war ended, the government started preparing for holding elections to the Boards of Directors of all four Chambers of Commerce and Industry [48]. The elections were to provide a test of the government's ability to reintroduce a measure of democracy to the political system, without upsetting the fragile balance between Lebanon's major religious communities that emerged after the war; a test the government was eager to pass. As Kassar continued to enjoy the confidence of most political leaders, the task of adapting the CCIAB's to postwar realities fell on him. Much had changed, economically, politically and socially, as a result of the fourteen-year war. One major consequence of the war was the increase in the economic and political weight of the Shi'is, including in Beirut. In postwar Lebanon, Shi'i businessmen could no longer be appeased with one or two positions on the Board of Directors of the CCIAB, the Association of Beirut Merchants, or ALL; they demanded equality with the Sunnis, and m ost Shi'i politicians backed their demands. Kassar quickly grasped the changing political environment and proved willing to part company with some of his old colleagues from the 1972 Board who objected to heavy governmental intervention in the CCIAB election, or felt that the Shi'i businessmen (and their political backers) were making unrealistic demands. [49]

The coalition list that Kassar presided over, and promoted among businessmen, included an equal number of Christians and Muslims and (for the first time in the CCIAB's history) of Sunnis and Shi'is (4 from each sect). No Druze candidates were included with the understanding that the government would appoint 2 Druze businessmen as part of the 8 members it appoints. The exclusion of the Druze from the coalition list was done with the approval of the Druze Minister of the Economy (Marwan Hamade) in order to create more room for Sunni and Shi'i candidates on the list, thus making it more marketable50. All 24 names on the coalition list were cleared with the Minister of the Economy, and probably with other government officials. The official announcement of the list (in April) was made from the office of the Minister of the Economy and in his presence, rather than from the CCIAB's headquarters51. The absence of a competitive list, and the feeling that the outcome of the election was a forgone conclusion, generated apathy among CCIAB members. The election had to be postponed from 30 April to 7 June, due to the absence of a quorum on the first date.32 What took place in June I 992 was more of a ritual in which already made selections were ratified than a democratic election. All four independent candidates who refused to withdraw in favor of the coalition list, were soundly beaten, giving Kassar and the government an unqualified victory.53


Two points can be made about the list that won on 7 June. First, the list met the postwar definition of "the sectarian balance", by including an equal number of Christians and Muslims and of Sunnis and Shi'is. The subsequent appointment of two Druze members completed the sectarian balance on the Muslim side. Second, on the Christian side, the historic dominance of Orthodox merchants in Beirut precluded the possibility of giving the Maronites (the largest Christian sect in Beirut and Mount Lebanon combined) more seats than the Orthodox or the vice-presidency of the CCIAB, which remained in Orthodox hands. This did not pose a problem, though, because competition among Christian businessmen did not take on a sectarian character. This was largely due to the presence of associations of Christian businessmen, such as the RDCL, and the Associations of Ashrafieh and Furn al-Shebak Merchants, which were effective in containing sectarian conflicts among their Christian members (but not conflicts caused by personality clashes). Table 5 below shows the sectarian composition of the CCIAB's 1992-96 Board of Directors.

The 1996 election was almost an exact replica of the 1992 one. As in 1992, the government encouraged the formation of a coalition list, this time dubbed La 'ihat al-Inma' al-Iqtisadi (Economic Development List) under Kassar's presidency. [54] The sectarian rules of 1992 were again followed in 1996: equal representation of Christians and Muslims, and of Sunnis and Shi'is, and the appointment (rather than election) of the 2 Druze members. Kassar's list, which included only 7 businessmen who were not members of the 1992-96 Board won, in its entirety, but (as in 1992) on the second and not the first round. [55] The 1996 election, despite the efforts of Kassar, generated even lesser enthusiasm among CCIAB members than the 1992 one, with only 1661 members (out of 6841 who had the right to vote) taking part in the 23 June election. [56]

In both 1992 and 1996, coalition lists were necessary for achieving a delicate sectarian balance. In the absence of coalition lists, many BCCI members might have voted only for candidates from their religion or sect, or refused to vote for candidates of a certain sect. [57] Since the distribution of seats among sects is done on an informal basis and has no legal basis in the by-laws of the BCCI, or any economic or professional body in Lebanon, leaving the election open to competing candidates and partial, sectarianly unbalanced, lists would have probably produced a Board of Directors that did not meet postwar standards of the sectarian balance (i.e., equality between Christians and Muslims and enhanced representation of the Shi'is). In the 1972 CCIAB election, the sectarian balance emerged from below; in 1992 and 1996 it had to be imposed from above, for the war had intensified sectarian conflicts and the postwar balance between Sunnis and Shi'is was of relatively recent origin and would take some time befor e it gets internalized.


Sectarianism and ALI Until 1992

In the spring of 1942, eight prominent Christian industrialists notified then Minister of Interior, Philippe Boulos, of their intention to form an "Association of Lebanese Industrialists." On 20 May 20 1942, the Minister of Interior acknowledged the industrialists' request, basing himself on "article six of the law governing associations." [58] ALl was officially born in October 1943 one month before Lebanon achieved its independence. Each of the twenty-one Boards of Directors, elected between 1942 and 1988, had a Christian majority. The Association's first Board of Directors (elected 1942) included ten Christians and two Sunnis. [59]

The 5 to 1 ratio between Christians and Muslims (exclusively Sunnis) also characterized the second, while the third Board (1944-47) included just one Muslim. With the fourth and fifth Boards, the Christian majority slightly declined to 9 out of 12 members. Table 6 below provides a simplified breakdown of the sectarian distribution (Christians, Shi'is, and Druze) of all of ALI's Boards of Directors between 1942 and 1998.

Is one to conclude from the above figures that until 1992 all of ALI's Boards of Directors were sectarianly unbalanced? The answer to this question depends on how one defines the sectarian balance. If we define it as an equal sharing of seats between Christians and Muslims (and Sunnis and Shi'is), then all of ALI's Boards of directors until 1992 were unbalanced. But if by it we mean a distribution of seats that corresponds to the sectarian composition of the ALI's members, then (in this respect) ALI's Boards of Directors were not sectarianly unbalanced. Little empirical work has been done on the sectarian affiliations of Lebanese businessmen, including industrialists. One study of 876 industrial establishments in 1971 (each employing 9 or more workers) revealed that 76 percent of them were owned by Christians, and 24 percent by Muslims. [60] If slightly over three quarters of industrialists in 1971 were Christian was it a mere coincidence that exactly three quarters of the members of the 14th 15th and 16th B oards of Directors were Christian, or was such a distribution an affirmation of the sectarian balance among industrialists? Another study, conducted in 1973, tried to determine the main owners of industrial capital, and their links to the other sectors of the economy. [61] It identified a list of 13 leading industrial families; two-thirds of which were Christians and the remaining one-third Sunnis and Druze. [62] The fact that not a single Shi'i family figured in this top thirteen list is rather indicative of the marginal role that the Shi'is played in the Lebanese economy in the prewar period.

The prewar sectarian balance in ALI was also achieved through always electing a Sunni to the post of the vice-president, regardless of the number of Muslims on the Board of Directors. [63] By always selecting a Sunni to the vice-presidency, members of ALI's Boards of Directors followed a time-honored principle of Lebanese confessional politics: the president and vice-president of a major decision making body cannot be of the same religion; when the president is Christian- as in the case of ALI, the Association of Lebanese Banks, and the Association of Beirut Merchants - the vice president (or in the case of ALI first vice-president) has to be a Sunni Muslim, and when the president is Muslim - as is the case of the BCCI and the Tripoli and the North Chamber of Commerce and Industry- the vice-president has to be Christian (but not necessarily Maronite). The position of the Sunnis on the Board was further enhanced in 1955 with the selection of a Sunni to the post of General Secretary; a post that stayed in the h ands of the Sunnis until 1988. Since 1988, the post has been occupied by a Shi'i. Here it must also be noted that not all of ALI's presidents belonged to the largest Christian sect (Maronite). As Table 8 below shows ALI had four Maronite presidents, four Orthodox presidents, and one Catholic president.

ALI and the War

As with other business associations, the War rendered ALI largely ineffective. There was little that the Association (or for that matter the government) could be to stop the destruction of industries and basic infrastructure or to prevent the inflow of cheap smuggled products to the country. Throughout the War, ALI adhered to its role as a pressure group, making several demands on the government for, inter alia, the closure of illegal ports, and the provision of fuel and electricity for factors; but the government had lost the ability to act on such demands. ALI was able to infuse some fresh blood to its leadership by holding two elections for new Boards of Directors in 1977 and 1988. In 1977, Fou'ad Abi-Saleh was recruited to the presidency from outside the rank of industrialists, because leading Christian industrialists could not agree on a consensus candidate, and here was a strong desire to avoid a battle for the leadership. The Christian majority on the Board declined from 16 in 1977 to 14 in 1988, and t he number of Shi'is on the Board increased to three. The postwar sectarian balance in ALI's Board of Directors was beginning to emerge even as the war was still ranging on.

ALI in the Postwar Era: A New Sectarian Balance

ALI was the first major business association to hold an election for a new Board of Directors following the end of the war. Subsequently, the election was watched closely by businessmen, politicians, and the press. The election took place on March 10, 1992 and produced a surprise victory for Jack Sarraf and most members of his list. [64] Intense maneuvering on a number of fronts preceded the election. Jack Sarraf campaigned openly and intensely for the post of president, casting himself as the candidate of change, who would adapt ALI to postwar realities. [65] Starting with a solid block of Christian industrialists (his colleagues from the RDCL [66]), Sarraf sought support in other corners. He received the backing of several powerful Sunni industrialists, particularly Hassan 'Alam- al-Dine (owner of Cortina ice creams), Hisham al-Baba (head of the Choueifat Association of Industrialists), Ra'if Qassem (former vice-president of ALL), and Ahmad Kabbara (general secretary of al-nadwat aliqtisadiyyat). [67] He w as also in contact with Shi'i industrialists, but did not receive any clear pledges from them. Shi'i industrialists had no preference regarding Sarraf or Abi-Saleh. Their main concern was to increase Shi'i representation on ALI Board of Directors to 5 members (from 2 in 1988), and to select themselves all five. [68] As for al-nadwat al-iqlissadiyyah, it decided in the last minute to support Abi- Saleh's list despite the good relations that many of its members had (at that time) with Sarraf and the RDCL. [69]

One unexpected result of the 10 March 1992 election was the emergence of a Board of Directors that for the first (and so far the last) time in ALI's history included a small Muslim majority (13 out of the 24 members were Muslims). This happened despite the fact that the two rival lists included 13 Christians and 11 Muslims each. [70] Christian industrialists did not object to the new Muslim majority, partly because it was a slim one, and partly because this particular outcome happened by accident and was not a planned one. [71] Since both rival lists included the same five Shi'i candidates, they received the highest scores in the election, which heightened their sense of victory. [72]


Upon reaching the presidency of ALI, Sarraf gave priority to amending the bylaws of the Association. Most Board members supported the amendments he proposed. These included extending the term of the Board of Directors from 2 to 4 years, fixing the term of the president at two four year terms, and creating two new bodies -- the Geographic Council and the Sectoral Council -- to work under the supervision of the Board of Directors. In February 1994, ALI's Board of directors called for a general assembly meeting to vote on the proposed amendments and elect a new Board. [73] Despite the objections of several industrialists, the general assembly in a special session held on 8 March approved the proposed amendments to the bylaws [74]. In the absence of a rival list, or strong independent candidates, the general assembly proceeded to elect the entire list headed by Sarraf for a four-year term. [75] By including an equal number of Christians and Muslims (12 of each) and of Sunnis and Shi'is (5 of each and 2 Druze), S arraf's list confirmed to the post-Ta'if standards of the sectarian balance. Exactly four years later (8 March 1998), Sarraf headed another sectarianly balanced list, which facing no opposition, won in its entirety. [76]

Since 1994, ALI has joined the BCCI in conforming to the postwar definition of the sectarian balance. There was only one "problem" with the lists that won in 1994 and 1998, neither included a Greek Catholic. In 1994, this "deficiency in representation" did not evoke any outcry, but in 1998, the Minister of Industry, Nadim Salem (a Catholic, and well established industrialist) went on national television and angrily denounced the absence of a Catholic from the newly elected Board of Directors. [77] The Catholic Church in Lebanon, Catholic businessmen, and Catholic politicians, however, did not join in the criticisms, and were even a little embarrassed by the whole episode. So much has changed between 1943 and 1988. Long gone are the days when the Christians greatly outnumbered the Muslims on ALI's Board of Directors, and the Sunnis virtually monopolized Muslim representation. The sectarian composition of ALl's Boards of Directors in the postwar period (especially since 1994) have come to mirror what most poli ticians (and the general public) in the second republic view as the proper sectarian mix, or the right sectarian balance. In explaining the changing composition of ALl's Boards of Directors one must take into account the growth in the number of Shi'i industrialists during the war (especially in the Southern suburbs of Beirut), as well as external pressures and the desire on the part of industrialists to appease sectarian politicians.



The banking sector has always figured prominently in the Lebanese economy. With the exception of the National Bank for the Development of Industry and Tourism, which has been insolvent for years and is in the process of being liquidated, there are no publicly owned banks in Lebanon. ALB was formed in 1959 to represent the interests of banks operating in Lebanon. ALB classified into four categories - Lebanese, French, European (non-French) and US - and included on its Board of Directors representatives from each category. Until 1987, up to half of the 12 members of ALB' s Board of Directors could be representatives of foreign banks, although the president and vice-president had to be Lebanese citizens representing Lebanese banks. [78] In 1987, representation of foreign banks on ALB's Board of Directors was reduced to 4. By that date, however, most European and US banks had left the country. Until the 1990s, all of ALB's Boards of directors included large Christian majorities, reflecting the dominance of Chris tians over the national banking sector, and the fact that the representatives of US and European banks on ALB's Boards (even when Lebanese citizens) tended to be Christians.

Table 9, above, shows a simplified breakdown of the sectarian composition of ALB's Boards of Directors for selected years between 1977 and 1998. The accompanying Table 10 shows the sectarian affiliations of the Christian members of ALB's Boards of Directors for the same years.

Up until the mid-eighties the Christians were a clear majority on ALB Boards of Directors. With the exception of the 1992-93 Board, which included an equal number of Christians and Muslims, the Christian majority on ALB Boards of Directors lasted till the end of 1997. The Board of Directors elected on 15 November 1997 (the 1998-1999 Board) included an equal number of Christian and Muslims. [79] ALB seems to have finally fallen in line with the rest of the major business associations by conforming to the postwar definition of the sectarian balance, at least as far as equality between Christians and Muslims on its Board of Directors.


The Lebanese War (1975-1990) contributed to major changes in the Lebanese polity, economy, and society. One major consequence of the war was the reshaping of the power balance among Lebanon's main sects. The Christians have lost some of their former economic power, and (one must add) much of their former political clout. The Shi'is have seen an expansion in their economic (and to a larger extent) political power. Their sense of themselves as a community distinct from (but equal to) the Sunnis has grown as a result of the War. In the years following the end of hostilities, Shi'i businessmen (with the backing of Shi'i politicians and spiritual leaders) launched a series of campaigns (mainly at ALI, the BCCI and the Association of Beirut merchants) to achieve equality of representation with the Sunnis. Their efforts bore full fruit in the cases of ALI and the BCCI, but not in the case of the Association of Beirut Merchants. In the latter case, the demands of the Shi'is were too ambitious (given the respective n umbers of Shi'i and Sunni merchants) and were met with stiff opposition from the Sunni dominated Al-Nadwat Al-Iqtisadiyyat. Nevertheless, the Shi'is were able in 1998 to improve their representation on the BTA's Board, largely at the expense of the Sunnis (but without achieving parity with them). ALB is the only major business association that did not witness a growth in Shi'i representation on its Board of Directors, largely because there are not that many Shi'is who occupy positions on the Boards of Directors of commercial banks. [80]

In most cases, the gains that the Shi'is made in terms of representation were at the expense of the Sunnis and not the Christians. This fact alone largely explains the tension in the relations between Sunni and Shi'i businessmen in the postwar period. Competition among Christian businessmen has not taken the same sectarian dimension as that between Sunnis and Shi'is. This can be explained in terms of three main factors: First, the Maronites never monopolized Christian representation on the Boards of Directors of leading economic bodies the way the Sunnis did; in other words, the differences in the number of seats occupied by the Maronites, the Orthodox and the Catholics on the Boards of Directors of the BTA, the CCIAB, ALI, and ALB were not that large (at least for most years). Second (and related to the first), the other Christians did not envy the Maronites the way the Shi's envied the Sunnis, and did not exhibit the same urge (one may even say obsession) to achieve equality with them. Third, sectarianly m ixed associations of Christian businessmen (like the RDCL, and the Ashrafieh and Furn al-Shebak Associations of Merchants) have helped in mitigating sectarian conflict among Christian businessmen, (albeit not conflicts caused by rival ambitions and personality clashes). [81]

Finally, sectarian balances are present in practically all economic and professional associations in Lebanon, and not just the ones examined above. For example, the president of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Tripoli and the North of Lebanon is a Sunni from Tripoli, while his vice-president is a Maronite. The two other ranking officers on the Board are the second vice-president (Orthodox) and the treasurer (Sunni.) [82] Even in regions where Christians are a clear minority (as in the South) sectarian balances can be seen in the division of seats between Sunnis and Shi'is, and the reservation of a few seats for Christians. A good example would be the Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Sidon and the South of Lebanon; its current Board of Directors (1996-2000) includes an equal number of Sunnis and Shi'is (8 each) and 2 Christians. [83] Due to the historic dominance of Sunnis in Sidon -- the political and economic capital of the South -- the Chamber's president is always a Sunni (from Sidon), while one of the two vice-presidents is a Shi'i (the other is a Sunni).

Lebanese businessmen, as businessmen elsewhere, are primarily interested in profit. But like the rest of the population, Lebanese businessmen have their primordial loyalties to their sect (or in the case of Christian businessmen to their religion), and do keep a close watch on how well, or how poorly, (in their opinion) their sect is represented in major decision-making bodies. There is no question that Lebanon is different from other Arab countries, in that its government recognizes the multi-confessional nature of society and seeks to accommodate it rather than gloss over it, or deny minorities their basic rights to representation in decision-making bodies. Furthermore, public opinion is not opposed to power sharing arrangements among different sectarian communities, although spiritual and temporal community leaders often squabble over the appropriate size of representation for their sects. Given such an environment, and the fact that businessmen themselves are not free of sectarian considerations, one sho uld expect sectarian balances to be observed in all of the leading business associations, as well as in the less important ones.

The Lebanese system not only tolerates but probably also encourages a heavy doze of sectarian conflicts. These conflicts have led to struggles for power that for the most part were resolved peacefully through the shaping and reshaping of sectarian balances (the major exception here being the Lebanese War). If this study has shown one thing it is that sectarian balances are not static, but have evolved over time; they may yet be transcended altogether, but this would require profound changes in the political culture, changes that do not seem to be on the horizon, to say the least. As many Lebanese politicians have pointed out: a secular polity and society cannot be achieved by state fiat overnight [84]. Transcending sectarian loyalties requires a lengthy socialization process; a mission most members of the Lebanese political, economic and religious elite are not serious about pursuing.

Sami E. Baroudi is an assistant professor of Political Science, Lebanese American University, Beirut.


(1.) Ernst B. Haas, "The Balance of Power: Prescription, Concept or Propaganda?" World Politics, Vol. V, July 1953, pp. 442-477.

(2.) This is the essence of the power-sharing formula agreed upon at Ta 'if and codified in the constitution of the second republic for a transitional period. The twin principles of equality between Christians and Muslims and Sunnis and Shi'is were followed in the 1992 and 1996 parliamentary elections, and in the composition of all postwar governments.

(3.) Several works have dealt with the issue of confessionalism in the Lebanese polity and society. The better works include: William Harris, Faces of Lebanon: Sects, Wars and Global extensions. (Princeton: Markus Weiner Publuishers, 1997), especially chapter 2 "Sects and Identities", pp. 59-92; Theodor Hanf, Coxistence in Wartime Lebanon: Decline of a State and Rise of a Nation. (London: The Center for Lebanese Studies and I.B. Tauris, 1993); Samir Khalaf, Lebanon's Predicament. (New York: Columbia University Press, 1987); Leila Fawaz , An Occasion for War: Civil Conflict in Lebanon and Damascus in 1860. (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1994), especially the Conclusion, "Civil Wars Compared," pp. 218-230; and David Gordon, Lebanon: The Fragmented Nation, (London: Croom Helm, 1980).

(4.) The regional associations include associations within Beirut and its suburbs such as the Association of Hamra Street Merchants (jam 'iyyat tujar Shari' al-Hamra), the Association of Mar Ilyas Merchants (jam 'iyyat tujar mar Iolyas), and the Association of Furn al-Shebak Merchants (jam 'iyyat tujar Furn al-Shebak). Associations of Merchants and Industrialists are also found in virtually every Qada' of Lebanon. The Qada' is the main administrative unit within the Muhafazat (Governorate). One example would be the Association of North Maten Industrialists.

(5.) Beirut Traders Association, Information About Beirut Traders Association, undated leaflet provided to author courtesy of BTA, p.1 . See also interview with former President of the Association, Victor Kassir, in Al-Anwar, 1 July 1991, P.5 See also keynote address of the Association's vice-president, Rustum Yassine, at the 75th anniversary of the Association's founding. In the keynote address, Yassine also names the Association's founders. For text of the address, see Al-Safir, 30 November 1995, p. 5.

(6.) The last prewar election for a Board of Directors produced an equal number of Christians and Muslims (see table 1).

(7.) Interview with Kassir, Al-Anwar, 1 July 1995, p.5.

(8.) Interview with Al-Iqtisad Wa al-A 'mal (Economy and Money), Beirut, April 1993, pp. iii-v.

(9.) Interview with Kassir, Al-Anwar, 1 July 1991, p.5.

(10.) Ibid., p. iii.

(11.) Interview by author with Salim Diab, president of al-nadwat al-iqtisadiyyat, 17 September 1998, at Diab's office, Quraytem, Beirut; see also interview with Salim Zein, (one of the Shi'i candidates who withdrew from the election) in Al-Diyar, 24 April 1994, pp. 7-8.

(12.) See interview with Salim el-Zein, in Al-Diyar, 24 April 1994, pp. 17-19. The term Shi'i problem (al-'qadah al-shi'iyyah) is not mine but was used repeatedly by the Lebanese press in its coverage of the negotiations preceding the 1994 and 1998 of the Association. See Al-Nahar, 7 April 1994, p.7, and Al-Nahar, 9 April 1998, pp. 7 & 12, see also Al-Nahar, 28 April 1994, p.7 on the consequences of the failure to resolve the Shi'i problem.

(13.) As of 5 April, there were 55 candidates in the race (23 Christians, 23 Sunnis and 9 Shi'is.) Al-Nahar, 6 April 1994, p.5.

(14.) According to Salim el-Zein the Shi'is businessmen rejected any ploy (on the part of al-nadwat al-iqtisadiyyat) to appease them at the expense of the Christians. We preferred withdrawal to "stabbing others (meaning the Christians) in the back." Salim el-Zein, At-Diyar, 24 April 1994, p. 18. In a nutshell, the Shi'is wanted between 6 and 7 seats on the Board to be taken from the 12 seats reserved for the Muslims.

(15.) Interview with deputy Salim Diab, president and founder of al-Nadwat. 17 September 1998, at Diab's office, Quraytem, Beirut.

(16.) Al-Mal Wa al-'Alam, (Money and the World) May 1994, (Beirut) p. 22.

(17.) There was a practical side to this squabble over the votes received by each winning candidate. Until they were changes on 21 march 1996, the bylaws of the Association specified that two years after each election, 50 percent of Board members (the ones with the lowest votes) lose their seats and have to be replaced (for the remaining two years) through a by-election. The Association's Board of Directors, however, changed the by-laws on 21 March 1996, and none of the members elected in 1994 had to resign. See Al-Safir, 22 March 1996, p. 6. According to the Sunni vice-president of the Association, Rabah Idrisse, the main reason behind changing the by-laws was to avoid a situation where all Christian members on the board would have to replaced, through a by-election, and not necessarily by fellow Christians. Interview with Al-Sharq, 21 March 1994, pp. 5-6.

(18.) Ibid.

(19.) Salim el-Zein interview Al-Sharq, 21 March 1994, pp.5-6. See also the interview with Andre Yared, president of the Association of Furn al-Shebak (Christian suburb of Beirut) Merchants, quoted in Al-Diyar, 21 March 1995, pp. 16-17; and the remarks of Antoine 'Amatoury, general secretary of the RDCL, quoted in Al-Safir, 22 March 1996, p.6.

(20.) The ones who resigned were: Toufic Gharghour (Catholic), George Abu-'Adal, (Catholic), and Maurice Fadel (Orthodox). A joint statement issued by Abu-'Adal and Fadel described the 10 April election as a "stab to the national balance" (ta'nah li al-tawazun at-watani) Al-Nahar, 12 April 1994, p. 12. Another statement issued by Gharghour and seven other Christian Beirut merchants warned that the imbalance resulting from the election represented a dangerous precedent (sabiqat khatirat) that would lead to future crises, which could have been averted (i.e. had the results of the election been different).

(21.) See At-Nahar, 28 April 1994, p. 7.

(22.) The Shi'is demanded equality with the Sunnis on the Association' Board of Directors. Representatives of at-Nadwat flatly rejected this demand, on the ground that Shi'i merchants constituted no more than 10 percent of Muslim merchants in Beirut, and that registered Shi'i voters in Beirut represented 12.31 percent of all voters and 24.14 percent of Muslim voters (1992 parliamentary election figures). The maximum al-Nadwat was willing to grant was one-fourth of the seats allocated for Muslims. Author's interview with Salim Diab. For distribution of voters in Beirut according to sect see, 'Issam Suleiman, "Beirut: Kuthrat Murashahin, Qilat Musharikin" (Beirut: Many Candidates, Few Voters) in Al-Intikhabat Al-Ula Fi Lubnan Ma Ba'd Al-Harb (The First Elections in Postwar Lebanon), Farid Khazen and Paul Salem eds., Beirut: Al-Markaz Al-Lubnani Lil-Ditrasat (Lebanese Center for Policy Studies), 1993, pp. 277-318.

(23.) Al-Diyar al-Iqtisadi (Annex to Al-Diyar), 19 November 1995, p. 17.

(24.) Ashrafieh and Furn el-Shebak became important commercial centers during the war, due to the destruction of the Beirut's downtown.

(25.) Al-Safir, 22 March 1996, p. 6.

(26.) Ibid.

(27.) Al-Nahar, 15 November 1990, p.10.

(28.) The three other economic associations that joined in the Federation of Associations of Businessmen of Lebanon were: Tajamu' Rijal A'mal al-Biqa' (Association of Businessmen of al-Biqa'), Tajamu' Rijal A'mal Al-Shimal (Association of businessmen of the North) and Tajamu' Rijal A'mal al-Janoub (Association of Businessmen of the South).

(29.) See Al-Nahar, 5 December 1992, p. 10; and Al-Iqtisad Wa al-A'mal (Economy and Business), January 1993, p. 30.

(30.) Al-Nahar, 12 April 1994, p. 12.

(31.) Ibid.

(32.) This was made possible by the changes in the by-laws in March 1996, which allowed all members of the 1994 Board to serve a four-year term.

(33.) Al-Nahar, 26 June 1998, p.10.

(34.) Ibid.

(35.) Al-Diyar, 28 June 1998, p.21.

(36.) Al-Nahar, 29 June 1998, p.10.

(37.) The term Agriculture was added to the titles of all four chambers by the government in 1996.

(38.) Al-Mal wa al- 'Alam, July 1996, p. 81. Prewar membership seems to have been larger. In late 1971, there were 6750 members who paid their membership dues. Al-Nahar, 20 December 1971, p.7.

(39.) The other three are the Federation of Chambers of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture in Lebanon (Itihad Ghuraf al-Tijarat wa al-Sina 'at wa al-Zira 'at fi Lubnan), the Chambers of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture in the North, and in Sidon and the South.

(40.) Kassar used to be the secretary general of the Association of Beirut Merchants; his nomination tot he presidency of the Chamber was backed by merchants (represented by the of Beirut Traders Association ) against the opposition of most industrialists (represented by the Association of Lebanese Industrialists). He succeeded in the presidency of the Chamber Kamal Jabr (also a Sunni), the only industrialist to head the Chamber. Al-Nahar, 22 January 1972, p.5. See also Al-Nahar, 10 November 1971, p.5, Al-Nahar, 20 November 1971, p.5.

(41.) Al-Nahar, 27 December 1997, P. 10. Kassar presides over two other important bodies: the International Chamber of Commerce (since the beginning of 1999) and the General Union of Chambers of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture for Arab Countries (since November 1997). Because he presides over 4 bodies, Kassar is nicknamed "Presidents". All information about Kassar is taken from his curriculum vitae, which was provided courtesy of Kassar.

(42.) See AI-Nahar, 2 October 1971, p.5.

(43.) As of 1992, the CCIAB's governing body came to be known as Majlis Idarat (Board of Directors) Its membership was fixed at 24: 16 elected and 8 appointed by the government.

(44.) Al-Nahar, 5 December 1971, p.5 Al-Nahar, 14 December 1971, p.5.

(45.) The list included 6 merchants, 4 industrialists and 2 bankers. See Al-Nahar, 22 December 1971, p. 6.

(46.) These fees were fixed through decrees of the Ministry of the Economy and were constantly increased to adjust for inflation. See for example Decree 4477 issued on 1 October; for full text see Al-Safir, 2 October 1987, p.3.

(47.) During the war and in the immediate postwar years, Kassar was considered a strong candidate for an economic ministry or even the premiership.

(48.) Three of the five governorates of Lebanon (North, South and Biqa') have their Chambers of Commerce and Industry. Beirut and Mount Lebanon have one Chamber, as they are treated as a single economic unit.

(49.) One of those was the Sunni merchant and industrialist, Nageeb Khatib, who objected to the allocation of seats among the Muslims on a sectarian basis. His opposition to a quota system at ALI and the BCCI was interpreted by Shi'i businessmen as opposition to their demands for better representation. Subsequently, most Shi'i wanted to see Khatib lose in both the BCCI and ALI elections held in 1992. Interview with Nabeel Ladki, at headquarters of al-Nadwat al-Iqtisadiyyat, Verdun, Beirut, 25 September 1998, and with Rasheed Beydoun, Starco building. Beirut 14 August 97.

(50.) Al-Iqtisad wa al-A'mal, year 14, issue 151, July 1992, p. 15.

(51.) Ibid.

(52.) Only 1269 members attended on April 30, out of the required 2786 members to form a quorum. AL-Nahar , 30 April 1992, p.3. According to the bylaws of most economic and professional bodies in Lebanon, a quorum (50 percent + 1 of registered members who paid their dues) is required only on the first date of an election. On the second date, the election is considered legal regardless of the number of members who attend. According to CCIAB sources, 2199 members (Out of 5570 members who had the right to vote) took part in the 7 June election. Al-Iqtisad wa al-A'mal, year 14, issue 151, July 1992, p. 15, and AI-Nahar, 8 June 1992, p. 5.

(53.) Al-Nahar, 8 June 1992, p. 5.

(54.) Al-Mal wa al-'Alam, year 17, issue 128, July 1996, p. 81.

(55.) AI-Nahar, 27 May 1996, p. 5; Al-Mal wa al'Alam, year 17, issue 128, July 1996, p. 81.

(56.) Al-Mal wa-Al'Alam, year 17, issue 128, July 1996, p. 81.

(57.) The election rules followed at CCIAB elections (and virtually all elections in Lebanon) allow each qualified voter to vote for any number of candidates as long as he/she does not exceed the number of seats that are contested. Since in both 1992 and 1996, the election was for 16 Board members, a voter could have voted for 1 candidate, 16 candidates, or any number in between.

(58.) Text of the memo from the Minister of Interior is included with the preamble to ALI's 1942 by-laws as amended in 1955.

(59.) See Table 6.

(60.) Muzhakirat Mujazat Hawla Al-Intima ' Al-Ta 'ifi Li-Ashab Al-Munshaat Al-Sina 'yyiat Fi Lubnan (Brief Memorandum Regarding the Sectarian Affiliations of Owners of Industrial Establishments in Lebanon) Beirut, Mu 'assat AI-Buhuth Wa Al-Istisharat (Research and Consultancy Institute), 1979; quoted in Kamal Hamdan, "Al-Simat Al-Ta ifiyyat Lil-Iqtisad Al-Lubnnani (Sectarian Features of the Lebanese Economy), Al-Nahar, 12 January, 1998, p. 19.

(61.) Kamal Hamdan and Marwan 'Akl, "Al-Tughmat Al-Maliyyat Fi Lubnan" (The Financial Oligarchy of Lebanon), Al-Tareeq magazine, (Beirut) issue 4, 1979.

(62.) Ibid.

(63.) The post of first vice-president was first occupied by Kamal Jabr (textiles) who held it uninterruptedly between 1942 and mid 1965. He was succeeded by Rafik Ghandour (sweets) who held the post between mid 1965 and mid 1977. Both the Ghandour and Jabr families belonged to the 13 leading industrial families in prewar Lebanon. The Jabr family had seen a reversal of its fortunes due to the destruction of its factory during the early stages of the Lebanese war and is no longer economically powerful. The Ghandour is still a major industrial family.

(64.) Only 3 candidates from Sarraf's list lost. They were Chaker al-Chemali, Antoine Saliba, and George Najjar (all Christian). See AI-Nahar, 11 March 1992, p. 5.

(65.) Sarraf's list was called al-tajamu' min ajl sina'at al-ghad (assembly for tomorrow's industry). For Sarraf's platform see Al-Nahar, 27 February 1992, p. 5, Al-Nahar, 2 March 1992, p. 5, Al-Nahar, 4 March 1992, p. 5, and especially Sarrafs interview with Al-Diyar, 5 March 1992, pp. 12-16.

(66.) Sarraf was been a founding member of the RDCL.

(67.) Al-Nahar, 2 March 1992, p.5, Al-Nahar, 4 March 1992, p.5.

(68.) Author's interview with Rachid Baydoun, l9 August 1997. See also Al-Iqtisad Wa al-A 'mal (Economy and Business), issue 148, April 1992, pp. 48-49.

(69.) Interview with Wajih Bezri at his office in Quratytem, Beirut on 18 September 1998. Quite interestingly, Kabbara, while a leading figure in alnadwat, was not asked to withdraw from Sarraf's list, which showed alnadwat's ambivalence about Abi-Saleh.

(70.) What happened was that the three candidates from Sarraf's list who lost were all Christian, while the 3 candidates from Abi-Saleh' list who won included a Sunni (Mohamad Ghandour), a Druze ( Walid Assaf) and an Armenian Catholic (Garbis Marcarian). For election results see Al-Nahar, 11 March 1992, p.5.

(71.) In other words, neither al-nadwat al-iqtisadiyyah nor Shi'i industrialists planned to replace the historic Christian majority on the Board by a Muslim one.

(72.) Al-Nahar, 11 March 1992, p. 5

(73.) Al-Nahar, 25 February 1994, p.5

(74.) Al-Nahar, 8 March 1994, p. 5

(75.) The only independent candidate to compete in the election, Joseph Kassargian (Armenian), was soundly defeated. See Al-Iqtisad Wa Al-A 'mal, issue 148, April 1994, p. 12.

(76.) Al-Safir, 9 March 1998, p. 6, and al-Mal wa al-'Alam,, year 19, issue no.146, April 1998, p.27. The 1998 coalition list dubbed la 'ihat al-wihdat" (unity list) included only 4 members who were not on the 1994 Board. But despite the limited change in membership there was no change in the sectarian composition of the Board from 1994 to 1998.

(77.) The remarks of Salem were carried on the Lebanese Broadcasting Corporation International (LBCI) 8:00 p.m. nightly news (8 March 1998), and were reported in all the newspapers the next day. In justifying his position, Minister Salem said, "I am not sectarian, but the sectarian make-up of the country forces me to be so." He went on to note, "Many officials have backed members of their sects and we (read Catholics) cannot accept this undermining of our rights" (al-hadr li-huquqina). He concluded by posing the following question: "what would have happened had the Druze been excluded?" (The translation is mine from Al-Diyar, 9 March 1998, p. 6).

(78.) See Al-Anwar, 6 July 1987, p.5.

(79.) For a list of the members of the 1998-1999 Board see Al-Iqtisad Wa al-A 'mal (Economy and Money), Vol. 19, issue 216, December 1997, p. 12

(80.) Under ALB rules, only individuals who hold the title of member of Board of Directors of a bank affiliated with the Association are eligible for election to ALB's Board of Directors. Furthermore, candidates are chosen by their respective banks, and only a few banks in Lebanon are controlled by Shi'is. (mainly Jammal Trust Bank and Lebanese-Swiss Bank).

(81.) A good example of this would be the support that many Maronite industrialists gave to the Orthodox Jack Sarraf (their colleague in the RDCL) in his successful bid in 1992 to capture ALI's presidency from the Maronite AbiSaleh.

(82.) Names of Board members provided by the secretarial staff of the Tripoli and the North Chamber.

(83.) Names of Board members taken from Al-Shu 'un Al-Iqtisadiyyah (Economic Affairs), monthly publication of the Sidon and the South Chamber of Commerce and Industry, issue 37, July 1998.

(84.) This was a recurrent theme in the statements of former President Ilyas Hrawi.
 Sectarian composition of the Beirut
 Traders Association Board of
 Directors Elected in 1972
Christian 12 Muslims 12
Maronite 5 Sunni 10
Greek Orthodox 4 Shi'is 2
Greek Catholic 3 Druze 0
Source: The names of members have been taken from Al-Nahar,
24 March 1972, p. 5, and their sectarian affiliations have
been identified by the author.
 Sectarian Composition of the Board of
 Directors of the Beirut Traders Association
 Elected in 1994
Christian 10 Muslim 14
Greek Orthodox 5 Sunni 14
Greek Catholic 1 Shi'is 0
Maronite 3 Druze 0
Armenian 1
Source: All names are from Al-Nahar, 11 April
194, p. 4, Al-Iqtisad Wa al-A'mal (Economy
and Business), May 1994, p. 25; sectarian
affiliations identified by author.
 Sectarian composition of the Board of
 Directors of the Beirut Traders
 Association Elected in June 1998
Christian 12 Muslim 12
Maronite 3 Sunni 8
Greek Orthodox 5 Shi'I 4
Greek Catholic 3 Druze 0
Armenian 1
Source, Names are from Al-Nahar, 28 June
1998, p.5; Al-Diyar, 28 June, 1998, p. 21;
sectarian affiliations identified by the author.
 Sectarian composition of the CCIAB's Board of Directors:
Christian 9 Muslim 9
Greek Orthodox 4 Sunni 6
Maronite 3 Shi'is 2
Catholic 1 Druze 1
Armenian 1
Source Al-Nahar, 17 January 1972, 5,Al-Nahar, 22 December
1971, p.5; sectarian affiliations determined by author.
 Sectarian composition of the CCIAB's
 1992-1996 Board of Directors
Christian 12 Muslim 12
Greek Orthodox 4 Sunni 5
Greek Catholic 4 Shi'I 5
Maronite 3 Druze 2
Armenian 1
Source: Al-Nahar, 8 June 1992, p.5; sectarian affiliations
identified by author.
 Simplified Seetarian Distribution of ALI's
 Twenty-four Boards of Directors: 1942-1998
Board Christian Sunnis Shi'is Druze Total Muslim
1942 (1st) 10 2 0 0 2
1943 (2nd) 10 2 0 0 2
1944-47 (3rd) 11 1 0 0 1
1947-49 (4th) 9 3 0 0 3
1949 (5th) 9 3 0 0 3
1950 (6th) 19 5 0 0 5
1951-53 (7th) 17 7 0 0 7
1953-55 (8th) 17 7 0 0 7
1955-57 (9th) 19 4 0 1 5
1957-9 (10th) 17 6 0 1 7
1959-61 (11th 18 5 0 1 6
1961-3 (12th) 19 4 0 1 5
1963-5 (13th) 18 4 1 1 6
1965-7 (14th) 17 6 0 1 7
1967-9 (15th) 17 6 0 1 7
1969-71 (16th) 17 7 0 0 7
1971-3 (17th) 17 7 0 0 7
1973-5 (18th) 17 6 0 1 7
1975-7 (19th) 16 6 1 1 8
1977-88 (20th 16 6 1 1 8
1988-92 14 6 3 1 10
1992-4 (22nd) 11 6 5 2 13
1994-8 (23rd) 12 5 5 2 12
1998-2000 12 5 5 2 12

Source: Names of ALI Board members were provided by ALI's General Manager, Saad El-Dine 'Oueini. Sectarian affiliations identified by author on the basis of several interviews, particularly with ALI's former general manager (1958-1994), Nabil M. Ladki at the headquarters of al-nadwat al-iqtisadiyyah, Verdun, Beirut, 25 September 1998; and with Rasheed Beydoun at his office in Starco Bldg., Beirut, 19 August 1997
 Sectarian Affiliations of Christain members of ALI's
 Twenty-four Boards of Directors
Board Maronite Orthodox Catholic Armenian Minorities Unidentified Total
1st 3 4 0 0 1 2 10
2nd 5 4 0 0 0 1 10
3rd 5 6 0 0 0 0 11
4th 4 4 0 1 0 0 9
5th 4 4 1 0 0 0 9
6th 6 5 1 2 1 4 19
7th 8 4 1 1 1 2 17
8th 8 5 1 1 2 0 17
9th 8 5 1 1 2 2 19
10th 7 5 1 1 2 1 17
11th 7 3 3 2 2 1 18
12th 9 3 1 3 2 1 19
13th 8 3 1 3 2 1 18
14th 8 3 0 3 2 1 17
15th 7 4 0 3 2 1 17
16th 7 5 0 2 2 1 17
17th 8 5 0 2 2 0 17
18th 7 6 0 2 2 0 17
19th 7 3 1 2 3 0 16
20th 8 3 2 2 1 0 16
21st 8 3 1 2 0 0 14
22nd 3 3 1 3 1 0 11
23rd 5 4 0 2 1 0 12
24th 5 4 0 2 1 0 12

Source: Names of ALI Board members were provided by ALI's General Manager, Saad El-Dine 'Oueini. Sectarian affiliations identified by author on the basis of several interviews, particularly with ALI's former general manager (1958-1994), Nabil M. Ladki at the headquarters of al-nadwat al-iqtisadiyyah, Verdun, Beirut, 25 September 1998; and with Rasheed Beydoun at his office in Starco Bldg., Beirut, 19 August 1997
 Presidents of ALI, their Sectarian
 Affiliations, and Vice-Presidents
 of ALI: 1944-2000
Board President President's First vice-president
1942 - 1943 (1st and Michael Khater Martonite Kamal Jabr
1943-1953 (3rd-7th) Fou'ad Khalil Maronite Kamal Jabr
1953-57 (8th - 9th) Philippe Tamer Orthodox Kamal Jabr
1957-59 (10th) Albert 'Oussaily Orthodox Kamal Jabr
1959- 65(11th - 13th) 'Abdallah Khouri Catholic Kamal Jabr
1965- 75 (14th - Boutros Khouri Maronite Rafiq Ghandour
1975-7 (19th) George 'Asaily Orthodox Ghazj Jabr
1977-88 (20th Fou'ad Abi-Saleh Maronite Ra'if Qassem
1988-92 (21st) Fou'ad Abi-Saleh Maronite Najib Khatib
92-2000 (22nd -24th) Jack Sarraf Orthodox Hassan 'Alam al-Dine

Source: Names of ALI Board members were provided by ALI's General Manager, Saad El-Dine 'Oueini. Sectarian affiliations identified by author on the basis of several interviews, particularly with ALI's former general manager (1958-1994), Nabil M. Ladki at the headquarters of al-nadwat al-iqtisadiyyah, Verdun, Beirut, 25 September 1998; and with Rasheed Beydoun at his office in Starco Bldg., Beirut, 19 August 1997
 Simplified breakdown of the Sectarian
 Composition of ALB's Boards of
 Directors: 1977-1998
Religion / Board Christian Sunni Shi'i Druze Total
1977-79 11 1 0 0 1
1979-1981 11 1 0 0 1
1981-1982 10 1 1 0 2
1984-1985 9 3 0 0 3
1985 [*]-1987 8 3 0 0 2
1988-1989 8 3 0 1 4
1990-1991 7 4 0 1 5
1992-1993 6 4 0 2 6
1994-1995 7 4 1 0 5
1996-1997 7 3 1 1 5
1988-1989 6 4 1 1 6
(*.)ALB President, Joseph Chader resigned
in march 1985 and could not be replaced
till November 1987 due to the war.
His Sunni vice-president, 'Adel Kassar
became acting President until end of 1987.
Source: Al-Nahar, selected issues, Al-Mal
Wa Al-'Alam, selected issues.
 Sectarian Affiliations of Christian
 Members of ALB's
 Boards of Directors 1977-1998 (selected years)
Board Maronite Orthodox Catholic Armenian Minorities US citizens Total
 1977 4 2 2 0 1 1 11
 1979 5 2 2 0 1 1 11
 1984 2 3 0 1 1 2 9
 1985 2 3 0 0 1 2 8
 1988 6 1 1 0 0 0 8
 1990 5 1 0 0 1 0 7
 1992 4 1 1 0 0 0 6
 1994 4 2 0 0 1 0 7
 1996 4 2 0 0 1 0 7
 1988 3 1 1 0 1 0 6
(*.)ALB President, Joseph Chader resigned
in march 1985 and could not be replaced
till November 1987 due to the war.
His Sunni vice-president, 'Adel Kassar
became acting President until end of 1987.
Source: Al-Nahar, selected issues, Al-Mal
Wa Al-'Alam, selected issues.
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Article Details
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Author:Baroudi, Sami E.
Publication:Arab Studies Quarterly (ASQ)
Geographic Code:7LEBA
Date:Sep 22, 2000
Next Article:Between Memory and Desire: The Middle East in a Troubled Age.

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