Bachir Gemayel


Bachir Gemayel

Infobox_President
name=Bachir Pierre Gemayel



order=
term_start=
term_end=
predecessor=
successor=
birth_date=birth date|1947|11|10
birth_place=Ashrafieh Beirut
death_date=death date and age |1982|9|14|1947|11|10
death_place=Achrafieh Beirut
spouse=Solange Totonji
religion = Maronite Christian
party=Lebanese Forces|

Bachir Gemayel (10 November 194714 September 1982) (also known as Sheikh Bachir Gemayel; first name also spelled "Bashir" and surname also spelled "Joomayyeel") (بشير الجميّل) was a Lebanese militia commander, politician, and president-elect.

Biography

Gemayel was born in the Achrafieh neighborhood of Beirut, Lebanon, but his hometown was Bikfaya in the Matn District east of Beirut. The youngest of his six siblings, he was the son of Pierre Gemayel, founder of the influential Lebanese Kataeb Party, also known as the Phalangist party, a conservative organization that, although officially secular, was supported mostly by Maronite Christians.

Education

Gemayel attended College de Notre Dame de Jamhour and the Lebanese Modern Institute (Institut Moderne du Liban in Fanar). He completed his formal university education at St. Joseph University (Universite St. Joseph - U.S.J.) in Beirut. After teaching for three years at the Lebanese Modern Institute, he graduated in 1971 with a degree in Law and another in Political Sciences in 1973.

In 1971, Gemayel also took another law qualification from the American and International Law Academy in Dallas, Texas. Qualifying in 1972, he joined the bar association and opened an office in what was known as West Beirut.

Political and military career

In 1962, Gemayel joined the Kataeb party.

In 1970 Gemayel was briefly kidnapped by Palestinian militants.

In 1971, Gemayel was appointed inspector in the para-military branch of the Kataeb party, the Kataeb Regulatory Forces.

In 1975, Gemayel was accused by the Lebanese National Movement of being responsible of the Black Saturday massacre of Palestinians and Lebanese Muslims. According to Karim Pakradouni, Bachir admitted that while being in an emotional state for the killing of four Phalangists, he ordered Phalagist militiamen into the streets. Bachir claimed that when the situation took bigger proportions than he wanted and that he tried to stop the killings but couldn't. [ [http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-1361306345209781470&hl=en The War of Lebanon, The Explosion] An Al-Jazeera documentry on Lebanese Civil War]

In 1976, upon the death of William Hawi, Gemayel became president of the Kataeb Military Council and the head of the unified command of the Lebanese Forces, a coalition of the Christian militias of the Kataeb Party , National Liberal Party, Al-Tanzim and the Guardians of the Cedars. He also took over the "P.G." squad (which stood for "Pierre Gemayel" initially and later became the "B.G." in Latin as an acronym for "Bachir Gemayel", since in the Arabic language both "P" and "B" are translated using the same Arabic letter).

In June 1978, in an attempt to unify the Lebanese Forces under his direct command, Bachir sent a Phalangist squad led by Samir Geagea to kidnap Tony Frangieh, the commander of Marada Brigade. Frangieh was killed along with his wife, his daughter and 30 of his supporters. Bachir maintained that the kidnapping of Frangieh was meant to pressure him to surrender Marada militiamen responsible of the murder of Phalangist members in areas controlled by Frangieh and that the his death was never planned. The incident is commonly referred to as Ehden Massacre.

Later that year, Gemayel led the Lebanese Forces in the fight against Syrian troops that seized the Christian dominated Eastern Beirut in what was later called "Hundred Days War". Arab mediation ended the Syrian seige of Eastern Beirut in what Bachir considered a big triumph.

Gemayel became a member of the Lebanese Front in 1980.

On 23 February, 1980, a booby-trapped car exploded killing Bachir's 18 months old daughter along with three of Bachir's companions in what was an attempt to assassinate Bachir. Bachir accused the Palestinian militias and Frangieh's family of the bombing.

On 7 July, 1980, Bachir extirpated the Tigers Militia in what is known as Safra massacre. The life of the Tiger's commander, Dany Chamoun, was spared this time and sought refuge in West Beirut. Bachir subsequently became the sole leader of the Lebanese Forces.

In 1981, he led the unified Christian Lebanese militias in the Battle of Zahleh.

Israeli forces invaded Lebanon in 1982. Although Gemayel did not cooperate with the Israelis publicly, his long history of alleged tactical collaboration with Israel counted against him in the eyes of many Lebanese Muslims.

On 23 August 1982, being the only announced candidate for the presidency of the republic, the National Assembly elected Gemayel by the second narrowest margin in Lebanese history (57 votes out of 92); many Muslim members of the Assembly boycotted the vote.

On 1 September 1982, two weeks before his assassination, Bachir met the Israeli Prime minister Menachem Begin in Nahariya and agreed to start the process of establishing diplomatic relations between Israel and Lebanon as soon as he assumes office. [ [http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9F06EED71438F937A3575AC0A964948260&sec=&spon= "Begin Said to Meet in Secret With Beirut's President-Elect"] , "New York Times]

Assassination

On 14 September 1982, nine days before he was due to take office, Gemayel was assassinated, along with 25 others, in an explosion at the Kataeb headquarters in Achrafieh. The assassination was condemned internationally, including by American President Ronald Reagan, who stated: [ [http://www.reagan.utexas.edu/archives/speeches/1982/91482h.htm Statement on the Assassination of President-elect Bashir Gemayel of Lebanon] ]

"The news of the cowardly assassination of Bashir Gemayel, President-elect of Lebanon, is a shock to the American people and to civilized men and women everywhere. This promising young leaderhad brought the light of hope to Lebanon. We condemn the perpetrators of this heinous crime against Lebanon and against the cause of peacein the Middle East. Our deepest sympathy goes to Mrs. Bashir Gemayel and their son, the entire Gemayel family, to President Elias Sarkis, to his government, and to the people of Lebanon. We join with them in mourning."

An explosion of anger took place after his death, which led to Christian militiamen from the Lebanese Forces carrying out the Sabra and Shatila massacres.

Bachir Gemayel's older brother Amine Gemayel became president in Bachir's place, serving from 1982 to 1988. Rather different in temperament, Amine Gemayel was widely regarded as more moderate than his brother, and many of the latter's followers were dissatisfied.

Habib Tanious Shartouni, a member of the pro-Damascus Syrian Social Nationalist Party, confessed to the crime, and he was apprehended and handed over to Amine Gemayel. He escaped but was captured again a few hours later, and handed over to Lebanon's justice system. He was imprisoned in the Roumieh prison. He was released from Roumieh in October 1990 by the Syrian army, in what many consider an illegal action.

Bachir Gemayel remains a divisive figure in Lebanese politics. Many Christians remember him nostalgically as a hero, seeing him as the embodiment of what Lebanon could and should have been. Others disagree, seeing him as responsible of prolonging the Lebanese Civil War and one of the main factors of inducing the 1982 Israeli invasion of Lebanon.

Family

Gemayel's widow, Solange Gemayel, works to keep his legacy alive through the Bachir Gemayel Foundation, a political and informational organization.

Gemayel's first daughter Maya was murdered by a car bomb intended for Gemayel himself in 1980, when Maya was 18 months old. He has two surviving children: a daughter, Youmna, who received her degree in political science in Paris, and is now working towards her Masters in Management at ESA (École supérieure des affaires) in Beirut; and a son, Nadim, a law student and political activist.

ee also

* Lebanese Forces
* Kataeb Party
* Samir Geagea
* Pierre Gemayel

References

External links

* [http://www.bachirgemayel.org Bachir Gemayel Community Site (Bachir Gemayel Foundation site)]
* [http://www.ouwet.com/ Lebanese Forces Official Blog]
* [http://www.jebha.org/ Liberty Front Official Website]
* [http://www.kataeb.com/ Kataeb Official Website]
* [http://www.lebanese-forces.org]


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