Amal And The Shi’a: Struggle For The …

Amal And The Shi’a: Struggle For The Soul Of Lebanon

Twenty-five years ago, inspired by the achievements of the Shihab government, a group of scholars, diplomats, journalists, and civil ser­vants met to consider the prospects for development and for democ­racy in Lebanon. Though hopeful for the future, the general tone of the meeting was skeptical. Few expected, even if some warned of, the political collapse of the Lebanese state. Representing a variety of opinions and interests, both Lebanese and foreign, the participants tended to divide along a single line of argument. The issue in debate seemed to boil down to whether the Lebanese system had to be dras­tically changed or merely reformed to accommodate new demands. The question was whether the system was legitimate or not. Some wished to see the Lebanese system remain more or less as it was, while others fervently wished to see it transformed. Those who wished to see it remain were inclined to exaggerate its virtues, and those who wished to see its demise expatiated on its defects.