Camille Chamoun

Camille Chamoun

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Camille Nimr Chamoun (April 3, 1900 – August 7, 1987) was President of Lebanon
Lebanon
Lebanon , officially the Republic of LebanonRepublic of Lebanon is the most common term used by Lebanese government agencies. The term Lebanese Republic, a literal translation of the official Arabic and French names that is not used in today's world. Arabic is the most common language spoken among...

 from 1952 to 1958, and one of the country's main Christian
Christian
A Christian is a person who adheres to Christianity, an Abrahamic, monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth as recorded in the Canonical gospels and the letters of the New Testament...

 leaders during most of the Lebanese Civil War
Lebanese Civil War
The Lebanese Civil War was a multifaceted civil war in Lebanon. The war lasted from 1975 to 1990 and resulted in an estimated 150,000 to 230,000 civilian fatalities. Another one million people were wounded, and today approximately 350,000 people remain displaced. There was also a mass exodus of...

 (1975–1990).

Early years


Camille Nimr Chamoun was born at Deir el-Qamar on 3 April 1900, into a prominent Maronite family. He was educated in France
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

 and became a lawyer. He was first elected to the Lebanese parliament in 1934, and was reelected in 1937 and 1943. A champion of independence
Independence
Independence is a condition of a nation, country, or state in which its residents and population, or some portion thereof, exercise self-government, and usually sovereignty, over its territory....

 from France
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

, he was arrested on 11 November 1943, and was imprisoned in Rashaïa castle, where he was held for eleven days, along with Bishara el-Khoury and Riad el-Solh, who were to become the first President and Prime Minister, respectively, of the new republic
Republic
A republic is a form of government in which the people, or some significant portion of them, have supreme control over the government and where offices of state are elected or chosen by elected people. In modern times, a common simplified definition of a republic is a government where the head of...

. Massive public protests led to their release on 22 November, which has since been celebrated as the Lebanese Independence Day.

Chamoun was reelected to parliament, now called the National Assembly, in 1947 and 1951. He was frequently absent, however, as he served as ambassador to the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

 from 1944 to 1946, and as ambassor to the United Nations
United Nations
The United Nations is an international organization whose stated aims are facilitating cooperation in international law, international security, economic development, social progress, human rights, and achievement of world peace...

 thereafter.

Revolt of 1958


When President Bishara el-Khoury was forced to resign amid corruption
Political corruption
Political corruption is the use of legislated powers by government officials for illegitimate private gain. Misuse of government power for other purposes, such as repression of political opponents and general police brutality, is not considered political corruption. Neither are illegal acts by...

 allegations in 1952, Chamoun was elected to replace him. Near the end of his term, Pan-Arabists and other groups backed by Nasser
Gamal Abdel Nasser
Gamal Abdel Nasser Hussein was the second President of Egypt from 1956 until his death. A colonel in the Egyptian army, Nasser led the Egyptian Revolution of 1952 along with Muhammad Naguib, the first president, which overthrew the monarchy of Egypt and Sudan, and heralded a new period of...

, with considerable support in Lebanon's Muslim
Muslim
A Muslim, also spelled Moslem, is an adherent of Islam, a monotheistic, Abrahamic religion based on the Quran, which Muslims consider the verbatim word of God as revealed to prophet Muhammad. "Muslim" is the Arabic term for "submitter" .Muslims believe that God is one and incomparable...

 (particularly Sunni) community, attempted to overthrow Chamoun's government in June 1958 after Chamoun tried to illegally seek another term as president. Chamoun appealed to the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 for help under the new Eisenhower Doctrine
Eisenhower Doctrine
The term Eisenhower Doctrine refers to a speech by President Dwight David Eisenhower on 5 January 1957, within a "Special Message to the Congress on the Situation in the Middle East". Under the Eisenhower Doctrine, a country could request American economic assistance and/or aid from U.S. military...

, and American marines
United States Marine Corps
The United States Marine Corps is a branch of the United States Armed Forces responsible for providing power projection from the sea, using the mobility of the United States Navy to deliver combined-arms task forces rapidly. It is one of seven uniformed services of the United States...

 landed in Beirut
Beirut
Beirut is the capital and largest city of Lebanon, with a population ranging from 1 million to more than 2 million . Located on a peninsula at the midpoint of Lebanon's Mediterranean coastline, it serves as the country's largest and main seaport, and also forms the Beirut Metropolitan...

. The revolt was squashed, but to appease Muslim anger, General Fuad Chehab
Fuad Chehab
Fuad Chehab Fuad Chehab Fuad Chehab (name also spelt Fouad Shihab, or Chehab, depending on transliteration from the original Arabic, (March 19, 1902 - April 25, 1973) was the President of the Lebanese Republic from 1958 to 1964...

 who although Christian enjoyed considerable popularity in the Muslim community, was elected to succeed Chamoun. The American diplomat
Diplomat
A diplomat is a person appointed by a state to conduct diplomacy with another state or international organization. The main functions of diplomats revolve around the representation and protection of the interests and nationals of the sending state, as well as the promotion of information and...

 Robert D. Murphy
Robert Daniel Murphy
Robert Daniel Murphy was an American diplomat.Born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Murphy had begun his diplomatic career in 1917 as a member of the American Legation in Bern, Switzerland. Among the several posts he held were Vice-Consul in Zurich and Munich, American Consul in Paris from 1930 to 1936,...

, sent to Lebanon as personal representative of President Eisenhower, played a significant role in allowing Chamoun to finish his mandate term normally and Chehab be elected according to the constitutional procedures.

Founding the NLP


On his retirement from the presidency, Chamoun founded the National Liberal Party
National Liberal Party (Lebanon)
The National Liberal Party is a center-right political party in Lebanon, established by President Camille Chamoun in 1958...

 (al-Ahrar). As the leader of this party, Chamoun was elected to the National Assembly again in 1960, much to the consternation of President Chehab. He was defeated in 1964, due to changes to the boundaries of his electoral district, which he and his supporters protested as deliberate gerrymandering
Gerrymandering
In the process of setting electoral districts, gerrymandering is a practice that attempts to establish a political advantage for a particular party or group by manipulating geographic boundaries to create partisan, incumbent-protected districts...

. He was reelected to the National Assembly, however, in 1968, and again in 1972—Lebanon's last parliamentary election held in his lifetime. Following the election of 1968, the National Liberal Party held 11 seats out of 99, becoming the largest single party in the notoriously fractured National Assembly. It was the only political party to elect representatives from all of Lebanon's major religious confessions.

During the Civil War


In the 1970s and 1980s, Chamoun served in a variety of portfolios in the Cabinet. This was during the Lebanese Civil War (1975–1990), in which Chamoun and the NLP participated through the party's militia, the "Tigers"
Tigers Militia (Lebanon)
The Tigers Militia , also known as NLP Tigers or Tigers of the Liberals and PNL "Lionceaux" in French, was the military wing of the National Liberal Party during the Lebanese Civil War.- Origins :The NLP militia was first raised in October 1968 by Camille Chamoun at his own home town...

 (in Arabic, nimr means tiger
Tiger
The tiger is the largest cat species, reaching a total body length of up to and weighing up to . Their most recognizable feature is a pattern of dark vertical stripes on reddish-orange fur with lighter underparts...

). In the early stages of the war, he helped found the Lebanese Front
Lebanese Front
The Lebanese Front or Front libanais in French, also known as the "Kufur Front", was a coalition of mainly Christian parties formed in 1976, during the Lebanese Civil War...

, a coalition of mostly Christian
Christian
A Christian is a person who adheres to Christianity, an Abrahamic, monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth as recorded in the Canonical gospels and the letters of the New Testament...

 politicians and parties, whose united militia—dominated by the Kataeb Party
Kataeb Party
The Lebanese Phalanges , better known in English as the Phalange , is a traditional right-wing Lebanese political party. Although it is officially secular, it is mainly supported by Maronite Christians. The party played a major role in the Lebanese War...

—became known as the Lebanese Forces
Lebanese Forces
The Lebanese Forces is a Lebanese political party. Founded as a militia by Bachir Gemayel during the Lebanese Civil War, the movement fought as the main militia within the Christian-dominated Lebanese Front...

 (LF). Chamoun was chairman of the Front in 1976–1978.

Though initially aligned with Syria
Syria
Syria , officially the Syrian Arab Republic , is a country in Western Asia, bordering Lebanon and the Mediterranean Sea to the West, Turkey to the north, Iraq to the east, Jordan to the south, and Israel to the southwest....

, and inviting its army
Military of Syria
The Syrian Armed Forces are the military forces of Syria. They consist of the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Air Defense Force.-Manpower:The President of Syria is the commander in chief of the Syrian armed forces, comprising some 646,500 troops upon mobilization. The military is a conscripted force;...

 to intervene against the leftist Lebanese National Movement
Lebanese National Movement
The Lebanese National Movement or Mouvement National Libanais in French, was a front of parties and organizations active during the early years of the Lebanese Civil War...

 (LNM) and its Palestinian
Palestinian people
The Palestinian people, also referred to as Palestinians or Palestinian Arabs , are an Arabic-speaking people with origins in Palestine. Despite various wars and exoduses, roughly one third of the world's Palestinian population continues to reside in the area encompassing the West Bank, the Gaza...

 allies in 1976, Chamoun then gravitated towards opposition to the Syrian presence. In 1980, the NLP's Tigers militia was virtually destroyed by a surprise attack from Chamoun's Christian rival, Bashir Gemayel, and the LF forces under his command. After the Israeli
Israel
The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

 invasion of Lebanon
1982 Lebanon War
The 1982 Lebanon War , , called Operation Peace for Galilee by Israel, and later known in Israel as the Lebanon War and First Lebanon War, began on 6 June 1982, when the Israel Defense Forces invaded southern Lebanon...

 in 1982, Chamoun decided to enter a tactical cooperation with Israel, in order to oppose what he considered a Syrian occupation.

Death and legacy


In 1984, Chamoun agreed to join the National Unity government as Deputy Prime Minister, a post he held until his death in Beirut
Beirut
Beirut is the capital and largest city of Lebanon, with a population ranging from 1 million to more than 2 million . Located on a peninsula at the midpoint of Lebanon's Mediterranean coastline, it serves as the country's largest and main seaport, and also forms the Beirut Metropolitan...

 on 7 August 1987, at the age of 87. He is remembered as one of the main Christian nationalist leaders, and one of the last significant figures of Lebanon's pre-war generation of politicians, whose political influence was eclipsed during the war by that of younger militia commanders.

Camille Chamoun was survived by his two sons, Dany
Dany Chamoun
Dany Chamoun was a prominent Lebanese politician. A Maronite Christian and the younger son of former President Camille Chamoun, Dany Chamoun was also a politician in his own right, and was known for his opposition to the occupation of Lebanese territory by foreign forces, whether Syrian or...

 and Dory
Dory Chamoun
Dory Chamoun is a Lebanese politician who leads the National Liberal Party, and is also a prominent member of the Qornet Shehwan Gathering, a coalition of politicians, academics, and businessmen who oppose the pro-Syrian March 8 Alliance and Syrian influence in Lebanon.Dory Chamoun is the elder...

, both of whom became politicians in the NLP.

See also


Three years following President Camille Chamoun's death, his son Dany was cowardly assassinated at his house in 1990, along with his wife and children. His eldest - first marriage daughter was not in Lebanon. At the time of the attack, one of Dany's housekeepers managed to hide his youngest baby girl from the attackers; She was only a few months old at the time and was eventually raised by her grandparents.