Hashish and Heroin Financed and Fueled the Lebanese Civil War

by Ghassan Karam 

This is the 5th installment of the book: The Lebanese Connection: Corruption, Civil War and the International Drug Traffic by Jonathan Marshall and published as part of the Stanford Studies In Middle Eastern And Islamic Societies And Cultures. The following installment is based on Chapter 5. Since this book has been banned in Lebanon these brief summaries are attempts to make this very important information available to the average Lebanese citizen whose government appears to be continuing the process of shielding the guilty. Sadly, neither the book nor private efforts to publicize it seem to have taken hold in Lebanon. I have no explanation for that.

 

The main business of Lebanon is the production and export of heroin and hashish. DEA report, 1988

 

The 1967 Six Day War brought about another wave of Palestinian refugees to Lebanon. Life in the camps was dismal and many of the new arrivals were bitter, militant and radicalized. A third major wave of refugees from Jordan flooded into these overcrowded camps as a result of the Black September crack down on the Palestinians by King Hussein of Jordan in 1970. These three waves of immigration (1948, 1967, and 1970) had created an unbearable atmosphere in the Palestinian camps and heightened the tension between them and their Lebanese hosts to the point of breaking. Mistrust was rampant on both sides.

The tense conditions led to the series of events mentioned in the previous post and the start of the civil war in 1975. The more intensified the fighting, the greater became the need for arms. But arms were not to be had for the asking. Money had to be found and the easiest was the revenue derived from illicit drugs. The warring militias were also the recipients of the largess of a number of foreign countries. This large dependence on drugs is best seen in the cultivated area of land devoted to marijuana and poppies. It is estimated that Lebanon had about 25,000 acres producing over 700 tons of Hashish valued at about $1 billion. The 75 acres in poppies in 1976 grew to over 7500 acres by 1978.

What was especially tragic for Lebanon was the fact that drugs did not only finance the violence and destruction but they even fueled it. Jonathan Randall wrote in the Washington Post: Christian militiamen with outsize wooden crosses around their necks, high on hashish or cocaine, and wearing surplus Nazi helmets, killed to their hearts content”. This was the Qarantina massacre to which the PLO responded rather immediately by sacking the Christian towns of Damour and Sadiat. The tragic tit for tat , as expected, went on and the next on a long list of troublsome events was the lengthy siege of  Tel Zataar that ended in a massacre.

This heightened the demand for more weapons and for means to pay for them and set up the mad rush for ports both existing and newly built. The Phalangists, the best organized, best trained and best equipped attacked and gained control over Beirut port in addition to that of Jounieh and Kaslik and eventually Halat. Jumblatt built Jiye, Amal had Owzaieh, and Frangieh had the ports in the North. Each of these became a major hub for the export of drugs and the import of weapons, stolen vehicles from Europe and other goods. The Central government was starved.

Obviously the Gemayels were in the driver’s seat; their ports netted them about LL 5 billion between 1975 and 1983. This success was intoxicating. Bashir Gemayel sent a squad of the “boys” under Samir Geagea to teach Tony Frangieh a lesson about who is in control. The Phalangist squad wiped out Tony’s family. This expansion to the North was not enough for Bashir who embarked on a consolidation of the remaining Christian forces by decimating the Chamoun Tigers at Safra Beach Club in 1980. With that under his belt Bashir Gemayel had practically all the ports and their illegal activities under his command. This success had a price, however. The Israelis who had been supplying arms for free demanded payment for future deliveries seeing the area “bursting at the seams with money”. Some estimate that the Hash trade had grown to about $3 billion each year.

Why did the Reagan administration look the other way whenever the Gemayels were caught red handed trafficking and being ruthless. One theory, according to Bob Woodward, is that Bashir was a CIA recruit from 1970 when he was in DC. The US did not only look the other way for Bashir but they have even trained some of his lieutenants such as Elie Hobbeika.

Bashir was elected president on August 23, 1983 but never took office. He was assassinated on September 14 of the same year. The anger over his assassination was parlayed into the gruesome massacres of Sabra and Shatilla by forces led by Elie Hobeika.

The Lebanese learned, the hard way, that they were not immune to drugs. By 1980 about 250,000 Lebanese were regular hashish users. But the crops were large enough that the exports were not affected until 1983-84. That was the time that Lebanon went into a recession since the Israel invasion had disrupted many of the Hashish export routes. Lebanon had become primarily a hashish and heroin producing economy. This recession acted as an incentive to follow the more difficult to intercept heroin and move away from the bulky and less profitable hashish. Heroin Labs became established again and some claim that Rashid Karami was killed because he had favoured giving the Syrian forces more power in the Bekaa valley to intercept the drug trade.

Eventually Amin Gemayel, who had been elected president when his brother was assassinated, had to flee the country. He gave the temporary powers to Michel Aoun who waged a vicious war against the Lebanese Forces and managed to take away their illegal ports and their source of funds. General Aoun won the battle but his megalomania led to a direct confrontation with the Syrian Army and the National Front forces, a confrontation that he lost decisively.

Michel Aoun was forced by the Syrian forces into exile to France when Elias Hrawi was elected as president in 1990  and when he and the Syrian army waged a successful campaign against all militias and their control of all the illegal ports. This development did not eliminate the drug trade but it reduced it significantly and restored to the central government part of its dignity and most importantly sources of income. The agreement arrived at in Taif was partially implemented; militias with the exception of Hezbollah handed over all their heavy weapons and the central government slide into oblivion was reversed, at least temporarily.

  • ghzayel

    ya ghassan,

    after reading this article i couldnt help noticing how much it was full of bias, historical distortions and bordering on serious christian lebanese bashing and eventhough i know you are trying to summarize marshall’s book, nevertheless,  you have the responsibility to censure or refuse to publish excerpts on your web site since, ya ghassan, i am quite sure you dont approve of the accuracy and the fairness in a lot of its contents, for example:

    “This was the Qarantina massacre that was quickly followed by the Tel-Zatar massacre of even more Palestinians”.

    strange how mr. marshall conveniently forgot to mention the 3 phalangist party members that were assasinated by the palestinians at a previous date and the many battles that went on for years between the fully armed palestinians and the christian civilian lebanese in sin el fil, dekwene and mar roukoz etc…  
     
    …”some claim that Rashid Karami was killed because he had favoured giving the Syrian forces more power in the Bekaa valley to intercept the drug trade”???????

    give me a brake!!!!! the syrian regime and its proxies were the main pushers and beneficiaries of the bekaa illegal drug trade. 

    “Christian militiamen with outsize wooden crosses around their necks, high on hashish or cocaine, and wearing surplus Nazi helmets, killed to their hearts content”???????

    come on, i agree that lebanese christians were not saints during the war  but to go on to say that only Christian militiamen were high on drugs and criminals  and all the other lebanese, palestinians and syrians were innocent bystanders that never used drugs and were killed for no reason whatsoever??????????? 

    unfortunately, one thing is for sure regarding the christian lebanese, besides continuously fighting each other,they earned the reputation “al seet la elon wel faal la ghayron” .

    • Ghassan Karam

       ghzayel,
                   I am not try to do a hatchet job on anyone but it does so happen that the high end of the drug trade was controlled essentially by Christian operatives. As is clear practically all those  caught in trafficking both in Lebanon and over seas happen to have been Lebanese Christian nationals. As for the brutality of the inter Christian fights then again the historical record is clear. Mr . Gemayel consolidated the Christian militias by decimating all others. As for the 1975 events it was made clear , I thought, that the Palestinian waves of immigration coupled with the Lebanese refusal to allow integration has led to the Cairo Accords of 1969, arguably the worst kind of an agreement that a sovereign state could ask for. Ironically enough, I understand that the Egyptians among others were surprised when the Lebanese army accepted that deal. Lebanon has paid dearly for that mistake and still is. Most of the important fights that had led to the war had been mentioned including Kahale and Ain Mrayseh.
                 In the final analysis this “series” is about corruption and drug trafficking. The Phalange played a major role in initiating the war, participating in the collapse of the central government and committee some truly hoorific acts against both their :allies” and enemies.

      • nagy_michael2

        Ghassan everyone in the war participated in brutal acts of killing. How about just one single day where druze killed 200 christians and forced Christians to leave the mountains after Jumblat getting killed by Syrian army not christians militias. I have witnessed christians girls raped in Chekka and kidnapped to Palestinians camps in the north. Palestinians started the war and arafat tried to do in lebanon what he couldn’t accomplish in Jordan. Christians getting killed in many places in the world right now and churches getting burned and people massacred. It seems to be easy for other christians and westerners to criticize christians when the commit simple defensive acts when it comes to killing. But the world has not risen against the killing of christians in Nigeria or ever forced mubarak to protect the christians in Egypt when many got killed at the hands of muslim extremists. Or after mubarak was forced out, the egyptian army overran christians protesters with tanks and even went on radio calling them bastards. did the western world cry fouls? did you say anything about it.. Even Thomas Friedman criticized christians militia and stop short of others. he forget his own general sharon let the palestinians getting killed at the hands of madman elie hobeikah.. then the syrian regime appointed him minister because he turned on the christians militia. tell me when and what the Syria army do good for lebanon? there is nothing came out good of them period. they even stole bricks and charcoals and beat up fruit vendors.. Syrian were involved heavly in drug trafficking and shawkat and Ghazi Kannaan and bashar clans all got rich from drugs that was exported from Lebanon. you’re really should do your homework before you write such articles..

        • Hannibal

          Very well said… As usual a hack from America writes from one angle. When 911 happened everyone woke up with revenge in their eyes and they destroyed two nations but the Christians of the middle east have been subjected to ethnic cleansing and nobody lifts a finger. 
          Look at the statistics, even in Beyt lahem proper a town of 100% Christian Palestinians has been reduced to 90% Moslems and that is the cradle of Jesus and Christianity. Go figure,

        • Ghassan Karam

           nagy_michael2
                                I guess people have always read acsome accounts selectively and always would.
                                I do not see where you find that this was an attack on the Christians. That one event of fighters with crosses  was used to illustrate the effect of drugs. It passed no judgement on anyone.
                                You did not expect to read about every single incident of a 15 year vicious war in the space of a few hundred words did you? This book is not a historical account of the Lebanese civil war, this was only a small chapter showing the role that trafficking played in financing the war.Obviously Bashir Gemayel was the major figure during this period otherwise he would not have been elected a president. He wasn’t only a major player bur appeared to be the winner of this struggle.

        • nagy_michael2

          Ghassan the article about drugs but you also mentioned the massacres at Sabra and Chatilla. So when deviating from the real subject of the article then i have to assume you’re singling them out. Sorry!

    • LEBANON101

      “the
      Tel-Zatar massacre of even more Palestinians. The horror did not stop
      here since no bad deed goes unnoticed. The Palestinians and their
      friends on the National Front took their revenge by sacking the
      Christian towns of Damour and Sadiat”.

      this is factually
      incorrect… tel-zaatar took place august/12/1976 there was 50,000
      Palestinians in that camp of which estimates of 1000 died in BATTLE .
      the phalangist lost about 500 men . that’s hardly a massacre. the damour
      massacre on the other hand took place January 19/1976 8 months before
      tel zaatar and at the same exact time as qarantina. so how was the
      damour massacre revenge for tel zaatar when it took place BEFORE tel
      zaatar?

      • Ghassan Karam

         Lebanon101,
                           I have already responded to your concern above. You must have ,mistakenly, ended up with two posts of the same issue. Take care.

  • ghzayel

    ya ghassan,

    after reading this article i couldnt help noticing how much it was full of bias, historical distortions and bordering on serious christian lebanese bashing and eventhough i know you are trying to summarize marshall’s book, nevertheless,  you have the responsibility to censure or refuse to publish excerpts on your web site since, ya ghassan, i am quite sure you dont approve of the accuracy and the fairness in a lot of its contents, for example:

    “This was the Qarantina massacre that was quickly followed by the Tel-Zatar massacre of even more Palestinians”.

    strange how mr. marshall conveniently forgot to mention the 3 phalangist party members that were assasinated by the palestinians at a previous date and the many battles that went on for years between the fully armed palestinians and the christian civilian lebanese in sin el fil, dekwene and mar roukoz etc…  
     
    …”some claim that Rashid Karami was killed because he had favoured giving the Syrian forces more power in the Bekaa valley to intercept the drug trade”???????

    give me a brake!!!!! the syrian regime and its proxies were the main pushers and beneficiaries of the bekaa illegal drug trade. 

    “Christian militiamen with outsize wooden crosses around their necks, high on hashish or cocaine, and wearing surplus Nazi helmets, killed to their hearts content”???????

    come on, i agree that lebanese christians were not saints during the war  but to go on to say that only Christian militiamen were high on drugs and criminals  and all the other lebanese, palestinians and syrians were innocent bystanders that never used drugs and were killed for no reason whatsoever??????????? 

    unfortunately, one thing is for sure regarding the christian lebanese, besides continuously fighting each other,they earned the reputation “al seet la elon wel faal la ghayron” .

    • http://profiles.google.com/karam.ghassan Ghassan Karam

       ghzayel,
                   I am not try to do a hatchet job on anyone but it does so happen that the high end of the drug trade was controlled essentially by Christian operatives. As is clear practically all those  caught in trafficking both in Lebanon and over seas happen to have been Lebanese Christian nationals. As for the brutality of the inter Christian fights then again the historical record is clear. Mr . Gemayel consolidated the Christian militias by decimating all others. As for the 1975 events it was made clear , I thought, that the Palestinian waves of immigration coupled with the Lebanese refusal to allow integration has led to the Cairo Accords of 1969, arguably the worst kind of an agreement that a sovereign state could ask for. Ironically enough, I understand that the Egyptians among others were surprised when the Lebanese army accepted that deal. Lebanon has paid dearly for that mistake and still is. Most of the important fights that had led to the war had been mentioned including Kahale and Ain Mrayseh.
                 In the final analysis this “series” is about corruption and drug trafficking. The Phalange played a major role in initiating the war, participating in the collapse of the central government and committee some truly hoorific acts against both their :allies” and enemies.

      • nagy_michael2

        Ghassan everyone in the war participated in brutal acts of killing. How about just one single day where druze killed 200 christians and forced Christians to leave the mountains after Jumblat getting killed by Syrian army not christians militias. I have witnessed christians girls raped in Chekka and kidnapped to Palestinians camps in the north. Palestinians started the war and arafat tried to do in lebanon what he couldn’t accomplish in Jordan. Christians getting killed in many places in the world right now and churches getting burned and people massacred. It seems to be easy for other christians and westerners to criticize christians when the commit simple defensive acts when it comes to killing. But the world has not risen against the killing of christians in Nigeria or ever forced mubarak to protect the christians in Egypt when many got killed at the hands of muslim extremits. Or after mubarak forced out the egyptian army overran christians protesters with tanks and even went on radio calling them bastards. did the western world cry fouls? did you say anything about it.. Even Thomas Friedman criticized christians militia and stop short of others. he forget his own general sharon let the palestinians getting killed at the hands of madman elie hobeikah.. then the syrian regime appointed him minister because he turned on the christians militia. tell me when and what the Syria army do good for lebanon? there is nothing came out good of them period. they even stole bricks and charcoals and beat up fruit vendors.. Syrian were involved heavly in drug trafficking and shawkat and Ghazi Kannaan and bashar clans all got rich from drugs that was exported from Lebanon. you’re really should do your homework before you write such articles..

        • Hannibal

          Very well said… As usual a hack from America writes from one angle. When 911 happened everyone woke up with revenge in their eyes and they destroyed two nations but the Christians of the middle east have been subjected to ethnic cleansing and nobody lifts a finger. 
          Look at the statistics, even in Beyt lahem proper a town of 100% Christian Palestinians has been reduced to 90% Moslems and that is the cradle of Jesus and Christianity. Go figure,

        • http://profiles.google.com/karam.ghassan Ghassan Karam

           nagy_michael2
                                I guess people have always read acsome accounts selectively and always would.
                                I do not see where you find that this was an attack on the Christians. That one event of fighters with crosses  was used to illustrate the effect of drugs. It passed no judgement on anyone.
                                You did not expect to read about every single incident of a 15 year vicious war in the space of a few hundred words did you? This book is not a historical account of the Lebanese civil war, this was only a small chapter showing the role that trafficking played in financing the war.Obviously Bashir Gemayel was the major figure during this period otherwise he would not have been elected a president. He wasn’t only a major player bur appeared to be the winner of this struggle.

        • nagy_michael2

          Ghassan the article about drugs but you also mentioned the massacres at Sabra and Chatilla. So when deviating from the real subject of the article then i have to assume you’re singling them out. Sorry!

    • LEBANON101

      “the
      Tel-Zatar massacre of even more Palestinians. The horror did not stop
      here since no bad deed goes unnoticed. The Palestinians and their
      friends on the National Front took their revenge by sacking the
      Christian towns of Damour and Sadiat”.

      this is factually
      incorrect… tel-zaatar took place august/12/1976 there was 50,000
      Palestinians in that camp of which estimates of 1000 died in BATTLE .
      the phalangist lost about 500 men . that’s hardly a massacre. the damour
      massacre on the other hand took place January 19/1976 8 months before
      tel zaatar and at the same exact time as qarantina. so how was the
      damour massacre revenge for tel zaatar when it took place BEFORE tel
      zaatar?

      • http://profiles.google.com/karam.ghassan Ghassan Karam

         Lebanon101,
                           I have already responded to your concern above. You must have ,mistakenly, ended up with two posts of the same issue. Take care.

  • LEBANON101

    “the
    Tel-Zatar massacre of even more Palestinians. The horror did not stop
    here since no bad deed goes unnoticed. The Palestinians and their
    friends on the National Front took their revenge by sacking the
    Christian towns of Damour and Sadiat”.

    this is factually incorrect… tel-zaatar took place august/12/1976 there was 50,000 Palestinians in that camp of which estimates of 1000 died in BATTLE . the phalangist lost about 500 men . that’s hardly a massacre. the damour massacre on the other hand took place January 19/1976 8 months before tel zaatar and at the same exact time as qarantina. so how was the damour massacre revenge for tel zaatar when it took place BEFORE tel zaatar?

    • Ghassan Karam

       Lebanon101,
                         I will review the dates tomorrow since I do not have the time at the moment. Thank you for your input on this. Please keep in mind that this might have been my error and not that of the book in question. Thanks again for taking the time to contact me and point out this potential discrepancy. No one is interested in creating “new” facts. I can assure you of that.

      • LEBANON101

         its not your fault Mr. Karam its a VERY VERY WIDELY made mistake that people think the damour massacre was retaliation for the military defeat at tel zaatar. when in reality damour happened first. this myth is just cycled around to make the phalangist look like aggressors. no one in the lebanese civil was was innocent. but ill take a lebanese criminal over a foreign one

    • Ghassan Karam

       Lebanon101,
                         I did some doublechecking and found out that you were right. KarantinaJan 18, 1976; responded to by the PLO on January 20, 1976 by sacking Damour while Tel Zataar did not fall until Aug12 1976. I did a quick edit of the sentence in question but will not be able to review it for another 4 hours. Thanks for the tip.

  • LEBANON101

    “the
    Tel-Zatar massacre of even more Palestinians. The horror did not stop
    here since no bad deed goes unnoticed. The Palestinians and their
    friends on the National Front took their revenge by sacking the
    Christian towns of Damour and Sadiat”.

    this is factually incorrect… tel-zaatar took place august/12/1976 there was 50,000 Palestinians in that camp of which estimates of 1000 died in BATTLE . the phalangist lost about 500 men . that’s hardly a massacre. the damour massacre on the other hand took place January 19/1976 8 months before tel zaatar and at the same exact time as qarantina. so how was the damour massacre revenge for tel zaatar when it took place BEFORE tel zaatar?

    • http://profiles.google.com/karam.ghassan Ghassan Karam

       Lebanon101,
                         I will review the dates tomorrow since I do not have the time at the moment. Thank you for your input on this. Please keep in mind that this might have been my error and not that of the book in question. Thanks again for taking the time to contact me and point out this potential discrepancy. No one is interested in creating “new” facts. I can assure you of that.

      • LEBANON101

         its not your fault Mr. Karam its a VERY VERY WIDELY made mistake that people think the damour massacre was retaliation for the military defeat at tel zaatar. when in reality damour happened first. this myth is just cycled around to make the phalangist look like aggressors. no one in the lebanese civil was was innocent. but ill take a lebanese criminal over a foreign one

    • http://profiles.google.com/karam.ghassan Ghassan Karam

       Lebanon101,
                         I did some doublechecking and found out that you were right. KarantinaJan 18, 1976; responded to by the PLO on January 20, 1976 by sacking Damour while Tel Zataar did not fall until Aug12 1976. I did a quick edit of the sentence in question but will not be able to review it for another 4 hours. Thanks for the tip.

  • Guest

    Dear Mr. Karam:

    Life for the general Christian population in Jaatawi, Mar Mikhael, Kalil Badawi, and even Berj hammoud was deplorable before the Phalengist had no choice other than to take out the criminal Palestinian element and clean out Karantina.  On a monthly basis, as a teenager, I witnessed, 16 year old boys kidnapped, their blood drained out and left in the street corners.  16 year old  Armenian girl from B.H. kidnapped, tied-up on wooden cross on a Jeep sexually violated in open view where her father helplessly watched across the bridge.  I know of at least two teenagers, ages 17 to 19, kidnapped and mutilated. Snipers from Telet Zaatar shooting at school kids walking on the streets of lower part of Jaatawi around the CMC Hospital area.  I know at least one kid who died and another one paralyzed. Lets not forget about the bomb that went off in a cafe at this same area killing about 15 kids.

    My recollection tells me that Karantina happened in January or February of 1976.  One of the heavy guns used by the Phalangist that faithful night was directly across our building further up the “Beyout el Zabat” in Jaatawi.  I can’t say I had any hard feelings about what was being done (ousting them from my neighborhood) even when I saw bus loads of Palestinians, mostly women and children, being driven out of the area.  Having said that, I remember looking inside one of the buses that drove by, I saw a young girl about my age and our eyes caught.  She was supposed to be the enemy …  I HOPPED NOTHING BAD WOULD HAPPEN TO HER.

    I knew most of the Phalangist fighters in my area, though not very nice people and had to deal with Armenian bashing on a daily basis, I did not see such fighters with Nazi helmets or distinguished wooded crosses.  I do recall one young guy who rode a motorcycle wearing an old German military helmet, but, having said that, I had an old French revolver from the early 1900s. This does not mean that there was Nazi inspired movement.

    The moral of the story is that the Lebanese people were, and still are, the victims caused by Israeli / Palestinian conflict.  I don’t blame the Lebanese wanting to export the responsible people and their conflict out of Lebanon.

    I am not so sure about this indirect/subtle bias against the Christians.

    • LEBANON101

       tell zaatar and karantina where battles not massacres…. there was a combined 85,000 Palestinians in both those camps. a total of 2000 died and this cost the phlangist 760 of there own men. thats not a massacre thats a battle. damour is a different story. there was no heavily armed military force protecting damour like there was at tel zaatar

    • Ghassan Karam

       Allfor1Lebanon,
                         I have nothing but deep respect for the personal beliefs held by various people be it Moslems, Christians , Jews … This is NOT about religion. It is so obvious that the whole series is about the effect that the drug trade has had on Lebanon ever since its inception including its uglycivil war . It is also obvious that during the period of 1970-1990 Lebanon became a Narco state. Hashish was smuggled all over the world. Lebanon was producing over 700 tons of Hashish a year… If the major figures in the drug trade happened to be Lebanese Christians then so be it. But I have a feeling that some appear to be especially “offended” by the Washington Poat quote. Well, Karantina was a shocker and Mr. Randall , a very well respected journalist, was in essence saying that drugs fueled the ugliness in the war. If this sentence is removed then the story about drugs would still be there but I believe that the quote adds an important dimension by showing how low humans can fall when they are acting under the influence. The real tradgedy of drugs in Lebanon, besides the gruesome acts committed by its users was the fact that Producers can become users. The strong belief that was prevalent in Lebanon is that we produce and sell to others proved to be false.Over five % of the Lebanese population became active users. This is a problem that is still with us and is not likely to go away.

      • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NYRtmMxB5yw CrossWinds

        People living this lifestyle will not be able to stand before The Lord Jesus Christ……..
        ….Revelation 1:13-18
        …..13 and in the midst of the seven lampstands One like the Son of Man, clothed with a garment down to the feet and girded about the chest with a golden band. 14 His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow, and His eyes like a flame of fire; 15 His feet were like fine brass, as if refined in a furnace, and His voice as the sound of many waters; 16 He had in His right hand seven stars, out of His mouth went a sharp two-edged sword, and His countenance was like the sun shining in its strength. 17 And when I saw Him, I fell at His feet as dead. But He laid His right hand on me, saying to me, “Do not be afraid; I am the First and the Last. 18 I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore. Amen. And I have the keys of Hades and of Death.

  • ALLFOR1LEBANON

    Dear Mr. Karam:

    Life for the general Christian population in Jaatawi, Mar Mikhael, Kalil Badawi, and even Berj hammoud was deplorable before the Phalengist had no choice other than to take out the criminal Palestinian element and clean out Karantina.  On a monthly basis, as a teenager, I witnessed, 16 year old boys kidnapped, their blood drained out and left in the street corners.  16 year old  Armenia girl from B.H. kidnapped, tied-up on wooden cross on a Jeep sexually violated in open view where her father helplessly watched across the bridge.  I know of at least two teenagers, ages 17 to 19, kidnapped and mutilated, snipers from Telet Zaatar shooting at school kid walking on the streets of lower part of Jaatawi and CMC Hospital area.  I know at least one kid who died and another one paralyzed.

    My recollections tells me that Karantina happened in January or February of 1976.  One of the heavy guns used by the Phalangist that faithful night was directly across our building further up the “Beyout el Zabat” in Jaatawi.  I can’t say I had any hard feelings about what was being done even when I saw bus loads of Palestinians, mostly women and children, being driven out of the area.  Having said that, I remember looking inside one of the buses that drove by, I saw a young girl about my age and our eyes caught.  She was supposed to be the enemy …  I hopped nothing bad was going to happen to her.

    I new most of the Phalangist fighters in my area, though not very nice people and had to deal with Armenian bashing on a daily basis, I did not see such fighters with Nazi helmets or distinguished wooded crosses.  I do recall one young guy who rode a motorcycle wearing an old German military helmet, but having said that I had an old French revolver from the early 1900s. This does not mean that there was Nazi inspired movement.

    The moral of the story is that the Lebanese people were, and still are, the victims caused by Israeli / Palestinian conflict.  I don’t blame the Lebanese wanting to export the responsible people and their conflict out of Lebanon.

    I am not so sure about this indirect/subtle bias against the Christians.

    • LEBANON101

       tell zaatar and karantina where battles not massacres…. there was a combined 85,000 Palestinians in both those camps. a total of 2000 died and this cost the phlangist 760 of there own men. thats not a massacre thats a battle. damour is a different story. there was no heavily armed military force protecting damour like there was at tel zaatar

    • http://profiles.google.com/karam.ghassan Ghassan Karam

       Allfor1Lebanon,
                         I have nothing but deep respect for the personal beliefs held by various people be it Moslems, Christians , Jews … This is NOT about religion. It is so obvious that the whole series is about the effect that the drug trade has had on Lebanon ever since its inception including its uglycivil war . It is also obvious that during the period of 1970-1990 Lebanon became a Narco state. Hashish was smuggled all over the world. Lebanon was producing over 700 tons of Hashish a year… If the major figures in the drug trade happened to be Lebanese Christians then so be it. But I have a feeling that some appear to be especially “offended” by the Washington Poat quote. Well, Karantina was a shocker and Mr. Randall , a very well respected journalist, was in essence saying that drugs fueled the ugliness in the war. If this sentence is removed then the story about drugs would still be there but I believe that the quote adds an important dimension by showing how low humans can fall when they are acting under the influence. The real tradgedy of drugs in Lebanon, besides the gruesome acts committed by its users was the fact that Producers can become users. The strong belief that was prevalent in Lebanon is that we produce and sell to others proved to be false.Over five % of the Lebanese population became active users. This is a problem that is still with us and is not likely to go away.

      • Plumbline

        People living this lifestyle will not be able to stand before The Lord Jesus Christ……..
        ….Revelation 1:13-18
        …..13 and in the midst of the seven lampstands One like the Son of Man, clothed with a garment down to the feet and girded about the chest with a golden band. 14 His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow, and His eyes like a flame of fire; 15 His feet were like fine brass, as if refined in a furnace, and His voice as the sound of many waters; 16 He had in His right hand seven stars, out of His mouth went a sharp two-edged sword, and His countenance was like the sun shining in its strength. 17 And when I saw Him, I fell at His feet as dead. But He laid His right hand on me, saying to me, “Do not be afraid; I am the First and the Last. 18 I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore. Amen. And I have the keys of Hades and of Death.

  • Ghassan Karam

    Hannibal,
                 You do not want to deny the role of trafficking in illicit drugs or the fact that the the Phalange had control of Beirut port, Jounieh, Kaslik, Halat and the drug trade. These are facts. None of this condemn Christians or favours the Palestinians. It is simply an account of some major events that took place during the Lebanese Civil war that are connected to drugs. Where do you think the money came from? How were all these fighters paid? And by the way who was Elie Hobeika…
                Don’t try to divert attention from the only argument in the book. The Lebanese ruling class, most of them, have been connected intimately to the drug trade over the whole history of Lebanon including such major figures as Beshara Khoury, Sabri Hamade, Abdallah YafiCamille Chamoun, Suleiman Frangieh, Samir Geagea , Amal, Jumblatt… Under such circumstances it is fair to ask whether Lebanon had become a Narco State and whether it has had the courage to face these past events.
               Mr. Marshall researched the archives and produced a compelling account of how “shadowy drug cultivation, international arms trade, institutionalized corruption and organised crime overlapped in the twentieth century Middle East”. He had no agenda. 

    • Hannibal

      I am perfectly with you on that… It is how you spin it in your text that is getting to me… bolding at every juncture the Christian deeds… Go back and review those articles and you will see that you put in bold the Christian acts but not the Palestinians or other leftists “greater achievements”… Marketing goes a long way at getting people’s attention to one side of the story… Other than that I know that Hobeika and his men were the perpetrators of many atrocities… Alas, although I was sympathetic to te cause I could never do what they did. Killing the innocent is really beyond justification or comprehension. I have heard people say if you kill a Palestinian kid you save the world a grown up terrorist… Terror is made in my opinion by lack of opportunities and lack of justice…
      As to the drug trade, although those despots and so called leaders seem to finance the war I guarantee you it financed their pockets and NOT the poor militiamen who died for country or cause… How do I know? I was one of them and saw where the money of plunders went. The poor kids who died on both sides were just stooges for the personal agendas of the few… But isn’t it the same worldwide? In the U.S. we call the criminals lobbyist.

      • Ghassan Karam

         Hannibal,
                       I do not think that there is much disagreement on these issues butbelieve me that I anticipated that some might grumble about the Randal line but I did not expect it to blur everything else. To me the power of that line is not that they had crosses but it is that despite their personal beliefs in equity and turning the other cheek yet they did commit atrocities. They did that because of the effect of drugs. But hell who am I telling this to, a person that lived it. Your experience must have been very difficult and disappointing at some level.
                      ( I am glad to find out that the hack was not Jonathan Marshall but it was I :-))

    • Requiem123

      Ghassan, et al,

      I have been reading this series of articles and the resulting back & forth replies with interest.  I admit that my reasons are mostly academic in that I am neither lebanese nor christian, nor palestinian, nor moslem, etc.  In fact I have no dog in this hunt, as they say in some parts of the globe.  So I am reading as someone who thinks himself impartial.

      I have no doubt that lebanese are as corrupt as most anyone else and that the factionalization of its society creates fertile ground for endless intrigue and thus the sport of your “he said/she said bantering”.  Lebanon is a remarkably weak country with profound internal divisions. It’s located amidst the battlefields of conquering armies.  It has witnessed ceaseless wars and it is a pawn of surrogate forces which deny it any chance of harmony.

      Yet you manage to keep pleasant spirits in spite of the impending doom knocking on your door step.  Bravo!  Your demise will be remembered as yet another page of history.

      • 5thDrawer

        Was that your requiem for the demise?? I think we could fluff it out a little.  ;-)

        • Hannibal

          Requiem is making his fortune selling coffins… Demise? Really? I mean hasn’t he read history that armies come and go but we Lebanese remain? We are resilient and we reemerge like the Phoenix bird, yet to be burnt again… We cannot help it, we are attracted to Sun and glory… ;)

        • 5thDrawer

          Yes Hannibal … love that Sun-god :-) But we still need the solar collectors mounted on Mt. Lenanon. :-))

  • http://profiles.google.com/karam.ghassan Ghassan Karam

    Hannibal,
                 You do not want to deny the role of trafficking in illicit drugs or the fact that the the Phalange had control of Beirut port, Jounieh, Kaslik, Halat and the drug trade. These are facts. None of this condemn Christians or favours the Palestinians. It is simply an account of some major events that took place during the Lebanese Civil war that are connected to drugs. Where do you think the money came from? How were all these fighters paid? And by the way who was Elie Hobeika…
                Don’t try to divert attention from the only argument in the book. The Lebanese ruling class, most of them, have been connected intimately to the drug trade over the whole history of Lebanon including such major figures as Beshara Khoury, Sabri Hamade, Abdallah YafiCamille Chamoun, Suleiman Frangieh, Samir Geagea , Amal, Jumblatt… Under such circumstances it is fair to ask whether Lebanon had become a Narco State and whether it has had the courage to face these past events.
               Mr. Marshall researched the archives and produced a compelling account of how “shadowy drug cultivation, international arms trade, institutionalized corruption and organised crime overlapped in the twentieth century Middle East”. He had no agenda. 

    • Hannibal

      I am perfectly with you on that… It is how you spin it in your text that is getting to me… bolding at every juncture the Christian deeds… Go back and review those articles and you will see that you put in bold the Christian acts but not the Palestinians or other leftists “greater achievements”… Marketing goes a long way at getting people’s attention to one side of the story… Other than that I know that Hobeika and his men were the perpetrators of many atrocities… Alas, although I was sympathetic to te cause I could never do what they did. Killing the innocent is really beyond justification or comprehension. I have heard people say if you kill a Palestinian kid you save the world a grown up terrorist… Terror is made in my opinion by lack of opportunities and lack of justice…
      As to the drug trade, although those despots and so called leaders seem to finance the war I guarantee you it financed their pockets and NOT the poor militiamen who died for country or cause… How do I know? I was one of them and saw where the money of plunders went. The poor kids who died on both sides were just stooges for the personal agendas of the few… But isn’t it the same worldwide? In the U.S. we call the criminals lobbyist.

      • http://profiles.google.com/karam.ghassan Ghassan Karam

         Hannibal,
                       I do not think that there is much disagreement on these issues butbelieve me that I anticipated that some might grumble about the Randal line but I did not expect it to blur everything else. To me the power of that line is not that they had crosses but it is that despite their personal beliefs in equity and turning the other cheek yet they did commit atrocities. They did that because of the effect of drugs. But hell who am I telling this to, a person that lived it. Your experience must have been very difficult and disappointing at some level.
                      ( I am glad to find out that the hack was not Jonathan Marshall but it was I :-))

    • Requiem123

      Ghassan, et al,

      I have been reading this series of articles and the resulting back & forth replies with interest.  I admit that my reasons are mostly academic in that I am neither lebanese nor christian, nor palestinian, nor moslem, etc.  In fact I have no dog in this hunt, as they say in some parts of the globe.  So I am reading as someone who thinks himself impartial.

      I have no doubt that lebanese are as corrupt as most anyone else and that the factionalization of its society creates fertile ground for endless intrigue and thus the sport of your “he said/she said bantering”.  Lebanon is a remarkably weak country with profound internal divisions. It’s located amidst the battlefields of conquering armies.  It has witnessed ceaseless wars and it is a pawn of surrogate forces which deny it any chance of harmony.

      Yet you manage to keep pleasant spirits in spite of the impending doom knocking on your door step.  Bravo!  Your demise will be remembered as yet another page of history.

      • 5thDrawer

        Was that your requiem for the demise??   ;-)

        • Hannibal

          Requiem is making his fortune selling coffins… Demise? Really? I mean hasn’t he read history that armies come and go but we Lebanese remain? We are resilient and we reemerge like the Phoenix bird, yet to be burnt again… We cannot help it, we are attracted to Sun and glory… ;)

        • 5thDrawer

          Yes Hannibal … love that Sun-god :-) But we still need the solar collectors mounted on Mt. Lenanon. :-))

  • MeYosemite

    Bashir did consolidate the drug operations to fund the cause instead. That has been also a directive from the US from the beginning. The US navy six fleet was positioned just across the Lebanese port. The self funding operations had to be done as sustainability was of essence instead being dependent on donation and thus not being controlled by anyone. That was a speech I listened to by bashir in 1978.
    But drugs in the ranks were not allowed (Bashir time).
    As my personal opinion and experience in the matter, I am proud of what Bashir did. But his dad was the worst politician, and I blame Pierre for calling Syrians.
    I think the best reading ever on the Christian phalange and operations is in pity the nation (by Fisk). Woodward had more the US details in his book. Other modern readings takes many Lebanese context out as influenced by the Mexican Cartel’s

    • Ghassan Karam

       MeYosemite,
                         Thank you for that great insight. Incredibly enough I had suggested that something must have been going on since it appeared that the US was not concerned about the drug connection especially when one of the young Gemayels was caught in Italy with Heroin and was sentenced to 9 years. Your observation fits the narrative very well. It is also important to note that the Reagan administration had asked many to use drug to finance their operations; Nicaragua and Afghanistan come to mind.

  • MeYosemite

    Bashir did consolidate the drug operations to fund the cause instead. That has been also a directive from the US from the beginning. The US navy six fleet was positioned just across the Lebanese port. The self funding operations had to be done as sustainability was of essence instead being dependent on donation and thus not being controlled by anyone. That was a speech I listened to by bashir in 1978.
    But drugs in the ranks were not allowed (Bashir time).
    As my personal opinion and experience in the matter, I am proud of what Bashir did. But his dad was the worst politician, and I blame Pierre for calling Syrians.
    I think the best reading ever on the Christian phalange and operations is in pity the nation (by Fisk). Woodward had more the US details in his book. Other modern readings takes many Lebanese context out as influenced by the Mexican Cartel’s

    • http://profiles.google.com/karam.ghassan Ghassan Karam

       MeYosemite,
                         Thank you for that great insight. Incredibly enough I had suggested that something must have been going on since it appeared that the US was not concerned about the drug connection especially when one of the young Gemayels was caught in Italy with Heroin and was sentenced to 9 years. Your observation fits the narrative very well. It is also important to note that the Reagan administration had asked many to use drug to finance their operations; Nicaragua and Afghanistan come to mind.

  • ghzayel

    hannibal
    you are absolutely right on target when you mentioned how the writer of this article interpreted by mr karam blaringly put in bold and focused  SOLELY on the misdeeds of the christian leaders during the civil war.
     
    it is true that some christian leaders benefited from the drug trade and all sorts of illegal commercial activities since before the independence of lebanon but they were minor players compared with others on the lebanese scene.
     
    mr marshall seems to forget conspicuously the role of the various shia leaders even before sabri hamade the late lebanese speaker of parliament who used to attend or shall we say sleep stoned during the sessions.
     
    mr marshall also forgot and i wonder why??? to mention that most illegal drug manufacturing packaging and distribution as well as traffic of stolen vehicles and counterfeit of money etc ….happened in specific geographic locations well known to everybody and belonging to one particular lebanese group nowadays represented by hezballah.  
     
    the dilemna of the christian lebanese and for that matter most of the christians in the midlle east boils down to this: they are trying to adhere to higher moral standards derived mostly from the west and the various respective christian references that are forcing them to submit each other and their leaders to a certain degree of constructive and sometimes destructive criticism and sickening scrutiny that turn to animosity.
     
    the example we have of aoun and geagea and their personal open ended feud that is overshadowing the crucial issue of the future existence of the christian lebanese is a case in point and the political and moral standards no matter how little these two leaders are using to evaluate each other do not apply in the same degree to their compatriots from other religions nor to their arab neighbors in general. 

  • ghzayel

    hannibal
    you are absolutely right on target when you mentioned how the writer of this article interpreted by mr karam blaringly put in bold and focused  SOLELY on the misdeeds of the christian leaders during the civil war.
     
    it is true that some christian leaders benefited from the drug trade and all sorts of illegal commercial activities since before the independence of lebanon but they were minor players compared with others on the lebanese scene.
     
    mr marshall seems to forget conspicuously the role of the various shia leaders even before sabri hamade the late lebanese speaker of parliament who used to attend or shall we say sleep stoned during the sessions.
     
    mr marshall also forgot and i wonder why??? to mention that most illegal drug manufacturing packaging and distribution as well as traffic of stolen vehicles and counterfeit of money etc ….happened in specific geographic locations well known to everybody and belonging to one particular lebanese group nowadays represented by hezballah.  
     
    the dilemna of the christian lebanese and for that matter most of the christians in the midlle east boils down to this: they are trying to adhere to higher moral standards derived mostly from the west and the various respective christian references that are forcing them to submit each other and their leaders to a certain degree of constructive and sometimes destructive criticism and sickening scrutiny that turn to animosity.
     
    the example we have of aoun and geagea and their personal open ended feud that is overshadowing the crucial issue of the future existence of the christian lebanese is a case in point and the political and moral standards no matter how little these two leaders are using to evaluate each other do not apply in the same degree to their compatriots from other religions nor to their arab neighbors in general. 

  • 5thDrawer

    Dear Ghassan. In a country where ‘book-banning’, lack of a ‘free press’, lack of ‘accurate history in schooling’, and constant ‘court-record secrecy’ are the normal ways of controlling the citizens – whether this is done by the power-tripping gangs or by the religious despots who all make money in their mutual supporting efforts – I think it is not too hard to imagine why ‘neither the book nor private efforts to publicize it seem to have taken hold in Lebanon.’ Indeed, there is little truth available anywhere for an individual to be able to make even electoral decisions with.
    Also People, generally, are happy not knowing these things if they THINK it doesn’t affect their daily lives, as they scrabble to make a living for themselves … or just get past the occasional hail of bullets thrown by the gangs, in their deluded ‘religious’ efforts to eradicate each other over the insanity going on in Syria … which insanity flows happily into Lebanon – especially in Tripoli, a major ‘port’.
    All the armies of history have walked over the Lebanese mountains, and the gangs do as well. The beauty of the place hides the truths, and the ‘average Joe’ just wants to live a quiet life. With no knowledge, he can’t figure out why it is always an impoverished life, of course, but the rumour-mills abound and it’s best to just keep the head down. 

  • 5thDrawer

    Dear Ghassan. In a country where ‘book-banning’, lack of a ‘free press’, lack of ‘accurate history in schooling’, and constant ‘court-record secrecy’ are the normal ways of controlling the citizens – whether this is done by the power-tripping gangs or by the religious despots who all make money in their mutual supporting efforts – I think it is not too hard to imagine why ‘neither the book nor private efforts to publicize it seem to have taken hold in Lebanon.’ Indeed, there is little truth available anywhere for an individual to be able to make even electoral decisions with.
    Also People, generally, are happy not knowing these things if they THINK it doesn’t affect their daily lives, as they scrabble to make a living for themselves … or just get past the occasional hail of bullets thrown by the gangs, in their deluded ‘religious’ efforts to eradicate each other over the insanity going on in Syria … which insanity flows happily into Lebanon – especially in Tripoli, a major ‘port’.
    All the armies of history have walked over the Lebanese mountains, and the gangs do as well. The beauty of the place hides the truths, and the ‘average Joe’ just wants to live a quiet life. With no knowledge, he can’t figure out why it is always an impoverished life, of course, but the rumour-mills abound and it’s best to just keep the head down.