Walid Jumblatt

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Walid Jumblatt

Walid Jumblatt (born August 7, 1949), is the current leader of the Progressive Socialist Party of Lebanon and the most prominent leader of the Druze community.

Walid Jumblatt is the son of Kamal Jumblatt, the founder of the party Walid Jumblatt now leads. Before his ascension to power following his father's assassination, he was considered to be a "playboy," wearing jeans and a leather jacket, riding a motorcycle and marrying a non-Druze, Jordanian woman.

However, during the Israeli occupation and subsequent withdrawal of Lebanon in 1982 and 1983, Jumblatt's militia, backed by Soviet weaponry from Syria, overran sixty Maronite villages, killing thousands, but securing a Druze victory and solidifying his position as leader of the Druze.

The BBC describes Jumblatt as "being seen by many as the country's political weathervane." (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/4348129.stm) He has a successful record of changing allegiances to ensure that the sectarian interests of the Druze emerge on the winning side of the political issues and conflicts shaping Lebanon, from the turmoil of the 1975-1990 civil war to Lebanon's reconstruction. Like several other sectarian leaders, he was a supporter of the Syrian military presence (described as an occupation by anti-Syrian elements) in Lebanon after the civil war, but since the death of former Syrian President Hafez al-Assad in 2000, he has campaigned for the end of Syrian influence in Lebanon. This has pitted him against President mile Lahoud, a strong supporter of Syria.

After the assassination of Rafik Hariri in 2005, Jumblatt alleged that a shaken Hariri had told him months before that he was personally threatened by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad during a 15-minute meeting in the Syrian capital Damascus in August 2004: "(President) Lahoud is me ... If you and Chirac want me out of Lebanon, I will break Lebanon." (http://www.nytimes.com/2005/03/20/international/middleeast/20lebanon.html?ei=5094&en=441b692d8c0ef46a&hp=&ex=1111294800&partner=homepage&pagewanted=all&position=). Jumblatt said "When I heard him telling us those words, I knew that it was his condemnation of death." His comments have been included in the FitzGerald Report, the United Nations's report on the investigation of the Hariri assassination. The report criticizes Syria for the political tensions which preceded the assassination. The United States, the European Union and the United Nations have demanded a Syrian pullout from Lebanon and an international investigation into Hariri's murder.

Jumblatt has publicly spoken of his fear of being assassinated, like Hariri, because of his current stance towards Damascus.

See also

External links

de:Walid Dschunblat fr:Walid Joumblatt nl:Walid Jumblatt

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