Habib al-Shartouni: Striking the Head of Collaboration

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Shartouni does not want to be lionized by comrades, friends and supporters.

By: Afif Diab

Published Monday, July 23, 2012

Habib al-Shartouni, who was convicted for the assassination of Bashir Gemayel after the Lebanese parliament elected him president under the gun-barrels of Israeli tanks in 1982, wants to break the silence in which he has shrouded himself for years.

Since escaping from Roumieh prison in the wake of the collapse of General Michel Aoun’s government in 1990, Shartouni has shunned media and political attention. He spends his time at an undisclosed location with his family, and in reading and writing, while closely following the news from Lebanon and the rest of Arab world and developments in Palestine.

Shartouni spoke to Al-Akhbar about his past, present and future, and about his case, which has been forgotten by his former comrades in the Syrian Social Nationalist Party (SSNP) and other advocates of resistance and struggle. Whether that neglect is deliberate, careless, or inadvertent, he has candid questions to ask about why it has been 30 years and it is still unresolved.

As a resistance fighter, Shartouni does not want to be lionized by comrades, friends and supporters. He believes resistance is a duty, the only means by which the country can regain its rights and achieve victory over an enemy like Israel and its local clients. But he makes no secret of his satisfaction that friends and sympathizers of diverse faiths, sects and political beliefs have lately launched a campaign to champion his cause and secure him justice.

“You can’t really call it a campaign, as there is no official entity, political party or sect backing it,” he says. “And you can’t call it ‘my’ cause. It was never about me. It is the cause of a country and society that was facing a threat at a time when the enemy was trying to impose its terms on the entire region,” he says.

Rather, the campaigners “are a group of friends and patriots from outside the party, and also some party members who feel indebted to an action that helped rid the country of the humiliation the occupier tried to impose on it,” he says. These supporters were outraged by the lenient treatment – amounting to “encouragement” -- accorded to Lebanese agents of and collaborators with Israel, and feared what that would mean for the country’s future, he says. But they encountered a host of difficulties and impasses.

They continue, nevertheless, to seek justice for Shartouni within the framework of Lebanese law, and the principles on which the Lebanese state was founded, he maintains.

But why has it taken so long for his case to be pursued in the courts? Have Lebanon’s ostensibly pro-resistance political groups been lax in this regard?

“Right from the start, they have ignored this issue, as though it wasn’t relevant to the launch of the national and then Islamic resistance after 1982,” he says. “Given the timing, after the occupation, it marked a strategic turning-point between two courses: succumbing to a plan to destroy Lebanese and Palestinian resistance and weaken Syria, and subjecting the region to an era of Israeli tutelage; or defeating the occupation and ushering in a different era.”

This could have consolidated national unity and benefited everyone in Lebanon, Shartouni argues, were it not for the terrible mistakes made subsequently, as a result of which the region is being subjected to a fresh foreign onslaught and renewed internecine conflict.

Nevertheless, Shartouni maintains: “Imagine if two-thirds of the country had remained under occupation, with the rest inevitably going the same way, and Bashir Gemayel had become president with absolute power, both constitutionally and on the ground.”

He argues that his is therefore “not so much a legal case, as a political and national one,” though it has been neglected by the very groups that benefited from and acquired power and privilege as a consequence of Bashir Gemayel’s assassination.

The Lebanese constitution should make it possible to enact legislation that acknowledges that “failure to condemn collaboration, even at the very top, threw the door wide open to new collaborators who appeared after the end of the war,” he says.”

He is convinced that “striking at the head of collaboration” at the time helped thwart a scheme to establish a Greater Israel and turn the region into a collection of sectarian mini-states under its tutelage.

Was Shartouni let down by his SSNP comrades? He insists they cannot be blamed “as individuals” for any shortcomings regarding himself, the families of the party’s martyrs, or even that of its founder Antoun Saadeh. “Throughout the history of the party they have never shirked their national duty, despite the unexpected sacrifices they had to bear,” he explains.

“But the party as an institution which formally represents them gradually abandoned the principles and goal established by the leader [Saadeh], even when he was still alive.” It became no different to other Lebanese political parties “which serve the considerations and interests of individuals.” So while boasting of the heroic deeds of its members, it turns its back on those who sacrificed on its behalf and loathes to recognize or feel obligated to them.

“They will probably tell you that Habib Shartouni didn’t give these answers, and that you interviewed someone pretending to be him. As far as they are concerned, I stopped existing in 1982.”

While the party treated him as a burden, he says he took care not to expose it to harm. He suffered 30 years of imprisonment, torture, and exile, losing his family ties and everything he owned, but was never forgiven for simply saying that “I did what I was asked to do.”

Yet he remains committed to the principles of the party’s founder, although he believes the time for the regional unity Saadeh advocated will only come when people become convinced of the need for it, and that it will be some time before that happens.

Shartouni avers that he has not lived in Lebanon since he left jail in 1990. “I have been away from the Lebanese arena for 30 years, despite claims by the Gemayel family and Phalange party that I travel freely in Lebanon and cross the borders whenever I want, or that I was seen in Ashrafieh or wherever. Such talk is only aimed at stoking the kind of antagonisms and loyalties that sustain the sectarian parties.”

What does Shartouni think of the Lebanese Forces (LF) being part of the current political order in Lebanon? “It’s true that Bashir Gemayel established the LF, and that they stood out from the other civil war militias not only in terms of their size and organization, but also in the massacres and crimes they committed,” he replies. “But after Bashir’s project – which became an American-Israeli project, even though it sometimes had Arab funding -- was terminated, the LF became just another sectarian political party, like most Lebanese parties. It would no longer be right to accuse them of collaboration, especially as we have had collaborators springing up everywhere, as well as Muslim parties who share their political orientation, claiming to champion independence but under Western and Gulf auspices.”

He points to the recent Koura by-election as evidence of the LF’s organizational skills. “They knew how to manage the political game and influence the public mood, and managed to win in a district that was historically pro-SSNP, and which for that reason had been subject to a number of attacks by them and their allies,” he says.

Shartouni is confident about the future of the resistance in Lebanon, remarking that it draws on a legacy that dates from the 1930s, though it has had different ideological expressions. But he believes that the greater act of resistance lies in building a state that is capable of defending the country, and that the Lebanese have performed feats of heroism that show they are capable of achieving this.

He will not discuss details of the assassination of Bashir Gemayel. That, he says, is long story that he will tell in due course.

But if he could go back in time, would he still have done it? “You cannot go back in time,” he replies. “I am not a fan of assassination. But I had to make a sacrifice. His death saved the country. A minority may consider him to have been the leader of the Christian resistance, as though there was a Muslim occupation that made this necessary, or as though we are living in the dark ages of religious wars – not in republics, nations and societies, but only as feuding religious groups – or as if it was even a resistance that used to murder people based on their ID cards, violate their property and honor, and treat all other sections of society as enemies rather than defending them,” he says.

“That was the isolationist school which had its glory-days before its salafi and takfiri counterparts took over its glorious work,” he adds. “They are all a threat to a society composed of minorities.”

This article is an edited translation from the Arabic Edition.


Lol hezbollah ,leftist progressiste are the fachist one plo raped killed 40 000 christian in lebanon rob 70 millions in lebanese banks and commited plenty of massacre in christian towns like damour and jounieh you progressive Always hide your self behind progressive rants to commite your crimes every where you go you Always think its yours 70% of lebanon was christian before the syrian plestinian génocide on lebanese now only 30% in 1990 and now 40%....its not ok for us to ally with Israël to create a non arab christian state but its ok for you force up on us an arab identity and to create another syria or palestine you force people to adapte to your belief and acusing people of doing what you guys have been doing for Moore then 1500 years every where yo go you bring misery and trouble

Althu I oppose the philosophy of the SSNP, Shartouni's assasination of Bachir Gemayel was a great & heroic deed given that Bachir sided & allied himself with the Israelis who came to Lebanon as invaders & occupiers.
Samir Geagea killed Tony Franjieh, Rashid Karami, & Dany Chamoun as well as thousands of civilians, & yet was granted a pardon from the Lebanese government. Habib Shartouni certainly deserves a pardon.

Lebanon should sign a peace treaty with Israel which will enact upon the withdrawal of Israel from Gajar and the Shebaa Farms and Palestinians can return to the West Bank or Gaza

As Hariri said Lebanon will be the LAST country to make peace with Israel. By then, the Palestinians will be a majority in Palestine/Israel ,and the Palestinians in Lebanon will get to choose where to go back (it will not be just Gaza or West Bank). Israel will be renamed Palestine like the way Rhodesia was renamed Zimbabwe. Israel will then be remembered in the future, the way Rhodesia is remembered today. Does anyone remember Rhodesia?

Few people were worse than Bashir Gemayel

hahahaha.... it's incredible how all traitors and collaborators hate bashir gemayel.

bashir was killed but the resistance is still alive, as demonstrated by the koura election.

today, the traitors and the collaborators are losing their syrian and iranian masters while the resistance, which bashir gemayel founded, is getting stronger... the traitors are panicking and all they can do is help the syrian regime murder little children in houla and elsewhere, just like they murdered the christians in lebanon in the past... it's just disgusting how evil these people are... but no matter how many children they kill, their end is near.... bashir gemayel is smiling from heaven.

Mark is always amused for some reason. It shows how sophisticated are the people who see bashir gemayel smiling from heaven.
Look at the last paragraph in the above article. I am sure the biggot bashir gemayel ( who by the way I see him roasting in hell on a skewer like a chicken)
would not have liked that for the LF to re-emerge in the country, they will have to make alliance with the takfiri and salafi groups. Hahahahahahahaha.

you can curse bashir gemayel as much as you want but finally all human rights organizations... human rights watch... amnesty international.. the un human rights council.. and many others are documenting in extensive reports that bashir gemayel was right.... they are documenting what the syrian baathist regime actually does: killing children, torture, rape of children, etc etc etc.... the most evil behavior one can think of!!!!!!.... and it was bashir gemayel who was the head of the spear who fought this evil in lebanon... it was bashir gemayel who revealed the true nature of the baathist regime while everybody was calling this regime "nationalist" and kissing hafez assad's shoe... it was bashir gemayel who made a speech about the hama massacre while many lebanese (including sunnis!!!!) simply ignored what assad did in hama.... and today, bashir is being vindicated by the world!!.... bashir was right: the syrian baathist regime is a terrorist regime..PERIOD. that's why bashir is smiling in heaven.., and the child killers, murderers, collaborators, and traitors that bashir gemayel fought are gnashing their teeth...... so yeah we are happy!!!! bashir's opponents may be able to butcher a few more hundred or thousands of children... but i assure you their end is near!!! god bless bashir gemayel, evil's worst enemy.

If God laughs at Sabra & Shatilla massacres, zionists like Mark can have him. A twisted shill and zionist
eunuch who should file for residency in Israel. Lets see how long this goy enjoys being spit on as a
Christian whose "savior is the son of a whore and boiling in excrement" as The Chosen say in their books.

The worst crime the Syrian Baathist regime did in Lebanon was to intervene in Lebanon in 1976 and save the Lebanese Fascists by crushing the Lebanese and Palestinian Resistance, which enabled the Fascists to commit more massacres in the future.

your terminology is wrong. you have been reading too much palestinian propaganda.

baath and ssnp ARE fascists: they have a fuehrer, they believe in the supreme authority of the leader, against freedom of the press, anti-semitism, totalitarianism, partly-socialist economy, etc.

the LF are ANTI-fascist: they believe in freedom of expression, have nothing against the jews, free-market economy, etc.

"the LF are ANTI-fascist: they believe in freedom of expression"

Yes, that is why they massacred any group that was different from them, even their closest allies...Palestinians, Muslims, Armenians, Syrian workers, Orthodox Christians, Marada, NLP ETC ETC. The only group they did not kill were their Israeli masters. Thank God they are weak today and can not commit any more massacres.

no no that's totally false. you are just a victim of lies.

the LF training centers in jbail were right next to shiites, who were never touched. the ssnp had active members (not armed of course) in the eastern areas. but the reverse was not the case. orthodox christians were in highest LF ranks. the areas under the LF had freedom of speech. the top LF leaders were openly criticized in full freedom all the time by anybody in society for your information. that doesn't happen in syria. or under saddam hussein. or under hezbollah. or under qaddafi. or anywhere in the arab world where they jail you of worse for criticizing the leader (until now). but massacres were taking place in qaa against the christians, and in damour, and in deir ashash, and in deir mellet and and and... because there was no LF there to defend them.. so the christians had the right to defend themselves.. of course, mistakes happen. for example, sabra and chatila. that was a crime of course committed by elie hobeiqa, but he was kicked out of the LF and was embraced by hafez assad, bashar assad, and sayyed hasan nasrallah (who physically embraced hobeiqa and was his ally in the elections). so terrorists don't stay in the LF for very long because the nature and ethics and morality of the party causes them to leave. bad guys in the LF usually end up allied with syria and its allies in lebanon. because terrorists are comfortable being with each other.

so no, the LF is not the cause of the massacres. just take a look around you. today 100 dead in iraq. last week 1300 dead in syria... no LF there!!! the problem is that killing and murder is acceptable in the muslim middle east. people rejoice when israeli teenagers are murdered before entering a nightclub, just because they are of the jewish religion.. that's the ethics of the region, which are contrary to the LF's ethics.

The massacres by the LF in Karantina, Black Saturday, Eintoura, Ehden, Tel Zaatar ETC ETC is known by all Lebanese. It is interesting though that you mentioned the killing of Israeli settler children on the bus, but not the massacres and war crimes committed by the Israeli enemy in Lebanon such as in Qana, Lebanon. You must be one of those SLA member hiding in Israel choking on Israeli Matso balls.

tall zaatar was not a massacre. it cost months and many dead to dismantle that terrorist fort that was attacking the local population. ehden, it was hobeiqa... karantina, another terrorist fort.... the bottom line remains: the christian population has never celebrated the murder of children... but the palestinian population have many times openly celebrated the killing of children.... like i said, yes the LF made a few mistakes, but the ethics and morality of the LF remains much much much superior to that of the palestians, syrian, ssnp, etc etc... that's a fact..... the syrian regime is today murdering children with knives, and raping girls in front of their parents for heavens sake... bashir saw the evil of that regime and fought it, while the ssnp and chartouni support it... the LF was the only force that fought the forces of evil in lebanon, and that's something to be proud of, whether you like it or not.

"Palestinian population have many times openly celebrated the killing of children". A FEW Palestinians celebrated the killings of Israelis on the bus who were mostly age 18 and older and who are members of the Israeli military (not few children who happened to be on the bus). Palestinians NEVER specifically targeted children by bombing them in Occupied Palestine or anywhere else? Israelis and their Lebanese puppets danced over the bodies of murdered children. The bottom line is that Israel and its Fascist allies killed many times more children in battle than vise versus.
You can claim otherwise all you want about what happened in the past. The fact is I have a future in Lebanon. Unless you do what Geaga did and ally yourself with the Sunni Islamists and call Israel Lebanon's only enemy, you do not have any future in Lebanon.

oh please.. palestinians danced in the streets after 9/11 and after every terrorist attack killing teenagers going to a disco, jewish civilians celebrating a holiday etc etc... killing civilians is condoned by most palestinian clerics, who teach that jews are the sons of apes and pigs.... murder and killing and evil is all they know what to do..... and of course you have a future in lebanon... because bashir gemayel's dream succeeded.. and the LF is there to keep lebanon free... BUT.. would you have a future if assad's shabbiha are in lebanon right now and slaughtering your children like they did in houla? hmmm? something you should think about.

The LF lost the Christian vote in Koura, but won the Sunni Hariri and Salafists vote, which enabled them to win. In Lebanon, ONLY those who worked for Israel are called traitors. If the Syrian and Iranian regime vanished today, the M14 would still be a weak minority in Lebanon. If Bashir Gemael looked up from hell, he would be horrified to see LF "Christians" owned and run by the Sectarian Sunni groups including those who calls them "infidels".

the LF won the majority of the christian vote (72% of the maronite vote and half the orthodox vote)

In Lebanon, the only traitors are those who worked for Israel. If the Syrian and Iranian regime collapses, no won in M14 can take on The M8 resistance who fought Israel. Today, the LF is nothing but tools for the Sunni sectarian Salafists and other puppets of KSA. If Bashir Gemael was looking up from hell, he would see an LF owned and controlled by Sunni Muslims who he hated.

"In Lebanon, the only traitors are those who worked for Israel."

oh no, you are very confused. those who work for israel like fayez karam and ziad homsi are released after a just few months in jail and are welcomed and celebrated by ministers in the hezbollah-controlled government.... remember, minister fatoush welcomed ziad homsi in an open-air celebration and hezbollah said nothing. the true traitors are those who work for syria and iran only... like the foreign minister who gives excuses everytime syrian shells fall on a lebanese border village and kills lebanese civilians.

"the true traitors are those who work for Syria and Iran only"

Obviously, you have no future in Lebanon. HAHAHAHAHA

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