|15th President of Lebanon|
24 November 1998 – 24 November 2007
|Prime Minister||Rafic Hariri
|Preceded by||Elias Hrawi|
|Succeeded by||Fouad Siniora (Acting)|
12 January 1936 |
|Alma mater||Britannia Royal Naval College
Naval War College
|Years of service||1956–1980 (Navy)
|Commands||Commander of the Lebanese Armed Forces|
|Battles/wars||Lebanese Civil War|
Emile Lahoud was born in Baabdat on 12 January 1936. However, his birthplace is given as Beirut by the Armed Forces. He is the youngest son of General Jamil Lahoud, a leader in the independence movement. His mother, Andrenee Bajakian, is of Armenian descent from the Armenian-populated village of Kesab in Syria. Lahoud’s older brother, Nasri Lahoud, was a judge who served as the military prosecutor general. Emile Lahoud is the nephew of Salim Lahoud who served as Lebanese foreign minister from 1955 to 1957.
Emile Lahoud is the great-grandson of Takouhi Kalebjian and Minas Sagerian on his maternal side who were from Adabazar, Ottoman Empire (now Adapazari, Republic of Turkey). Adabazar is located about 50 miles (80 kilometers) outside Istanbul on the Black Sea. Both Minas and Takouhi were massacred during the Armenian Genocide which occurred under the rule of the Ottoman Empire during World War I.
Lahoud received his elementary education at the Collège de La Sagesse in Beirut and his secondary education at Brummana High School in north Metn. He entered the military academy as a naval cadet in 1956 and studied there for one year. He then attended Dartmouth Naval College in the United Kingdom. He returned to the Lebanese military academy and graduated later as an ensign. In 1986, he took a navy engineering course at the Naval Engineering Academy in the United Kingdom. As a captain, he attended the U.S. Naval War College, in Newport, Rhode Island, graduating in 1973.
Lahoud became Lieutenant Junior Grade on 18 September 1962 and Lieutenant on 1 April 1969. He was promoted to Lieutenant Commander on 1 January 1974 and to Commander on 1 January 1976. He then began to serve as a Navy Engineer Staff Captain from 1 January 1980 and as a Navy Engineer Staff Rear Admiral from 1 January 1985. On 28 November 1989, he was promoted to Major Lieutenant General.
Although he was trained as a naval officer, Lahoud benefited from the appointment of his maternal cousin, General Jean Njeim, as army commander and was appointed to head the transportation section of the army's fourth division in 1970. Although Njeim died in a helicopter crash in 1971, Lahoud steadily rose through the ranks of its officer corps. In 1980, he was appointed Director of Personnel in the Army Command. In 1983, he was given an administrative position at the Defense Ministry, where he was responsible for coordination between ministry officials and the Commander of the Lebanese Army, a position which was held by General Michel Aoun in 1984. Lahoud allowed Lebanese's security-military apparatus to be firmly controlled by Syria.
Lahoud ran for the presidency in 1998 after having the constitution amended to allow the army commander-in-chief to run for office. This amendment is believed to have been backed by Syria. His presidency was secured following the receipt of 118 votes from the 128-member Lebanese Parliament. When he became Lebanon’s president in 1998, he aligned himself with Hezbollah, and picked his own man as prime minister, Selim al-Hoss. This led to heightened tensions between Rafiq Hariri and Lahoud. The other significant move Lahoud made shortly after his presidency was a request that Syria remove Ghazi Kanaan, who was serving as Syria's intelligence chief in Lebanon. Lahoud's request was not entertained.
During his term, he exerted more control over government decision-making than then-Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri or then-Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri. In August 2001, he modified the limits on the executive authority of the presidency stipulated in the 1989 Ta'if Accord and ordered security forces to launch a massive arrest sweep against nationalist dissidents without informing Hariri and other cabinet ministers.
In 2004, his six-year presidential term would have finished. Syria, however, although initially hesitant about Lahoud’s candidacy, encouraged the extension of his term for three more years, regarding him as key to their control over Lebanon. The extension would be possible only if the constitution was amended. The Syrian leadership was reported to have threatened Hariri and others into endorsing the amendment. The intention to extend Lahoud's term prompted significant domestic turmoil. Ultimately, Hariri and the parliamentary majority voted for the extension of Lahoud's presidential term until November 2007, with ninety-six deputies voting in favor of the amendment against twenty-nine who were opposed. However, four cabinet members resigned from office on 7 September 2004 in protest of the amendment: economy minister Marwan Hamadeh, culture minister Ghazi Aridi, environment minister Farès Boueiz and refugee affairs minister Abdullah Farhat.
On the other hand, both the Iranian government and Hezbollah viewed the extension of his term as a desirable development: then Iranian President Khatami telephoned his congratulations to Lahoud, and a delegation of top Hezbollah officials visited Lahoud to convey Nasrallah’s congratulations. The extension of Lahoud's term is seen as a clear example of Syria's control of Lebanese politics.
In a 2006 Der Spiegel interview, Lahoud argued that Hezbollah enjoys prestige in Lebanon, because it "freed our country". He further stated that although Hezbollah is a small-scale organization, it stands up to Israel and voiced his respect for Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah.
In 2007, his presidential term ended. However, a new president was not immediately elected. Following a political deadlock which lasted for six months, the Lebanese parliament elected former army chief Michel Suleiman as president. A similar but a longer political deadlock continues to date since the Presidency of Michel Suleiman came to its conclusion in May 2014.
It was claimed that Lahoud spent much of his presidency term swimming and sunbathing at the Yarzeh Country Club minutes away from the presidential palace. Although there were high expectations from his own Christian Maronite community and the support of the military which he had commanded in the post-war period, the unpopular Lahoud developed a reputation as a weak leader, largely due to following Syria on most matters. In line with these views, Druze leader Walid Jumblatt publicly described Lahoud as a "helpless ghost" regarding his presidency. However, such political opinions are grounded on partisan politics in Lebanon, since Lahoud is generally viewed with respect and gratitude by the factions of 8 March.
The book Years of Resistance: The Mandate of Emile Lahood, the Former President of Lebanon by Karim Pakradouni, published in May 2012, reviews his political life and his impact on the contemporary history of Lebanon and the Middle East crisis.
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- Nomination by Sovereign Ordonnance n° 14950 of 13 July 2001 (French)
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Émile Jamil Lahoud.|
|Commander of the Lebanese Armed Forces
|President of Lebanon