Assem Qanso

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Not to be confused with Ali Qanso, former head of the SSNP.
Assem Qanso
عاصم قانصوه
Assem Qanso with Nicolae Ceaușescu.jpg
Qanso (left) with Romanian communist leader Nicolae Ceaușescu (right) in 1974
Member of Parliament
for Baalbek-Hermel
Incumbent
Assumed office
2009
In office
1996–2005
Minister of Labour
In office
2004–2005
Prime Minister Omar Karami
Preceded by Assaad Hardan
Succeeded by Trad Hamadeh
Secretary of the Lebanese (Ba'ath) Regional Command of the Ba'ath Party
In office
2000–2005
National Secretary Abdullah al-Ahmar
Preceded by Sayf al-Din Ghazi
Succeeded by Sayf al-Din Ghazi
In office
1971–1989
National Secretary Hafez al-Assad
Preceded by Magali Nasrawin
Succeeded by Abdullah Al-Amin
Personal details
Born 1937
Baalbek, French Lebanon
Political party Arab Socialist Ba'ath Party (1953–1966)
Syria-based Ba'ath Party (Lebanon branch: 1966–present)
Alma mater University of Zagreb
Religion Shia Islam[1]

Muhammad Assem Qanso (Arabic: عاصم قانصوه‎, born 1937 in Baalbek) is a Lebanese politician. His religious affiliation is Shia Islam. He is a former leader of the Lebanese Ba'ath Party.

Political career[edit]

Qanso joined the Lebanese Ba'ath in 1953. During the Lebanese war, the Lebanese Ba'ath was divided into two hostile groups: a pro-Iraqi group and a pro-Syrian group. Qanso is staunchly pro-Syrian.

Relations between the Kataeb Party and the Ba'ath Party improved, when on the orders of Karim Pakradouni (the leader of the Kataeb Party) and Qanso agreed to establish a committee between the two parties to discuss Lebanese and Arab politics. Relations improved further when the Syrian Ba'athist government increased its contacts with the Kataeb Party.[2] During the Lebanese civil war, the Lebanese parliament formed the National Dialogue Committee in 1975; Qanso was a National Dialogue Committee representative. Qanso opposed the notion that the resignation of Suleiman Frangieh, the President of Lebanon, would end the conflict.[3]

Following the death of Hafez al-Assad in 2000, notable figures such as Abdul Halim Khaddam and Ghazi Kanaan, supported Rafic Hariri against Émile Lahoud, the then sitting President of Lebanon, during the 2000 general election.[4] Qanso supported Khaddam and Kanaan's position, and declared during a parliamentary session "there is no zaim [leader] but Rafik Hariri."[5] On a later occasion, he stated "It was a message to Lahoud that, if he tried to break Hariri, Kanaan would break Lahoud."[5] He later changed his position, and supported to extend Lahoud's mandate, and Qanso began criticising the opposition. Qanso warned Walid Jumblat that "you are not out of reach of our militants".[6] Jumblat replied by stating it was the Ba'ath Party which had ordered the assassination of his father, Kamal Jumblatt.[6]

2009 election and parliamentarian[edit]

There were discussions within the Ba'ath Party if Qanso was to give up his candidacy in the Baalbek-Hermel electoral district to Fayez Shukr, the leader of the Ba'ath Party.[7] Qanso announced his candidacy for a seat in the Baalbek-Hermel electoral district in April 2009.[8] In the 2009 parliamentary election, the Ba'ath Party won two seats as part of the March 8 Alliance; Qanso and Qassem Hashem.[9] Qanso was elected to parliament in the Baalbek-Hermel district.[10] The United States Government led by Barack Obama announced an extension of its travel ban and asset freeze against those seeking “to undermine Lebanon’s legitimate and democratically elected government.” Qanso was amongst those effected by the extension of sanctions.[11] The Ba'ath Party which supports Najib Mikati, the current Prime Minister of Lebanon, claimed, through Qanso, that it "should have been represented in the [Mikati] government, just like the Syrian Social Nationalist Party”.[10]

Syrian Civil War[edit]

Further information: Syrian Civil War

Qanso supports the position of the United Nations Security Council which condemned the use of violence by the Ba'athist government, but which also called for ending the violence and holding those of fomenting the violence accountable.[12] The decision to expel Syria from the Arab League was, according Qanso, an American plot against Syria.[13] Qanso condemned the Arab League sanctions towards Syria, and compared them to "complementary to the US plot against Syria, which targets its oil wealth."[14] In an interview with MTV Lebanon Qanso accused a conspiracy centered around Lebanon First bloc MP Okab Sakr, Hani Hammoud, and Saad Hariri, former Prime Minister of Lebanon, of fomenting the uprising in Syria. He further claimed that there was no good reason for the Assad government to resign.[15]

Qanso tried to persuade Mikati to expel Maura Connelly, the United States Ambassador to Lebanon, from the country in late 2011 because of the United States position towards Syria during the ongoing war.[16] In the beginning of January 2012 Qanso claimed that al-Qaida had infiltrated more than 20 political organisations in Lebanon, this was in deep contrast to what Mikati stated when he claimed that Lebanon was "al-Qaida free".[17] Qanso further claimed that "If Syria falls, the last resistance bastion will turn into a state similar to that of Egypt or Libya and will become a breeding ground for Salafis and [the Muslim Brotherhood].[17] On 30 January Qanso stated his believes that "The vast majority of [Syrian] people are with the Ba'ath Party that is tasked with protecting Syrian President Bashar Assad.”[18] At the same time he announced that the Lebanese Ba'ath Party would hold a conference on 7–8 February 2012 in Syria to discuss and approve the reform package which is planned to be introduced by Bashar al-Assad's government.[18]

References[edit]

  1. ^ El-Khazen, Farid (2000). The Breakdown of the State in Lebanon, 1967–1976. Harvard University Press. p. 321. ISBN 978-0-674-08105-5. 
  2. ^ El-Khazen, Farid (2000). The Breakdown of the State in Lebanon, 1967–1976. Harvard University Press. p. 324. ISBN 978-0-674-08105-5. 
  3. ^ El-Khazen, Farid (2000). The Breakdown of the State in Lebanon, 1967–1976. Harvard University Press. p. 316. ISBN 978-0-674-08105-5. 
  4. ^ Blanford, Nicholas (2006). Killing Mr Lebanon: The Assassination of Rafik Hariri and Its Impact on the Middle East. I.B. Tauris. p. 77. ISBN 978-1-84511-202-8. 
  5. ^ a b Blanford, Nicholas (2006). Killing Mr Lebanon: The Assassination of Rafik Hariri and Its Impact on the Middle East. I.B. Tauris. p. 78. ISBN 978-1-84511-202-8. 
  6. ^ a b Blanford, Nicholas (2006). Killing Mr Lebanon: The Assassination of Rafik Hariri and Its Impact on the Middle East. I.B. Tauris. p. 123. ISBN 978-1-84511-202-8. 
  7. ^ Staff writer (21 October 2008). "Source to NOW Lebanon: Amal begins talks on 2009 candidates, refuses to relinquish seats to FPM". NOW Lebanon. Retrieved 16 February 2012. 
  8. ^ Staff writer (2 April 2009). "Assem Qanso announces his candidacy in Baalbek". NOW Lebanon. Retrieved 16 February 2012. 
  9. ^ Staff writer (11 March 2009). "March14 – March 8 MPs". NOW Lebanon. Retrieved 16 February 2012. 
  10. ^ a b Staff writer (18 June 2011). "Qanso will not give vote of confidence to new Cabinet". Daily Star. Retrieved 16 February 2012. 
  11. ^ Staff writer (29 July 2011). "Obama extends assets freeze on figures ‘destabilizing’ Lebanon". Daily Star. Retrieved 16 February 2012. 
  12. ^ Staff writer (7 August 2011). "Qanso questions Lebanon’s safety if Syria is harmed". NOW Lebanon. Retrieved 16 February 2012. 
  13. ^ Staff writer (15 November 2011). "Qanso condemns Arab League decision on Syria". NOW Lebanon. Retrieved 16 February 2012. 
  14. ^ "Qanso condemns Arab League’s role in Syrian crisis". NOW Lebanon. 26 November 2011. Retrieved 16 February 2012. 
  15. ^ "Qanso: Sakr, Hammoud and Hariri behind Syrian protests". NOW Lebanon. 3 December 2011. Retrieved 16 February 2012. 
  16. ^ Lakiss, Hasan (6 October 2011). "MP Qanso asks Mikati to expel U.S. ambassador". Daily Star. Retrieved 16 February 2012. 
  17. ^ a b Staff writer (2 January 2012). "Al-Qaeda infiltrated extremist groups in Lebanon: MP". Daily Star. Retrieved 16 February 2012. 
  18. ^ a b Staff writer (30 January 2012). "Qanso: Baath party conference to be held in Syria Feb. 7". Daily Star. Retrieved 16 February 2012.