Ahmed Abdel Latif Asaad

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Ahmed Abdel Latif Asaad
3rd Legislative Speaker of Lebanon
In office
5 June 1951 – 13 August 1953
Preceded bySabri Hamadeh
Succeeded byAdel Osseiran
Personal details
Died16 March 1961
ChildrenKamel Asaad

Ahmad El-Assaad or Ahmad Al-As'ad (Arabic: أحمد الأسعد) (1902 – 16 March 1961)[1] was Speaker of the Lebanese Parliament from 5 June 1951, till 30 May 1953.[2][3]


Family background[edit]

El-Assaad was the scion of a Shia feudal dynasty, which was established by Ali Al-Saghir in the 17th century after the execution of the Druze leader Fakhreddine II by the Ottoman leadership.[4] The El-Assaad-clan of the Ali Al-Saghir-family went on to dominate the area of Jabal Amel (modern-day Southern Lebanon) for almost three centuries,[5] with their base originally in Tayibe, Marjeyoun District.

When the 1858 Ottoman Land reforms led to the accumulated ownership of large tracts of land by a few families upon the expense of the peasants, the Al-As'ad descendants of the rural Ali al-Saghir dynasty expanded their fief holdings as the provincial leaders in Jabal Amel.[6]

During the French colonial ruler over Greater Lebanon (1920-1943) the mandatory regime gave Shiite feudal families like al-As'ad

"a free hand in enlarging their personal fortunes and reinforcing their clannish powers."[7]

Political career[edit]

He was the defense minister in the cabinet of Abdul Hamid Karami from January to August 1945.[8]

Deputy and speaker[edit]

Kazem al-Khalil

When President Camille Chamoun introduced a new electoral system in 1957, El-Assaad for the first time lost the vote for deputy. He had presented his candidacy in Tyre, the stronghold of his Shia rival Kazem al-Khalil, rather than in his traditional home constituency of Bint-Jbeil.[9]

1958 Lebanese Civil War[edit]

As a consequence, al-Asaad became a "major instigator of events against Chamoun" and his allies, primarily al-Khalil,[5] who likewise was a long-time member of parliament and the scion of a family of large landowners ("zu'ama") ruling through patronage systems:[10]

"The Khalils, with their age-old ways, [..] were known for being particularly rough and hard."[11]

During the 1958 crisis, Kazem al-Khalil was the only Shi'ite minister in the cabinet of Sami as-Sulh, to whose family the al-Khalil feudal dynasty was traditionally allied. Thus,

"Kazim's followers had a free hand in Tyre; they could carry Guns on the streets".[5]

Kamel Asaad with his daughter Iman

Then, after the formation of the United Arab Republic (UAR) under Gamal Abdel Nasser in February 1958, tensions escalated in Tyre between the forces of Chamoun and supporters of Pan-Arabism. Demonstrations took place – as in Beirut and other cities – that promoted pro-union slogans and protested against US foreign policy.[12] A US-Diplomat, who travelled to Southern Lebanon shortly afterwards, reported though that the clashes were more related to the personal feud between El-Assaad and Al-Khalil than to national politics.[9]

Still in February, five of its students were arrested and "sent to jail for trampling on the Lebanese flag and replacing it with that of the UAR."[13][9] On 28 March, soldiers and followers of Kazem al-Khalil opened fire on demonstrators and – according to some reports – killed three.[5] On the second of April, four[14] or five protestors were killed and about a dozen injured.[12]

In May, the insurgents in Tyre gained the upper hand.[15] Ahmad al-As'ad[5] and his son Kamel al-Asaad supported them, also with weapons.[16] According to a general delegate of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) who visited in late July, "heavy fighting went on for 16 days".[17] Kazem al-Khalil was expelled from the city and al-Asaad' allies took over control of the city. The crisis eventually dissolved in September, when Chamoun stepped down. Al-Khalil returned still in 1958, but was attacked several times by gunmen.[5]

Despite the victory of the al-As'ad dynasty, its power soon began to crumble.


His son Kamel El-Assaad (1932–2010), was speaker for three terms. The scions of its al-As'ad clan have continued to play a political role even into the 21st century, though of lately a rather peripheral one.[18]


  1. ^ كامل الأسعد (in Arabic). Great Men From Lebanon. Archived from the original on 2017-06-03. Retrieved 2014-05-15.
  2. ^ Shanahan, Rodger (2005). The Shiʻa of Lebanon: clans, parties and clerics. I.B.Tauris. p. 65. ISBN 978-1-85043-766-6.
  3. ^ (in Arabic)Republic of Lebanon - House of Representatives History
  4. ^ Winter, Stefan (2010). The Shiites of Lebanon under Ottoman Rule, 1516–1788. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. pp. 126, 129–134, 140, 177–178. ISBN 9780521765848.
  5. ^ a b c d e f Gharbieh, Hussein M. (1996). Political awareness of the Shi'ites in Lebanon: the role of Sayyid 'Abd al-Husain Sharaf al-Din and Sayyid Musa al-Sadr (PDF) (Doctoral). Durham: Centre for Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies, University of Durham. pp. 121, 127.
  6. ^ Abisaab, Rula Jurdi; Abisaab, Malek (2017). The Shi'ites of Lebanon: Modernism, Communism, and Hizbullah's Islamists. New York: Syracuse University Press. pp. 9–11, 16–17, 24, 107. ISBN 9780815635093.
  7. ^ Firro, Kais (2002). Inventing Lebanon: Nationalism and the State Under the Mandate. London and New York: I. B. Tauris. pp. 159, 166. ISBN 978-1860648571.
  8. ^ "الوزراء المتعاقبون على وزارة الدفاع الوطني" [Successive ministers of the Ministry of National Defense]. pcm.gov.lb (in Arabic). Government of Lebanon. Retrieved 14 August 2020.
  9. ^ a b c Nir, Omri (November 2004). "The Shi'ites during the 1958 Lebanese Crisis". Middle Eastern Studies. Taylor & Francis, Ltd. 40 (6): 109–129. doi:10.1080/0026320042000282900. JSTOR 4289955. S2CID 145378237 – via JSTOR.
  10. ^ Shaery-Eisenlohr, Roschanack (2011). SHIITE LEBANON: Transnational Religion and the Making of National Identities. New York: Columbia University Press. p. 24. ISBN 978-0231144278.
  11. ^ Ajami, Fouad (1986). The Vanished Imam: Musa al Sadr and the Shia of Lebanon. London: I.B.Tauris & CO. Ltd. pp. 42–45, 85–86. ISBN 9781850430254.
  12. ^ a b Attié, Caroline (2004). Struggle in the Levant: Lebanon in the 1950s. London - New York: I.B.Tauris. pp. 155, 158, 162–163. ISBN 978-1860644672.
  13. ^ Sorby, Karol (2000). "LEBANON: THE CRISIS OF 1958" (PDF). Asian and African Studies. 9: 88, 91 – via SLOVENSKÁ AKADÉMIA VIED.
  14. ^ Qubain, Fahim Issa (1961). Crisis in Lebanon. Washington D.C.: The Middle East Institute. pp. 64–65. ISBN 978-1258255831.
  15. ^ Cobban, Helena (1985). The making of modern Lebanon. Boulder: Westview Press. p. 88. ISBN 978-0813303079.
  16. ^ "July - July 1958 : US Marines in Beirut". monthlymagazine.com. July 5, 2013. Retrieved 2020-11-15.
  17. ^ Bugnion, François; Perret, Françoise (2018). From Budapest to Saigon, 1956-1965 - History of the International Committee of the Red Cross (PDF). Geneva: International Committee of the Red Cros. p. 372. ISBN 978-2-940396-70-2.
  18. ^ Jouhari, Ibrahim (2019-09-13). "The By-elections that was not!". 128 Lebanon. Retrieved 2020-11-15.