Gebran Bassil

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Gebran Bassil
جبران اللوطي باسيل
Lebanese Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil (cropped).jpg
Minister of Foreign Affairs and Emigrants
In office
15 February 2014 – 21 January 2020
Prime MinisterTammam Salam
Saad Hariri
Preceded byAdnan Mansour
Succeeded byNassif Hitti
Minister of Energy and Water
In office
9 November 2009 – 14 February 2014
Prime MinisterSaad Hariri
Najib Mikati
Preceded byAlain Tabourian
Succeeded byArthur Nazarian
Minister of Telecommunications
In office
11 July 2008 – 8 November 2009
Prime MinisterFouad Siniora
Preceded byMarwan Hamadeh
Succeeded byCharbel Nahas
Member of Parliament
Assumed office
22 May 2018
Preceded byBoutros Harb
ConstituencyBatroun District
Leader of the Free Patriotic Movement
Assumed office
27 August 2015
Preceded byMichel Aoun
Personal details
Born (1970-06-21) 21 June 1970 (age 50)
Batroun, Lebanon
NationalityLebanese
Political partyFree Patriotic Movement
Spouse(s)
Chantal Aoun
(
m. 1999)
Children3
EducationAmerican University of Beirut
ProfessionCivil engineering
WebsiteOfficial website

Gebran Gerge Bassil (Arabic: جبران باسيل‎; born 21 June 1970) is a Lebanese politician, leader of the Free Patriotic Movement, a Lebanese poliltical party whose support base is overwhelmingly from Lebanon's Christian community. Bassil is widely regarded as a controversial figure in Lebanon.

Bassil was an activist for the Free Patriotic Movement from 1989 to 2005. In 2009, he served as the Minister of Telecommunications then as the Minister of Water and Energy in 2011 and the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Emigrants from 2014 to 2020.

In September 2015, he became by designation the leader of the Free Patriotic Movement taking over the position that was occupied by the founder of the FPM and Lebanese President, Michel Aoun, who is Bassil's father in law.

Early life[edit]

Bassil was born into a Maronite Christian family. He received a bachelor's degree and a master's degree in civil engineering from the American University of Beirut in 1992 and 1993 respectively.[1] He was a member of a number of associations: the Lebanese Red Cross and Rotary Club of Batroun, Lebanon.[2]

Political career[edit]

Between the years of 1998 and 2005, Bassil was an activist in various positions in the Free Patriotic Movement. In 2005, he became a candidate in the general elections in the district of Batroun but did not succeed in being elected. From 2005 to 2008, Bassil was head of the Free Patriotic Movement.

He served as the Minister of telecommunications in the Lebanese cabinet led by Fouad Siniora from May 2008 to June 2009, and then as the minister of energy in the cabinet headed by Saad Hariri[1] Bassil lost the general elections held in 2009.[clarification needed][3]

Collapse of government in 2011[edit]

On 12 January 2011, the government collapsed after Bassil announced that all ten opposition ministers had resigned following months of warnings by Hezbollah that it would not remain inactive should there be indictments against the group. The New York Times suggested the resignations came after the collapse of talks between Syria and Saudi Arabia to ease tensions in Lebanon.

Minister of Energy and Water and Foreign Affairs and Emigrants[edit]

He served as the Minister of Energy and Water in the cabinet headed by Najib Mikati since June 2011, and assumed the role of Minister of Foreign Affairs and Emigrants as of February 2014. In the general election of 2018, Bassil was elected as a Member of Parliament (MP) for the Batroun-Koura-Zgharta-Bsharri electoral district.[4]

During his tenure as the Minister of Energy and Water, he promised to provide electricity 24-hours a day; hence, he officiated a campaign to explore offshore oil and gas in the Eastern Mediterranean,[5] and to generate power by floating electricity-generating turbines off the Lebanese coast.[6][7] However, his promises were in vain.[8]

2017 Lebanon–Saudi Arabia dispute[edit]

Lebanon's president Aoun and some Lebanese officials including Bassil believed that the abrupt resignation of Prime Minister Saad Hariri was made under coercion by Saudis and have claimed that the Saudis have kept him hostage.

This led Bassil to visit multiple European countries and meet with senior EU leaders to rally diplomatic support for Lebanon and its stability. During his European tour, he met with High Representative/Vice-President of the European Union Federica Mogherini in Brussels,[9] Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Minister of Foreign Affairs Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu,[10] German FM Sigmar Gabriel,[11] Russian FM Sergei Lavrov[12] and French President Emmanuel Macron.[13]

Personal life[edit]

Bassil and his wife Chantal Michel Aoun have three children.[14] His father in law is the current Lebanese president, the former leader and founder of the Free Patriotic Movement, Michel Aoun.[15]

Controversies[edit]

Comments on Israel[edit]

Bassil was criticized by many Lebanese politicians after an interview in December 2017 with Al-Mayadeen in which he stated that Lebanon does not have an ideological problem with Israel.

He also said in that interview that he was not against Israel "living in security".[16]

Dispute with Speaker of Parliament[edit]

In January 2018, Bassil was recorded in a private meeting calling the Speaker of Parliament, Nabih Berri, a "thug". In the leaked footage, Bassil accused Berri of urging Shiite businessmen to boycott a diaspora conference organized by the Foreign Ministry in Abidjan.[17]

Proposed citizenship changes[edit]

In March 2018, Bassil proposed amending Lebanese naturalization laws to allow citizenship to be passed from mothers onto their children. The bill drew criticism for not applying to women in marriages with men from neighbouring countries which activists argue is a violation of their rights.[18]

Comments on foreign residents[edit]

In 2019, Bassil was criticized for several tweets which targeted the foreign residents and labour force in Lebanon, such as:

We will not be replaced in this land which bore prophets and saints; Not a refugee, nor a displaced (person), nor a corrupt (person).

— [19]

It is normal to defend the Lebanese labour force against any other foreign labour, whether it be Syrian, Palestinian, French, Saudi, Iranian or American, the Lebanese come first!

— [20]

Involvement in the rhetoric of Lebanese protests[edit]

In late 2019, Bassil became the subject of a popular Arabic-language chant in the Lebanese protests. The chant was oppositional in nature, due to Bassil's close association to his father-in-law, Lebanese president Michel Aoun, as well as the public perception that Bassil profited politically by taking advantage of the country's sectarian divisions. The lyrics to the chant, which was sung as a short melody, went as follows:

Hela, Hela, Hela Hela Ho, Gibran Bassil kes emmo

— [21]

These explicit lyrics curse Bassil with a vulgar reference to his mother's genitals. The song was sung in the street and was reproduced and parodied in various forms in popular social media posts and mass-forwarded WhatsApp messages until it was nearly ubiquitously known in Lebanon.[22] Its rapidly spreading popularity led some social media users to dub Bassil "the most cursed politician in the world for the shortest period of time."[21]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Speakers". Economist Conferences. Archived from the original on 29 October 2013. Retrieved 22 February 2013.
  2. ^ "Gebran Biography". Retrieved 3 April 2014.
  3. ^ "Lebanon finally has a government Sulaiman's man seals the deal". Gulf News. 11 November 2009. Retrieved 25 March 2013.
  4. ^ "The Cabinet". Embassy of Lebanon. Archived from the original on 14 April 2013. Retrieved 22 February 2013.
  5. ^ "Lebanon says gas, oil reserves may be higher than thought". Reuters. 27 October 2013.
  6. ^ "The Turkish 'power ship' keeping the lights on in Lebanon". The Guardian. 11 April 2013.
  7. ^ "Lebanese foreign minister allegedly receiving Iranian support comes to Washington". The Washington Times. 15 July 2019.
  8. ^ "Gebran Bassil gets roasted in Davos, here are the most iconic moments". stepfeed.com. 24 January 2020.
  9. ^ "High Representative/Vice-President Federica Mogherini met with Lebanese Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil today in Brussels". EEAS - European External Action Service - European Commission. Retrieved 25 October 2019.
  10. ^ "Lebanese FM Bassil in Turkey to discuss bilateral ties, developments in the region". DailySabah. Retrieved 25 October 2019.
  11. ^ Agency, National News. "(Update) Bassil from Germany: Hariri is a moderate Lebanese partner". National News Agency. Retrieved 25 October 2019.
  12. ^ "Lebanese foreign minister: some forces trying to oust Lebanon leader - Ifax". 17 November 2017. Retrieved 25 October 2019 – via www.reuters.com.
  13. ^ "Lebanon's Hariri must return home from Saudi to prove he is free: foreign minister". 14 November 2017. Retrieved 25 October 2019 – via www.reuters.com.
  14. ^ "Gebran Bassil's Profile, Biography & Heritage". Katagogi. Archived from the original on 13 April 2014. Retrieved 3 April 2014.
  15. ^ "Economic Reform Prospects In Lebanon's New Government". Wikileaks. 7 November 2009. Archived from the original on 28 February 2014. Retrieved 22 February 2013.
  16. ^ "Lebanese foreign minister denounced over Israel comments". 28 December 2017. Retrieved 25 October 2019 – via www.reuters.com.
  17. ^ "Aoun, Berri rift deepens after Bassil calls speaker a 'thug'". annahar.com. 29 January 2018.
  18. ^ "Activists reject Bassil proposal for passing on nationality | News , Lebanon News | THE DAILY STAR". www.dailystar.com.lb. Retrieved 7 March 2019.
  19. ^ "Lebanon's Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil slammed for anti-refugee tweet". trtworld.com. 9 May 2019.
  20. ^ "'Racist' Lebanese foreign minister sparks Twitter storm". gulfnews.com. 10 June 2019.
  21. ^ a b "Is Gebran Bassil Lebanon's most hated politician?". gulfnews.com. 24 October 2019.
  22. ^ "Protests in Lebanon Are Entering Their Sixth Day. See How the Extraordinary Revolt Is Unfolding". time.com. 22 October 2019.

External links[edit]