Progressive Socialist Party

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Progressive Socialist Party
الحزب التقدمي الإشتراكي
Leader Taymour Jumblatt[1]
Founder Kamal Jumblatt
Founded 5 January 1949 (1949-01-05)
Headquarters Lebanon Mokhtara, Mount Lebanon
Ideology Social democracy
Democratic socialism
Political position Centre-left
Religion Officially Secular, predominantly Druze
National affiliation Medial
International affiliation Socialist International,
Progressive Alliance
Parliament of Lebanon
7 / 128
Cabinet of Lebanon
2 / 30
Party flag
Flag of the Progressive Socialist Party.svg
Politics of Lebanon
Political parties

The Progressive Socialist Party or PSP (Arabic: الحزب التقدمي الاشتراكي‎, al-hizb al-taqadummi al-ishtiraki), also known as Parti Socialiste Progressiste in French, is a political party in Lebanon. Its current leader is Walid Jumblatt. It is ideologically secular and officially non-sectarian, but in practice is sectarian and led and supported mostly by followers of the Druze faith.[2]


The party was founded on 5 January 1949, and registered on 17 March the same year, under notification N°789. The founders comprised six individuals, all of different backgrounds. The most notable of these was Kamal Jumblatt (Walid Jumblatt's father). The others were Farid Jubran, Albert Adeeb, Abdallah Alayli, Fouad Rizk, and George Hanna. The PSP held in Beirut the first conference for the Socialist Arab Parties in Lebanon, Syria, Egypt and Iraq in 1951. From 1951 through 1972 the party had between three and six deputies in parliament [1]

The PSP in the Lebanese Civil War (1975-1990)[edit]

Under Kamal Jumblatt's leadership, the PSP was a major element in the Lebanese National Movement (LNM) which supported Lebanon's Arab identity and sympathised with the Palestinians. Despite Jumblatt's initial reluctance to engage in paramilitarism, it built a powerful private army, which proved to be one of the strongest in the Lebanese Civil War of 1975 to 1990. It conquered much of Mount Lebanon and the Chouf District. Its main adversaries were the Maronite Christian Phalangist Kataeb Regulatory Forces militia, and later the Lebanese Forces militia (which absorbed the Phalangists). The PSP suffered a major setback in 1977, when Kamal Jumblatt was assassinated. His son Walid succeeded him as leader of the party.

From the Israeli withdrawal from the Chouf in 1983 to the end of the civil war, the PSP ran a highly effective civil administration, the Civil Administration of the Mountain, in the area under its control. Tolls levied at PSP militia checkpoints provided a major source of income for the administration, which succeeded in providing a high standard of social and public services.

The PSP played an important role in the so-called "Mountain War" under the lead of Walid Jumblatt: after the Israeli Army retreated from the Lebanese Mountain, important battles took place between the PSP and Christian militias. Both the Phalangist Kataeb Regulatory Forces militia and the PSP were accused of committing massacres and atrocities against one another as tit-for-tat (revenge killing). This was a sad hallmark of the Lebanese Civil War because the innocent people were the ones who paid the highest price.

Military structure and organisation[edit]

The PSP military wing, the People’s Liberation Army – PLA (Arabic: Jayish al-Tahrir al-Sha’aby) or Armée de Libération Populaire (ALP) in French was raised early in 1976 with the help of Fatah and initially comprised 3,000 lightly armed fighters drawn from the Druze and Shia Muslim communities of the Shouf.[3][4] Other sources however, place its numbers as high as 5,000.[5]

At this stage a predominantely infantry force provided with light weapons drawn from PLO stocks or pilfered from LAF and ISF barracks, the PSP militia also fielded by 1977 a small mechanized corps made of Staghound armoured cars and gun-trucks (US Willys M38A1 MD jeeps, Land-Rover series II-III, Toyota Land Cruiser (J40) and GMC light pick-ups) equipped with heavy machine guns, recoilless rifles, and Anti-aircraft autocannons.[6] After suffering casualties during the Israeli invasion of Lebanon of June 1982, the PLA was quietly re-organized and expanded late that year by Walid Jumblatt, who turned it into a disciplined fighting force structured along conventional lines, with ‘Commando’, armoured, mechanized infantry and artillery units provided with Soviet-made armoured vehicles, field guns, Howitzers and MBRLs.

Headquartered at the Druze town of Baakline in the Shouf, the PSP militia by 1983 aligned 17,000 troops – 5,000 uniformed regulars, backed by 12,000 male and female reservists staffed by a qualified, Soviet-trained Officer corps. It was subsequently enlarged in the wake of the Mountain War, with the inclusion of 960 Druze soldiers (900 privates, plus 60 Officers and NCOs) of the Lebanese Army’s Fourth Brigade after its disintegration in September 1983.[7][8]

This allowed the PLA to seize a number of US M151 MUTT jeeps, Chevrolet C20 and Dodge Ram (1st generation) technicals armed with recoilless rifles and AA autocannons, plus seven US-made M48A5 main battle tanks (MBTs), AMX-13 light tanks, M113 APCs and Panhard AML-90 armoured cars for its own armoured corps, further strengthened in 1985 with the arrival of some 70 T-54/55 MBTs,[9] BTR-152, BTR-60 and BMP-1 APCs and ZSU-23-4 'Shilka' SPAAGs supplied on loan by Syria and the USSR, which they employed in the War of the Camps waged that same year against Nasserite and PLO militias in west Beirut. For logistical operations, the PLA relied on Syrian-supplied Mercedes-Benz Unimog and GAZ-66 light trucks, Soviet ZIL-131 (6x6) military trucks and captured Israeli AIL M325 Command Cars (‘Nun-Nun’) and US M35 2½-ton (6x6) military trucks.

They also fielded a powerful artillery corps equipped with Soviet ZiS-3 76.2mm anti-tank guns, 122 mm howitzer 2A18 (D-30)[10] and 130 mm towed field gun M1954 (M-46) pieces,[11] along with truck-mounted BM-11 130 mm and BM-21 Grad 122 mm[12] and towed BM-12 (Chinese Type 63) 107 mm MBRLs, coupled by man-portable, shoulder-launched Soviet SA-7 ‘Grail’ AA missiles which were used to bring down two Lebanese Air Force Hawker Hunter fighter jets during the 1983-84 Mountain War.[13]

Administrative organisation[edit]

The stronghold of the PSP/PLA laid in the Jabal Barouk area within the Shouf, which they turned into a semi-autonomous canton in the early 1980s, known unofficially as the ‘Druze Mountain’ (Arabic: Jabal al-Duruz). Centred at the Druze town of Baakline – the PSP political and military HQ – the canton comprised the Shouf proper, including the historical towns of Moukhtara (the Jumblatt family's feudal seat near Beiteddine), Deir al-Qamar, Aley, and Bhamdoun. At west Beirut, the PSP controlled since May 1985 the Druze-populated Karakol quarter, parts of Rue Hamra and a large portion of Rue Watta el-Msaytbi; the latter a small Druze street that housed the Party’s main political offices in the capital city.

A well-organized civil service network, the ‘Civilian Administration of the Mountain’ (CAM), was set up on 1 October 1983 at Beiteddine, headed by an eight-man supreme council that included a central committee and a general congress.[14] The CAM's own 23 bureaus provided everything from education to medical care and also employed 2,000 seasonal workers in agricultural and industrial projects in the Shouf.

Beiteddine was also the home of the PSP media services, responsible for editing its official newspaper (Arabic: Al-Anba’a) and operated their own radio station, the "Voice of the Mountain" (Arabic: Iza’at Sawt al-Djabal) or "La Voix de la Montagne" in French. In addition to Palestinian and Syrian backing, the PSP/PLA received further military assistance from Libya and the USSR, whilst the expatriated Druze community in the United States provided financial support.

The post-war years[edit]

Since the restoration of constitutional rule in 1989 PSP was the major ally of Syria in Lebanon and its leader Walid Jumblatt was in close relations with the Syrian Army and intelligence generals in Lebanon, namely Ghazi Kenaan and also with the Syrian Vice President Abdul Halim Khaddam.[15] PSP participated in a number of governments, but, after the Syrian Accountability Act and the UN Resolution 1559 and the change of the balance of powers in the region after the occupation of Iraq, joined the opposition and took up a position opposed to the role of Syria in Lebanon's politics. Unlike some opponents of the Syrian presence, he did not oppose the presence of the Syrian army per se, but contended that the Syrian intelligence services were exerting undue influence.

Following the passage of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1559, calling for a Syrian withdrawal from Lebanon, Jumblatt was particularly prominent in the opposition. However, he was opposed to the demand that Hezbollah be disarmed, and insisted on maintaining relations with the Shia Islamist party. Later, he has drifted into sharp opposition towards the group, and has decided to support their disarmament, claiming that Syria and Iran are trying to take over Lebanon through Hezbollah. After the assassination of Rafik Hariri in February 2005, Jumblatt joined the anti-Syria camp despite his long support to Syria.[2] Being part of the 14 March alliance, PSP won 16 seats in the general elections held in 2005.[16]

Walid Jumblat called for dismantling of the communications system of Hezbollah on 5 May 2008, which created a huge response from Hezbollah and its allies. Clashes took place on 7 May 2008, as Hezbollah militia occupied Beirut.[17] The conflict ended after both parties negotiated and reached an agreement at Doha in Qatar on 16 May 2008.[17]

In late January 2011, Jumblatt declared that he does not support the disarming of Hezbollah.[18] Currently PSP, Hezbollah and several other Lebanese political parties share a "national unity government" in Lebanon. With the onset of the Syrian civil war, Jumblatt and the PSP clearly showed their support for the Syrian opposition, and urged the Syrian Druze community to stand against the Assad government, and join the rebels.[19][20]

See also[edit]


  1. ^
  2. ^ a b Knudsen, Are (2005). "Precarious peacebuilding: Post-war Lebanon, 1990-2005" (PDF). CMI Working Paper 2. Retrieved 17 March 2013. 
  3. ^ O'Ballance, Civil War in Lebanon (1998), p. 19.
  4. ^ Khalidi, Conflict and Violence in Lebanon (1984), p. 77.
  5. ^ El-Kazen, The Breakdown of the State in Lebanon (2000), p. 302.
  6. ^ El-Assad, Civil Wars Volume 1: The Gun Trucks (2008), p. 129.
  7. ^ O'Ballance, Civil War in Lebanon (1998), p. 136.
  8. ^ Church, George (27 February 1984). "Failure of a Flawed Policy". Time. Retrieved 17 March 2013. 
  9. ^ Jean Dunord, Liban: Les milices rendent leurs armes, RAIDS magazine (1991), p. 31.
  10. ^ Éric Micheletti, Bataille d´Artillerie, RAIDS magazine (1989), p. 14.
  11. ^ Guest, Lebanon (1994), p. 105.
  12. ^ Yann Mahé, La Guerre Civile Libanese, un chaos indescriptible! (1975-1990), Trucks & Tanks Magazine n.º41, January–February 2014, ISSN 1957-4193, p. 81.
  13. ^ Guest, Lebanon (1994), p. 106.
  14. ^ O'Ballance, Civil War in Lebanon (1998), p. 132.
  15. ^ "خدام: مواقف دمشق وجنبلاط واحدة في المحطات الرئيسية وستبقى كذلك, أخبــــــار". Asharq Alawsat. Retrieved 17 March 2013. 
  16. ^ Safa, Oussama (January 2006). "Lebanon springs forward" (PDF). Journal of Democracy 17 (1). 
  17. ^ a b "News". Al Jazirah. Archived from the original on 14 February 2012. Retrieved 17 March 2013. 
  18. ^ "Nasrallah, Jumblatt talk Lebanon future". PressTV. 22 January 2011. Retrieved 17 March 2013. 
  19. ^ "PSP to Rally in Support of Syrian People, Expulsion of Syrian Ambassador". Retrieved 3 September 2012. 
  20. ^ "PSP Demo Urges Syria Envoy Expulsion, Arrest of Syrians in Samaha Case". Retrieved 3 September 2012. 
  • Edgar O'Ballance, Civil War in Lebanon, 1975-92, Palgrave Macmillan, 1998. ISBN 0-333-72975-7
  • Éric Micheletti and Yves Debay, Liban – dix jours aux cœur des combats, RAIDS magazine n.º41, October 1989 issue. ISSN 0769-4814 (in French)
  • Farid El-Kazen, The Breakdown of the State in Lebanon 1967-1976, I. B. Tauris, London 2000. ISBN 0-674-08105-6
  • Fawwaz Traboulsi, Identités et solidarités croisées dans les conflits du Liban contemporain; Chapitre 12: L'économie politique des milices: le phénomène mafieux, Thèse de Doctorat d'Histoire – 1993, Université de Paris VIII, 2007. (in French)
  • Ken Guest, Lebanon, in Flashpoint! At the Front Line of Today’s Wars, Arms and Armour Press, London 1994, pp. 97–111. ISBN 1-85409-247-2
  • Moustafa El-Assad, Civil Wars Volume 1: The Gun Trucks, Blue Steel books, Sidon 2008. ISBN 9953-0-1256-8
  • Jean Dunord, Liban: Les milices rendent leurs armes, RAIDS magazine n.º65, October 1991 issue. (in French)
  • Samer Kassis, 30 Years of Military Vehicles in Lebanon, Beirut: Elite Group, 2003. ISBN 9953-0-0705-5
  • Samer Kassis, Véhicules Militaires au Liban/Military Vehicles in Lebanon 1975-1981, L’Echo des Cedres, Beirut 2011. ISBN 978-1-934293-06-5
  • Walid Khalidi, Conflict and Violence in Lebanon: Confrontation in the Middle East, fourth printing (Cambridge, MA: Harvard Studies in International Affairs, 1984).

External links[edit]