Beirut 1978, Phalangist soldier.

Lebanese Christian political party and militia. The name Phalangists (Phalange and Phalange party are variations on the same) is both a translation from Arabic and a small distortion, coming from phalanx. The correct name would have been Lebanese Kataeb Social Democratic Party.

The Phalange attracted Christian youths from the mountains northeast of Beirut as well as Christian students in Beirut. The politics of the Phalange party was pro-Western, and they opposed any pan-Arabism. The Phalangists have shown an unusual amount of pragmatism in dealing with allies.

At the beginning of the Lebanese Civil War, they cooperated with Syria, but from 1982 Israel became their most important ally. This was also the year that they performed the act for which they always will be remembered: the massacre of Sabra and Chatila. This was a retaliation for the murder of their leader Bashir Gemayel, and from this year the Phalange gradually lost its momentum and importance.

1936 November: Founded by Pierre Gemayel, inspired by the Nazi Youth Movement that he had seen in Hitler’s Germany.
1949: The discovery of a Syrian plot to merge Lebanon with Syria stirs up anxiety and nationalism in Lebanon, giving the Phalange party many new members.
1958: In the 1958 Civil War, the Phalangists supported president Camille Chamoun.
1968: The Phalange party cooperates with the parties of Chamoun and Raymond Edde, and gets 9 of the 99 seats in the parliament.
1975: The Lebanese Civil War starts. The Phalangists have 20,000 members and their own little army. They were part of the umbrella organization Lebanese Front.
1976: The Phalangists support Syrian intervention in the conflict, as they were losing ground to the Muslim troops.
1980: The Phalange destroys the militia of the National Liberal Party of Chamoun, which was another member of the Lebanese Front.
1982: The Phalangists cooperates with Israel, in planning an attack on Lebanon.
— June 6: Israel invades Lebanon from its southern border, and its forces start advancing north, reaching Beirut in short time.
— September: The Phalangists have become the strongest party in Lebanon, thanks to the aid of Israel.
— September 13: Bashir Gemayel is killed few days before he is to be sworn in as president of Lebanon.
— September 16: As a way of retaliating the killing of Gemayel, the Phalange militia gets help from the Israeli army to close off the Palestinian quarters of Sabra and Chatila. Then a campaign of killing 2,000 Palestinian civilians over the next 3 days. This stands as one of the most dramatic moments from the 16 year long civil war.
— September 21: Bashir’s brother, Amin, also a Phalange member, is elected president.
1985: Break between the Phalange party and the Lebanese Front, and thereby reducing the Phalange importance.
1988 September: Gemayel steps down as president, leaves the country and a weak party.
1992: The Phalange party decides to boycott the general elections, as a protest against the continued presence of Syrian troops in Lebanon.
— December: The headquarters of the Phalange party are blown up.


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