Strange Alliance: The Case of Hezbollah and the FPM in Post-Taif Lebanon

By Sophia Brown
Submitted to Session S6704 (CUMES Undergraduate Research Poster Presentation, 2021 Annual Meeting
Pol Science
Lebanese politics operate within a framework of confessionalism, where power sharing is divided along sectarian lines, specifically religious communities. The system of partitioning public offices along sectarian lines breeds a rich culture of trading allegiances in an effort to maximize a party’s proportion of influence, making for unusual cross-sectarian alliances. In a 2006 memorandum of understanding, the Free Patriotic Movement and Hezbollah began an unlikely alliance that has weathered far longer than expected. The alliance has allowed for the Maronite-Shiite bloc to dominate Lebanese politics by neutralizing a perceived Sunni threat. In my paper, I will analyze what conditions have allowed for such an unlikely alliance to remain intact for so long by examining the interests each party has in maintaining the alliance. More recently, the FPM-Hezbollah coalition has seen fractures in its relationship. I will discuss possible sources of recent tension between the two and offer an assessment of where the alliance may head in the future. The source material for my paper will consist of a combination of books, academic articles, official government documents and news articles. The source material drawn from books will mainly consist of contextual background information that will set the historical stage of both parties' emergence and their respective ideologies, and goals. I will draw upon government documents for pivotal turning points in the FPM-Hezbollah alliance such as the Taif agreement of 1989, the 2006 memorandum of understanding, and the Doha Accord of 2008, as well as any official press releases by Lebanese political parties. Lastly, I will be supplementing my analysis with the research of other academics who have studied political parties, electoral politics, and coalition governments in Lebanon.