Chehabism revisited: the consequences of reform in Lebanon

Tarek Abou Jaoude

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This article studies the reforms undertaken within the Lebanese state during the term of president Fouad Chehab (1958–1964) and their effects on Lebanese politics and bureaucracy. The article demonstrates that, while there were many positive results that came from these changes, the vision behind them, the methods of their execution, as well as the short time in which they were enforced, made them unsustainable as a long-term solution for Lebanese clientelism and corruption. Inherently, these reforms – though desperately needed – were not in any sense radical, and Chehab’s loyalty to the country and his army, combined with his distaste for politics, meant that the implementation of change came at the cost of long-term planning and the improvement of administrative culture. In addition, the measures that accompanied the army’s involvement in politics clashed with the Lebanese power-sharing system, and did not materialise into real democratic change. Ultimately, the degree to which Chehab’s reforms challenged many of the traditional Lebanese elite, and alienated much of the Lebanese population, resulted in a very tense socio-political situation that would break down only a few years later.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)810-832
Number of pages23
JournalMiddle Eastern Studies
Issue number5
Early online date22 Mar 2021
Publication statusPublished - 3 Sept 2021

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