Émile Lahoud

Émile Lahoud
اميل لحود

10th President of Lebanon
In office
24 November 1998  24 November 2007
Prime Minister Rafic Hariri
Selim Hoss
Rafic Hariri
Omar Karami
Najib Mikati
Fouad Siniora
Preceded by Elias Hrawi
Succeeded by Fouad Siniora (Acting)[1]
Personal details
Born (1936-01-12) 12 January 1936
Baabdat, Greater Lebanon
Political party Independent
Alma mater Britannia Royal Naval College
Naval War College
Religion Maronite Church
Military service
Allegiance  Lebanon
Service/branch Lebanese Navy
Lebanese Army
Years of service 1956–1980 (Navy)
1980–1998 (Army)
Rank General
Commands Commander of the Lebanese Armed Forces
Battles/wars Lebanese Civil War

Émile Jamil Lahoud (Arabic: اميل جميل لحود) (born 12 January 1936) is a Lebanese politician who was President of Lebanon[2] from 1998 to 2007.

Early life

Emile Lahoud was born in Baabdat on 12 January 1936.[3] However, his birthplace is given as Beirut by the Armed Forces.[4] He is the youngest son of General Jamil Lahoud. His mother, Andrenee Bajakian, is of Armenian descent from the Armenian-populated village of Kesab in Syria.[3] Lahoud’s older brother, Nasri Lahoud, was a judge who served as the military prosecutor general.[5] Emile Lahoud is the nephew of Salim Lahoud who served as Lebanese foreign minister from 1955 to 1957.[1]

Emile Lahoud is the great-grandson of Takouhi Kalebjian and Minas Sagerian on his maternal side who were from Adabazar, Ottoman Empire (now Adapazari, Republic of Turkey). Adabazar is located about 50 miles (80 kilometers) outside Istanbul on the Black Sea. Both Minas and Takouhi were massacred during the Armenian Genocide which occurred under the rule of the Ottoman Empire during World War I.[2]


Lahoud received his elementary education at the Collège de La Sagesse in Beirut and his secondary education at Brummana High School in north Metn.[6] He entered the military academy as a naval cadet in 1956 and studied there for one year.[5] He then attended Dartmouth Naval College in the United Kingdom.[5] He returned to the Lebanese military academy and graduated later as an ensign.[5][7] In 1986, he took a navy engineering course at the Naval Engineering Academy in the United Kingdom.[5] As a captain, he attended the U.S. Naval War College, in Newport, Rhode Island, graduating in 1973.[8]

Military life

Lahoud became Lieutenant Junior Grade on 18 September 1962 and Lieutenant on 1 April 1969. He was promoted to Lieutenant Commander on 1 January 1974 and to Commander on 1 January 1976. He then began to serve as a Navy Engineer Staff Captain from 1 January 1980 and as a Navy Engineer Staff Rear Admiral from 1 January 1985. On 28 November 1989, he was promoted to Major Lieutenant General.[4]

Although he was trained as a naval officer, Lahoud benefited from the appointment of his maternal cousin, General Jean Njeim, as army commander and was appointed to head the transportation section of the army's fourth division in 1970.[6] Although Njeim died in a helicopter crash in 1971, Lahoud steadily rose through the ranks of its officer corps. In 1980, he was appointed Director of Personnel in the Army Command.[6] In 1983, he was given an administrative position at the Defense Ministry, where he was responsible for coordination between ministry officials and the Commander of the Lebanese Army, a position which was held by General Michel Aoun in 1984.[6] Lahoud allowed Lebanese's security-military apparatus to be firmly controlled by Syria.[9]

Political career

Lahoud ran for the presidency in 1998 after having the constitution amended to allow the army commander-in-chief to run for office. This amendment is believed to have been backed by Syria.[10] His presidency was secured following the receipt of 118 votes from the 128-member Lebanese Parliament.[11] When he became Lebanon’s president in 1998, he aligned himself with Hezbollah, and picked his own man as prime minister, Selim al-Hoss.[12] This led to heightened tensions between Rafiq Hariri and Lahoud.[13] The other significant move Lahoud made shortly after his presidency was a request that Syria remove Ghazi Kanaan, who was serving as Syria's intelligence chief in Lebanon.[14] Lahoud's request was not entertained.[14]

During his term, he exerted more control over government decision-making than Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri or Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri.[6] In August 2001, he modified the limits on the executive authority of the presidency stipulated in the 1989 Ta'if Accord and ordered security forces to launch a massive arrest sweep against nationalist dissidents without informing Hariri and other cabinet ministers.[6]

In 2004, his six-year presidential term would have finished. Syria, however, although initially hesitant about Lahoud’s candidacy, encouraged the extension of his term for three more years, regarding him as key to their control over Lebanon. The extension would be possible only if the constitution was amended. The Syrian leadership was reported to have threatened Hariri and others into endorsing the amendment.[15] The intention to extend Lahoud's term prompted significant domestic turmoil.[16] Ultimately, Hariri and the parliamentary majority voted for the extension of Lahoud's presidential term until November 2007, with 96 deputies voting in favor of the amendment against 29 who were opposed.[15][17] However, four cabinet members resigned from office on 7 September 2004 in protest of the amendment: economy minister Marwan Hamadeh, culture minister Ghazi Aridi, environment minister Farès Boueiz and refugee affairs minister Abdullah Farhat.[18][19]

On the other hand, both the Iranian government and Hezbollah viewed the extension of his term as a desirable development: Iranian President Mohammad Khatami telephoned his congratulations to Lahoud, and a delegation of top Hezbollah officials visited Lahoud to convey Nasrallah’s congratulations.[20] The extension of Lahoud's term is seen as a clear example of Syria's control of Lebanese politics.[13]

In a 2006 Der Spiegel interview, Lahoud argued that Hezbollah enjoys prestige in Lebanon, because it "freed our country".[21] He further stated that although Hezbollah is a small-scale organization, it stands up to Israel and voiced his respect for Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah.[21]

In 2007, his presidential term ended. However, a new president was not immediately elected. Following a political deadlock which lasted for six months, the Lebanese parliament elected former army chief Michel Suleiman as president.[22] A similar but a longer political deadlock continues to date since the Presidency of Michel Suleiman came to its conclusion in May 2014.

It was claimed that Lahoud spent much of his presidency term swimming and sunbathing at the Yarzeh Country Club minutes away from the presidential palace.[23] Although there were high expectations from his own Christian Maronite community and the support of the military which he had commanded in the post-war period, the unpopular Lahoud developed a reputation as a weak leader, largely due to following Syria on most matters.[10] In line with these views, Druze leader Walid Jumblatt publicly described Lahoud as a "helpless ghost" regarding his presidency.[24] However, such political opinions are grounded on partisan politics in Lebanon, since Lahoud is generally viewed with respect and gratitude by the factions of 8 March.

Personal life

He married Andrée Amadouni in 1967 and they have three children: Karine (born 1969), the former spouse of Elias Murr, Emile (born 1975) and Ralph (born 1977).[3][25]

The book Years of Resistance: The Mandate of Emile Lahood, the Former President of Lebanon by Karim Pakradouni, published in May 2012, reviews his political life and his impact on the contemporary history of Lebanon and the Middle East crisis.[26]


Foreign honours


  1. 1 2 "Lebanon". Rulers. Retrieved 23 July 2012.
  2. 1 2 "Poochigian Family History and Genealogy". Poochigian Archives. Retrieved 14 June 2012.
  3. 1 2 3 "Émile Lahoud". NNDB. Retrieved 13 June 2012.
  4. 1 2 "Armed Forces Commanders - Emile Lahoud". Lebanese Armed Forces. Retrieved 13 June 2012.
  5. 1 2 3 4 5 "Man of the Hour: General Emile Lahoud". CGGL. 7 October 1998. Retrieved 14 June 2012.
  6. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Gambill,, Gary C.; Ziad K. Abdelnour; Bassam Endrawos (November 2011). "Emile Lahoud President of Lebanon". Middle East Intelligence Bulletin. 3 (11).
  7. "Émile Lahoud". Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved 13 June 2012.
  8. "Graduation exercises" (PDF). US Naval War College. Retrieved 16 March 2013.
  9. Salloukh, Bassel (Fall 2005). "Syria and Lebanon: A Brotherhood Transformed". MER236. 35. Retrieved 17 March 2013.
  10. 1 2 "Emile Lahoud". Lebanon Today. Retrieved 14 June 2012.
  11. "Emile Lahoud". Jewish Virtual Library. Retrieved 15 July 2012.
  12. Bosco, Robert M. (2009). "The Assassination of Rafik Hariri: Foreign Policy Perspectives" (PDF). International Political Science Review. 30: 349–363. doi:10.1177/0192512109342521. Retrieved 3 July 2012.
  13. 1 2 Yun, Janice (2010). "Special Tribunal for Lebanon: A Tribunal of an International Character Devoid of International Law". Santa Clara Journal of International Law. 7 (2). Retrieved 2 July 2012.
  14. 1 2 Mugraby, Muhamad (July 2008). "The syndrome of one-time exceptions and the drive to establish the proposed Hariri court". Mediterranean Politics, special issue: The Politics of Violence, Truth and Reconciliation in the Arab Middle East. Taylor and Francis. 13 (2): 171–194. doi:10.1080/13629390802127513. Pdf.
  15. 1 2 Knudsen, Are (March 2010). "Acquiescence to Assassinations in Post-Civil War Lebanon?". Mediterranean Politics. 15 (1): 1–23. doi:10.1080/1743-9418. Retrieved 13 June 2012.
  16. Zweiri, Mahjoob; Tekin, Ali; Johnson, Andrew E. (November 2008). "Fragile States and the Democratization Process: A New Approach to Understanding Security in the Middle East" (PDF). Euro Mesco Papers. 74: 4–26. Retrieved 21 October 2012.
  17. "Lebanon extends president's term". BBC. 3 September 2004. Retrieved 14 June 2012.
  18. Mallat, Chibli. Lebanon's Cedar Revolution An essay on non-violence and justice (PDF). Mallat. p. 122.
  19. "Four Lebanese ministers step down". BBC. 7 September 2004. Retrieved 16 March 2013.
  20. Samii, Abbas William (Winter 2008). "A Stable Structure on Shifting Sands: Assessing the Hizbullah-Iran-Syria Relationship" (PDF). Middle East Journal. 62 (1): 32–53. doi:10.3751/62.1.12. Retrieved 30 June 2012.
  21. 1 2 "'Hezbollah Freed Our Country'". Der Spiegel International. 25 July 2006. Retrieved 14 June 2012.
  22. "Lebanon profile". BBC. 21 May 2012. Retrieved 14 June 2012.
  23. "Nine Unforgettable Years: A Tribute to President Emile Lahoud". Now Lebanon. AFP/Ramzi Haidar. 2007.
  24. Seeberg, Peter (February 2007). "Fragmented loyalties. Nation and Democracy in Lebanon after the Cedar Revolution" (Working Papers). University of Southern Denmark. Retrieved 23 October 2012.
  25. "Biography for Emile Lahoud". Silobreaker. 15 January 2009. Retrieved 30 June 2012.
  26. Karim Pakradouni, Years of Resistance: The Mandate of Emile Lahood, the Former President of Lebanon, Garnet Publishing, Reading, 2012, Retrieved 6 May 2012
  27. Nomination by Sovereign Ordonnance n° 14950 of 13 July 2001 (French)
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Émile Jamil Lahoud.
Military offices
Preceded by
Michel Aoun
Commander of the Lebanese Armed Forces
Succeeded by
Michel Suleiman
Political offices
Preceded by
Elias Hrawi
President of Lebanon
Succeeded by
Fouad Siniora
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