Zuama’s role in the peace process during the lebanese civil war (1983-1987)

Mohammad Riza Widyarsa, Susanto Zuhdi

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


Lebanon is a country with a unique political system. As a country with a population divided into several religious groups, this country adopts a political system based on confessionalism. This system is a political system that divides power based on religion. However, in Lebanese society, every religious group is led by zuama who are traditional leaders that can be trace to the time of Ottoman rule. The task of the zuama is to lead each of their communities (which are certainly based on religion) and carry out their leadership patterns with the patron-client method. The patron-client method run by these zuama aims to give something to their community, such as finding a job or giving advice. In return, the clients must provide political support to the zuama, and formally recognize the zuamas as their leader. This enables the zuama to play an important role in Lebanese politics, such as being members of parliament, ministers, even the president. This paper explains the role of zuama, in solving the conflicts in Lebanon during the 1983-1987 civil war. The negotiations examine in this paper are the Geneva Talks in 1983, the Lausanne Conference in 1984, and the Tripartite Accord in 1985. It also explores how and why they tried to negotiate, how they were involved and became the negotiators at the same time during the civil wars. The research was conducted through various documents, which are documents and newspapers archives. Books and articles from journals were also used as secondary sources. The method used in this research is astructuralist approach, in order to see the role of zuama within the Lebanese society. By using all the methods above, this paper reveals that the zuama played important roles during the Lebanese civil war in 1983- 1987. They acted both as militia leaders who conducted military operations, while at the same time also acted as delegates during every single negotiations. The strong positions that they hold in each negotiations means that they still have significant leverage as leaders of Lebanon, which means that some elements in Lebanese society still regards zuama as their community leaders.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationDissecting History and Problematizing the Past in Indonesia
PublisherNova Science Publishers, Inc.
Number of pages13
ISBN (Electronic)9781536193992
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2021


  • Civil war
  • Geneva talks
  • Lausanne conference
  • Tripartite accord
  • Zuama


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