Samir Geagea Biography

 

Samir Geagea

Samir Geagea was born on October 25, 1952 in Ain al-Remaneh, a suburb of Beirut, to a family of modest means from the northern town of Bsharre.  His father, Farid Geagea, was a warrant officer in the Lebanese Armed Forces, and his mother was a homemaker. Samir grew up with one sister, Nouhad, and one brother, Joseph, who is currently serving as the Interim Vice President and Chief Information Officer at the University of Maryland in the United States.

Early Life

Samir Geagea completed his formal education in Ain al-Remaneh public schools, where his academic performance granted him acceptance at the American University of Beirut (AUB) Medical School and a scholarship from the Gebran Khalil Gebran Foundation.

Civil War

The outbreak of the Lebanese civil war in 1975 interrupted Samir’s studies at AUB. The campus, located in west Beirut, fell under the control of hostile militias, forcing Samir Geagea to transfer to the Saint Joseph University Medical School in east Beirut.

As military operations intensified and spread to the northern parts of the country after 1976, Samir Geagea joined the defense against the onslaught of Palestinian guerillas and their allies.  Samir climbed the ranks of the Kata’eb Party from a junior member in the party’s student chapter during his high school years to a member of the student chapter at AUB.

Military Responsibilities

In 1978, just a few months shy of receiving his medical degree, he was forced to leave the university and dedicate his time fully to the military struggle. He began his military career in his hometown of Bsharre, and was promoted to the position of commander responsible for the entire northern front.

Samir Geagea established his headquarters in Qattara, an isolated village in the remote mountainous regions of Jbeil district.  He remained in that region until early 1983 when the LF Command Council added the central mountain regions of Shouf and Aley to his Area of Operation.

By 1985, Samir Geagea had been promoted to Chief of Staff of the Lebanese Forces. Shortly afterwards, Geagea led a movement to confront the Syrian-sponsored “Tripartite Accord” and remove Elie Hobeika, one of the co-signers of the Accord, from his position as head of the LF Executive Committee.  This effectively left Geagea in full charge of the LF by the end of 1986.

Under Geagea’s leadership, the Lebanese Forces underwent a radical transformation to become the leading military, political and social organization in the country within the span of a very few years.

Taef Accord

In 1989, Geagea saw a sound opportunity to put a definitive end to the civil war through the Taef Accord, which was ratified by the Lebanese Parliament.  In accordance with the agreement, he immediately dissolved the military and security arm of the LF and surrendered all its military assets to the Lebanese Army.

On January 24, 1990, Geagea was appointed a Minister of State in the first post-war cabinet, led by PM Omar Karami. Geagea rejected the position due to the flagrant control of the cabinet by the Syrian regime.  On May 16, 1992, Geagea was again appointed as a minister in the Rashid ElSolh cabinet, only to refuse it again for the same reasons.

Imprisonment

Throughout this period, it started becoming abundantly clear that Syria had no intention of abiding by the Taef Accord or withdrawing from Lebanon, and that militias aligned with Syria were not going to disarm as stipulated in the accord.  Geagea became the most vocal critic of the state of affairs and the staunchest advocate for the complete implementation of the Taef Accord. His stance generated significant Syrian pressure against him, particularly as he continued to call for a Syrian retreat into the Bekaa Valley. This led Syria and its Lebanese cronies to implement what they believed would be a “final dissolving” of the LF.  On March 23, 1994, a bomb detonated in a church in the heart of the Christian areas, resulting in several deaths and injuries.  The authorities immediately blamed the LF for the bombing and arrested Geagea on April 21, 1994.

Despite the usurped judicial system’s best efforts at formulating charges and fabricating evidence, the court could not make a single accusation hold against Geagea and instead resorted to indicting him on fabricated evidence from the war period.

For the next 11 years and 3 months, Samir Geagea was held in solitary confinement in a 2×3 meter underground cell, three stories below the Lebanese Ministry of Defense, where he was deprived of the most basic of rights.  During his imprisonment, his partisans were constantly being abducted, tortured, and in many instances, assassinated by the Syrian intelligence and their Lebanese accomplices in order to prevent them from exercising their constitutional right of freedom of expression

Freedom

Following the popular Cedar Revolution of 2005, the ensuing withdrawal of the Syrian forces and Lebanon’s regaining of its independence and sovereignty, the freely-elected Lebanese parliament freed Geagea and his comrades on July 19, 2005[1].

Active Role in the State

With a political environment free from Syrian control, the LF Party, under Geagea’s leadership, quickly returned to assuming a prominent political role in the country with an active bloc in parliament and ministerial positions in the successive governments.  Geagea himself reassumed his role as a leading national figure and participated in the first series of the National Dialogue Table (NDT) in 2006 and later on in 2008, 2009 and 2010 under the auspices of President Michel Sleiman.

Samir Geagea also participated in the 2008 Doha Conference, sponsored by the Arab League. The conference took place following the May 7, 2008 events when Hezbollah troops stormed Beirut.

Samir Geagea has built relationships with a number of high-level Arab and international contacts and has held meetings with numerous heads of states, most notably former president Jacques Chirac of France, former President Hosni Moubarak of Egypt, and the Princes of Kuwait and Qatar, among others.

Known as a man of principle, Samir Geagea continues to work tirelessly in pursuit of his party’s ambitions for a free, sovereign, and democratic Lebanon.

[1] Notably, it was the free parliament’s first legislative act and only Hezbollah’s deputies abstained from voting.

 Check the Official Samir Geagea Website