The Sunni-dominated Future Movement is headed by MP Saad Hariri, the son of the assassinated former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. The Future Movement won 36 seats in the 2005 parliamentary elections, making it the largest single bloc in parliament. Saad Hariri, who has openly accused the Syrian regime of involvement in his father’s assassination, became the parliament majority leader and an integral member of the pro-government, anti-Hezbollah forces. The Future Movement’s support is concentrated in the Sunni areas of West Beirut, North Lebanon, and the southern city of Saida.
Druze leader MP Walid Jumblatt heads the PSP. Jumblatt, a prominent member of the March 14 coalition, has emerged in recent years as one of Hezbollah’s staunchest opponents in Lebanon. His outspoken attacks on the Shia militia provoked Hezbollah Chief Hassan Nasrallah to brand Jumblatt a “liar and a killer” in a recent press conference.
Samir Geagea is the leader of the pro-government Lebanese Forces, a Christian party that draws much of its support from Beirut’s Achrafieh district and Mount Lebanon. Geagea was imprisoned during the Syrian occupation and only freed in 2005, after the Syrian withdrawal from Lebanon. March 14’s response to the opposition’s recent actions was recently delivered by Geagea, who referred to the escalation as “an armed coup carried out by Hezbollah.”
The Kataeb is Lebanon's oldest political party, founded by Pierre Gemayel in 1936. It is currently run by his son, former President Amin Gemayel. Much like the Lebanese Forces, it draws its support base from Lebanon's Christian community and is a major component of the pro-government alliance.
Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah is the current leader of Hezbollah, a Shia Islamist party that draws inspiration, as well as weapons and funds, from the Iranian regime. Hezbollah also maintains close ties with the Syrian regime and was one of Syria’s strongest supporters during its long occupation of Lebanon. Hezbollah was the only militia allowed to keep its arms after the end of Lebanon’s civil war to combat Israel’s continued occupation of South Lebanon. However, Israel’s withdrawal from the South in 2000, and Syria’s removal of troops from Lebanon in 2005, has turned many Lebanese against Hezbollah’s continued possession of arms.
Amal, headed by Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri, is another Shia party and a close ally of Hezbollah. Founded in the mid-1970s by Imam Moussa al-Sadr, the party was transformed into a close Syrian ally during the civil war and the subsequent occupation. While Amal previously competed with Hezbollah for Shia loyalty, the party has emerged in recent years as a strong supporter of Hezbollah’s autonomy. While Speaker Berri was seen as the opposition’s “political face” before the current outbreak of violence, Amal’s militia was responsible for much of the violent takeover of West Beirut in the past days.
The SSNP is a small party aligned with Lebanon’s opposition. Ideologically, the party adheres to a secular form of nationalism that calls for the creation of a “Greater Syrian” state, which would consist of much of the Arab world, along with portions of Cyprus, Turkey and Iran. In reality, the party has been a close ally of the Syrian regime and a junior partner in the Hezbollah-led alliance. While politically weak, the party has shown itself to have an organized military wing in the past few days, which has played a major role in the takeover of West Beirut.
The FPM, led by General Michel Aoun, was one of the primary parties opposed to the Syrian occupation. However, Aoun paradoxically allied himself with the Hezbollah-led opposition in 2005 with hopes of gaining Shia support for his presidential campaign. Widespread disenchantment among Aoun’s partisans explains their absence from the opposition’s riots during the past days.