The chameleon

How many times did Walid Jumblatt change his mind? Even he lost count. The Lebanese have nicknamed him “the chameleon” and “the weathervane of Lebanese politics”, but even his fiercest adversaries admit that Jumblatt is a cunning politician and that he has managed to protect the Druze community over the decades. NOW Lebanon brings you some of the turning points in Walid Jumblatt’s political career:
Walid Jumblatt became the leader of the Progressive Socialist Party in 1977 following the assassination of his father, party founder Kamal Jumblatt. The elder Jumblatt, a notorious critic of Syria, was allegedly killed at the order of then-Syrian President Hafez al-Assad. Eager not to meet the same fate as his father, Walid Jumblatt reconciled with Assad after the traditional 40-day mourning period was over.
For 23 years, the Druze leader remained loyal to Damascus and an enemy to Israel and Lebanese Christian parties. Jumblatt was thus rewarded with ministerial portfolios after Syrian forces captured Beirut in October 1990.
June 10, 2000

Radical change. The death of Hafez al-Assad and the accession of his son, Bashar, awakened the anti-Syrian spirit in Jumblatt. He became a vocal opponent of the Syrian occupation. Surprise? Not at all. When the new Syrian president liquidated his political adversaries in Damascus, he liquidated Jumblatt’s allies and friends.
Jumblatt made another stunning reconciliation, this time with the Christians, his bitter enemies throughout the civil war. He made an electoral alliance with the Kataeb and National Bloc parties, forming the Mountain Union electoral list, and he negotiated a charter with Amin Gemayel. Over the next four years, Maronite Patriarch Nasrallah Sfeir visited the Chouf, and Walid Jumblatt met with Samir Geagea’s wife, Strida, while the Lebanese Forces leader was still in jail.
February 14, 2005
Former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri’s assassination rocked Lebanon, forever changing the county’s political landscape. Adapting to the changing tides, Jumblatt altered his political stance. Despite leading the opposition to the Syrians, he cut a deal with pro-Syrian Shia groups Hezbollah and Amal, as well as with the anti-Damascus Future Movement to protect its quota in parliamentary elections that summer. The deal only lasted for the summer, though, and Jumblatt turned around again and accused Hezbollah of supporting Syrian interests in Lebanon after the assassination of journalist and MP Gebran Tueni.
May 2008
 It was time for another major turning point. Faithfull at first to his anti-Syrian position adopted eight years earlier, Walid Jumblatt pressured the government to adopt the decree that made Hezbollah’s private telecommunications system illegal. The bill led to 10 days of fighting between the March 14 and March 8 forces in Beirut and the Chouf, following which Jumblatt’s attitude toward the Shia group became milder. After the signing of the Doha Accord, Jumblatt softened his objections to Hezbollah's arms. When Hezbollah hero Samir Kantar and other Lebanese detainees in Israel were released in July of 2008, the PSP issued a statement calling it "a historic victory" and urged the public to participate in celebrations.
September 2008
Only months after the May events, Jumblatt reconciled with lifelong rival Talal Arslan, the March 8-allied head of the Druze Lebanese Democratic Party. But the reconciliation process was hindered by the assassination of Talal Arslan’s right-hand man, Saleh Aridi, one of the prominent figures in the negotiations between the two parties. Both leaders spoke about Druze unity at Aridi’s funeral.
May 2009
Just before the parliamentary elections, a videotape of Walid Jumblatt insulting his Maronite and Sunni party allies in a conversation was leaked to the press and appeared on YouTube. Jumblatt later apologized to the Maronite community and announced his intention to visit the Patriarch. But the rumors about his distancing himself from March 14 did not cease.
June 18, 2009
Jumblatt met with Hezbollah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah. The meeting was billed as a rapprochement between the two leaders’ parties after Jumblatt had softened his stance toward the March 8 coalition.

August 2, 2009
In his latest act of political re-posturing, Walid Jumblatt announced this Sunday that after four years, he will be distancing himself from March 14.

  • beach

    you missed many earlier and just as improtant cahnges: 1992: jumblatt forms loose allaince with hariri 1997: Jumblatt breaks with hariri (knowing syria was chaning) 1998: Jumblatt is the only senior figure to oppose the 'election' of Lahoud as presdient. 2000: jumlbatt and Tueni are the first figures to openly oppose syria, breaktaking.

    August 9, 2009


    Cedar Revolution is innocent of Jumblat. True the Christian split between Aoun and civil war leaders is deplorable, but in no way excuses Jumblat’s dreadful actions. (...). He has backstabbed CR martyrs including Marwan Hamade. Gebran Sons said on June 8th that if it wasn’t for Jumblat actions, M14 would have won an even bigger election, soundly defeating Aoun or anyone opening the backdoor to Assad. History books should re-analyze Jumblat steps prior to the election to show what a (...) person he really is. With friends like him no one needs enemies. It has taken Christians 4 years to see the megalomaniac, destructive, selfish, and undemocratic impulses of Aoun. Hopefully Druzes can see truth about Jumblat in much shorter time before the forces of darkness, oppression, economic misery and culture of hate & war transform Lebanon into their own image compliment of Jumblat.

    August 9, 2009

  • hannibal chehab

    jumblatt is a mixture of machiavelism feodalism and fascism with ZERO credibility

    August 8, 2009

  • Marwan Mournir Takchi

    What did every one expect? Did you really believe that Jumblatt sided for democratie? He wouldn't know what to do with it! A Politician is a Politician, he will look for this own interests and not the people that he represent. Look how many times he changed his views and alliances since his father died. As Hala Najjar stated "Little too late..." Its a shame that we as Lebanese will pay the price again and again... We the people we are expendable, as louis de funes said in his movie "Sur un arbre perche" and I quote: " Promise everything to the people, but don't give them nothing. The people? The people love it when we lie to them..." and quote... And that is exactly what Jumblatt did. Lier, Lier...

    August 7, 2009

  • essam

    Politics have No Religion/Sect or time, have no endless alliances or friendship..we, the poor people are the last to know what really goes on between the Politicians...they control ALL aspect of the Media, they let us hear/see what THEY want us to...So, open speeches normally don't carry much weight between the Politician but for local consumptions, Especially in Lebanon....Now, put the followings together....Israeli Military exercises at the Lebanese Border, Hizbo arm depot explosion & claims of re-arming, Der Spiegel report & others accusing Hizbo of Hariri killing, Inter Court Charges(imminent), Iranian internal pressure..what do you think the possible outcome of all of this...?

    August 6, 2009

  • Geo M

    You've missed the most important change: the one that didn't happen! When his father was murdered by the Syrian, and even though it is said he knew the killers by name, Jumblat sided with the killer for the sake of his community and his own, especially since political options were quite limited back then. As to that last "permutation", it just may be one too many. His 'street' and even his party members are obviously and openly disgruntled, and the enemy he's smothering with velvety words is neither naive, Jumblat having lost all credibility and having gone too far, nor (critical point) in need of Jumblat in person to lead the druze anymore. So, has the Chameleon shed his last skin? Pity our good friends and compatriots, druze, they may have just committed political suicide, and gone into a loose-loose situation.

    August 6, 2009

  • Hala Najjar

    Little too late to realize what Jumblat is, how he deals with politics and politicians. Ever since he said that he knew who killed his father and I was looking around for someone, anyone to demand an explanation...We were one of those Christian, living in the mountain between Druze, who left in a hurry so not to be killed. We all were at the time followers of Kataeb; aka, Lebanese forces aka God knows what, yet in 2005, all of these Idols forgot Jumblatt’s crimes just for the sake of beating Michel Aoun.WOW! Now I am ecstatic to see Jumblatt following Michel Aoun and not the other way around. We asked everyone to be in one coalition to no avail. You are surprised now. I am not, and I am so glad for his followers and the Christians of march 14, and the Patriarch. No words, nothing can express how & what we feel. Mabrouk

    August 6, 2009