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Michel Aoun (born in 1936 in Beirut) is a Lebanese military commander and politician. From 22 September 1988 to 13 October 1990, he served as Prime Minister and acting President of one of two rival governments that contended to power. Aoun's administration attracted little international recognition, however.
A Maronite Christian, his family was deeply religious and he attended Catholic schools. Aoun finished his secondary education at the College Des Freres in 1956 and enrolled in the Military Academy as a cadet officer. Three years later, he graduated as an artillery officer in the Lebanese Army. He later received additional training at Chalons-sur-Marnes , France (1958-1959), Fort Seale , Oklahoma in the U.S.A(1966) and the École Superieure de Guerre , France (1978-1980).
During the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in 1982, Aoun mobilized an army battalion to defend the presidential palace in Baabda, lest it should be attacked. The was the only action of the Lebanese army in that war. During the Lebanese Civil War in September 1983, Aoun's 8th Mechanised Infantry Battalion fought Muslim, Druze and Palestinian forces at the battle of Souq el Gharb . In June 1984 Aoun was picked to be commander of the Lebanese army.
On September 22 1988. the outgoing President, Amine Gemayel, appointed Aoun Prime Minister until new elections could be held. This move was of questionable validity, as it violated the National Pact of 1943, which reserved the position of prime minister for a Sunni Muslim. Gemayel argued, however, that as the National Pact also reserved the presidency for a Maronite Christian, and as the Prime Minister assumes the powers and duties of the President in the event of a vacancy, it would be proper to fill that office temporarily with a Maronite. The Constitution itself was silent on this matter; it was not clarified until the Taif Agreement of 1989 codified the reservation of executive positions for members of designated confessions.
Aoun could rely on 40% of the Lebanese army, including nearly all tanks and artillery, the Lebanese Forces militia headed by Samir Geagea and their Israeli backers, Dany Chamoun and the National Liberal Party, as well as the support of Iraq’s President Saddam Hussein. Opposed to Aoun was the former Prime Minister Selim al-Hoss, who declared his dismissal to be invalid and had the backing of Syria. Two Lebanese governments were formed, a civilian one under al-Hoss based in west Beirut and a military one under Aoun in east Beirut. Aoun controlled parts of east Beirut and some neighbouring suburbs. In the Spring of 1989, terminated his alliance with the Lebanese Forces and used the army to wrest control of ports they held, in order to raise customs revenues for his government. Many suggest that the real reason for his assault on the LF was to attempt to entice Arab leaders to recognize him as Lebanon's head of state. Moreover, by attacking the overwhelmingly Christian LF, he would highlight his non-sectarian credentials.
Support from France and Iraq emboldened Aoun to declare war on Syria on March 14th 1989. Over the next few months Aoun’s army and the Syrians exchanged artillery fire in Beirut until only 100,000 people remained from the original 1 million, the rest having fled. During this period Aoun became critical of American support for Syria and moved closer to Iraq, accepting arms supplies from Saddam Hussein.
In October 1989 Lebanese National Assembly members met to draw up the Taif Accord in an attempt to settle the Lebanese conflict. Aoun refused to attend, denounced the politicians who did so as traitors and issued a decree dissolving the assembly. Aoun lost much support that he had previously had amongst Muslims, who now perceived his policies as another attempt to maintain Maronite supremacy. As a result of the Taif Accord the assembly met to elect René Moawad as President in November. His presidency lasted just 17 days before he was assassinated and Elias Hrawi was elected in his place. Hrawi appointed General Émile Lahoud as commander of the army and ordered Aoun out of the Presidential palace. Aoun rejected his dismissal and instead moved to eliminate political rivals in his enclave by attacking the LF in a war that lasted from January to May 1990. Aoun failed to destroy Samir Geagea’s LF and was left in control of half of east Beirut. During his campaign against the LF, he is reported to have received Syrian fuel supplies, which were delivered to him through Dahr el-Baidar .
The end approached for Aoun when his Iraqi ally, Saddam Hussein, launched his invasion of Kuwait on August 2 1990. Syria’s President Assad sided with the United States. In return, the United States agreed to support Syria's interests in Lebanon. On October 13, Syrian forces attacked the presidential palace in Baabda , where Aoun was holed up, and Aoun surrendered and fled to the French ambassador’s residence. Ten months later he went into exile in France. Aoun still campaigns to end Syrian influence in Lebanon, and by remote control leads a political party, the Free Patriotic Movement . In 2003, an avowed Aounist candidate, Hikmat Deeb , came surprisingly close to winning a key byelection in the Baabda-Aley constituency with the endorsement of such right-wing figures as Solange and Nadim Gemayel (the widow and son of former President-elect Bachir Gemayel, who was assassinated in 1982), as well as leftists like George Hawi of the Lebanese Communist Party , although most of the opposition supported the government candidate, Henry Hélou . Aoun's ability to attract support from key figures of both the left and right revealed that he was still a force to be reckoned with.
|- style="text-align: center;" | width="30%" |Preceded by:
Selim al-Hoss | width="40%" style="text-align: center;" |Prime Minister of Lebanon (disputed)
1988–1990 | width="30%" |Succeeded by:
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