Arab Democratic Party (Lebanon)

The Arab Democratic Party (ADP) (Arabic: الحزب العربي الديمقراطي, romanizedAl-Hizb Al-'Arabi Al-Dimuqrati) or Parti Démocratique Arabe (PDA) in French, is a Lebanese political party, based in Tripoli, in the North Lebanon Governorate. Its current leader is Rifaat Eid.

Arab Democratic Party
الحزب العربي الديمقراطي
LeaderRifaat Eid
FounderAli Eid
Founded1974; 49 years ago (1974)
IdeologyArab nationalism
Political positionLeft-wing
National affiliationMarch 8 Alliance
Parliament of Lebanon
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Cabinet of Lebanon
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Party flag
ADP Lebanon flag.jpg


Ali Eid in 2008

The ADP traced back its origins to an earlier leftist students' organization called the Alawite Youth Movement (AYM) (Arabic: حركة الشباب العلوي | Harakat al-Shabab al-Alawiyya) or Mouvement de la Jeunesse Alaouite (MJA) in French, originally formed in 1972 at Tripoli by Ali Eid, a former teacher. As its name implies, the AYM drew its support from the Shia Alawite minority sect of Lebanon, even receiving the personal backing of Rifa'at al-Assad,[1] Syria's vice-president at the time and himself a member of that sect. During the early war years, the AYM kept itself outside the LNM-PLO alliance, but in 1977–78 the movement joined the Patriotic Opposition Front (POF) (Arabic: جبهة المعارضة الوطنية | Jabhat al-Muearadat al-Wataniyya), a pro-Syrian multiconfessional coalition of Lebanese notables and activists founded in Tripoli by the MP Talal El-Merhebi (elected in 1972), Souhale Hamadah, Rashid Al-Muadim, George Mourani, and Nassib Al-Khatib, with Ali Eid being elected vice-president of the new formation.[citation needed]

However, internal disagreements soon led to the dissolution of the alliance at the early 1980s, when Eid and some of its ex-coalition partners went to form in 1982 the ADP, choosing the Sunni Muslim lawyer Nassib Al-Khatib as their first secretary-general, later replaced by Ali Eid in 1985.[citation needed] In the process, the AYM was absorbed into the new party and became its youth branch.[citation needed]

The ADP in the civil war 1982–1990Edit

Widely regarded[by whom?] as a Syrian-backed proxy force, the ADP and its Red Knights' battled several Tripoli-based factions hostile to Damascus' presence in Lebanon, in particular the Sunni Islamic Unification Movement – IUM (Arabic: التوحيد, romanizedal-Tawhid)[2][3][4] since 1981–82, which they suppressed with the help of the Syrian Army, the pro-Syrian Syrian Social Nationalist Party (SSNP) and Ba'ath Party factions and the Lebanese Communist Party (LCP) in 1985–86.[5][6]

The ADP/ARK also joined the LNRF (Jammoul) guerrilla alliance in September 1982 to fight the Israeli occupation of southern Lebanon and later its successor, the wider Syrian-sponsored Lebanese National Salvation Front (LNSF) in July 1983 against the American-backed government of President Amin Gemayel.[citation needed] In 1988–1990 they accepted the Taif Agreement and supported the parliament-based provisional government of Selim al-Hoss against General Michel Aoun's military interim government.[citation needed]

Military structure and organizationEdit

The ADP raised in July 1981 with Syrian support its own militia,[7] the Arab Red Knights – ARK (Arabic: الفرسان الحمر العربي, romanizedAl-Fursan al-Hammur al-Arabi) or Red Knights for short. Trained by Rifa'at's Defense Companies, they were also known as the 'Pink Panthers' due to their green- and raspberry-colored lizard camouflage uniforms.[8] Commanded by Ali Eid the ARK initially aligned just 500 militiamen,[9] but subsequently grew to 1,000 well-armed male and female fighters, organized into infantry, signals, medical and Military Police 'branches', plus a motorized corps made of gun trucks and 'technicals'. The latter consisted of UAZ-469 light utility vehicles, Jeep CJ-5 and Jeep CJ-8 (civilian versions of the Willys M38A1 MD jeep),[10] Santana 88 Ligero Militar jeeps, Land-Rover series II-III and Toyota Land Cruiser (J40) light pickups equipped with heavy machine-guns, recoilless rifles and Anti-Aircraft autocannons. The ADP/ARK operated mainly in northern Lebanon, with its main stronghold in the adjacent Alawite-populated Jabal Mohsen, a sub-urban strategic high ground area overlooking the whole city of Tripoli though they also claimed to control some of the Alawite villages of the Akkar District right up to the Lebanese-Syrian border.

Illegal activities and controversyEdit

By the mid-1980s, allied with the Lebanese Communist Party (LCP) Popular Guards' militia, the Red Knights also controlled the city's commercial harbour and oil refinery – the second largest deep-waters port of Lebanon – in collusion with the director of Tripoli's harbour Ahmad Karami and corrupt Syrian Army officers. The National Fuel Company (NFC) headed jointly by businessmen Maan Karami (brother of late prime-minister Rachid Karami) and Haj Muhammad Awadah, run in the behalf of the ADP and LCP a profitable fuel smuggling ring that stretched to the Beqaa Valley.[11]

The post-war yearsEdit

After the end of the civil strife in October 1990, the ADP was disarmed and its leader Ali Eid was elected in 1991 to the newly established Alawite seat in the Lebanese Parliament. Prior to this, no Alawite had been elected to the Lebanese parliament.[12] The Party seems to have revised its traditional pro-Syrian stance in the 1990s, in favour of a moderate, cautious neutralist posture in the current sphere of Lebanon's internal politics.

In 2005 it was rumoured[by whom?] that Rifa'at al-Assad was reviving the Red Knights militia in Tripoli.[13] It rearmed during the 2007 Lebanon conflict, after it was revealed that the Islamist group Fatah al-Islam had planned to attack the Alawites of Tripoli.[14] It was active during the 2008 Lebanon conflict, now led by Ali Eid's son Rifaat, being between 1,000 and 2,000 men strong. During the 2008 conflict, where Sunnis and Shias fought throughout Lebanon, Rifaat said in an interview: "We're the most convenient targets, the stand-in for Hezbollah, our problem can only be solved when the Shiites and Sunnis solve theirs."[15] As many as 9,000 Alawites fled their homes during the conflict.[16] Despite years of operating freely a militia throughout Tripoli, the Lebanese Army later severely cracked down on the ADP's military wing starting in April 2014. This forced most militants to surrender to the Internal Security Forces (ISF) and led the group's leaders/commanders to flee in order to avoid the possibility of life in prison.[17]

Syrian Civil WarEdit

During the Syrian civil war, spillover from that conflict has led to further tensions between the ADP and neighbouring Sunni IUM militants.[18]

On 29 March 2014, Rifaat and Ali Eid Left Lebanon to Syria.

And on April 10, 2014, the Lebanese Military Investigative Judge Riyad Abu Ghayda issued an arrest warrant in absentia for the pro-Assad figure Rifaat Eid and 11 of his associates over their alleged involvement in clashes on the northern city of Tripoli. Abu Ghayda's warrants are based on articles in the Penal Code that could lead to the death penalty.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Rifaat founded the Red Knights in northern Lebanon in the early 1970s and they were eventually instrumental in helping Yasser Arafat to slip by sea to Tripoli in 1983..."Naharnet
  2. ^ "Sporadic fighting in Tripoli between the Alawite ADP forces and anti-Syrian Sunni Moslem groups has continued throughout the 1980s. Open conflict between the ADP and anti-Syrian Sunni groups broke out in the streets of Tripoli in 1981–82, largely in response to the conflict in Syria between the Sunni majority and the Alawites who constitute the ruling elite." [1]
  3. ^ "Hashem Minqara: Free at Last" (September 2000) Archived April 8, 2008, at the Wayback Machine
  4. ^ "". Archived from the original on 2011-07-27. Retrieved 2016-06-10.
  5. ^ O'Ballance, Civil War in Lebanon (1998), p. 171.
  6. ^ Middle East Contemporary Survey. The Moshe Dayan Center. 1988. p. 546. ISBN 9780813374451. Retrieved 13 October 2012 – via Internet Archive. arab democratic party arafat tripoli.
  7. ^ O'Ballance, Civil War in Lebanon (1998), p. 110.
  8. ^ "False Security". Time. (September 3, 1984). p. 21 (box). Archived from the original September 30, 2007. "the pro-Syrian Arab Democratic Party, whose militiamen are sometimes called the Pink Panthers because of their raspberry-colored fatigues".
  9. ^ Makdisi and Sadaka, The Lebanese Civil War, 1975–1990 (2003), p. 44, Table 1: War Period Militias.
  10. ^ Neville, Technicals: Non-Standard Tactical Vehicles from the Great Toyota War to modern Special Forces (2018), p. 9.
  11. ^ Traboulsi, Identités et solidarités croisées dans les conflits du Liban contemporain; Chapitre 12: L'économie politique des milices: le phénomène mafieux (2007), page unknown.
  12. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2013-09-27. Retrieved 2013-09-22.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  13. ^ "President Bashar Assad's exiled uncle, Rifaat Assad, is reactivating his "Red Knights" dissident organization in Alawite-populated regions surrounding the northern port city of Tripoli after the downfall of Syria's 29-year control of Lebanon, An Nahar reported on Sunday.""Naharnet Newsdesk - Rifaat Assad Resurrects Tripoli's 'Red Knights' to Stage Comeback to Syria". Archived from the original on 2007-09-27. Retrieved 2007-09-27.
  14. ^ "". Archived from the original on 2012-02-19. Retrieved 2016-06-10.
  15. ^ Williams, Daniel (29 September 2008). "Tripoli Turmoil Increases Risk of a Sunni-Shiite War in Lebanon". Bloomberg. Retrieved 13 October 2012.
  16. ^ Robert Fisk (15 August 2008). "Al-Qa'ida sends its warriors from Iraq to wage 'jihad' in Lebanon". The Independent. Retrieved 13 October 2012.
  17. ^ "Army crackdown pacifies Tripoli as militia leaders flee | News , Lebanon News". The Daily Star. Retrieved 2016-06-10.
  18. ^ "Arab Democratic Party Official Shot Dead in Tripoli amid Flare up". Naharnet. Retrieved 8 February 2015.


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