The Robinson Library

The Robinson Library >> Lebanon
Rashid Karami

8-Time Prime Minister of Lebanon

Rashid Karami

Rashid Karami was born into a religious Sunni Muslim family in Tripoli, Lebanon, on December 30, 1921. He received his law degree from Cairo University in the 1940's, after which he established a legal practice in Tripoli. His political career began in 1950, when he took the Parliament seat vacated by the death of his father. He was elected to a term of his own in 1951, but gave up his seat to become Minister of Justice in Hussein al Quwaini's government. In 1953 he was appointed Minister of Economy and Social Affairs in Abdallah al Yafi's government.

First Term, 1955-1956

Karami's first term as Prime Minister began on September 19, 1955, when he took office under President Camille Chamoun. He was forced out of office in 1956, however, when he questioned Chamoun's response to the Suez Crisis -- Karami thought that Lebanon should have severed diplomatic relations with the Western powers that had attacked Egypt, but Chamoun refused to do so.

Second Term, 1958-1960

Karami again clashed with Chamoun during the Lebanon Crisis, a Nasserist uprising which erupted in May 1958. Chamoun finally quelled the uprising in September, with help from United States Marines, and on September 24 Karami formed a government of national unity under the new President, Fuad Chehab, with himself also assuming the Defense and Interior ministries.

Third Term, 1961-1964

Fourth Term, 1965-1966

Fifth Term, 1966-1968

During his fifth term, Karami championed the Palestinian cause and argued for Lebanon to play a more active role against Israel in the Six-Day War of June 1967.

Sixth Term, 1969-1970

Increasing clashes between the Lebanese army and the Palestinian Liberation Army forced his resignation in April 1970, but he returned to office after an accord was signed between Lebanon and the PLO. He resigned again in August, following the election of Suleiman Frangieh as President, and was succeeded by Saeb Salam.

Seventh Term, 1975-1976

Civil war again erupted in Lebanon in April 1975. Desperate to stabilize the situation, President Frangieh dismissed Prime Minister Rashid Solh and called on Karami to form a government on July 1. In 1976, he helped broker an agreement to provide for equal parliamentary representation of Christians and Muslims, but the agreement was never implemented. Despite his political connections and many years of experience, Karami was unable to end the war, and, on December 8, 1976, he resigned. President Elias Sarkis, who had succeeded Frangieh, appointed Selim al-Hoss to take his place.

Karami was reconciled to Frangieh in the late 1970's, after Frangieh had a falling out with the leader of the Phalange militia, Bachir Gemayel. Together with Frangieh and Walid Jumblatt, Karami founded the National Salvation Front, a coalition of Sunni Muslims, Druze, and some Christians, which stood in opposition to the Lebanese Front, a coalition of primarily Christian parties.

Eighth Term, 1984-1987

Karami was once again called upon to form a government of national reconciliation in April 1984. In 1986 he rejected the National Agreement to Solve the Lebanese Crisis, which had been drafted with minimal Sunni Muslim participation. This created a tense relationship with President Amine Gemayel. Continuing problems led Karami to tender his resignation on May 4, 1987, but Gemayel refused to accept it. Less than one month later, on June 1, Karami was killed when a bomb exploded aboard the helicopter in which he was traveling. He was succeeded by Selim al-Hoss.


Encyclopaedia of the Orient

See Also


Questions or comments about this page?

The Robinson Library >> Lebanon

This page was last updated on 12/30/2018.