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March 11, 1976: Lebanon’s Brig. Gen. Aziz al-Ahdab Stages Unsuccessful Coup

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Lebanese President Suleiman Frangieh

Suleiman Frangieh (1910-1992) was president of Lebanon from 1970 to 1976. The James Buchanan of Lebanese politics, he powerlessly oversaw the slow disintegration of the nation into civil war in 1975.

Lebanese government photo
March 11, 1976: In a late-night coup, Brig. Gen. Abdel Aziz al-Ahdab, commander of the Beirut garrison of the Lebanese army, declares himself Lebanon’s governor and demands the resignation of Lebanese President Suleiman Frangieh and Prime Minister Rashid Karami within 24 hours. Al-Ahdab declares himself uninterested in a power grab. Rather, he claims in a television address, he acted to prevent the disintegration of the Lebanese army into sectarian faction and to reverse the bloody momentum of the Lebanese civil war, by then approaching its second year. He demands that Parliament elect a new. Stronger president.

The president and the prime minister ignore Ahdab and parliament’s vote to oust Frangieh. Ahdab’s move, even though backed by the Guardain of the Cedars militia and parts of the Lebanese army, proves empty. When he reached the mandatory retirement age of 65 two months after the coup, he resigned, urging Frangieh to follow suit. Frangieh is replaced by Elias Sarkis in September 1976. But the civil war continues, and the Lebanese military disintegrates.

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