Thursday, September 20, 2007

The Private Papers of Farid Shihab. For the historians out there, you need to read the book Fi Khidmat Al-Watan (In the Service of the Homeland) by Farid Al-Shihab. The publishing house Kutub came across the private papers of Farid Shihab and agreed with his family to publish a large volume of them. He was the J.Edgar Hoover of Lebanon: he ran the Surete General in Lebanon until 1958, and he was subsequently appointed ambassador. The book, which is published in association with his family, does not mention what a lousy person he was, especially in his mistreatment of communists and Palestinians in Lebanon. On that you need to read Shafiq Al-Hut's memoirs. The book reveals that he was only or mostly obsessed with communist activities in Lebanon, presumably on behalf of an "outside powers." He benefited from a very senior member of the leadership of the Lebanese Communist Party who was providing Shihab with detailed accounts of communist activities in Lebanon (Badr Al-Hajj and I were speculating on his identity recently in London). But what is most curious is this: he continued to receive reports about communist activities in Lebanon long after he resigned from his position in 1958. My own reading is that he was running a secret underground intelligence service (specializing in communist activities in the East) on behalf of Western power (or two).