Taymour Succeeds Walid Jumblat in Leading Family Legacy

Jumblat

Beirut – Lebanese Druze leader MP Walid Jumblat hesitated a lot before announcing that he is passing the family mantle to his son, Taymour.

Walid Jumblat had to quash many rumors surrounding his intention to pass the “Jumblat leadership” to his successor, perhaps out of “superstition, because the mantle in the family is seldom passed through normal circumstances.”

The MP on Sunday became the first living member of the Jumblat family to transfer leadership to his son. In the past, the mantle was usually passed in the case of the leader’s death, or as often is the case with the Jumblat family, assassination.

Taymour now carries the 305-year Jumblat family legacy on his shoulders. The Mokhtara estate that lies in the heart of the Chouf region in Mount Lebanon has long been a historic symbol of this family.

The origins of the family itself have long been the subject of speculation, with some saying it comes from the line of the Tannoukhy family that ruled vast areas of Mount Lebanon. Others say it comes from the Kurdish Ali Basha Janboulad, who was the ruler of Syria’s Aleppo city.

What is certain is that the origin of the current Jumblat family, which is the leader of the Druze community in Lebanon, comes from Sheikh Ali Jumblat, who inherited the Mokhtara estate and the family mantle from the father of his wife, Sheikh Qabalan al-Kadi, in 1712.

Sheikh Ali passed away at the age of 87 and passed on the leadership to his son Sheikh Qassem Jumblat, who also inherited the Baadaran region. His brother Najem took the Mokhtara estate.

Sheikh Qassem was succeeded by his son Bashir Jumblat, who was one of the most prominent allies of Prince Bashir al-Chehabi, who ruled Mount Lebanon for a long time. Bashir however turned against the prince and had him hanged in conspiracy with the then Ottoman ruler of Acre.

Bashir did not pass the mantle to either of his sons, Nassib and Najib, but to his relative Saeed Jumblat, who was assassinated by poisoning. This was verified by Dr. Riyad Ghannam, who linked the assassination to English-French agendas in the region.

Najib then assumed the Jumblat leadership, who after his death of natural causes, passed it on to his son Fouad, who was “mistakenly” assassinated at the hands of Shakib Wahhab. A French aide, whom Fouad was accompanying, was supposed to be the target of Wahhab’s assassination.

His son, Kamal, was only four years old at the time of Fouad’s death, so Nazira Jumblat chose her brother-in-law Hikmat as political guardian of the leadership.

Kamal came to power in 1943 after Hikmat’s death and remained at the head of the family until his assassination, along with two of his companions, in 1977. Fingers were pointed at the Syrian regime for being behind the murder, but his son Walid maintained an alliance with regime head Hafez al-Assad until his death in 2000. This alliance did not carry on to his successor Bashar Assad.

Ghannam told Asharq Al-Awsat that the Mokhtara was originally a Crusader mansion that was eventually destroyed. Sheikh Qabalan built a new mansion on its ruins. It has since been passed on to various leaders over the generations.

Ghannam revealed that the mansion was built and reconstructed numerous times after falling to the disputes that mired the Jumblat family with its rivals, including Prince Bashir al-Chehabi, who once his alliance with Sheikh Bashir Jumblat fell apart, confiscated the contents of the mansion before destroying it.

MP Walid Jumblat is keen on preserving the legacy of his father at Mokhtara. The estate is filled with photographs and various mementos from the slain leader. Among them is the identification card of Kamal Jumblat with a bullet hole in the middle from the day he was killed. Walid once told Asharq Al-Awsat that he makes sure to look at that ID card every day.

Jumblat Passes Mantle to his Son Taymour

Jumblat

Beirut – Head of the Lebanese Progressive Socialist Party MP Walid Jumblat passed over to his son, Taymour, the “Jumblat leadership” during an event to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the assassination of his father, Kamal.

During the rally held in Mokhtara in the Chouf region on Sunday, the MP handed his son the traditional “koufieh” scarf in a symbolic gesture of passing the mantle to his successor.

Publicly confirming his son as his political heir, Jumblat told Taymour “to walk forward with his head held high” and carry the legacy of his grandfather, Kamal, who was assassinated in Lebanon on March 16, 1977.

“Forty years ago, I was destined to keep on my shoulders an abaya stained with blood, the blood of our master, Kamal Jumblat,” he said, addressing his son.

In the presence of Prime Minister Saad Hariri, Saudi chargé d’affaires in Lebanon Walid al-Bukhari and an array of political figures and thousands of supporters from the Mount Lebanon, the PSP leader took off his Palestinian “koufieh” scarf and placed it on the shoulders of his son.

“I am handing him the scarf of Arab occupied Palestine, the progressive Lebanon, the scarf of those who resisted Israel, the scarf of reconciliation and dialogue, and the scarf of Mokhtara,” he said.

He then added: “When the hour comes, bury your dead and rise, then march forward.”

Over the past two years, Taymour, 35, had started to receive on a weekly basis, popular delegations in Mokhtara to hear their demands in what was seen as a transition of power to him from his father. He also attended a large number of political events and meetings in the country.

Taymour is Jumblat’s son from his first wife. He studied political science at the American University of Beirut and continued his higher education in Paris, France. He is married to a Shi’ite lady from al-Zoaiter family and has two kids.

Speaking during Sunday’s ceremony, Jumblat also cited the historic Mount Lebanon reconciliation that took place 16 years ago in Mokhtara between the Druze and Christian communities.

“In August 2001, here in Mokhtara, we held the reconciliation ceremony with Maronite Patriarch [Nasrallah] Sfeir,” Jumblat said.

Taymour Jumblat: Nobody Can Marginalize Us, With or Without Elections

Lebanon

Beirut – Taymour Jumblat, the son of Progressive Socialist Party Leader MP Walid Jumblat, is preparing to run for the upcoming parliamentary elections, topping a list of “veterans” and new young figures, as he says.

The son of the Lebanese Druze leader asserts that he is ready to launch a new phase of political work, following two “preparatory” years in the social arena, upon his father’s wish.

In an interview with Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper, Taymour confessed that his new endeavor was not an easy task, stressing however that he had confidence in his team’s competence and that he would always seek the support of his “great teacher”, Walid Jumblat.

Taymour, who says “hates politics”, finds himself forced to engage strongly in the Lebanese political life, to continue the path of his father.

“Perhaps because I hate politics I can achieve more, seeing what politics lovers did to our country,” he said.

He added that political inheritance was not a characteristic of an ideal democratic practice, noting however that the Lebanese system entails that every confessional leader should look after his confession and protect it against challenges facing the country and the Arab region.

“We live in Lebanon, where the situation is worsening day after day and we must minimize the losses,” Taymour said.

“We are not the only party where the father hands over [the leadership] to his son – the majority of parties in the political arena do the same,” he noted, adding: “We do what we have to do to lead the country amidst the great challenges facing it.”

“To those who criticize [political] inheritance, we say: people who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones,” he stated.

Taymour said that holding the parliamentary elections was not a choice but an inevitable constitutional obligation.

He noted in this regard that no political party was seeking parliament’s term extension or political vacuum.

Asked about his recent comments, in which he said that nobody could marginalize the Druze religion, the PSP official said: “There are many people attacking us… I wanted to send a simple message, telling them that with or without the elections, and whatever electoral law is adopted, whether it was based on the majority, proportional or hybrid system, we will be always present, and nobody can eliminate us.”

On the PSP’s rejection to an electoral law based on the proportional system, Taymour said: “The proportional law would shrivel our size, and I believe that no other party would accept to minimize its representation.”

“We are a small confession and a small party that is mainly based in the Chouf and the Mountain; we have to defend our own rights,” he added.

Asked about his electoral program, the rising politician said he had a comprehensive program, adding that he would rather not disclose further details “due to the ambiguity surrounding the elections date and the electoral law.”

He noted however that his program was “ambitious and modern”.

“My general policy would be similar to that of my father, but I will be focusing on the youth to enable them to develop and achieve their hope to build a strong state,” he stated.

Asked about his favorite hobbies, Taymour said he was into poetry, noting that he had written poems in French and English.

“Now I begin to delve more into the Arabic language,” he added.