Nabih Berri


Nabih Berri : biography

28 January 1938 –

He held a series of positions in the Amal movement during the late 1970s, after Imam Musa al-Sadr, a Shi’a cleric, disappeared under mysterious circumstances while on a trip to Libya in 1978, and is thought to have been killed on the orders of Muammar Gaddafi.

In 1980, Berri was elected leader of the Amal movement, and led it during the Lebanese civil war. Under his leadership, Amal gradually gained the identity of conservative Shi’a movement. It became an ally of the status quo and anti-Palestinian forces during the civil war. In addition, the movement could not recruit the more militant young activists influenced by the Islamic revolution and other events in Iran. On the other hand, Berri subsequently joined the National Unity government as minister of state for South Lebanon and reconstruction under Prime Minister Rashid Karami in May 1984. He also served as the minister of housing and co-operatives.

Speaker of the Parliament of Lebanon

He was elected to the Lebanese Parliament for the first time on 20 October 1992, during the Syrian presence in Lebanon, as he expectedly passed a law that allowed Rafik Hariri’s Solidere to forcibly expropriate private property and real estate in downtown Beirut now worth tens of billions of USD. He was re-elected for a second time on 22 October 1996. He was elected to the same post three more times on 17 October 2000 unanimously (124 votes out of 126 votes), on 28 June 2005 and on 25 June 2009.

Wikileaks diplomatic cables

Berri was mentioned repeatedly in the diplomatic cables released by Wikileaks. A cable from 2004 described the Amal Movement under Berri as being "near universally derided as corrupt to the core", and Berri was described by a relative of Musa al-Sadr as having provided social services in the south only through "wheeling, dealing, and stealing".

During the 2006 Lebanon war, Berri described Israel’s attacks on Hezbollah as being "like honey", and hoped that Israel would complete its mission against Hezbollah quickly. He suggested that the IDF "markedly improve its targeting intelligence to make air strikes more effective. Either that, or they would have to wipe Hizballah out of the south with a ground offensive." He also suggested that "if Israel succeeds in weakening Hizballah militarily, then he will be more willing to weaken them politically".

According the cables, Berri receives USD 400,000 a month from Iran, using a fourth of the sum to shore up his support and pocketing the rest.