Toilers League

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Toilers League
رابطة الشغيلة
Leader Zaher el-Khatib
FounderZaher el-Khatib
FoundedLate 1960s
Headquarters Chouf
Ideology Marxism-Leninism
Arab nationalism
Political position Left-wing
National affiliation March 8 Alliance
Party flag
Flag of the Toilers League (Lebanon).svg

The Toilers League (Arabic : رابطة الشغيلة, romanized: Rabitat al-Shaghila), also designated the Workers League is a Lebanese left-wing political party founded in Lebanon at the late 1960s and currently led by former Chouf MP Zaher el-Khatib.



The Toilers League originated from a previous socialist students association formed at the American University of Beirut (AUB) in 1968 by the then student activist and Progressive Socialist Party (PSP) militant Zaher el-Khatib. In 1974 the group broke away from the PSP and re-emerged as a separated political party under Khatib's leadership, who had previously succeeded to be elected to the Lebanese Parliament as the socialist deputy for the Iqlim al-Kharrub district of the Chouf in the 1971 Chouf parliamentary by-election, after the death of his father Anwar el-Khatib (the incumbent Sunni MP representing the Chouf) in 1970. [1] [2] [3]

Political beliefs

Marxist–Leninist and Pan-Arab nationalist in ideology, the League joined Kamal Jumblatt's Lebanese National Movement (LNM) in early 1975, even raising a militia named the Zafer el-Khatib Forces – ZKF (Arabic: قوات ظافر الخطيب | Al-Quwwat Zafer el-Khatib), also known as Les Forces de Zafer el-Khatib (FZK) in French. After the collapse of the LNM alliance in 1982, the WL/ZKF switched their alligence to Syria and established a close relationship with the Shia Amal Movement.

The Toilers League in the Lebanese Civil War 1975–1990

During the early phase of the Lebanese Civil War the ZKF's strength peaked at about 200-500 male and female fighters, mostly Sunnis, who fought in the ranks of the LNM/Joint Forces. Equipped with infantry small-arms pilfered from Lebanese Army (LAF) barracks and Internal Security Forces (ISF) Police stations or supplied by the PLO, along with a few technicals armed with Heavy machine-guns and Recoilless rifles, the League/ZKF operated mainly in central West Beirut, but heavy casualties and desertions led to the decline of their military role afterwards. By the late 1980s the League had lost what was left of its political support base, whilst its dwindling ZKF militia was reduced to a neighbourhood defense group confined to their Headquarters at Rue Hamra – located on the namesake district – and adjacent Ras Beirut sector, where they ran a joint television service, "The Orient" (Arabic : Al-Machriq), with the Amal Movement until 1990. [4]

The post-war years

Upon the end of the war in October 1990, the ZKF militia forces operating in the Capital were ordered by the Lebanese Government on March 28, 1991, to disband and surrender their heavy weaponry by April 30 as stipulated by the Taif Agreement. [5] Although the ZKF militia was disbanded, the Toilers League remained politically active, even managing to pull some seats in the elections for the Lebanese Parliament on several occasions – from 2000 to 2005 their member of Parliament (MP) Nasser Kandil represented Beirut's 3rd electoral district. The Party is currently a member of the pro-Syrian March 8 Alliance.

See also


  1. Orient, Vol. 11–14 , Deutsches Orient-Institut, 1970[?], p. 23.
  2. ARR: Arab Report and Record , Economic Features, Limited, 1971, p. 33.
  3. Middle East Record, Vol. 5 , Mekhon Shiloaḥ le-ḥeḳer ha-Mizraḥ ha-tikhon ṿe-Afriḳah, Ḥevrah ha-Mizraḥit ha-Yiśreʼelit, Merkaz le-meḥḳar ʻal shem Reʼuven Shiloaḥ, Israel Oriental Society, Reuven Shiloah Research Center, 1977, p. 949.
  4. Traboulsi, Identités et solidarités croisées dans les conflits du Liban contemporain; Chapitre 12: L'économie politique des milices: le phénomène mafieux (2007), parte III.
  5. Barak, The Lebanese Army – A National institution in a divided society (2009), p. 173.

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