Fouad Siniora (alternative spellings: Fouad Sanyoura, Fuad Sinyora, Fouad Sanioura, Fouad Seniora, Fuad Siniora) (Arabic: فؤاد السنيورة , Fu'ād as-Sanyūrah) (born 22 November 1943) is a Lebanese politician, a former Prime Minister of Lebanon, a position he held from 19 July 2005 to 25 May 2008. He stepped down on 9 November 2009 in favor of Saad Hariri, the late Rafik Hariri's son. He currently serves as a member of Parliament for Saida. Siniora is the head of the Future Movement.
Early life and education
Sanioura was born into a Sunni Muslim family in Sidon on 22 November 1943 (Independence day). He earned a master of arts degree in Business Administration from the American University of Beirut after attending the American School for Boys in Sidon.
In the 1970s, Sanioura worked for Citibank and taught at his alma mater in Beirut and at the Lebanese University. He then joined the audit committee at Lebanon's Central Bank in 1977. In 1982, he was recruited by Rafik Hariri to help him manage and expand his business empire. Upon the end of Lebanon's Civil War, Hariri became Lebanon's Prime Minister. Hariri appointed Sanioura as Minister of Finance in his successive cabinets. Sanioura was the Chairman and Managing Director of Groupe Mediterranee which encompasses four Hariri-owned banks.
Member of National Assembly
Fuad Siniora has strong ties with the international financial community. Strongly pro-business, he is considered a moderate partisan of free trade. He was a very close adviser to late Rafik Hariri and he is very close to his son Saad Hariri. He served as finance minister from 1992 to 1998 and again from 2000 to 2004 during which he was the architect of the national debt that climbed from US $2 billion to US $50 billion. Siniora was the main architect of the Paris II Conference in November 2002 which allowed Lebanon to get US $2.6 billion and the Paris III Conference in January 2007 which pledged 13 billion dollars to Lebanon. He was accused of corruption and mismanagement after Hariri's ousting in 1998, in what was mainly viewed as a conflict between Hariri and Syria, and a Syrian-orchestrated move to keep him in line. Siniora was cleared of all charges in 2003 by the parliament and the Judicial Court. In 2002, he abolished most of Lebanon's duty taxes and introduced a Value Added Tax.
After the victory of the anti-Syrian opposition in parliamentary elections held in May and June 2005, Fuad Siniora was asked by President Lahoud on 30 June 2005 to form a government. He resigned from the chairmanship of Group Méditerranée (a banking holding controlled by the Hariri family). After laborious negotiations with the President and the different political forces, Siniora formed a government on 19 July 2005. It is the first government formed after the Syrian withdrawal from Lebanon and the first government to include members of the pro-Iranian militant group Hezbollah. In regard to Hezbollah, the Siniora cabinet's official stance in the Pre-Doha Government was that "The government considers the resistance a natural and honest expression of the Lebanese people’s national rights to liberate their land and defend their honour against Israeli aggression and threats".
2006 Lebanon War
On 12 July 2006, Hezbollah launched a deadly cross-border attack against Israel and initiated the 2006 Lebanon War. On 27 July 2006, Siniora seeking to end the conflict, presented a seven-point Siniora Plan at a 15-nation conference in Rome. Siniora also called for an Arab League meeting in Beirut. During a televised address at the conference, he famously "sobbed" as he described the effects of the war on the Lebanese people. On 12 August 2006, Siniora cautiously welcomed the newly passed UNSCR 1701. The Lebanese Government even declared that unauthorised rocket launching towards Israel would constitute High Treason, as the Israelis "would gain much propaganda".
Events leading to the Doha Agreement
On 13 November 2006, Shiite ministers backed by Hezbollah and Amal resigned from Siniora's cabinet. This took place on the eve in which the Special Tribunal for Lebanon trying the murderers of Rafik Hariri was to be discussed in a cabinet meeting. Although the resigned ministers were only 6, nearly 40% of the Lebanese MPs are in the opposition.
The Lebanese opposition claimed that this resignation meant that the Siniora Government was not a legitimate one because it did not represent all religious groups in Lebanon, namely the Shiite Lebanese. According to the constitution, the government is legal as long as it has two-thirds of the ministers, and so the majority believed the Siniora government was still a totally legal cabinet. The opposition demanded an increase in opposition representation in the cabinet, sufficient to hold veto power over decision making, as their requirement for returning. The majority saw this as a Syrian-orchestrated move to block the establishment of the Hariri tribunal.
On 1 December 2006, the parliamentary minority, primarily the pro-Syrian parties of Amal, Hezbollah and the Free Patriotic Movement of Michael Aoun launched a campaign of street demonstrations with the goal of getting veto power in the government. The country was further put into paralysis when the opposition refused to attend the parliament and vote for a new president, after Emile Lahoud's Presidential term expired. This meant the Fuad Siniora was an acting president until the new president was voted in.
The demonstrations continued for 17 months until 7 May 2008 (which was a reply to 5 May 2008). The day is remembered by many Lebanese as the darkest day they had witnessed since the end of the Lebanese Civil War. Hizbollah, Amal, Syrian Social Nationalist Party, amongst others launched an armed strike against Beirut. The Rafik Hariri Intl. Airport, the Government's Grand Serail, and houses of Majority leaders, Saad Hariri and Walid Jumblatt, were all put under siege. Mount Lebanon was also attacked in the operation. Vengeance attacks broke out in other areas of Lebanon. It is thought that about 200 people died in the few days of fighting. The Beirut siege ended shortly after the Lebanese leaders met in Doha and agreed to what is referred to as the Doha Agreement. The agreement promised the minority veto power, led to the election of President Michel Suleiman, and a promise to the majority the weapons will no longer be used for internal political gains.
Siniora is known for his interest in Arab literature and poetry.