Category Archives: French Imperialism

European ICMLPO Members: No to the Anti-Social, Anti-Democratic and Militarist European Union

logo_mundo-copia

Regional conference of parties and organizations of the International Conference of Marxist-Leninist Parties and Organizations (ICMLPO)

The recovery of the global capitalist economy is not on the agenda. The recovery is constantly being announced for tomorrow, but for the vast majority of countries, there is stagnation or recession. The so-called emerging countries are in turn caught up in the crisis.

Within the European Union, the governments of the right, social-democrats or coalition governments are imposing brutal austerity policies and the European Commission is charged with controlling their strict implementation. In the Euro zone, it exerts even a priori control of the budgets of the various governments, ensuring that they meet the neoliberal criteria of reduction of the budgets and the indebtedness of states.

This neoliberal dogma of reduction of state debts up to 3% of GDP has become the “rule of steel” especially written into the Merkel-Sarkozy Treaty (the “fiscal pact”), a real war machine against the social gains, social welfare and public services.

The offensive of the bosses, the governments and the European Commission focuses on the drastic lowering of wages and increased productivity, which combined make for increased profits of the monopolies. The crisis is a formidable pretext to generalize flexibility and oppose the rights and gains of the working class and the toiling masses. The policy of mega-austerity imposed by the “troika” (European Central Bank, European Union and IMF) on Greece, implemented by the coalition government of the right and social-democracy, is causing immense social harm, an unprecedented decline in the standard of living, a decrease in life expectancy and the health of the population, not to mention the exodus of young people and skilled workers, who have left their country in the hope of finding work in other countries. The same thing is taking place in Spain, Italy and Portugal, where unemployment has skyrocketed, especially among the young workers, and where millions of families live below the “official” poverty line.

Europe is synonymous with the policy of austerity, social regression, etc.

For the workers and peoples, the youth and women of the popular strata, the EU stands for the policy of austerity, social regression, the competition of all against all, social dumping, mass unemployment and misery. In all the EU countries, the working class and the toiling masses are in a chorus of protest against this policy: a massive protest, with strikes, demonstrations and mobilizations that put millions of people in the streets, of urban and rural workers, the retired, etc., in short of all the victims of this policy. The media controlled by the monopolies pass over this in silence, because the financial oligarchy, the governments at its service and the European Commission are its instrument, fearing above all that those fights against the same policies will reinforce each other, and that the working class and the toiling masses will become conscious of their strength and their common interests and they will lead all strata that are victims of these austerity policies in their fight.

and of reaction

To impose these policies of austerity and competitiveness, the financial oligarchy, the monopolies and banks do not hesitate to put in place unelected governments, governmental alliances including parties of the extreme right, and to impose European norms and directives that have the force of law, which are binding on the governments, parliaments and national institutions. Thus also in Italy, the troika began by imposing the first non-elected government and gave its support to a third government, also unelected, led by a reformist liberal leader who wants to speed up imposing anti-worker measures and an authoritarian presidential system. Austerity goes along with with more reaction, more repression against all those who oppose it and further criminalization of social protest.

This only emphasizes the anti-social and anti-democratic character of the EU. The real power is in the hands of the heads of states and governments and the unelected European Commission, which decides and develops directives that are imposed on states, under pressure from representatives of lobbies of the monopolies. The superabundant European Parliament discusses these constantly, but its decisions have little effect. It serves as a “democratic” pretext to an EU that is not democratic.

No to Fortress Europe, No to Militarist Europe

This is a EU that takes refuge behind an arsenal of laws, of military ships, of walls, in order to hunt down potential migrants crammed into boats, of whom thousands have capsized in the Mediterranean. With “Frontex” [the EU agency that controls external borders – translator’s note], detention camps such as that of Lempedusa, the walls of barbed wire, this “fortress Europe” wants to “defend” the men and women who are fleeing poverty and wars for which it is itself responsible.

Indeed, it is the EU which today is intervening militarily in the Central African Republic, an intervention decided and implemented on the ground in the first place by French imperialism, which called on its EU allies for help. Some governments have sent troops, other logistical support, but none have condemned the intervention, which is turning into a quagmire, like all imperialist military interventions in Africa. Their principal objective is the maintenance of neocolonial domination and the control of sources of raw materials, particularly uranium deposits. The most aggressive and belligerent imperialist powers in the EU, particularly French imperialism, British imperialism, and more and more German imperialism, are playing a particularly dangerous and reactionary role in order to push the EU to acquire military means to defend “their” interests, particularly in Africa, which it considers its “exclusive hunting ground.” This policy is carried out in close collaboration with U.S. imperialism, which gobbles up billions and is pushing militarization in all the EU countries. It is openly directed against the struggles of the peoples of Africa, who are fighting to get rid of imperialist domination and the reactionary cliques in power in these countries, which are its instruments.

Secret negotiations on the “Great Transatlantic Market”

For months the European Commission has been negotiating in secret the terms of a trans-Atlantic agreement with representatives of the governments, the Ministries of Commerce and the big U.S. companies. It is a neoliberal “free trade” treaty that seeks to break the norms of protection of food quality and the environment and to expand the opening of all markets, in particular public markets, to the appetites of the monopolies. These agreements would allow the monopolies to bring the States before a private court that could sentence them for obstructing “free” competition. This treaty was presented by Obama as a “NATO” in commercial matters, aimed at combating the economic power of China and other competitors of the US-EU alliance, according to the formula: Unite against the rest of the world and set off together in the economic war for the conquest of markets and the control of raw materials and sources of energy. This agreement is a war machine against the workers and peoples of the whole world, through the competition of all against all. The only beneficiaries of the “free and undisturbed competition” are the most powerful monopolies. It is urgent that a large movement be developed in all EU countries to demand an end to these negotiations.

The dangerous situation in Ukraine

This policy has led to the current dangerous situation in Ukraine and throughout the region, which threatens to escalate into a large-scale military confrontation.

First, there are the inter-imperialist contradictions, the policy of eastward expansion of the EU, under the impetus of German imperialism, which is seeking to strengthen its leadership in the EU and thus carry more weight in the competition among the imperialist powers on a world scale.

Ukraine is a large country with very important resources and occupies a geostrategic position that is essential for Russia. To swallow up Ukraine into the sphere of influence of the EU would be a great blow to Russia and the ambitions of its leaders to make their country a major imperialist power. No one should ignore this. But this is exactly what made the EU leaders not hesitate to support the reactionary forces, including openly fascist forces, who took power through a coup. Putin’s reaction was immediate. U.S. imperialism openly came into action to take control of the management of this crisis and to place itself at the head of its European allies, who for years have built economic ties with Russia. French imperialism sells it weapons, German imperialism depends in part on its gas supplies, British imperialism needs billions from the Russian financial oligarchy, and a large portion of the gas consumed by EU countries runs through Ukrainian pipelines. Taking advantage of this crisis, NATO is expanding to the East, still closer to the borders of Russia, which only fuels the tension.

The big imperialist powers are directly involved and are adversaries. If today none of them wants a direct military confrontation, an unstable situation has taken hold in the region amid a revival of militarism. The EU appears more and more clearly as an imperialist bloc whose ambitions threaten peace. While there is not complete unity within it, this is the course that the dominant imperialist powers within it are imposing and are developing on its behalf.

The identity of views between the social-democratic parties and the conservative parties should be noted here. They all supported the Allied response to the extreme right in Ukraine and they all welcome the return of NATO to the stage. The way the appointment of Stoltenberg, a leader of Norwegian social-democracy, as Secretary General of NATO was hailed by all of these forces is an example.

The workers and peoples reject this Europe

This whole policy is now the object of a profound rejection by the workers and peoples. This protest continues to grow everywhere. The progressive, revolutionary and anti-imperialist forces, the Marxist-Leninist parties and organizations, have an urgent duty to stand at the head of this vast protest that affects all strata of the people, starting with the working class. To stand at the head of this protest means to fight relentlessly against the austerity policies that the governments and the EU are imposing. It is to support the aspirations and struggles of the workers and peoples against the anti-democratic character of the EU, against the imperialist nature of its policy and against the denial of the right of the peoples to decide their own future.

The reactionary and extreme right forces, the openly fascist groups and parties want to take advantage of this protest to lead it on the dangerous path of nationalism, division and xenophobia. For them, the enemy is not the capitalist system, but the other peoples or the “foreigners.” These forces want to utilize the European elections to strengthen themselves, to elect deputies and receive funding from the EU to extend their work.

The position of the Marxist-Leninist parties and organizations in the European elections

We Marxist-Leninist parties and organizations, the signatories of this declaration, will develop our analysis of the nature of the EU and its policies and make known our positions on the occasion of these elections. These elections are a reflection of European construction; this is a caricature of democracy.

In countries where there are forces that are taking part in these elections on positions of the fight against the EU of austerity, reaction and war, we call for a vote for these lists. In countries where this is not the case, or where the choice is between forces supporting the EU and forces that criticize it in certain aspects, without questioning its foundations or its objectives, and develop illusions about possibility of reforming it, we do not endorse any of these lists and develop an active policy in favor of abstention.

In the countries where the progressive forces are fighting for the withdrawal of their country from the EU, or where they have popular support or they are engaged in broad fronts that are taking part in lists on this basis, we call for a vote for them. We will popularize these lists on an international level, in the name of the right of the peoples to decide their own fate. We denounce any blackmail, any attempt to conceal their fight or to distort its meaning and range.

In all cases, we put forward the following main lines:

Down with the imperialist EU
Stop the austerity policies of the EU
No to the EU of austerity and reaction
No to the Europe of criminalization of social protest
No to the war policy of the EU
No to the Transatlantic Treaty
No to the project of the United States of Europe
No to imperialist Europe
For the right of the peoples to withdraw from the EU
Yes to the solidarity of the workers and peoples.

Regional conference of member parties and organizations of the International Conference of Marxist-Leninist Parties and Organizations

Germany, April 2014

Denmark: Communist Workers’ Party of Denmark – APK; France: Communist Party of the Workers of France – PCOF; Germany: Organization for the construction of a Communist Workers Party (Arbeit Zukunft); Italy: Communist Platform of Italy; Norway: Marxist Leninist Group Revolution; Spain: Communist Party of Spain Marxist-Leninist – PCE-ml; Turkey: Party of Labor EMEP

Source

Marxist-Leninist Organisation of Britain on the 1973 Yom Kippur War

901f11fdb79ff741519a44ef38014748

Originally published in Class Against Class, organ of the Marxist-Leninist Organisation of Britain, No. 2 Special Edition, October 1973.

Web edition by Alliance Marxist-Leninist July 2003

THE WAR IN THE MIDDLE EAST

War Has Come Once Again To The Middle East

On October 6th, 1973, the armed forces of Egypt and Syria, crossed the cease-fire line established after the war of June 1967 into Israeli –occupied territory seized from these states in that war.

But the new war differs from that of 1967 in one very important respect – for reasons that will be analysed later, Israel no longer enjoys the full support of world imperialism, even in the eyes of United States imperialism. Already in the first few days of the war the powerful Israeli war machine has suffered great losses in men and machines, already the first arrogant communiques of the Israeli High Command have given way to gloomy admissions that the war is likely to be long and bitter, already the myth of the “invincibility” of the Israeli armed forces has melted away.

The Foundation of Israel

Zionism, the political philosophy of the Israeli ruling class, has been since its inception at the end of the 19th. century an ideology serving objectively the interests of developed capitalism, of imperialism. It presents workers and petty bourgeois of Jewish descent as members of “a Jewish nation,” as “aliens” in the countries in which they live; it tells them that, to be “free,” they must emigrate to their ancient “national homeland” in Palestine. Thus, the participation of a Zionist worker in the struggles of the working class for a better life, for socialism, can at best be only half-hearted, for he regards himself as an “outsider” whose eyes are directed towards “his own” country, which has now taken concrete shape in the state of Israel. Thus, Zionism is complementary to anti-semitism in its reactionary divisive effect.

The desire of the British imperialists to win the support of the Zionist movement for the Allied war effort in the First World War brought the Balfour Declaration of November 1917; this promised that the British Government would facilitate the setting up of “a National Home for the Jewish People” in Palestine. The British imperialists were unworried by the fact that two years earlier, in July 1915, they had won Husein ibn Ali, the Grand Sherif of Mecca, to the side of the Allies by promising to support the establishment of “an independent Arab state” in Palestine and that in 1916 they had signed a secret treaty with the French imperialists dividing a Palestine between them. Palestine became simply “the much promised land.'”

When the First World War was over, the British and French imperialists took over the Arab Near East disguising their colonial rule under the cloak of “League of Nations mandates.” As Jewish immigration continued, both legally and illegally into Palestine, the rise of Arab national liberation movements led the imperialists to adopt neo-colonial manoeuvres: Iraq was granted “independence” in 1932, Syria and Lebanon in 1941, Jordan in 1946. And in 1947 the British government announced that it was ending its rule over Palestine in May of the following year and was transferring its “responsibilities” there to the United Nations.

The United Nations envisaged the partition of Palestine into a Jewish state and an Arab state, with Jerusalem as an independent city. But it’s scheme was never put into effect. On May 14th, 1948, the Zionists proclaimed most of Palestine “the state of Israel.

The Palestinian Refugees

At the time of its formation, the state of Israel contained 1.3 million Arabs and 0.7 million Jews. The Zionists took steps to establish a Jewish majority. As Michael Bar-Zhchar says in his sympathetic biography of the founder of Israel:

“Ben Gurion never believed in the possibility of coexistence with the Arabs. The fewer Arabs within the frontiers of the future state the better … A major offensive against the Arabs would … reduce to a minimum the proportion of the Arab population within the state …. He may be accused of racism, but in that case the whole Zionist movement would have to be put on trial.”

Thus, even before the declaration of “independence” Zionist armed gangs had begun a campaign of massacre and terror against the Arab population, driving great numbers of them to seek refuge in the neighbouring Arab states. By 1950 a million Arab refugees from Palestine were officially receiving United Nations aid, and by 1971 2.6 million of the 3.0 million population of Israel were Jews.

Dependence upon Imperialism

The establishment of a Jewish racist state in the heart of, and hostile to, the Arab world gave world imperialism a valuable bridgehead against the Arab national liberation movement – a bridgehead dependent upon the active support of world imperialism for its very existence.

At first Israel continued to depend upon British imperialism. It was Britain, together with France, which collaborated with Israel in the war of aggression against Egypt which began in October 1956. But the more powerful US imperialists were unwilling to allow their British and French rivals to extend their influence in the Middle East, and compelled the British, French and Israeli forces to withdraw ignominiously from Egyptian territory.

From this time on, the Israeli ruling class transferred their dependence to US imperialism which supplied huge quantities of military “aid” to Israel. It was as a result of this military “aid” that in June 1967 Israel was able to launch its war of aggression against Egypt, Syria and Jordan, compelling these states to accept a cease-fire which left Israel in control of large areas of their territory.

Later, in the UN General Assernbly, the United States representative defended the Israeli aggression as an action of “self-defence,” but in November 1967 the UN Security Council unanimously adopted a resolution, drafted by, Britain, which demanded that Israel withdraw all troops to her former boundaries and bring about a just settlement of the refugee problem. The Council appointed Gunnar Jarring, of Sweden, as UN Special Representative charged with securing the fulfillment of the resolution, but the Israeli government has always refused to carry cut its terms.

The Palestine Liberation Movement

The 1967 defeat of the Arab states, and the new numbers of Arab refugees which the war added to those of earlier years, stimulated the rise of a Palestine national liberation movement, formed largely from among these, refugees. Although, this resistance movement soon fragmented into a considerable number of rival organisations, and their declared aim of the liberation of Palestine was greatly retarded when the leaders of some of these organisations turned from organised guerrilla warfare to acts of individual terrorism in various countries, it remained a significant force.

Washington’s New Plan

By the summer of 1970 it had become clear to the most influential section of the United States imperialists that it would be essential for the USA to import large quantities of oil in the next few years from the Arab states in the Middle East. This meant that full support of Israel against these Arab states was no longer in the best interests of the US imperialists.

From this time on the US imperialists made their position clear to the Arab Middle East governments. They would endeavour to persuade the Israeli government to withdraw “voluntarily” to the boundaries existing before the war of 1967. And if those attempts failed, they would hold back (without discontinuing entirely) their military “aid” to Israel and would tacitly approve of an all-out war on the part of the Arab state provided:

1) the Palestine national liberation movements were effectively liquidated; and
2) the representatives of Soviet imperialism were expelled from the Arab states.

Whatever the military outcome of such a war might be, it would gravely weaken the military and economic power of Israel and facilitate the imposition upon its government of a new cease-fire compelling it to accept the terms of the Security Council resolution of November 1967. The European imperialist powers – even more dependent upon Middle East oil than the USA – could be depended on to take the initiative in this imposition.

The Execution of the Plan

In 1970 and 1971 the US government pressed its “peace plan” through visits to, the Middle East by Secretary of State William Rogers, Assistant Secretary of State: Joseph Sisco, and diplomats Donald Bergus and Michael Sterner. The Israeli government, over-confident of its position, refused to consider withdrawal to its old frontiers.

Meanwhile, using as a pretext the hi-jacking of several airliners to Jordan by Palestine commandos, in September 1970 King Hussein of Jordan launched a large scale offensive against the national liberation forces within Jordan; this offensive was resumed in July 1971, after which Hussein announced that the resistance forces within Jordan had been completely liquidated.

In April 1973 the government of Lebanon, using as pretext the Israeli commando raid against Palestinian guerillas near Beirut in February, launched an offensive against the Palestinian national liberation forces within Lebanon. The attack ended in May after the guerilla’s had suffered heavy casualties.

Meanwhile, the Egyptian government took action against the representatives of Soviet neo-imperialism, as described at the time in the MLOB’s journal RED FRONT:

“Since the death of Nasser, two conflicting trends have emerged within the Egyptian capitalist class – each standing for a different method of trying to solve the problem of the continuing occupation of Egyptian territory by the troops of their U,S. dominated neighbour, Israel.

One section, headed by former Vice-President Ali Sabry, favoured the adoption of a phoney programme of “socialism” as a pretext for completely subordinating Egypt to Soviet neo-imperialism in an alliance which would force Israel to retreat from her present positions.

The other section, headed by President Anwar Sadat himself, favoured confederating Egypt with Syria and Lybia, in order to offer to subordinate this confederation, to US imperialism in return for US pressure, on her Israeli puppets to withdraw their forces.

The US imperialists having indicated their interest in this second line of approach, the President dismissed Ali Sabry on the eve of the visit to Egypt by US Secretary of State William Rogers, at the beginning of May 1971.

Soon afterwards several hundred prominent persons associated with the pro-Soviet faction within the capitalist class – including Ali Sabry; the Secretary-General of the ruling “Arab Socialist Union”, Abdul Nur; six Cabinet Ministers, including the Minister of Defence, General Mohammed Fawzy, and the Minister of the Interior, Sharawy Gornaa – were arrested in the name of ‘preserving the independence of Egypt from a coup engineered by a foreign power.’

Apprehensive for the safety of their massive economic and military investments (more than half of Soviet “aid” has gone to Egypt), the Soviet neo-imperialists immediately despatched a high-level though “unofficial” delegation to Cairo headed by President Podgorny. The Egyptian government was pleased to sign a 15-year ‘Treaty of Friendship and Co-operation’ with the Soviet Union, and to use it as blackmail to further persuade the US imperialists to pressure their Israeli puppets into a peace settlement acceptable to the Egyptian capitalist class.”

(RED FRONT, July-August 1971; p.20).

In September 1973 the Syrian government imposed “strict restrictions” on the movements of Soviet personnel in the country. Meanwhile, in August, US Assistant Secretary of State Joseph Sisco had made the position of the US imperialists only too clear when he said bluntly on Israeli TV:

“While our interests in many respects are parallel to the interests of Israel, they are not synonymous with those of the state of Israel. The interests of the United States go beyond any one nation in this area. … There is increasing concern in our country over the energy question and I think that it is foolhardy to think that this is not a factor in the situation.”

In September King Faisal of Saudi Arabia, whose country is a long-standing semi-colony of the USA to which it exports almost all its oil, declared (in support of the US plan) that continuing US support for Israel might be purchased “at the cost of Saudi oil.” President Nixon commented on this statement in a manner strikingly different from his earlier statements of full support for Israel, saying, “Both sides are at fault. Both sides need to start negotiating. That is our position.”

The Israeli leaders, becoming aware that they might be as expendable to the changing needs of US imperialism as the Chiang Kai-shek regime, made frantic approaches to the British and German imperialists. But Chancellor Willy Brandt invited to Israel for a state visit in June 1973, said only what British Foreign Secretary Alec Douglas-Hume had declared move bluntly in Cairo in September 1971, that Israeli withdrawal from the occupied Arab territories was “a vital requirement.”

When at the beginning of October 1973, the Austrian government closed down the transit camp for Jews from the Soviet Union (a capitalist government does not change its policy to save the lives of a few Jewish hostages), the relative isolation of the Israeli rulers from imperialism was finally clear.

A Just War of Liberation

The war of the Arab states for the liberation of the territories seized from them by Israel on behalf of United States imperialism is a just war, which will have the support of progressive people in every country. This just character is not altered by the fact that the US imperialists have, in a new world situation, given the green light to the Arab states.

But a war fought by Arab states with the tacit support of the US imperialists cannot solve the plight of the Palestine refugees. This requires the forcible destruction of the present Israeli racist state machine and the establishment of a democratic Palestinian state in which Arabs and Jews can have equal civil rights. This can be brought about not by the present war, but only by the armed struggle of a united Palestinian national liberation movement purged of illusions of the usefulness of acts of individual terrorism.

BUT THIS IS A QUESTION FOR THE FUTURE.

 

Source

1929 Comintern Resolution on Palestine and Arabistan

SegundoCongresoDelCominternLeninKárajanBujarinZinoviev19200719

This article was published by Alliance (Marxist-Leninist) as part of the publication Alliance, issue #51, “Pan-Arabic or Pan-Islamic ‘Socialism.’”

From Editor Jane Degras: Documents of the Communist International 1919-1943″; Volume 3; London 1971

EXTRACTS FROM A RESOLUTION OF THE ECCI POLITICAL SECRETARIAT ON THE INSURRECTION MOVEMENT IN ARABISTAN

16 October 1929 Inprekorr, x, 11, P. 258, 3 1 January 1930

[The fighting between Arabs and Jews which broke out at the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem on 23 August 1929 provoked a good deal of discussion in the communist press on the nature of the forces involved. The Zionist movement had from the outset been condemned by the Comintern as an agency and tool of British imperialism; it was a counter-revolutionary movement of the Jewish big bourgeoisie run by the financial magnates of Germany, France, the United Kingdom, and the United States. An article in the Communist International shortly after the outbreak asserted that: ‘The Zionist immigrants . . . turned the country into a suitable strategic base for British imperialism, and … were to serve as lightning-conductors towards which, in case of need, British agents could direct the revolt of the Arab masses against the occupation regime.’ At any sign of revolutionary nationalism British agents provoked massacres and pogroms, thus temporarily paralysing the revolutionary movement. The fighting that broke out in August ‘was undoubtedly organized by British agents, provoked by the Zionist-fascist bourgeoisie, and arranged by the Arab-Mohammedan reaction’; but the movement got out of hand and became a genuine Arab nationalist revolt. The British purpose was to strengthen their position against the penetration of American capital and to frustrate Arab-Jewish mass solidarity. The Arab masses no longer trusted their bourgeois leaders who, corrupted by the money channelled through Zionism, were conciliatory towards imperialism, but their own movement had been captured by Pan-Islamic reaction.

The official Comintern attitude was disputed by some Jewish members of the Palestinian CP, who denied the existence of an Arab revolutionary movement; the workers’ movement was almost entirely Jewish. In an article in Novy Vostok Arbuziam [Averbakh] asserted that the fellaheen and the Beduin masses were waging an active political struggle against British imperialism; they did not, however, submit easily to class political discipline and might therefore become the tools of imperialist agents. ‘The basic question of the revolutionary movement in the Arab East is to use the immense revolutionary energy of the Beduin tribes for the revolutionary class struggle against imperialism, against the native bourgeoisie and feudalists, and to link it with the movement of the impoverished fellaheen and proletariat.’ The Jewish Socialist Party (Poale Zion), including its left wing, had become a national-chauvinist organization defending the plantation owners and colonizers, and the trade unions sacrificed the workers’ interests on the altar of Zionism.

An article by a certain Nadab published four years later in Revoliutsionny Vostok, which argued that, since Zionism was counter-revolutionary, anti-imperialism in Palestine must be directed against the Jewish national minority as being overwhelmingly Zionist, stated that those members of the Palestine CP who insisted that the 1929 events were a pogrom, and not a rebellion, had been expelled.

The League Against Imperialism interpreted the fighting as an anti-imperialist struggle to which the imperialists had given a religious character; the Zionists and social-democrats had prevented a united front of Arab and Jewish workers. The imperialists welcomed the event as a pretext for annexing Palestine to the British Empire. An article in Inprekorr said the Arab Executive now regarded the Zionist leaders not as enemies but as rivals for British favour. An accompanying article (signed J.B.) said the ‘street fight’ which began on 23 August was ‘the signal for a general Arab rising’. The British Government ‘dropped a little oil whenever the fire threatened to go out’ in an attempt to destroy the Arab-Jewish rapprochement of recent years. The communist party was too weak to ‘gain influence on the mass movement which grew from hour to hour and was influenced by blind religious fanaticism’. The Haifa committee of the communist party, claiming that what had happened was a pogrom pure and simple, suppressed the central committee statement which interpreted the events as the work of imperialist stooges, deflecting the anti-imperialist revolt into pogroms. In a letter to the Palestine central committee, the Eastern secretariat of the ECCI spoke of the dangers of opportunism in the party, and of the conciliatory attitude to Poale Zion.

In October 1930 the ECCI again suggested that preparations should be made for the formation of an Arab Communist Federation, to include the parties of Syria, Palestine, and Egypt. At the seventh congress of the Palestine Communist Party in December 1930 the Arab and Jewish delegates were equal in number-previously the Arabs had been in a minority; the two chief dangers facing the party were said to be Jewish Zionist chauvinism and Arab bourgeois nationalism; the central committee elected by the congress had an Arab majority. An article in Inprekorr on the congress said prospects were improving because the Jewish workers were turning against their own bourgeoisie while the Arab bourgeoisie were turning away from the nationalist movement. The Pan-Islamic congress held in Jerusalem in the summer of 1931 was described as an attempt to consolidate reaction and mislead the masses; its reactionary character was shown by the resolution it adopted protesting against the oppression of Moslems in the USSR. Early in 1932 a draft programme for the Egyptian CP was published. This described Egypt as a British cotton plantation worked by slave labour, with the monarchy and landowners acting as slavedrivers. All Egyptian parties were subservient to Britain, the Wafd representing bourgeois-landlord-counter-revolutionary-national-reformism’. An article in Inprekorr in May 1932 noted that ‘as a result of the temporary weakness of the labour movement in Egypt, police provocateurs and petty-bourgeois adventurers succeeded in disorganizing the activity of the Egyptian CP, detaching it from the workers, and alienating it from the revolutionary mass struggle’. The seventh congress Materials said that for a time ‘an unprincipled group’ in the Egyptian CP, behind whom the police was hidden, had condemned communist organizations to complete inactivity. At the congress itself a delegate said that because of internal feuds and intrigues, the party had at one time been expelled from the Comintern; in 1931 the ECCI had appointed a new leadership.

Referring to the events of 1929, the Materials noted that there had been strong opposition to the ECCI’s instructions to Arabize the Palestinian CP; these opportunists had been removed and the position was corrected at the seventh congress of the Palestinian Communist Party, but the party was only now (1935) beginning to bolshevize itself, a process inseparable from Arabization.
A footnote to the present resolution states: ‘The resolution is necessarily published in abridged form. In particular, it omits those passages concerning the attitude of the Palestine Communist Party to national-revolutionary trends.’
At the meeting of the LAI Executive in Cologne in January 1929 Heckert (representing the RILU) and Melnichansky (representing the Soviet trade unions) attacked A. J. Cook, a member of the Executive, who protested against outside interference in the League, and against the label of ‘traitor’ attached to union leaders, and said he was not inclined to support a League that was to become a new red international. Cook shortly afterwards resigned from the League. At the JAI congress in Frankfurt in July 1929 there were 260 delegates, 84 of them representing the colonies, although many did not come directly from the colonies themselves. Munzenberg reported that the bourgeois nationalists who had been present at the Brussels congress, such as the KMT, had sold out to imperialism, and were not represented at Frankfurt; there were fewer intellectuals, but more representatives of workers’ and peasants’ organizations. An article on the congress in the Communist International in November said that in all the colonial countries the bourgeoisie and petty-bourgeoisie had moved to the right. The ILP and the Indian National Congress had played a treacherous part; Poale Zion was an agent of British imperialism. The left-wing social reformists (such as Maxton and Fimmen) had joined forces with the national reformists (such as Hatta and Gupta) and should have been more thoroughly exposed at the congress. (Maxton was later expelled from the British section of the LAI.) Neither the Indian nor the Indonesian revolutionary movement was represented, and hence there had been serious opportunist errors at the congress, which had failed to expose the left social-democrats, who were ‘the worst enemies of the colonial peoples, the most dangerous enemies of the colonial revolution’. The congress resolution had not said a word about the ‘treachery and perfidy’ of the Indian National Congress. ‘The time has come to raise the question of purging the League of elements which are obviously treacherous.’]

The uprising of the Arab masses in Palestine and the events in Arabistan as a whole have by and large fully confirmed the correctness of the analysis made by the sixth CI congress and the tenth plenum of the sharpening of the struggle between imperialism and the working masses of the colonial countries, of the new surge of the national liberation movement in colonial and semi-colonial countries, of the appraisal of the English ‘Labour’ Government and the transformation of the Second International into a social-fascist, openly social-imperialist International.

The national disunity of the Arabs, the fragmented character of Arabistan, broken up into a number of small countries, the division of Arabistan among the various important countries, the complete absence of political rights for the indigenous population, forcible Zionist colonization, and the use of greater pressure by English and French imperialism on the Arab countries-these are one group of causes of the insurrectionary movement.

A second group of causes of the events in Palestine are the robbery of the Arab fellaheens’ land for the benefit of Zionist colonization (often with the help of Arab large landowners), and of the Arab large landowners and foreign capitalists . . . the greater exploitation of the peasants by higher rents and taxes and by the moneylenders, the relatively rapid growth of a commodity and money economy . . . and the comparatively rapid development of class differentiation among the Beduin tribes.

The maturing of the revolutionary crisis was accelerated by the growth of unemployment … the harvest failure of 1928, the ferment in the Arab countries, the dissolution of the Syrian parliament, the Iraq government crisis … the demonstrations and strikes of workers in Palestine and Syria, the new Anglo-Egyptian treaty … the approaching offensive by spiritually bankrupt Zionism, which has discarded its socialist mask and appears openly as an agency of capitalism (as shown in the decision of the Zurich Zionist congress in July 1929).

THE CHARACTER OF THE MOVEMENT

These are the characteristic features of the movement:

1. The Palestine uprising is occurring at a time of revolutionary ferment in the most important industrial centres of India, of crisis in the Chinese counter-revolution, and of a rising wave in the revolutionary labour movement of the West; it represents the beginning of a rising wave in the revolutionary liberation movement of the Arab countries.

2. The movement extends over the whole of Arabia and has a profoundly national character. It spread extremely quickly to the other Arab countries.

3. The movement is changing rapidly and moving on to a higher level. If, in the first days, the clergy and the feudalists, united in the Mejlis Islam, managed to direct it into the channel of an Arab-Jewish national feud, after that the masses turned spontaneously against the Mufti, against the Mejlis Islam, and against the representatives of the Arab Executive, condemning their treachery and their surrender to imperialism … the movement is changing rapidly from a Zionist-Arab conflict into a national peasant movement, in which the nationalist urban pettybourgeoisie are also taking part. The fellaheen and particularly the Beduin are the most active participants in the insurrection movement.

4. The working class has remained in part passive; in any case it has not acted independently, much less tried to assume hegemony of the movement. A section of the Jewish and Arab workers fell under the influence of ‘their’ bourgeoisie and took part in the national-religious conflict under the hegemony and leadership of ‘their’ bourgeoisie. Nevertheless there were individual cases of heroic manifestations of proletarian class solidarity by Arab and Jewish workers. Thus, notwithstanding the fact that the insurrectionary movement was a response to an Anglo-Zionist provocation, to which Arab reactionaries (feudalists and priesthood) tried to answer with a pogrom, notwithstanding the fact that in its initial stage it came under reactionary leadership, it was still a national liberation movement, an anti-imperialist all-Arab movement, and in the main, by its social composition, a peasant movement.

5. The movement took place at a time when MacDonald’s ‘Labour’ Government was in power in England. The ‘Labour’ Government, with the full support of the Independent Labour Party, came out openly in the role of executioner of the colonial revolution.

6. The movement revealed the growing depth of the contradictions between English and French imperialism in the struggle for influence in the Middle East.

THE CHARACTER AND DRIVING FORCES OF THE REVOLUTION IN ARABISTAN

The general Comintern position in regard to the character and driving forces of the revolution in Palestine and in Arabistan as a whole has stood the test of the revolutionary mass movement and has been confirmed by experience. The main socio-economic content of the revolution is the overthrow of imperialism, the national unification of all Arab countries, the agrarian revolution, and the solution of the national question. It is this which determines the character of the revolution as a bourgeois-democratic revolution in the Leninist sense of the word. The main driving forces of the revolution are the working class and the peasantry. The bourgeois-democratic revolution can be conducted to its conclusion only in revolutionary struggle against the bourgeoisie. Without doubt this bourgeois-democratic revolution will turn into a socialist revolution. But the thesis advanced by some, about the proletarian character of the revolution in the conditions prevailing in Palestine, is [not] only completely out of accordance with the historical reality, and not only reflects the Trotskyist ideology of permanent revolution, but would signify, in the concrete conditions in Palestine, primarily the dictatorship of a small company of Jewish workers over the large masses of the Arab population.

THE ROLE OF THE DIFFERENT CLASSES IN THE MOVEMENT

The Zionist colonizing bourgeoisie and their lackeys played the part of outright agents of English imperialism . .’. . The ‘left’ wing of Zionism, Poale Zion, merged with the Jewish fascists and sided with English imperialism and the Zionist bourgeoisie.

The Arab large landowners, the feudal lords, and the higher ranks of the priesthood, united in the Mejlis Islam, capitulated long ago to English imperialism, and played a treacherous, provocative, counterrevolutionary role.
The All-Arab National Congress, which in the last few years has revealed with a clarity that leaves nothing to be desired its national-reformist character … did not play an independent part in the movement; rather its right wing joined the reactionary camp of the feudals and priests.

The fellaheen and particularly the Beduin were the basic driving forces of the movement. But the peasant movement did not coincide in time with an organized and independent class action by the proletariat in the towns. The peasant movement was unorganized and fragmentary.

The Arab insurrectionary Movement clearly revealed both some positive features and the weaknesses of the Palestine CP.

1. The uprising took the party by surprise; this was because it is composed in the main of Jewish elements; it has no contact with the Arab masses as a whole, and in particular lacks any kind of contact with the peasantry.

The uprising has shown in practice how right the ECCI was in its repeated instructions about the need to Arabize the party. The deficiencies and errors of the Palestine CP, revealed in the course of the uprising, are a result of the party’s failure to steer a bold and determined course towards the Arabization of the party from top to bottom. In the past the party has applied its forces and means incorrectly, and concentrated its work primarily on the Jewish workers, instead of concentrating its maximum forces and means on work among the Arab worker and peasant masses.

The Arabization of the leadership was interpreted as the mechanical inclusion of a few Arab comrades on the central committee. The party did not succeed in creating solid party organizations among Arab workers and in the local Arab trade union organizations. There was a spirit of pessimism and scepticism as to the possibility of successful work among the fellaheen and Beduin, which in some cases led to passive sectarianism, to an underestimation of the revolutionary possibilities in Arabistan, to an exaggeration of the influence of the reactionary bourgeoisie on the Arab masses….

2. Particularly in the first days of the movement, when it was almost exclusively influenced by events in Jerusalem and some other cities, the party failed to notice that the religious national conflict was turning into a general national anti-imperialist peasant action. Consequently the party failed to include in its slogans the questions of the seizure of the land, the formation of revolutionary fellaheen and Beduin committees, the agrarian revolution, and the national unification of all Arab countries, and to conduct agitation around the slogan of an all-Arab workers’ and peasants’ government, failures which can be explained by the right-opportunist vacillations in the party about this question in the past. The party failed to advance the slogan of forming Arab-Jewish workers’ detachments, of arming the workers, of joint demonstrations of Arab and Jewish workers, of a joint general strike…. The exposure of the English ‘Labour’ Government’s assumption of the role of executioner, revolutionary criticism of the Arab and Jewish political parties and organizations, particularly the adherents of Poale Zion and of their attitude during the uprising, was not concrete enough.
At the same time it must be emphasized that the Palestine CP showed itself to be a firmly welded organization of devoted revolutionaries, anxious to fulfil their revolutionary duty in an honourable fashion. In respect to its theoretical level, its devotion to communism, the CP of Palestine certainly stands high. .

THE TASKS OF THE PARTY

The CPP, as well as the CI sections in other Arab countries, must learn the lessons to be drawn from the uprising.

1. The most urgent task of the party is to steer an energetic and bold course towards Arabization of the party from top to bottom. At the same time it must make every effort to establish Arab or joint Arab-Jewish trade unions, and to capture and extend those already in existence….

2. The party must at all costs eradicate the scepticism and passivity on the peasant question which prevail in its ranks…. It must draw up an agrarian programme which pays heed to the partial demands of the fellaheen and Beduin.

3. The party must continue its work among the Jewish workers organized in the Zionist-reformist trade unions, as well as among the unorganized workers. The exposure of Zionism, and particularly of its left wing, as an agency of imperialism, remains as before one of the chief tasks, the concrete lessons of the movement being used to demonstrate this.

4. The party must expose the Mejlis Islam … as a direct agent of English imperialism. No less ruthlessly must it expose the national reformism embodied in the All-Arab Congress…

5. The campaign for an active boycott of the commission appointed to investigate the events, and the organization of the boycott . . . must with the help of other CI sections be placed in the centre of the party’s attention….

8. The lessons of the rising clearly show the need for the closest contact between the communist parties of the various countries of Arabistan and of Egypt. The most appropriate form will be the formation of a federation of communist parties of the Arab countries. The condition for such a federation is the Arabization of the CPS of Palestine and Syria, the consolidation of the CPS of Palestine, Syria, Egypt, etc. Steps to accelerate the Arabization of the Syrian CP must be taken at once, to ensure that the communists in Syria, after overcoming liquidationism and opportunism, finally become independent communist parties.

9. These tasks can be accomplished only on condition that a bold and energetic struggle is waged against the right deviation in the party, which is bound to become stronger under the pressure of white terror and the impact of the temporary defeat of the uprising. The right deviation in the CP of Palestine is expressed in an underestimation of revolutionary possibilities, open or concealed resistance to Arabization of the party, pessimism and passivity in regard to work among the Arab masses, fatalism and passivity on the peasant question, failure to understand the role of Jewish comrades as subsidiary forces, but not as leaders of the Arab movement, exaggeration of the influence of the reactionary bourgeoisie, large landlords, and priesthood on the Arab masses, a conciliatory attitude to opportunist errors, failure to understand the need for courageous and vigorous self-criticism of the mistakes committed by the party, a tendency to emigrate without the permission of the CC, that is, to desert, resistance to the slogan of a workers’ and peasants’ government. The appraisal of the rising as a ‘pogrom’ and concealed resistance to Arabization are manifestations of Zionist and imperialist influence on the communists. The eradication of these attitudes is essential for the further development of the party….

The insurrection movement in Arabistan found a strong international echo. The parties of the Second International and a number of petty-bourgeois pacifists sided with English imperialism and counter-revolutionary Zionism. The ‘left’ social-democrats, above all Maxton, exposed themselves as agents of imperialism. Communists and national revolutionary organizations sided with the Arab uprising.

At the same time it must be noted that in the early stages of the uprising there was vacillation and confusion in some countries (the Jewish section of the CP of the USA) as well as in some communist newspapers (even in the Soviet Union) about the character of the movement. These were rapidly overcome in the C1 sections.

Source

Bill Bland: Notes on Lebanon

Lebanon

This article was published by Alliance (Marxist-Leninist) as part of the publication Alliance, issue #51, “Pan-Arabic or Pan-Islamic ‘Socialism.’”

Previously unpublished notes by W.B. Bland, circa 1987

Geography

The small state of Lebanon lies at the eastern end of the Mediterranean Sea. It is bordered on the west by the Mediterranean, on the north and east by Syria, and on the south by Israel.

It has an area of 3,600 square miles about half the size of Wales or Albania, and a population of some 3 million about the same as that of Wales and of Albania.

Its principal towns are Beirut (the capital, with a population of 700,000), Tripoli and Sidon.

The People

Ethnically, the people of Lebanon are almost exclusively Arab, and 93% of the population speak Arabic, which is the official language. There are four main religious communities: Maronite Christian (adherents of an Eastern rite church attached to Rome), Sunni Moslem, Shia Moslem and Druze Moslem. 300,000 Palestinian refugees form 10% of the population.

The Economy

40% of the population are engaged in agriculture, producing fruit, tobacco, and cotton. However, agriculture furnishes only 9% of gross national product. Lebanon’s economy is primarily financial and commercial, popular with the capital of other Middle Eastern countries because of its completely laissez-faire economy and the secrecy of its banking system. There is a small-scale textile industry, and a transit trade in crude oil, Lebanon being the terminal for a pipeline of the British-owned Iraq Petroleum Company (a subsidiary of Shell) which has a refinery at Tripoli, and another of the US-owned Trans-Arabian Pipeline Company (a subsidiary of Aramco), which has a refinery at Sidon.

Class Divisions

The main social classes in Lebanon are:

1) a comprador capitalist class, drawn mainly from the Christian community, closely linked with and dependent upon foreign – principally United States — imperialism; 

2) a landlord class, drawn mainly from the Sunni Moslem community; 

3) a national bourgeoisie, drawn mainly from the various Moslem communities; 

4) a peasantry, drawn mainly from the Moslem communities; and 

5) a small working class numbering 100,000, drawn mainly from the Moslem communities and involved mainly in the oil-processing and textile industries.

History to 1944

From the 16th century, Lebanon formed part of the Ottoman Empire until the First World War. In 1918 Allied forces seized Lebanon and in 1923 it was made, like the adjoining state of Syria, a French mandate.

During the Second World War, when the French authorities in Lebanon declared in favour of Vichy, British troops occupied the country.

In November 1941 the French Committee of National Liberation declared Lebanon to be an independent state, and the Republic of Lebanon was proclaimed in January 1944. After the war, however, the French government delayed removing its troops, which finally departed only in December 1946.

The State

The Constitution is one of “parliamentary democracy.” The Head of State is a President who is elected by a single-chamber elected National Assembly. However, this body is elected under laws which give the economically dominant Christian community a majority of seats – based on the ratio of Christians to Moslems in the population (6:5) as shown in the (last) Census of 1932.

The domination of the state by the Christian community – in practice by the predominantly Christian comprador capitalist class – is reinforced by an unwritten convention agreed between representatives of the four religious communities in 1943. By this convention it was agreed that the President should always be a Christian, the Prime Minister a Sunni Moslem and the Speaker of the National Assembly a Shia Moslem.

The interests of the comprador capitalists and landlords are represented politically by the National Liberal Party (a vehicle of the financial groups around the Chamoun family) -and the Phalangist Party (named after Franco’s fascist party and a vehicle of the financial groups around the Gemayel family).

The most progressive of the political parties are – the Progressive Socialist Party, founded in 1947 and now led by Walid Jumblatt (a Druze), and the revisionist Lebanese Communist Party, which represent the interests of the national bourgeoisie.

The officers of the army are drawn predominantly from the politically and economically dominant Christian community, while the rank and file are divided into separate units on a religious basis. This brought about a break-up of the army in the civil war of 1975-6, when masses of soldiers deserted to different private militias. From that time the army, and the central state apparatus, has been almost impotent. The elections due in April 1976 were postponed because of the civil war, and no elections have been able to be held since. Unable to collect taxes over most of the country, the state has become increasingly dependent upon foreign aid – principally from Britain, Saudi Arabia and the United States: in the first half of 1984 alone Lebanon’s balance of payments deficit stood at $700 million. Effective political power is exercised locally by:

1) the foreign occupying forces of Syria in the north and west;
2) rival para-military forces armed and financed by the neighbouring states of Iraq, Israel and Syria;
3) rival para-military forces armed and financed by the political parties of the Lebanese ruling classes – the Tigers of the National Liberal Party and the Lebanese Forces of the Phalangists; and
4) a para-military force of the Palestine Liberation Organisation (the Palestine Liberation Army), armed and financed by certain Arab states (principally Syria,. Libya and Saudi Arabia) and (since July 1972) by the Soviet Union. The PLO contains factions financed and armed by, and subservient to, different states, a number of which are mere small terrorist organisations.

The Formation of Israel

The state of Israel came into being in May 1948 as a result of the desire of the Western imperialist powers to establish a “fifth column” in the heart of the Arab world in the form of a small Jewish racist state which would be dependent for its continued existence on these Powers.

It was proclaimed following a resolution of the United Nations General Assembly of November 1947, which recommended that the British mandated territory of Palestine should be partitioned into a Jewish state and an Arab state. Zionist terrorist gangs drove many Arabs from the territory of the Jewish state, and since then Israel has extended its territory in a number of phoney wars to embrace the whole of Palestine, an area four times that allotted to the Jewish state in the original Partition Plan.

A large proportion of the Arab population of Palestine became homeless, stateless refugees in neighbouring Arab states, mainly Jordan and Lebanon.

The US Military Intervention in Lebanon

In January 1957 US President Dwight Eisenhower proclaimed a new American policy, known as the “Eisenhower Doctrine“. This provided for US military aid and the use of US troops to “protect” Middle Eastern states threatened with “aggression.”

By the late 1950s popular dissatisfaction in Lebanon with the corrupt regime of President Camille Chamoun and its policy of subservience to United States imperialism had been reinforced by dissatisfaction with the whole state system, particularly since (although no new census was taken) the Moslem communities now formed a majority of the population.

In May 1958 this dissatisfaction broke out into a mass insurrection against the regime. When, in July, the armed forces of the state proved unable to suppress this and a national-democratic revolution in neighbouring Iraq had toppled the feudal pro-imperialist regime of King Feisal, Chamoun appealed to the United States for military intervention, and 14,000 US troops were landed in Lebanon (British troops being simultaneously landed in Jordan).

Under American pressure, the domination of the state by the Christian comprador capitalist groups was saved by securing the replacement of Chamoun as President in September 1958 by the Commander-in-Chief of the Army, General Fuad Chehab, who appointed a new government giving Ministerial posts to leaders of the opposition. The American forces withdrew from the country in October.

The Palestine Liberation Organisation

Fatah (Conquest) was formed among these refugees under the leadership of Yassir Arafat with the declared aim of establishing a Palestinian state in traditional Palestinian territory by means of armed struggle.

In May 1964, on the initiative of the United States, a rival Palestinian organisation, the Palestine Liberation Organisation, was set up under the leadership of the demagogic mercenary Ahmad Shuqairi. This served, objectively the interests of the Western imperialists and Israel by putting out statements that its aims were “to drive the Jews into the sea.”

Growing opposition among Palestinians to the policies of the PLO enabled Fatah to join that organisation in February 1969. Becoming by far the largest body in it, Fatah’s policies became the policies of the PLO and its leader, Arafat, became the leader of the PLO.

Arab public opinion forced the rulers of neighbouring Arab states -particularly Jordan and Lebanon – to permit the guerilla units of the PLO to train in and operate from their territory against the Israeli state which occupies Palestine contrary to many UN resolutions. However, their lack of real interest in the formation of an independent Palestinian state, their general subservience to Anglo-American imperialism and their fear of reprisals from the powerful military machine built up by United States imperialism in Israel resulted in efforts by their armed forces to seek to destroy the Palestine Liberation Army within their territories, as was done by Jordan in 1970-71.

The Civil War in Lebanon

By the beginning of the ’70s, the Palestinians in Lebanon were cooperating with the Progressive Socialist Party to mobilise the masses of the Lebanese people for radical political change. Seeing the developing threat to their political and economic power, in April of 1975 the comprador capitalists set their the Phalangist militia to open civil war against the Palestine Liberation Organisation. However, in spite of large-scale aid from Israel, by June of the following year (1976) the position of the Phalangists had become desperate. In these circumstances, 20,000 Syrian troops invaded Lebanon and fought the Palestinian militia alongside the Phalangists.

Despite heroic resistance by the Palestinians, the Phalangists succeeded in smashing their way into the last strongpoint, Beirut, and the civil war, which had lasted a year and seven months and cost 44,000 lives, came to an end in November 1976.

“Operation Litani”

In March 1978, with the aim of destroying the Palestinian bases in south Lebanon, Israeli forces invaded the country and occupied its southern part up to the river Litani.

The Security Council of the United Nations called upon Israel to withdraw its forces, and set up a United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) to confirm the withdrawal and restore the authority of the Lebanese government in the south. The Israeli forces withdrew back to the frontier in June, but left a Lebanese puppet force, later known as the South Lebanon Army, in occupation of the border area. In April 1979 the leader of this force, Major Sa’ad Haddad, proclaimed the zone an “independent Lebanese state.”

The Effect of Camp David

In September 1978 came the American-sponsored Camp David summit agreement for an Israeli-Egyptian peace treaty. This agreement was opposed not only by the Palestinians but, as a result of public pressure, by Syria, (now dependent economically and militarily upon the Soviet Union) and this common opposition brought about a reconciliation between the Palestinians and the Syrian occupation forces in Lebanon.
 
In this new situation and with financial help from Saudi Arabia and the Soviet Union, the Palestinian para-military units in Lebanon were able to rebuild themselves into a new well-armed force of 15,000 and in January 1980 Syrian forces withdrew from part of Lebanon, handing over control to the PLO, which established its effective control over most of the country except for those areas, such as East Beirut, controlled by the Phalangists.

“Operation Peace for Galilee”

In June 1982 an attempt was made on the life of the Israeli Ambassador in London. On this pretext Israel invaded Lebanon again in an operation called “Operation Peace in Galilee.” This had the aim of destroying completely the Palestine liberation forces in Lebanon (they had, as has been said, been driven from Jordan in 1970-71).

Although Syria had been informed prior to invasion that the operation was not directed at its forces, some conflict with Syrian forces did occur. On the sixth day of the invasion, by which time its armed forces had lost 650 killed and 500 armoured vehicles, Syria signed a cease-fire with Israel.

By this time the invasion forces were 60 miles into Lebanon, laying siege to the Moslem area of West Beirut (where the remains of the PLO forces were bottled up). In August the Palestine Liberation Organisation agreed to withdraw its forces from Lebanon under the supervision of a Multi-national Peace-keeping Force from Britain, France, Italy and the United States. The evacuation was completed by the end of the month, and 11,000 of the PLO’s fighters were dispersed to other Arab states.

In September the new President-elect of Lebanon, Bashir Gemayel, was assassinated at unknown hands. The Israeli forces then permitted Phalangists to enter two Palestinian refugee camps of Sabra and Shatila in West Beirut and massacre more than 800 women, old people and children.

The Reagan Plan

In September 1982 US President Ronald Reagan put forward a new “peace plan” for the Middle East which envisaged the establishment of a “Palestinian homeland” on the West Bank of the Jordan, not as an independent state but as a part, with limited powers of self-government, of the state of Jordan, which had been since its inception a monarchist tool of Anglo-American imperialism.

The Reagan Plan was opposed by the right-wing government of Israel, headed by Menahem Begin, on the grounds that it would involve the surrender of Israeli-occupied territory, and by the PLO on the grounds that it did not provide for an independent Palestine state. It was nominally opposed by most Arab states, except for Egypt and Jordan

The Israeli-Lebanese Agreement

The heavy losses sustained by Israel in its invasion of Lebanon (583 killed) – losses which continued to mount daily as a result of Lebanese and Palestinian guerilla warfare against the occupation forces – combined with the obviously aggressive character of the war, had stimulated the growth of a peace movement in Israel itself.

The atrocity against the Palestinian camps brought to a head public opposition to the Israeli invasion, not only in other countries but in Israel itself .

In these circumstances, in May 1983 the United States, Israeli and Lebanese governments signed an agreement providing for the withdrawal of Israeli troops from Lebanese soil, combined with the recognition of a “security zone” in the south to prevent the infiltration into the area of Palestinian fighters.

This agreement, supported by Egypt and Jordan, was opposed by the PLO, Libya and Syria, the last-named declaring that its troops would remain in Lebanon. It was also opposed as a treacherous surrender of Lebanese sovereignty to a foreign power by progressive Lebanese political forces, which formed a National Opposition Front (later called the National Democratic Front) headed by Walid Jumblatt of the Progressive Socialist Party and George Hawi of the Communist Party.

In February 1984 President Amin Gemayel (who had taken the place of his assassinated brother) was forced by this pressure to revoke the agreement.

Opposition at home to Israel’s aggressive war in Lebanon was one of the factors responsible for a change of government in the election of July 1984. The ultra-right Likud Front, headed by Menahem Begin, lost its position as the largest parliamentary group to the Alignment, dominated by the Labour Party, which campaigned on withdrawal of Israeli troops from Lebanon and acceptance of the Reagan Plan. Following the withdrawal of the Multi-National Peacekeeping Force, the new government, with a Prime Minister (Shimon Peres) drawn from the Labour Party, unilaterally announced in January 1985 that it would withdraw its troops from Lebanon, and this -was completed-by June – except for the southern zone, where control was handed once again to the puppet South Lebanon Army, headed, since the death of Haddad in January 1984, by Major -General Antoine Lahad.

The Rebellion within the PLO

Although Fatah rejected the Reagan Plan in June 1983, Arafat went to Jordan to discuss its implications with King Hussein and this was used by the Syrian government as a pretext for sponsoring in Lebanon a rebellion of pseudo-left forces within the PLO against its leadership. By December 1983 the rebels had gained control of all PLO bases in Lebanon and the forces loyal to Arafat had been forced to withdraw to other Arab states.

The Syrian Occupation of Beirut

Meanwhile in the capital, Beirut, bloody battles between rival militias, and the siege of the Palestinian refugee camps there, continued and in February 1987 Syria used the pretext of  “the need for law and order” to occupy the capital.

[end MS]

Three Tactics of the Nationalists in the Middle East

nasser109

This article was published by Alliance (Marxist-Leninist) as part of the publication Alliance, issue #51, “Pan-Arabic or Pan-Islamic ‘Socialism.’”

Originally written 1992

Since the end of World War II (WW II), the contradiction between the working classes and the developing capitalist class of the Middle Eastern nations was linked to a second contradiction – that between the different imperialists and the indigenous developing capitalists.  On top of these, there were contradictions between the imperialists themselves, reflecting the decline of British imperialism, and the rise of USA imperialism. After World War II explicit deals took place between the British and US, regarding future developments in the Middle East:

“In response to Winston Churchill’s questions about America’s interests in Iranian oil, Franklin Roosevelt wrote in March 1943 that:

‘I am having the oil studied by the Department of State and my oil experts, but please do accept my assurances that I am not making sheeps’ eyes at your oil fields in Iraq or Iran.’

Churchill responded:

‘Thank you very much for your assurances about no sheeps’ eyes at our oil fields in Iran and Iraq. Let me reciprocate by giving you the fullest assurances that we have not thought of trying to horn in upon your interests or property in Saudi Arabia.'”

James A. Bill “The Eagle and the Lion-The Tragedy of Iranian-American Relations”; New York , 1988. p.29

Unfortunately, with a small working class, the national bourgeoisies largely had no opposition to its leadership over a struggling peasantry. But the national bourgeoisie was also weak, because as the power of imperialism grew, the objective role for the national bourgeoisie was steadily getting smaller. Furthermore the previous history of Oriental Despotism of the Ottomans, had ensured a very weak development of the industrial forces necessary for nation development. Finally the many divisions between factions in the area were skilfully exploited by the imperialists to effectively divide and rule.

ANTI-COLONIAL STRUGGLES IN COLONIAL COUNTRIES

Imperialism used local indigenous rulers and leading individuals as their surrogates. These indigenous agents were usually buyers and traders whose livelihood depended upon the Imperialists. Often landed feudal gentry were also allied to imperialism. They were termed COMPRADOR BOURGEOISIE.

Inevitably some indigenous capitalists wished to displace imperialism, so that they can then retain all the colony’s profits for itself. They were termed NATIONAL BOURGEOISIE. Because they were usually very weak, they tried to enlist the masses ie. working classes and peasantry. The weak and nascent national bourgeoisie of the Middle East struggled at first, in the main against British and French; then in the main against USA imperialism.

The line of Communists in the National Liberation movement dervies from the positions of Lenin at the Second Congress of the Comintern in 1921. Lenin thought that in the first stage of the revolution, the bourgeois democrats had a useful role to play:

“All the Communist parties must assist the bourgeois democratic liberation movement in these (ie colonial type countries-ed).. The Communist International (CI) must enter into a temporary alliance with bourgeois democracy in colonial and backward countries.”

V.I.Lenin: Preliminary Draft of Theses on National and Colonial Questions, 2nd Congress CI  in “Selected Works”, Volume 10, London, 1946; p. 236-7.

But Lenin and Stalin pointed out, that these national bourgeoisie, flinch from the final steps, as the unleashing of mass movements arouses socialist movements. Therefore, class coalitions of national bourgeoisie with working class organizations can only be temporary. They are also prone to sabotage by the national bourgeoisie. The working class organisations must remain independent, even in a United Front. It is imperative to find and ally only with and for long as, the sections of the bourgeoisie are genuinely in struggle with imperialism:

“I would like to particularly emphasise the question of the bourgeois democratic movements in backward countries. It was this question that gave rise to some disagreement. We argued about whether it would be correct, in principle and in theory, to declare that the CI and the CP’s should support the bourgeois-democratic movement in backward countries. As a result of this discussion we unanimously decided to speak of the nationalist-revolutionary movements instead of the ‘bourgeois-democratic’ movement. There is not the slightest doubt that every nationalist movement can only be a bourgeois-democratic movement.. But it was agreed that if we speak about the bourgeois-democratic movement all distinction between reformist and revolutionary movements will be obliterated; whereas in recent times this distinction has been fully and clearly revealed in the backward and colonial countries, of the imperialist bourgeois is trying with all its might to implant the reformist movement also among the oppressed nations.. In the Commission this was proved irrefutably, and we came to the conclusion that the only correct thing to do was to take this distinction into consideration and nearly everywhere to substitute the term “nationalist-revolutionary” for the term “bourgeois-democratic”. The meaning of this change is that we communists should, and will, support bourgeois liberation movements only when these movement do not hinder us in training and organising the peasants and the broad masses of the exploited in a revolutionary spirit.. The above mentioned distinction has now been drawn in all the theses, and I think that, thanks to this, our point of view has been formulated much more precisely.”

Lenin. Report Of Commission on the National and Colonial Questions, Ibid, p 241.

This Leninist line was further developed by Stalin, who in 1925, distinguished “at least three categories of colonial and dependent countries”:

Firstly countries like Morocco who have little or no proletariat, and are industrially quite undeveloped. Secondly countries like China and Egypt which are under-developed industries and have a relatively small proletariat. Thirdly countries like India.. capitalistically more or less developed and have a more or less numerous national proletariat. Clearly all these countries cannot possibly be put on a par with one another.”

J.V.Stalin; “Works” Volume 7: “Political Tasks of the University of the People’s of the East.  Speech Delivered at a meeting of Students of the Communist University of the Toilers of the East”, May 18th, 1925. pp. 148.

In each country the conditions were different and had to be concretely studied before deciding the exact tactic:

“In countries like Egypt and China, where the national bourgeoisie has already split up into a revolutionary party and a compromising party, but where the compromising section of the bourgeoises is not yet able to join up with imperialism, the Communists can no longer set themselves the aim of forming a united national front against imperialism. In such countries the Communists must pass from the policy of a united national front to the policy of a revolutionary bloc of the workers and the petty bourgeoisie. In such countries that bloc can assume the form of a single party, a workers and peasants’ party, provided, however, that this distinctive party actually represents a bloc of two forces – the Communist Party and the party of the revolutionary petty bourgeois. The tasks of this bloc are to expose the half-heartedness and inconsistency of the national bourgeoisie and to wage a determined struggle against imperialism. Such a dual party is necessary and expedient provided it does not bind the Communist Party hand and foot, provided it does not restrict the freedom of the Communist Party to conduct agitation and propaganda work, provided it does not hinder the rallying of the proletarians around and provided it facilitates the actual leadership of the revolutionary movement by the Communist party. Such a dual party is unnecessary and inexpedient if to does not conform to all these conditions for it can only lead to the Communist elements becoming dissolved in the ranks of the bourgeoisie to the Communist Party losing the proletarian army.”

J.V.Stalin Works Vol 7; “Tasks of University of People’s of East”, Ibid; pp. 149-150

If a large working class presence was felt, this strengthened the revolutionary prospects. When this happened, the most uncertain and vacillating elements of the bourgeoisie tended to desert the revolution, and form a bloc with imperialism:

“The situation is somewhat different in countries like India. The fundamental and new feature of the conditions of life in countries like India is not only that the national bourgeoisie has split up into a revolutionary part and a compromising part, but primarily that the compromising section of the bourgeoisie has already managed, in the main, to strike a deal with imperialism, Fearing revolution more than it fears imperialism, and concerned with more about its money bags than about the interests of its own country, this section of the bourgeoisie is going over entirely to the camp of the irreconcilable enemies of the revolution, it is forming a bloc with imperialism against the workers and peasants of its own country.”

J.V.Stalin Works Vol 7; “Tasks of University of People’s of East”, Ibid; pp. 150.

Such blocs between vacillating “national bourgeoise” and imperialisms, should be smashed:

“The victory of the revolution cannot be achieved unless this bloc is smashed, but in order to smash this bloc, fire must be concentrated on the compromising national bourgeoisie, its treachery exposed, the toiling masses freed from its influence, and the conditions necessary for the hegemony of the proletariat systematically prepared. In other words, in colonies like India it is a matter of preparing the proletariat for the role of leader of the liberation movement, step by step dislodging the bourgeoisie and its mouthpieces from this honourable post. The task is to create an anti-imperialist bloc and to ensure the hegemony of the proletariat in this bloc. This bloc can assume although it need not always necessarily do so, the form of a single Workers and Peasants Party, formally bound by a single platform. In such centuries the independence of the Communist Party must be, the chief slogan of the advanced communist elements, for the hegemony of the proletariat can be prepared and brought about by the Communist party. But the communist party can and must enter into an open bloc with the revolutionary part of the bourgeoisie in order, after isolating the compromising national bourgeoisie, to lead the vast masses of the urban and rural petty bourgeoisie in the struggle against imperialism.”

J.V.Stalin Works Vol 7; “Tasks of University of People’s of East”, Ibid; pp. 150-151.

But despite these warnings, organisations took part in un-principled coalitions, and led the working classes into massacres. The failure of the working class to organise along correct lines ensured that the many anti-imperialist struggles in the Middle East, never achieved the socialist – or even to the national democratic revolution.

After World War II imperialism was even stronger, and even more rapacious. This was as its markets were threatened by the Socialist USSR leading some European countries towards socialist development. Responding to imperialisms’ demands, the weak national bourgeoisie of the Middle East attempted to overcome their weaknesses by several tactics that would avoid harnessing the revolutionary masses. All these tactics would prove unsuccessful. These are detailed below; and culminated in a movement of cartelisation for oil selling – Organisation for Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC).

THE WEAK NATIONAL BOURGEOISIE OF THE MIDDLE EAST TO SEEK TACTICS TO FIGHT IMPERIALISM

Tactic Number One: Wahda and Nasserism, Pan-Arabism; A Political Combination of Weak National Bourgeoisie

Given the bourgeois fear of rousing the working class movement too far, only a vacillating movement against imperialism was possible. Ultimately the national bourgeoisie always capitulated in the face of social revolution. This allowed the imperialist powers to retard the development of the states concerned. Coupled with this was the power of monopoly interests, of the imperialist companies. So that even in favourable situations, where these states led by national bourgeoisie could nationalise the major resource in the area (oil) the imperialist consortiums were able to dictate their demands.

Despite these failures, the nascent bourgeoisie of the area continued to harbour resentment against imperialism. To compensate for their unwillingness to fully enrol the working classes, they attempted to unite across “national” borders. This entailed a mystical PAN-ARABISM which preceded NASSERISM. For example the formation of the BA’TH PARTY in Syria took place in 1947, led by Michel ‘Aflaq, Salh al-Din Bitar and also Wahib al-Ghanim.

BA’TH means “re-birth” and took the notion as central, to mean the renaissance of the Arab movement. But it was Gamel Abdul Nasser who most effectively utilised this idea of pan-Arabism. Starting in the context of a nationalist movement in Egypt alone, Nasser struck a renewed hope for liberation from imperialism throughout large sections of the Middle East, using instead of Ba’th – the notion of Wahda, to mean ultimately the same.

The Nasserite movement aimed at WAHDA (Arabic for union). It was to be a renewal of Arabic “culture,” under a twentieth century guise of nationalism.

As a strategy of the national bourgeoisie in the Middle East, it aimed to contain the mass movement, it emphasised notions of an Arab peoples, denying any class content.

Revisionism in the parties of the area had effectively deprived the working class of capable leadership. Nasserism was only able to consolidate itself because the Egyptian Workers Party, the Communist Party, was itself under the influence of the now Soviet-revisionist leaders.

Wahda called for unity of several different struggling national bourgeoisie against imperialism. It hoped to be able to avoid the social revolution, by using nationalistic demagogic slogans. Effectively a class coalition was to be created, of all the national bourgeoisies, and the working classes of the different countries, led by the national bourgeoisie.

That way it was to be hoped apparently, that the singly weak national bourgeoisie, together, would be strong enough to fight imperialism, and yet still be able to contain the social revolution.

But ultimately Pan-Arabism failed, as there was a single dominant national bourgeoisie, which itself tried to create “comprador” relations with the other weaker national bourgeoisie. This dominant national bourgeoisie was Egyptian and it was led by Nasser. It was successful for a time, as evidenced by the short lived creation of the UNITED ARAB REPUBLIC– consisting of Egypt and Syria. However the dominant Egyptian bourgeoisie, could not suppress the Syrian national bourgeoisie of the coalition. The experiment thus failed.

Tactic Number Two: Playing on Contradictions Between Imperialists

The imperialists had long squabbled amongst themselves as to how to divide up the Middle East. French and British supremacy in the Middle East was surreptiously attacked by USA imperialism. After the death of Stalin the hegemony of revisionism in the USSR was rapidly completed. With the overthrow of socialism in the Soviet Union, the relations between the Soviet Union and dependent nations became imperialist. This was exemplified by the relations within the Warsaw Pact nations. In the semi-colonial and colonial nations, the USSR attempted to act as a brake on Western imperialism. This resulted in a struggle between US and Soviet social imperialism for control of these areas, including the Middle East.

In this context, the various timorous struggling national bourgeoisie would frequently switch “temporary masters.” Being interested in control of “their own” profit, the national bourgeoisie were  viewed as unreliable by the imperial super-powers. But they were used as pawns by the super powers to control the area. This allowed the national bourgeoisie some limited bargaining power. Ultimately, his strategy also failed to effect the national revolution.

American policy recognised the strength of the anti-colonial movements. Their plan was to disrupt the movement by using the compradors. To further blunt the movement they used the veneer of neutrality offered by the UNITED NATIONS. John Foster Dulles, US Secretary of State, said just prior to the Suez War :

“The USA cannot be expected to identify itself 100% either with the Colonial powers or the powers uniquely concerned with the problem of getting independence as rapidly and as fully as possible.. any areas encroaching in some form or another on the problem of so called colonialism find the US playing a somewhat independent role (Ed – of UK and France). The shift from colonialism to independence will be going on for another 50 years, and I believe that the task of the United Nations is to try to see that this process moves forward in a constructive, evolutionary way, and does not come to a halt or go forward through violent revolutionary processes which would be destructive of much good.”

Cited Carlton. “Antony Eden”. London 1981. p.426

After the SUEZ WAR, the USA and the USSR all contended in the area. Each super power developed its’ primary sphere of influence. But since neither power was able to totally control the area, they were for long periods content for an armed stalemate.

The major states in the area that were spheres of influence for the Soviet Union were Iraq, Syria, Egypt (until Nasser’s death), Yemen and Libya.

These countries often adopted a mask of “socialism”.

The main countries that supported the USA were Israel, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and under Sadat – Egypt.

Examples of a national bourgeoisie that attempted the game of playing one imperialist off against another include Egypt under Nasser, Iraq under Hussein and Syria under Assad.

Due to the serious demise of the fortunes of the Soviet imperialists in the late 1980’s, the USA was able to exert a far more dominant role than previously, and for the first time saw an opportunity to be unopposed. It tested the waters for an exertion of its’ direct military presence in the Arab world by bombing Libya.

EGYPT, AND THE “FREE OFFICERS MOVEMENT”

The case of Egypt illustrates how a balancing act, was able to win a short term gain, for the nationalist bourgeoisie. But ultimately the short term gains could not be maintained. In Egypt the nationalist faction was represented by the Free Officer Movement, to which Nasser belonged. This movement, was supported initially by the USA, as a weapon to be used against the British superpower.

“The Free Officer movement originated within the regular army; its leaders were then preparing to oust the appointed military chiefs, seize all the command posts and present their program for national renovation to the entire army. They also tried to make sure that should they be successful, the US ambassador would not be hostile and would exert pressure on the British ambassador.”

Mahmoud Hussein . “Class Conflict in Egypt 1945-1970”. London , 1977. p.85-6 .

“The US hoped to capitalize on the situation to become the new protector of Egypt and force it to accept a military alliance which would officially recognize the need for national sovereignty.”

M.Hussein , Ibid. p.96.

“According to Miles Copeland, an American CIA official posted in the Middle East in the 1950’s – the CIA knew as early as March 1952 that a ‘secret military society’ was plotting a coup. ‘ Before the coup the CIA’s Cairo station, headed by Kermit Roosevelt, had three meetings with some of the officers of the group. ” the large area of agreement reached by Roosevelt and this (Egyptian ) officer, speaking for Nasser himself, is noteworthy,” writes Copeland.”

Dilip Hiro “Inside the Middle East” London. 1982. p. 297.

The aims of the Free Officer movement were to modernise and develop, and to get rid of the British military occupation of Egypt. Of course, even the first goal was unacceptable to either the British, or to those who immediately took their place, the USA imperialists. But for their own short term goals – to get rid of the British – the USA did help the Free Officers, by forcing the British to evacuate their 70,000 strong troops. However, in partial appeasement of the British, Eisenhower ensured a clause in the Anglo-Egyptian Agreement that entitled Britain to reoccupy the Suez zone with “Egypt’s agreement” in the case of an attack on Egypt by any outside power.”   (Hiro Ibid p.298.)

Nasser tried to exploit the tensions between the British and the Americans, and at the same time get maximal financial aid. Nasser from then on used both the US and UK imperialists for financing. But to retain his independence and to get the “best deal”, Nasser then also asked for financing from the revisionist USSR. Even the provision of USSR made arms via Czechoslovakia, did not however deter the West:

“Not wishing to alienate the charismatic leader of Egypt, a most strategic country in the region, Washington and London continued discussions with Cairo on financing the Aswan Dam- with the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (known as the World Bank) offering credits for $ 200 million and America and Britain together another $70 million in hard currencies- matching $900 million to be provided by Egypt in local services and goods. An agreement was signed in February.”

Hiro Ibid p.298.

However, the Western imperialists certainly feared that Egypt was becoming drawn into the USSR sphere of influence. This was a more urgent fear for the weaker British, than it was for the USA. So the British exerted a considerable pressure on the USA, to tangibly support an anti-Russian policy. This pressure came from Antony Eden, then the Conservative Prime Minister of Britain. Winston Aldrich, the US ambassador to London said:

“Eden.. asked me to see him on a matter of the greatest importance and urgency. Eden told me that the emergency has arisen in connection with the Egyptian proposal, namely that the Russians had offered to finance the dam. Eden feared that this would give the Egyptians a dangerous foothold in an area vital to the interests of Great Britain. He asked me to take up at once with Washington the question of whether the US would underwrite the obligations which Great Britain would assume in making such a guarantee (of financing the dam).”

Cited David Carlton “Antony Eden” London 1981 p.391.

Eisenhower was more shrewd, and being the more dominant of the imperialists, was in less need of hasty action. His diary showed that he had already recognised that this was a doomed policy. He had concluded that Egypt was moving away from the likely control of the USA, and that the Saudis should be firmly lassoed into the USA sphere:

“We have reached the point where it looks as if Egypt, under Nasser is going to make no move.. the Arabs (ie Egypt – Ed) absorbing major consignments of arms from the Soviets are daily growing more arrogant and disregarding the interests of Western Europe and the US.. It would appear that our efforts should be directed towards separating the Saudi Arabians from the Egyptians and concentrating, for the moment..in making the former see that their best interests lie with us, and not with the Egyptians and with the Russians..”

D. Eisenhower , Diary , Cited by David Carlton Ibid p. 404.

Of course each of the imperialists were fully aware that they were being “two-timed.”

Nasser was forced to keep trying to find yet another “imperialist” or social-imperialist dancer, to help him fend off the last ardent suitor.

Nasser finally overstepped the lines, by recognising the People’s Republic of China in May. By the 20 th July, both the USA and the British rescinded their offers of financial aid. This prompted Nasser to attempt a retaliation, by nationalising the Suez Canal (Hiro Ibid. p.64). Naturally this provoked a loud uproar from the French owners (Universal Suez Maritime Canal Company), and at the same time, the British and Israelis.

These powers had already been planning an attack upon Gaza aiming at taking the Suez Canal. But for their own interests, these moves were not supported by the USA, who according to Eden himself were verbally offering him merely:

“Moral support and sympathy”, and “did not want to know the details of the Anglo-French plans.”

Cited Carlton , Ibid . p. 412.

However, attempting to assert Britain’s “rights” or self-interest, Eden  deliberately misled the USA about Britain’s aggressive intentions. Eisenhower had expressly warned Eden against war, writing to Eden that:

“The use of military force against Egypt under present circumstances might have consequences even more serious than causing the Arabs to support Nasser. It might cause a serious misunderstanding between our two countries.. the most significant public opinion is that..the United Nations was formed to prevent this very thing.. I assure you that we are not blind to the fact that eventually there may be no escape for the use of force.”

Carlton Ibid. p.419-20.

But in spite of this warning from the USA, the war was launched. But the revisionist USSR, correctly strongly condemned the war of aggression launched by Britain, France and Israel. In order to finally seize the Middle East away from British imperialism, the USA at the United Nations, also strongly condemned the invasion and called for a cease fire. Behind closed doors, the USA prompted a currency speculation against sterling, by the U.S. Federal Reserve Bank selling, and also refused to give either IMF or direct USA financial aid, to the United Kingdom. Further, and finally, the USSR threatened to enter the war:

“We are fully determined to use force to crush the aggressors and to restore peace in the Middle East.”

V.Trukhanovsky. ” Antony Eden ”  Moscow, 1974; p.332.

These moves combined to ensure the withdrawal of the 3 nation intervention. This fiasco for British and French imperialism, signalled their final retreat from the Middle East, as imperialist forces independent of the USA. America then was able to fill what Eisenhower described as a “vacuum” in the Middle East.

Eisenhower’s Doctrine promised to aid any Middle Eastern state seeking protection against:

“Overt armed aggression from any nation controlled by international communism.”

Cited Hiro p.299

This blocked any moves to a regional Wahda, or Unity attempts. Yet, it was sufficiently elastic to interpretation to be acceptable, whilst still detering Egypt in particular. The Eisenhower Doctrine:

“Was applied 3 times: to solve the internal crisis of Jordan in April 1957, to pressure the nationalists – leftist regime of Syria.. and to provide troops to Lebanon in July 1958..In the case of Jordan and Lebanon, the American move was made to check the rise of the Nasserite forces there.”

Hiro, Ibid  p. 299.

Therefore, despite the early hopes of the Nasser forces in Egypt, they were checked. Egypt now became compradors for the USSR. The USA imperialists, who having just expelled the USA and France, did not have the necessary energy at that moment to expel Russia also. The economic relations between Egypt and Russia, were thereafter classic imperialist relations, raw goods given by Egypt, cotton – in return for finished goods, for military and economic aid. This dictated a colonial type relationship with the USSR (Hussein. Ibid. p.286).

But to counter the threat of “excess” USSR influence, the USA unleashed war. The USA moved vigorously, through their client states in the area, wishing also to check those various national bourgeoisie. As part of this policy, the USA heavily endorsed the Israelis, as their lynch pin in the area. The revisionist USSR, sought to maximise its own “area of influence”, and acted as a countervail in the cases of Syria and Egypt. But Israel was heavily armed by the USA and Britain.

In response, Egypt and Syria, signed a joint defence treaty fearing Israeli attack.

They were quite right to fear this.

When King Hussein of Jordan joined the Egyptian-Syrian Defence Pact on 30 May, Dean Rusk then American Secretary of State clearly signalled war:

“I don’t think it’s our business to restrain anybody.”

(Cited Hiro p.301).

The USA knew what was to be the likely outcome of such a war.

As President Johnson put it to an aide:

“Israel is going to hit them (the Arabs)..” Whilst (he was ) publicly responding positively to a Soviet appeal the next day for restraint.”

Cited by Hiro p.300.

The Israelis following the USA plan, launched a pre-emptive strike on the eve of a peace mission by the Egyptian Vice-President Zakaria Mohieddin. Nasser’s forces were effectively crushed.

This sealed the future role as to who would be the key agent of the USA in the area – Israel.

TACTIC NUMBER THREE: ECONOMIC COMBINATION. OPEC- A WEAK BOURGEOISIE ATTEMPTS TO FIGHT BACK

The creation of OPEC in 1960 was another attempt by the weak indecisive national bourgeois to find a “Third Way”. One that did not rely on the active involvement of the masses, nor one of total capitulation to the imperialists. OPEC attempted to bargain, or to horse trade; by forming a combination, or a cartel.

This was designed to deal with the cartel of the major Oil companies- the Seven Sisters. These had simply to refuse to buy oil from any producer country that challenged the price offered. The price “posted” was agreed to by the Seven Sisters. Even nationalisation could not help if the producer country could not market the oil. This tactic was used viciously against Iran.

The oil producing nations varied in the intensity with which they fought the Seven Sisters and the imperialist nations. In 1960 one of the weakest was Iran, ruled by the Shah Pahvlavi whose compliance to the USA was assured following CIA intervention in 1951. This had been necessary to prevent the nationalist Muhammed Mussadiq effecting nationalisation of Anglo-Iranian Oil Company (AICO) later the Anglo-Persian Oil Company. Musaddiq believed that:

“The Iranian must administer his own house.”

Cited J.A.Bill ” The Eagle and the Lion”; Ibid; New York 1988 p.56.

But in fact, Mussadiq clearly was not a fully committed nationalist. The mass movement was compelling him to go further than he perhaps would have otherwise. As John Foster Dulles said in February 1953:

“Musaddiq could not afford to reach any agreement with the British lest it cost him his political life.”

J.A.Bill, Ibid p. 78

When he became Prime Minister of the Majlis (the Iranian Parliament) in April 1951, he inherited a Bill that nationalised AICO. Refusing to rescind it, he was held to ransom by AICO which refused to allow Iran to sell its oil on the international market:

“This boycott was effective. Iran’s oil export income dropped from more than $400 million in 1950 to less than $2 million in the 2 year period from July 1951 to August 1953..Musaddiq faced a deteriorating economic and political situation in 1953..and was forced to rely on the radical left and the communist ( revisionist -ed) Tudeh party.. On May 28th Musaddiq wrote to President Eisenhower requesting economic aid..the answer was negative.”

J.A.Bill Ibid; p.66-7.

The British then persuaded the USA to participate in a putsch, termed Operation Boot by the British and Ajax by the US. The Chief British operative, Major C.M.Woodhouse was conscious of difficulties in getting the US to take part:

“Not wishing to be accused of trying to use the Americans to pull British chestnuts out of the fire, I decided to emphasis the Communist threat to Iran rather than to need to recover control of the oil industry. I argued that even if a settlement of the oil dispute could be negotiated with Musaddiq, which was doubtful, he was still incapable of resisting a coup by the Tudeh party, if it were backed by Soviet support. Therefore he must be removed.”

J.A.Bill, Cited, Ibid. p.86

Fully involved in the putsch was General Norman Schwarzkopf, former US adviser to the Iranian Gendarmerie (J.A.Bill. Ibid, p.90). He was the father of the US General – “Storming Norman” – in the 1991 USA Gulf War of aggression (See Alliance 2).

The coup resulted in the Shah of Iran being bought back to Iran. He understood who had placed him on the Peacock Throne, and remained indebted to US imperialism. Musaddiq was treated with relative leniency – he was not killed, but after 3 years in jail, was allowed to return to his home village Ahmadabad under house arrest (J.A.Bill Ibid p.101).

This episode influenced tactics in the Middle East for some years. The national bourgeoisie had been warned that nationalisation was not adequate to ensure marketing of the oil from the producer nations without the cooperation of the Seven Sisters. An alternative strategy was needed.

The CARTEL STRATEGY was first proposed by the national bourgeoisie of VENEZUELA, after the successful military led coup of 1948. This coup was precipitated 12 days following an act which imposed 50-50 split of the profits from oil, between Venezuela and the oil companies. After the coup, the new dictatorship, naturally, favoured the interests of the US imperialists, and it now dispensed new major oil concessions to the Oil companies.

Despite this failure, the 50-50 rule became a standard, in any dealings with oil-exporting nations. For instance Aramco (Arabian American Oil Company ) used this formula in Saudi Arabia in 1950  (J.A.Bill, op cit, p. 61). However even this partial retreat, still left considerable super-profits for the Seven Sisters.

The national bourgeoisie of Venezuela recognised, that a key factor in their defeat during prolonged negotiations with the companies, had been the erosion of Venezuela’s selling power by Middle East countries that could produce oil. Oil companies, when they were faced with demands for a fairer distribution of profit, simply expanded production from the Middle East. The leader of the “horse trading” strategy, Perez Alfonzo had:

“Only envisaged an ‘extent ‘ an ‘arrangement’ between a few producing countries to establish, links of solidarity between them, reduce the oil companies capacity for manoeuvring and prevent them from playing one country off against another.”

Statement in Petroleum Weekly, New York May 1 1959 p.19. Cited by Pierre Terzian; “OPEC : the inside story.” London 1985.

The national bourgeoisie of Venezuela returned to power in 1959 and again took up the cause of combination. Now they had significant support in the Middle East, from the Director of the Permanent Oil Bureau, Mohammed Salman of Iraq. The Permanent Oil Bureau had been set up by the Arab League in 1953. A secret agreement known as the Maadi Pact was concluded at the first Oil Arab Congress in Cairo on 16th April 1959. The reaction to the open Congress session, was frankly sceptical by the oil business:

“Venezuelan delegates arrived with high hopes of lining up Middle East producing states in a front to limit production and prevent further decline in prices, but were finally resigned to the fact that Arabs were more interested in other problems now and that all Venezuelans were supposed to do was to observe.”

Platts Oilgram News, New York; Cited by P.Terzian, Ibid, p.25.

However the secret Maadi Agreement between the UAR, Iraq, Venezuela, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia included the following:

“Agreement was reached … on:

1. Improvement of the oil producing countries participation on a reasonable and equitable basis. The consensus of opinion was that said government should tend to at least a 60-40 formula to be on a par with the recent Venezuelan attitude..and with other countries ..the price structure should be..maintained..any change in prices should be discussed with precedent in time and be approved by all parties concerned.

2. Convenience of arriving at an integration of the oil industry..to ensure stable markets to the producer countries avoiding transfers of gains from one phase of the operations to another, affecting the oil revenue of the governments.

4. Establishment of National Oil Companies that would operate side by side with the existing private companies.”

P.Teerzian. Ibid , p.27-8.

The most energetic of the group, Perez Alfonso, also arranged that the USSR would support the OPEC move. This was important because the Oil companies were constantly citing:

“The USSR’s tariff policy as a pretext to justify their own decision to cut prices.”

P.Terzian, Ibid, p.34.

After initial disbelief, the major oil companies, led by Shell, tested the OPEC resistance, by announcing cuts in the posted prices of oil that they were prepared to pay. The vigorous resistance they met, along with announcements of a meeting of producer nations at Baghdad in September, 1960, induced them to withdraw their price cuts. The Financial Times concluded:

“In effect Shell is.. paying a premium to the Governments of the producing states. What the countries particularly objected to was the fact that they were not consulted.”

Cited, Terzian. Ibid. p.53.

However efforts to involve the Middle East nations in effective combative combination were doomed to failure. This was evident, since combination had to involve both:

Countries that were ruled by comprador bourgeoisie ( eg Saudi Arabia and Iran );

as well as the countries that were ruled by national bourgeoisie (eg Iraq).

The Baghdad Meeting in September 10th 1960 started off very tensely. The Venezuelan nationalists were in the midst of fending off a coup at home. Even more dramatic was the fact that the Iraqi nationalists President Kassem was also besieged by a coup. He arrived for an honourary dinner wearing two revolvers in his belt! But tension rose even further, as it was clear that Iran was going to block any agreements, that would go further than the agreement already reached at Maadi. The Iranian representative Fuad Ruhani said he had been given:

“Very precise instructions from my Government.”

Terzani , Ibid. p.41.

Suddenly on 14th September the Shah sent new instructions to the Iranian team. This agreed to the creation of a permanent organisation. Moreover, the Shah even had a name for it – The Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC ).

But this about face indicated a new tack on the part of the Oil Companies.

They now accepted the inevitability of the cartel, but they emasculated it from within.

OPEC was therefore hijacked.

As Perez Alfonso found when he met the directors of the Seven Sisters :

“My impression is that the main companies recognise that the Baghdad Agreement was necessary, or at least inevitable.”

Ibid p.44.

Theoretically the OPEC countries were in a very strong position controlling 82 % of world crude exports. But The Times could accurately see the situation :

“The strength of these producing countries is not as great as might appear.. (There are) two reasons.. the surplus of supply over demand in the world oil market and the divergent interests of the 5 countries concerned, some of who wanted to increase production whilst other sought a reduction.”

The Times 15 September, 1960. Cited by Terzian p.44.

  • Of course, in addition the oil imperialist companies and their nations had the marketing and distribution monopoly.
  • Also they began to exploit other sources of oil.
  • The comprador states were key to the strategy of the oil companies.
  • Saudi Arabia was and is a reactionary state with strong elements of Muslim feudalism.
  • It is a key state representing USA interests in the Middle East.
  • As the US Senate Committee on Energy and Natural resources commented:

“The US, by virtue of its commercial oil interests ‘ long standing monopoly over the disposition of Saudi crude, now reinforced by the 1974 conclusion of a “special relationship” embracing economic and military agreements, is very widely regarded amongst its allies and by Arab and Iranians as having secured preferential and near- exclusive access to Saudi oil. Given the extraordinary importance of Saudi oil production to the world generally, the US relationship is considered key to supply security.”

US Senate : ” Access to oil – the USA relationships with Saudi Arabia and Iran.” Washington DC US Government Printing office , Publication No. 95-70. 1977 (p.xi). Cited by Petter Nore and Terisa Turner in : Oil and the class struggle “. London 1980

At critical times the Saudis have refused to allow the OPEC to raise prices in accordance with the demands of the more nationalistic of the OPEC countries such as Iraq and Libya. Saudi Crown Prince Fadh has pretentiously revealed his unwillingness to be an effective member of the cartel:

“My country which possesses the largest oil reserves in the world will not be the cause of a weakening in the capacity of humanity to live in stability and prosperity. In view of this lofty aim, commercial considerations cease to exist and consequently the methods which are used to increase or lower prices will likewise disappear.”

Frankfurter Rundschau. 1 April 1975. Cited by Mohssen Massarrat. The Energy Crisis p.67. in ” Oil and the class struggle” Ed. P.Nore and T.Turner. London, 1981

It is not surprising that:

“Saudi foreign policy consists largely of support for Washington in the Middle East.”

Sunday Times, 5th August 1990. p.12.

Nor is it surprising that given the membership of nations like Saudi Arabia in OPEC, that OPEC would not reflect the interests of the oil producing national bourgeoisie.

As Henry Kissinger commented:

“OPEC was not perceived as a serious cartel.”

Jack Anderson and James Boyd. ” Fiasco. The real story behind the disastrous worldwide energy crisis- Richard Nixon’s “Oilgate”;1983; Toronto;  p.163.

In fact as, the manufactured oil crisis of the 1970’s shows, OPEC was transformed into an agency that performed objectively in the interests of the USA imperialists.

THE PSEUDO OIL “CRISIS” OF THE 1970’s

It is widely believed that it was the pressure of the OPEC countries that led to a dramatic price rise and so called ” oil crisis ‘in the 1970’s. Certainly determined nationalist countries like Libya and Algeria increased the pressure inside OPEC for a price rise.

Though the oil exporting countries had their interest in a price rise, their effectiveness as a cartel has already been shown to be limited, due to the inclusion of “weak” member state such a Saudi Arabia. In reality, the manipulation of oil prices has followed the various requirements of the Seven Sisters, the minor oil companies and the USA monopoly capitalists.

“For the oil companies an increase in the general price of oil was also of great importance, not least because they had seen their distributional share steadily diminish over time..as a result of higher level of taxation by the oil-exporting countries..which was difficult to pass on to the consumer in a situation characterised by a global excess supply.”

Petter Nore and Terisa Turner, Editors;.”Oil and the class struggle”; London 1980, p.72.

The problems of the Major Seven Sisters, were compounded by the competition they now faced:

“Due to a three fold challenge.. the rise of the independents following the US import quota system in 1958; the emergence of important state oil companies in Europe like Italy’s E.N.I. which tried to outbid the concessions offered by the majors; and the increase in Soviet oil exports to the West.. resulting in a drop in the profit per barrel for the Majors. The reduction was only partly overcome by a sharp increase in total production. Profit rates for US direct foreign investment in the petroleum industry dropped from a 30 % return in 1955 to 14.7 % in 1963 and an all time low of 11.1 % in 1969.”

Nore; p.72 Ibid.

Added to this was the high cost of extraction from areas such as Alaska and the North Sea. This posed a problem for the major Oil companies. The oil crisis was “manufactured”, to raise the available oil profits, up to a point where it would become economically viable to begin extraction from the oil shales of the USA. This entailed the profit interests of both the major oil companies and their smaller rivals who were not in the cartel known as the Seven Sisters.

At this time despite the apparent oil shortage, the oil companies had stocked up supplies, in many tankers that lay outside New Jersey in the midst of the so called shortage as prices were driven up by the companies.

This tactic was portrayed as the work of the OPEC cartel.

But the general line was clearly supported by the oil companies :

“Though the oil companies created the appearances of fighting OPEC tooth and nail..they recognised that their best hopes of future profitability..depended upon successful cooperation..thus OPEC/oil companies cooperation became a fact of life..with the positive encouragement of the USA.”

P.R.Odell. “Oil and World power” London , 1980. p. 215.

But the USA Government representing the combined monopoly capital had its’ own reasons for seeing a price rise:

“From 1970 onwards the US clearly pressed for an increase in the general price of crude oil.”

Nore, Ibid, p.73.

THE USA INTERESTS IN THE RAISING THE PRICE OF OIL REVOLVED AROUND THREE MAIN ISSUES

Firstly, both the leading sections of American capital had major profit interests tied up in raising the price of oil. The big Northern Yankee financiers were involved with the oil Major Seven Sisters companies. The Cowboys who represented newer capital reliant on oil and arms, formed the smaller independent oil companies.

Secondly, the USA wanted to ensure a renewed attempt at peace – on their terms of an acceptable status quo to them – in the Middle East:

“The USA.. sought to provide stability..as basis for a renewed effort to find a political solution to the Middle East conflict, and argued that higher revenues and a greater degree of economic certainty for the Arab oil-producing nations would, make it easier for them, to accept a compromise in the their dispute with Israel.”

Odell , Ibid , p. 215.

But Thirdly this manoeuvre was also aimed at the competitors of American imperialism as recognised by the Economist:

“The Economist 7th July, 1973; under the title ” The Phoney oil crisis “voiced the suspicion that the US had capitulated only to readily to the OPEC demands for an increase in oil prices because such an increase would slow down the Japanese economy. Japanese exports were out-competing American demands at the time and its economy was more vulnerable to rises in the price of oil than any other nation.”

Cited by Petter Nore p.86; ” Oil and the Class struggle .” London, 1980.

As Odell points out:

“The USA was fed up with a situation in which the rest of the industrialised world had access to cheap energy. It deliberately initiated a foreign policy which aimed at getting oil – producing nations’ revenues moving strongly up by talking incessantly to the producers about their low oil prices and by showing them the favourable impact of much higher prices. It was of course assured..that these cost increases, plus further increases designed to ensure higher profit levels for the companies, were passed on to the European and Japanese energy consumers, so eliminating their energy cost advantage over their competitors in the USA..the actual timing..coincided with unusual circumstances..namely a strong demand for most oil products in most markets in a period of general economic advance, a shortage of oil refinery capacity in Europe and Japan and a temporary scarcity of tankers.”

Odell p. 215-216.

GERMAN INDUSTRY HAD ALREADY CAUSED PROBLEMS FOR THE MAJOR COMPANIES BY FLIRTING WITH THE RUSSIANS. USA GOVERNMENT PRESSURE HAD BEEN REQUIRED TO PREVENT FURTHER EROSION OF THE EUROPEAN MARKETS:

“In 1969 only the intervention of the Federal West German Government under severe pressure from the USA, thwarted an agreement between the Soviet Union and the Bavarian state government. Had this agreement gone through, the Soviet Union would have been in a very strong position to put in branch pipelines to the other countries..of Western Europe.. Soviet oil exports to Western Europe.. steadily increased form only 3 million ton in 1955 to over 40 million ton in 1969.. Under 1978 conditions the amount of oil in Western Europe is supply rather than demand constrained.”

Odell, Ibid; p.58-60.

In this context, in 1991, it was of significant aid to the USA imperialists that the USSR was then, unable to exploit its’ oil reserves, owing to the enormous dislocation in the state:

“Production from Siberian oil fields is dropping so rapidly that the Soviet Union, the world’s largest petroleum producer may begin to import expensive world price crude within 2 years Kremlin officials say..”We are talking catastrophic failure here ” one Western diplomatic observer said.. oil exports have been the Soviet Unions’ primary source of hard currency income, and the only bright spot..in trade,..the troubles appear to be related to a decaying infrastructure, including an inefficient distribution system vulnerable to sabotage. Production from the giant Tyumen oil filed of Western Siberia, which supplies about half of the country’s oil for export has dropped 10% since 1988, Pravda said ..former allies in Central and Eastern Europe are being hit the hardest with cuts of 30-50 %. The cuts, coupled with the significantly higher prices Moscow began charging Poland, Hungary and Czechoslovakia on January 1st are hobbling economic reforms in these countries.”

Jeff Sallot; In “Globe and Mail”; Toronto; Business Report; Feb 12th 1991.

The USA Senate recognised the oil demand in Europe and Japan as a vital issue for the general policy to be followed by the USA in the Middle East:

“One can argue that while the oil benefit is nowhere near so great to the US as it is to the European and Japanese importers, for which it is vital, the US relationship with Iran and Saudi Arabia serves the collective security interests of its allies in helping assure a continuous and adequate flow of oil.. But.. will the US government come to affect the destination of these 7 million barrels per day, exercising its influence through the Americans oil companies? Or will the companies be able to continue to supply, unhampered by considerations other than the meeting of their contractual commitments?”

US Senate Cited by P.Noore and T. Turner, Ibid p. 9.

THIS OIL SAGA WILL BE BROUGHT UP TO DATE SHORTLY

The Syrian National Revolution – The Role of Khaled Bakdash or “Bagdash”

bigstock-syria-3770337

This article was published by Alliance (Marxist-Leninist) as part of the publication Alliance, issue #51, “Pan-Arabic or Pan-Islamic ‘Socialism.’”

December 2002; based on an article of 1996

Contents:
Introduction – Pan-Arabism in the Middle East
(i) Syria – The place, peoples and religion
(ii) Early History of Syria to the Ottoman Empire
(iii) The End of the Ottoman Empire and the French Colonial Yoke
(iv) The Post-Independence Economy
(v) What Were The Class Forces of Syria?
(vi) The Ba’th Party and the Ba’th Arab Socialist Party
(vii) The Egyptian Modification of Ba’th Ideology – Nasserism
(viii) The Syrian Communist Party
(ix) The Syrian CP, the Ba’th and the United Arab Republic
(x) The Syrian CP and the Khruschevite Revisionists

Introduction – Pan-Arabism in the Middle East

As Comrade Bland pointed out in his analysis of Sultan-Galiyev, the dubious attractions of “Muslim Nationalism,” were a pit-fall for communists in Muslim dominated countries. Bakdash – from his initial revolutionary phase to his later revisionist phases, was closely involved with the question of the relationship between bourgeois nationalism in the Middle East, and communism.

The English historian Patrick Seale writes:

“The prophet of Syrian (In fact “greater Syrian” ) nationalism was Antun Sa’ada… His bitterest opponent was the Communist leader Khalid Bakdash, an eloquent Kurd who had steered the chequered fortunes of the Syrian party since 1930.”

Seale, Patrick, “Asad. The Struggle For the Middle East”; London; 1988; p.26.

However, Marxist-Leninists examining Bakdash’s views, would have to concede that he was the engineer of the revisionist disembowelment of the most advanced Arab communist party.

Sa’da was the founder of the Syrian National Party, and represented the regional Syrian based bourgeoisie who wanted an undivided Greater Syria, rather than the more ambitious Pan-Arabists.

“Pan-Arabism” swept the Middle East, partly in response to the rising Zionist tide. As early as June 1913, the First Arab Congress was held in Paris (Walter Laquer “A History of Zionism”; New York; 1972; p.224). Later at the Pan Arab Congress of Jerusalem December, 1931, held simultaneously with the General Islamic Congress, an ‘Arab Covenant‘ was proclaimed. Hourani uses this as a “standard definition of the aims of the nationalists”:

“(i) The Arab lands are a complete and indivisible whole, and the divisions of whatever nature to which they have been subjected are not approved or recognized by the Arab nation.
(ii) All efforts in every Arab country are to be directed towards the single goal of their complete independence, in their entirety and unified ; and every idea which aims at limitation to work for local and regional politics must be fought against.
(iii) Since colonization is, in all its forms and manifestations, wholly incompatible with the dignity and highest aims of the Arab nation, the Arab nation rejects it and will combat it with all its forces.”

Hourani A.K. “Syria and Lebanon. A Political Essay”; London 1968; p. 114.

The main tenets of this proclamation were to live on, in the form of the Ba’th Party, and in Nasserism and the Wahd movement. An increasingly urgent problem played a role in side-tracking the main goal of Arab liberation. This was the Zionist presence in Palestine. In September, 1937, the Pan-Arab Congress of Bludan in Syria, organized by the Syrian Committee for the Defence of Palestine, which passed:

“a number of resolutions in regard to the solution of the Palestinian problem and stated that the adoption of the policy embodied in these resolutions would be regarded as a condition of friendly relations between the Arab peoples and the British Empire”

Hourani Ibid; p.114-5.

However the establishment of the state of Israel continued a destruction of bourgeois nationalist dreams. It became increasingly likely that only lesser goals would be achieved. This article examines the narrowing focus of Arab nationalism, as it played out in Syria.

Following the enforced departure of France as an overt occupying imperialist presence in 1946, the French adopted a pattern of disguised neo-colonial relations. France took over Syria at a time when the British dominance over the Middle East was adequate to push France into a subordinate imperialist position, while Britain waited to see how it would fight off the USA interests in the area.

(i) Syria – The place, peoples and religion

The ancient idea of a ‘bilad al-Sham’ – The “Lands of Damascus”, was built on the premise  that there was a distinct Syrian entity. The so-called “Natural Syria” was vast – extending from Taurus mountains in the North, to the Western Mediterranean shores, the Eastern Euphrates, and the Arabian Southern deserts. As such, it was frequently divided up during the centuries.

Later, Syria was known under the French Mandate rule, as both Syria and Lebanon being part of one administrative area (with Latakia and Jebel Druze) from 1925 to 1936. Syria as a term, refers to the Syrian Republic formed in 1936, from Syria, Jebel Druze and Laakia (also known as the State of the Alawis).

Syria ranks fourth in population in the 15 countries usually considered to be a part of the “Middle East” extending between Libya and Afghanistan (excluding these two countries); eighth in gross domestic product, fourth in size of military force, and sixth in rate of growth of GDP. (Ramet, Pedro “The Soviet-Syrian Relationship Since 1955- A Troubled Alliance”; Boulder USA; 1990; p. 6).

The population is largely of the Muslim religious faith, and Arab speakers formed 85% of the population in 1946.  Although a Christian Maronite minority (taking its name from a 5th Century Syrian hermit) was always significant in number, as were other minorities. The population by the time of the French Mandate 1920-1946 was made up of:

Sunnis (60% of the total population); ‘Alawis 11.5%; Druze 3.0 %; Ismaílis 1.5%; Christians 9.9%; Non-Arabs (Kurds 8.5%; Armenians 4.2%; plus small numbers of Circassians and Jews etc; (See Malik Mufti: “Sovereign Creations- Pan-Arabism & Political Order in Syria & Iraq”; Cornell; 1966; p.45).

When Mohammed died (632 BC), as the head – supposedly appointed by God – of both temporal and religious parts of the Muslim world, a crisis of leadership was precipitated. This engulfed all the expansionist desert Arabs who had embraced Islam. They solved it be appointing a temporal and religious head of the Muslim world, as a “deputy” – the Caliph, or Khalif:

“Islam as an expansionist ideology began during the lifetime of Mohamed, who made several unimportant expeditions outside the desert of the Arabian peninsula, The real expansion and invasions were to come after the death of Mohammed from the caliphs, or his “representatives”, the heads of or leaders of Moslem communities.”

“Hoxha Enver, “The Glorious past of Peoples Cannot be Ignored”; Written 1983; In “Reflections On the Middle East”; Tirana 1984; Toronto N.D.; p. 469.

“The death of Mohammed … (led to).. a constitutional crisis… The crisis was met by the resolute action of three men: Abu Bakr, Úmar, and Abu Ubaida who by a kind of coup d’état imposed Abu Bakr on the community as the sole successor of the prophet… with the title of Khalifa or “Deputy,” and his election marks the inauguration of the great historic institution of the Caliphate”

Lewis Bernard, “The Arabs in History”; New York 1966; p. 50-1.

Sunni are adherents of the sunnah (practice) of Mohammed alone whose sayings (hadith) form the Holy Words. They are the largest grouping of Muslims, and are themselves divided into sects. The most important of these is the Wahhabi sect largely based in Central Arabia, and headed by the Ibn-Saud dynasty of what is now Saudi Arabia. The Wahabis are named after a jurist of the area of Najd, called Ábd al-Wahhab (1703-1791). During the period of Ottoman expansion, he founded a sect that:

“Was based on a rigid anti-mystical Puritanism. In the name of a pure primitive Islam of the first entry he denounced all subsequent accretions of belief and ritual as superstitious innovation,” alien to pure Islam. … The conversion to the Wahhabi doctrine of the Najdi emir Muhammed ibn Su-ud gave the sect a military and political focus.. spreading by conquest over most of central Arabia wresting the holy cities of Mecca and Medina from the Sharifs who ruled them in the Ottoman name… (till-Ed) 1918, when an invading Turco-Egyptian army sent by Muhammad Ali the pasha of Egypt broke the power of the Wahhabi Empire and confined them to its native Najd”

Lewis Bernard, “The Arabs in History”; New York 1966; p. 161.

The ‘Alawis [meaning followers of ‘Ali] are members of the Shi’i  (Or Shi’ia) Muslim sect; as indeed are the Druzes (originating from Egypt) and the Isma’ilis. The Shi’ia trace their roots to the 8th century, when ‘Ali the Prophet Mohammed’s cousin and son-in-law – was – as the claim goes –  robbed of his inheritance by the first three Caliphs. The Shi’ites also claim that ‘Ali was granted a divine essence, making them ‘infidels’ to the Sunni Muslim orthodoxy. The materialist reality underlying the Shiía sect was a factional grouping based on the claims of Ali to the Caliphate.

In present day Syria, the Alawi are concentrated in the mountainous areas. Previously, they tended to be dominated by the Sunni or the Christian-Maronites.

The various divisions of sects played a role in preventing a united ‘national’ identity. Colonising powers used the minorities in a divide and rule strategy. The Sunnis were closely linked to the Turkish rulers of the Ottoman Empire, and oppressed the ‘Alawis and the other minorities. The French reversed the preferences:

“In Turkish times the Sunni Muslim had been the privileged community, growing rich on ‘Alawi labour….(who) could be expected to be ground down by the Sunni or Christian merchant, money-lender or landowner….But….in the early 1920’s the French gave the ‘Alawi privileges….”

Seale P: “Asad – The Struggle for the Middle East”; Ibid; p.17.

“France tried to pit all of Syria’s minority communities against the Sunni Arabs, who constituted the core of its traditional political elites;”

Malik Mufti; “Sovereign Creations- Pan-Arabism & Political Order in Syria & Iraq”; Cornell; 1966; p. 45.

(ii) Early History of Syria – To the Ottoman Empire

Being at the intersection of the Mediterranean and India and the Far East – Syria was always subject to international influences and trade. Its peoples were initially Arabs from the South, who brought with them Semitic influence – but they then intermingled with invaders from central Asia and Anatolia (Hourani A.H.: “Syria & Lebanon- A Political Essay”; London 1968; pp.11-13).

Historic Syria was dominated first by the Semitic tribes such as the Phoenicians. Later waves of invaders included the Egyptians, Assyrians, the Hittites, Persians, under Alexander the Great – the Greeks and later by the First Century BC – the Roman Empire. The Roman Empire introduced Christianity. But Christianity gave way to Islam in Syria, during the course of the Persian-Roman wars in the 3rd Century AD.

Although the Byzantine Empire tried to hold onto Syrian territories, by 633 the Arabs from the Egyptian peninsula took it by war. A Moslem Government was established. It became a central part of the Moslem empire, under the Umayyad Caliphate of Mu’awiya in 661. Till the 8th century, the Caliphate territories extended from Spain to Morocco to Central Asia. As the Abbassi Dynasty took control of Syria, its fortunes waned under the pressure of repeated wars with the Byzantine Empire.

Ultimately this allowed the Mameluke Sultans of Egypt – led initially by Baibars to dominate Syria. By 1516, Syria was ruled as a single unit by Egypt, from the seat of Damascus. This was the first modern time that this had occurred since the rule of the Umayyad caliphs 1200 years earlier. However the Ottoman Turks easily displaced the waning Egyptian Mamelukes in 1516, and the Osmani Sultans became the Caliphs.

Upon the end of Egyptian rule, bilad al-Sham (Syria) reverted to the Ottoman Empire, and became sub-divided into provinces. These were not ‘national divisions’; or even ‘natural division’ but administrative divisions facilitating rule over the provinces. As the Ottoman Empire was challenged by Ibrahim Pasha (son of Muhammed Ali a vassal to the Ottoman Sultan) of Egypt, a modernisation began in Syria. A central government was formed with a measure of modern progress such as education. But Ibrahim Pasha then attempted to invade Constantinople in 1839, and the Great Powers intervened. They ‘propped up the Sick Man of Europe’ – the Sultanate of Constantinople.

The Ottoman Empire was an Oriental Despotic form of state; broadly speaking it was the equivalent of feudalism in the West. Its characteristic was the almost complete absence of private property in land. As Marx characterised it:

“Bernier rightly considered the basis of all phenomena in the East – he refers to Turkey, Persia, and Hindustan – to be the absence of private property in land. This is the real key to the Oriental heaven”

Letter Marx to Engels; 2 June 1853; In Collected Works; Volume 39; Moscow; 1983; p.334 (See Appendix 1 to this article).

“The absence of landed property is indeed the key to the whole of the East. Therein lies its political and religious history. But how to explain the fact that oriental never reached the stage of landed property not even the feudal kind? This is I think largely due to the climate, combined with the nature of the lands more especially the great stretches of desert extending from the Sahara right across Arabia, Persia, India and Tartary to the highest of the Asiatic uplands. Here artificial irrigation is the first prerequisite for agriculture, and this is the responsibility either of the communes, the provinces or the central government. In the East, the government has always consisted of 3 departments only; Finance (pillage at home); War (pillage at home and abroad); and travaux (i.e. works –Ed) publics, provisions for reproduction”;

Letter Engels to Marx; 6 June 1853; In Collected Works; Volume 39; Moscow; 1983; p.339.

(iii) The End of the Ottoman Empire and French Colonial Yoke

By the end of the 19th Century, the break-up of the Ottoman Empire was eagerly expected by the imperialists. After several secret organizations had struggled for years, in 1908, some young reformers led by a small bourgeoisie forced a parliamentary system. In 1913 the Committee of Union and Progress, led by the army officer Enver Pasha, took power in the seat of the Ottoman Empire at Constantinople, finally un-seating the Sultanate.

The Sultanate of the Ottoman Empire, a dictatorship based on Oriental Despotism was forced into a democratic reform. At the opening phases of the First World War, Enver Pasha led Turkey into an alliance with Germany. This was sealed in the secret Treaty of Berlin July 28. By its provisions, the Ottoman Empire would observe strict neutrality and Germany would defend Ottoman territory in case of external threats.

Within a few months, Turkey’s secret dealings with Germany had been revealed. Following incidents where German cruisers evaded British ships to obtain safe berths in Turkish waters, Britain declared war on Turkey. As the First Lord of the Admiralty, Winston Churchill initiated war actions against Turkey on November 1 1914 War was formally declared by Britain only on November 5th. Churchill noted that with the Ottoman Empire as an enemy, its territories were free to being divided up much easier.

As the war progressed, the Allied forces blundered into the defeat at Gallipoli. This invasion between 25 April 1915, to 17 November 1915, left half a million dead. British command had led an Allied force with a large Australian contingent, was defeated by the Turkish forces commanded by Mustapha Kemal – later to be known as Attaturk.

Naturally at the end of the First World War, the victorious super powers led then by the Allied powers, in particular Britain and France – took the opportunity to divide up the Ottoman territories. In 1914:

“At the end of a fevered expansionist movement that was rooted in the 1880’s, France had built the second largest colonial empire in the world, an empire of more than 10 million square kilometers, with nearly 50 million inhabitants.”

Thobie J, Meynier G, Coquery-Vidrovitch C, Ageron C-R: “Histoire de La France Coloniale 1914-1990”; 1990; p.7.

France had up to then, no significant colony in the Middle East. This did not deter its pretensions in the area, based on the rather tenuous, and distant history of the Crusades:

“During the Crusades, French knights won kingdoms and built castles in Syria….In 1914…there were still Frenchmen who regarded Syria as properly part of France. France maintained close contacts with one of the Christian communities along the Mount Lebanon coast of Syria, and French shipping, silk, and other interests eyed commercial possibilities….The moment that the Ottoman Empire entered the war, French officials in the Middle East therefore formulated plans to annex Turkey’s Syrian provinces. Frances’ Minster in Cairo and Consul General in Beirut immediately joined in urging their government to invade the Lebanese coast”

Fromkin, David: “A Peace to End All Peace. The Fall of the Ottoman Empire and the Creation of the Modern Middle East”; New York; 1989; p. 94.

Meanwhile, in Britain manoeuvring had also begun. The De Bunsen Committee was appointed by Prime Minister Asquith to advise on polices post-war in the Middle East; the proceedings were dominated by Sir Mark Sykes a Tory MP. It reported five autonomous provinces should be created in the decentralised Ottoman Empire: Syria, Palestine, Armenia, Anatolia and Jazirah-Iraq.

During the war, Lord Kitchener Minister of War in the British Cabinet, proposed a pact to the Sherif of Mecca – Hussein. Kitchener’s plan was to make the Sherif Caliph, thereby displacing both religious and temporal power away from Constantinople to Mecca – Arabia proper. This would appeal to the majority of the Ottoman Empire who were Arabs, yet ruled by the 40% of Turkish speakers – by the Ottoman Empire. In return Hussein was to assist with the overthrow of Turkish rule:

“Kitchener’s telegram … sent by Grey at the Foreign Office, told the British Agency (in Cairo-Ed) that Storr should reply to Abdullah Hussein that (son of Sherif Hussein of Mecca-Ed):

” If the Arab nation should assist England in this war that has been forced upon us by Turkey, England will guarantee that no internal intervention take place in Arabia, and will give the Arabs every assistance again foreign aggression”…. In other words if the Arabian leaders freed their peninsula from the Sultan and declared their independence, Britain would help to protect them against any invasion from abroad.”

Fromkin Ibid; p. 102-3.

This promisory note was to lead to serious future conflicts. Apart from anything else, British calculations that the Mecca Sharif Hussein dynasty (the Hashemites) would be given the allegiance of all Arabs was mistaken. It ignored the ambition of the Wahabi sect led by the Sunni Abdul-Aziz Ibn Saud, based in Central Arabia.

Nonetheless, the illusions of Britain’s backing took hold of Sharif Hussein somewhat. An illustration of this was in the demands he made, in what came to be known as the Damascus Protocol. This demanded an independent Arab kingdom under his rule. This was presented by Hussein to the British command at Cairo in summer 1915. The British High Commissioner in Egypt, Sir Henry McMahon – was pressurised by Kitchener to write accepting the demands of Hussein (See Fromkin Ibid; p. 178). This led to the McMahon-Hussein Correspondence. In these McMahon used duplicitous wording, to the effect that Hussein should understand a British commitment towards Palestine. The British imperialist had understood that they would have to:

“pay a price… to obtain France’s consent to the making of promises to Hussein”

Fromkin Ibid; p. 182.

Accordingly McMahon forced Hussein to relinquish claim to Syria, Lebanon, Basra and Baghdad, leaving only Arabia. This would mean negotiation with other contenders such as Ibn Suad (See Fromkin; Ibid; p.183).  Hussein explicitly rejected this “offer” – stating that:

“Any concession designed to give France or any other Power possession of a single square foot of territory in those parts is quite out of the question”

Fromkin, Ibid; p. 185.

In reality he had little other choice, as the Ottoman Empire Young Turks were about to depose him. The British Foreign Secretary Sir Edward Grey gave the signal:

“Not to worry about the offers being made by Cairo as “the whole thing was a castle in the air which would never materialise”

Cited Fromkin Ibid; p. 185.

Hussein then insisted that there could be no Arab uprising against the Ottomans without an Allied landing on the Syrian coast. This spurred an imperialist presence in the Middle East.

This frames the  talks between imperialist France and Britain. France, represented by the son of an African French colonist – Francois Georges Picot and Britain – represented by Tory M.P. Sir Mark Sykes. These two simply secretly divided Syria up, under the secret provisions of theSykes-Picot Agreement of February 1916. Partition kept the Allies united. Palestine was to be “placed under an international regime”- to be determined after “consultation” with all parties involved – including (sic) other interested allies such as Russia and Italy!

Such negotiations between “Allies” were un-trustworthy. In the meantime a secret French-Russian pact between the French Prime Minister Aristide Briand, and the Russian foreign ministry, it was “decided” that the post-war administration of Palestine was to be French controlled.

Hussein tried for as long as possible to temporise, but when the Ottoman Young Turks discovered his plots, they mobilised. To circumvent this, Hussein “declared” war, leading to the pathetic Arab Uprising in June 1916. It did not ignite any reaction, and the Arab tribes largely ignored the call. Simmering continued. However, in 1920, the Battle

Thus ensued the Balfour Declaration of 1917. The United Nations “awarded” the French the Mandate over Syrian and Lebanon. France ‘took’ the North , which became the republics of Syria and Lebanon. Meanwhile in the South, Britain seized Palestine and Transjordan. This,  occurred despite the fact that the population itself, had made clear its own desire for independence:

“The inhabitants of the whole region made it clear that they wanted natural Syria to be independent and undivided: In July 1919 an elected body calling itself the Syrian National Congress repudiated the Sykes-Picot Agreement and the Balfour Declaration and demanded sovereignty status for a united Syria-Palestine.”

Seale; Ibid; p. 15.

In the interim, an Arab administration led by Amir Faysal established itself in Damascus. The contradictions between the European waning imperialisms of France and Britain were set against the rising imperialism of the USA. Even the USA led King-Crane Commission visited the area and confirmed the popular view. But the USA was as yet unable to effectively challenge the hegemony of the USA in the area. Thus in 1920, the European powers were given Mandates over the new states carved out of the former Ottoman provinces. Although Faysal fought against this both politically and then in armed struggle, the troops of French General Geraud entered Damascus in 1920. At the Battle of Maisaloun, they decisively defeated Faisal.

The French dismissed Faysal and set up a classic colonial state. Their Mandate, made the French Government the ‘intermediate’ between its High Commissioner and the League of Nations. On the principle of divide and rule, they quickly proceeded to create new states, and to foster the remaining divisions between people of the former bilad al-Sham.

They created out of Syria a newly detached State of Greater Lebanon; by detaching Tyre, Sidon, Beirut and Tripoli, the Baqa’ Valley and the Sh’i region of North Palestine. These were attached to Mount Lebanon – the fief of Maronite compradors of France.

Then in 1921, France yielded to Turkey, large parts of Aleppo, and Alexandretta-Antioch.

A further administrative manoeuvre divided Syria into four parts: These were the mini-states of Damascus, Aleppo, and the “independent” Alawi mountains and the Druze mountains.

Finally the Northern part of Syria was colonized and further division fostered by encouraging settling by Christians and Kurds. Of course the purpose of all this sub-division of Syria was to ‘ensure’ French hegemony:

“The French fully understood that Syrian nationalist sentiment would be opposed to their rule. This in effect meant the that the Sunnis were their principal antagonists and they thus proceeded to capitalise on the .. Christians, their oldest friends, by creating a new state that stripped Tyre, Sidon, Tripoli, the Baaka valley & Beirut itself from Syria and added them to the Ottoman sanjak (administrative district) of Mount Lebanon the very backbone of Maronite Christianity. Syria was cut off from its finest ports and Damascus … was weakened at the expense of Beirut and the new Christian dominated regime”:

Fisk R; “Pity the Nation – The Abduction of Lebanon”; London 1990; p. 62.

Political parties were only allowed a legal existence in January 1925. At that time, the Peoples Party launched armed struggle. This party had been the first that the French had legalised  ( Ismael T & Ismael J: The Communist Movement in Syria & Lebanon, Gainsville; 1998 p. 12). Within 2 years it was crushed. But, the French remained aware of the depth of feeling, and allowed a national assembly to convene in 1928. But it was soon dissolved, in 1930, by the French. Large popular protests erupted by 1936. This compelled the French Government, under the leadership of the Popular Front Government to enter negotiations with the Syrian nationalists. The Franco-Syrian Treaty of September 1936, called for a Syrian [neo-colonial] ‘independence’ in return for French privilege in trading and military status. The National Bloc was elected to power, but the Second World War supervened. The French suspended the 1930 Constitution by the imposition of martial law (Dilip Hiro: “Inside The Middle East”, London; 1982; p. 42).

“was not a unitary party so much as a working alliance of individuals and groups. It including leading members of important land-owning families… like Hashim al-Atasi, the President… individuals…”

Hourani A.H. “Syria and Lebanon. A Political Essay”; 1968; Beirut; p.191.

In 1943, the British pushed Vichy France, to hold elections in Syria. The National bloc was again elected. Syria declared war on Germany in February 1945, thereby winning a seat at the Founding Conference of the United Nations. France was clearly a faltering imperialist nation. Britain, at that time was still struggling hard to keep the upper hand, against a new insurgent USA imperialism. However, it still had could browbeat the French out of Syria. Britain had foreseen that unless the Syrians were allowed a nominal ‘independence’, the whole Middle East was threatened from the perspective of imperialism.

It was only in April 1946, that the French left Syria as an occupying colonial military power. As the History of Colonial France puts it:

“The Syrian Affair had ushered in decolonisation at the worst possible time for France. It was under the very powerful menace of the British, and suffering from the injuries inflicted by the Arab League, these forced it to abandon its mandate without contradiction.”

Thobie J, Meynier G, Coquery-Vidrovitch C, Ageron C-R: “Histoire de La France Coloniale 1914-1990”; 1990; p.360 (Tr Kumar H).

The Syrian Parliament of the 1943 elections, was deposed by a military coup led by Husni al-Za’im  in March 1949. This was assisted by the debacle of the first Arab-Israali war of 1948 and the defeat of the Syrian army. It was only in 1954, that his successor (Colonel Adib al-Shisakli) was overthrown by a further military coup.

This was precipitated by the United Front meeting at Homs in July 1953, where the National Party, the People’s Party, the Arab-Socialist party, the Ba’th party and the Communist party signed a National Pact to overthrow the Shishakli dictatorship.

At this time, parliamentary democracy was restored. The ensuing poll in September 1954 was the first in the Middle East with full women’s suffrage, and was generally free.

Syria by the time of the French withdrawal in 1946 had been whittled down to 185,190 square kilometers from 300,000 square kilometers in Ottoman times. (See Seale; Ibid; pp14-16). Open colonialism was to be replaced by a neo-colonialism.

(iv) The Post-Independence Economy

The class character of Syria after the war, was that of a neo-colony dominated by French and British interests, with  major feudal remnants. The economy was largely based on peasant based, raw material production, with oppression from the landowners.

The French had developed a comprador base. Since industry was weak in the area, both from previous Oriental Despotism, and the depredations of  Ottoman oppression followed by European imperialism, the representatives of the national bourgeoisie were initially weak.

The French had created a large comprador class by fostering various sections of the ‘Alawis (eg. The Kinj Brothers; the Abbas family); and in Mount Lebanon from 1860 onwards the Maronite Christians; and other landowners throughout the former bilad al-Sham.

Previously, a collective type of farming , known as musha’ had enabled the peasantry to each gain a subsistence living. The plots were periodically re-distributed in order that each family would have turns on the better plots. But following the previous example by the Ottomans from the 1858 Ottoman Land Code, the French drew up a land register. This meant that local notables and tribal shayks were enabled to seize property by legal title.

Under this pillage, comprador owned latifundia were built up. Monied merchants and moneylenders in the cities also became Latifundists. In the process the peasantry was of course expropriated and impoverished to the status of being share-croppers. This meant that they obtained between 25-75% of the crop they worked, depending upon how much they provided in money for seed, and water.

Since as Seale puts it, Syria was a “predominantly agricultural country”, the solution of the misery of the peasant was a major goal for the country’s development. This required a national democratic revolution. The extent of the poor development of industry, and the misery of the people can be seen from the following statistics:

“Syria was a predominantly agricultural country, its backbone being two million peasants out of a then population of about 3.5 million, inhabiting some 5,500 villages built mostly of mud and mostly lacking piped water sewerage electricity tarred roads or any other amenity of modern life… The population was ravaged by disease… In 1951-3, 36% of registered deaths occurred among children under five. National income per head was a mere 440 Syrian lire (US$157), although socials disparities were such that most Syrians earned even less. Outside the two main cities of Damascus and Aleppo electricity was rare, serving fewer than three-quarters of a million people in the whole country. There were only some 13,000 motor vehicles a single port Latakia, and three small railways all Ottoman built and of different gauge.”

Seale; Ibid; p. 44.

By the Second World War and immediately after, a small industrialist class, and its corollary a working class had arisen in cotton and rayon cloth, soap, cement, glass, and matches; and some industrial penetration into the countryside latifundia had also occurred. (Seale Ibid; p. 46).

The French had created several divisions in the area, or had deliberately stoked up older, historic division – these were at the minimum the following:

Divisions of land into arbitrary areas with peasant expropriations; and

Divisions of territory between potentially hostile ‘religious’ divisions (Sunni versus Shi’i Muslim  sects – of the latter being Druzes, ‘Alawis, and Isma’ilis).

But, the class divisions overlay – but sometimes depended upon the above divisions.

(v) What Were The Class Forces of Syria?

These can be characterized with respect to their relations to the ownership of the means of production; and to their relations to the democratic revolution and a subsequent second socialist stage:

1. Those Forces Interested in the Social Revolution
i) The predominant class was the peasant class, the majority of whom were actually share- croppers;
Initially they were led by the Arab Socialist Party (ASP) of Akram al-Hawrani, formed in 1950.
ii) A small working class based mainly in Damascus and Aleppo;
These were initially led and represented by the Communist Party Syria and Lebanon (founded October 1924, admitted Comintern 1928), who ultimately, also gained the leadership of the peasantry. After Syrian territory was divided into Syria and Lebanon, the two parties formed separate organisations in 1930, leaving in Syria the Syrian Communist Party (SCP).

2. The Class Forces Implacably opposed to any phase of National or Social Revolution:
i) The feudal-type latifundia land owners; who were comprador bourgeoisie;
these were led and represented by the French imperialists;
and then later by the so-called pro-“Pan-Syrian” nationalists; Syrian Social Nationalist Party (SSNP – or Parti Populaire Syrien) established by Antun Sa’ada. The Pan-Syrians only wished that the territory of Syria and Lebanon not be divided, and allowed a diversion to offer against the Pan-Arabists. They had established a management hold over the tobacco growers of the mountains, and had a monopoly with the French ‘regie de tabacs’. They were known to be pro-West and anti-communist (See Seale Ibid; p. 49-50).

3. Forces interested in  “national democratic” revolution – but wished to abort the second stage, the socialist revolution.
The petit bourgeoisie, and the peasantry, and at a later stage the small but potentially important national industrialist capitalist class, was represented by the Ba’th Party at first and then by the Arab Socialist Ba’th Party (ASBP).

The industrialists were as always frightened of the arousal of the workers and peasantry. They were at best then ‘vacillating’ allies of the national democratic revolution.

(vi) The Ba’ath Party and the Ba’ath Arab Socialist Party

Welding Arab nationalism into a  movement that could make strides against imperialism in reality needs Marxism-Leninism. But nationalists who shied away from revolution, tried to find a different solution. They tried to ignite Arab pride. This involved a mystical Pan-Arabism.

The formation of the Ba’th Party (or Baath) in Syria took place in 1947, led by Michel ‘Aflaq, Salh al-Din Bitar and Wahib al-Ghanim. The concept originated in Syrian intellectuals who upon return to Syria from the Sorbonne in Paris, were dismayed to find themselves treated as ‘colonials’:

“The party was…founded…by two rival schoolmasters, the ‘Alawi from Antioch, Zaki al-Arsuzi, and the Damascene Christian, Michel ‘Aflaq…Zaki al-Arsuzi was a Syrian intellectual from a modest background who in the late 1920s, won a place at the Sorbonne from which he emerged four years later with a philosophy degree and a boundless enthusiasm for French poetry, painting and civilization … Arsuzi … gathered a circle of young followers to whom he explained that the ‘renaissance’ of the Arabs – that is what the word ‘ba’th’ means – was in their grasp.. (but-ed) he came to suffer from delusions” …. In Hama Akram al-Hawrani led a youth movement and …. a lawyer, jalal at-Sayyid, started a boys’ club with a strong nationalist flavour which was to be the first Ba’th party branch in eastern Syria. But of all these youth groups, the most significant for the future was that of Michel ‘Aflaq and Salah al-Din Bitar who, like Arsuzi graduates of the Sorbonne, on their return home to Damascus in 1934 became teachers ….By 1940 ‘Aflaq and Bitar had set up their own study circle … At the start they called their group the Movement of Arab Revival (barakat al-ibya’al-arabi)”

Seale P; Ibid; p. 27 -28

These intellectuals repudiated Marxism, and were explicitly anti-communist. Although the Ba’th movement built on prior sentiments of Syrian nationalism, these had been close to a religious interpretation dominated by the Sunni sect. This alienated other parts of the Muslim Arabs, who consequently did not join in with the national movement:

“In the past, the Arab nationalist movement had always been interwoven with a kind of Sunni Islamism. And the Sunni Arabs, who usually played first fiddle in this movement, assigned in  their Arabism such an important and central role to (Sunni) Islam that heterodox Muslims, let alone Christians, were allotted a secondary place: ‘timid subordinates’ tolerate by (Sunni Arab) ‘superiors.’ In fact, many Sunni Arab nationalists tended to regard members of the Arabic speaking religious minorities as ‘imperfect Arabs’ because they were heterodox Muslims or not Muslims at all. Equally, the religious minorities tended to suspect Arab nationalism as a disguise for unrestrained Sunni ascendancy, similar to the situation that pertained during the Ottoman Empire, the only difference being that Arab rather than Turkish Sunnis now held power.”

Van Dam Nicholas: “The Struggle for power in Syria. Politics & Society Under Asad & the Ba’th party”; London 1997; p. 17.

The Ba’th ideology was supposed to be secular and it based itself on all Arabs irrespective of sect of Islam, or even of Islam itself. Ba’th means “re-birth” and took the notion as central, to mean the renaissance of the Arab movement, also holding out a promise of “socialism” to “all Arabs“:

“Ba’th ideology had a quite different basis. The Ba’th wanted a united secular Arab society with a socialist system, i.e. a society in which all Arabs would be equal, irrespective of their religion. This did not imply that Islam was of secondary importance to Ba’thist Arabism. In the Ba’thist view Islam constituted an essential and inseparable part of Arab national culture. Other than the Sunni variants of Arabism, however, the Ba’th considered Islam to be not so much an Arab national religion as an important Arab national cultural heritage, to which all Arabs, whether Muslim or Christian, were equal heirs apparent. In the opinion of Michel ‘Aflaq, the Ba’th Party’s ideologist, Christian Arabs therefore need feel in no way hindered from being Arab nationalists:

“When their nationalism awakens in them completely and they regain their original nature, the Christian Arabs will realise that Islam is their national culture with which they should satiate themselves, in order that they may understand and love it and covet it as the most precious thing in their Arabism.’

Van Dam Nicholas: “The Struggle for power in Syria. Politics & Society Under Asad & the Ba’th party”; London 1997; p. 17.

However, they slipped frequently into defense of the religious aspects – of Islam, stressing the social and progressive aspects, as preached by its religious leaders. To get the full flavour of mystic philosophy of Ba’th philosophy, a portion of their words are in Appendix Two , which contains a short extract from a 1955 speech by a leader Elyas Farah.

An appeal to the entire Arab peoples should have instantly appealed to the nascent bourgeoisie. But its more immediate appeal was to the petit-bourgeois intellectuals, and only to a limited extent to the peasant masses. Intellectuals who were already breaking away from tribal and narrowing holds, saw its potential:

“It was thus only natural that the Ba’th ideology appealed strongly to Arabic-speaking religious minority members, who may have hoped that the Ba’th would help them to free themselves of their minority status and the narrow social frame of their sectarian, regional and tribal ties.’

Finally, the minority members must have been attracted by the idea that the traditional Sunni-urban domination of Syrian political life might be broken by the establishment of a secular socialist political system as envisaged by the Ba’th, in which there would be no political and socio-economic discrimination against non-Sunnis or, more particularly, against members of heterodox Islamic communities.

After the take-over of Hafiz al-Asad in 1970, membership of the struggle for party apparatus was opened to all Syrians, including non-Arabs such as (Arabised) Kurds, Circassians and Armenians.” The number of non-Arabs in an Arab nationalist party like the Ba’th was bound to remain small, however. “

Van Dam Nicholas: “The Struggle for power in Syria. Politics & Society Under Asad & the Ba’th party”; London 1997; p. 17-8.

The Pan-Arabic vision, was illustrated by the Constitution of the Arab Ba’th Socialist Party, which officially states:

“The Arab nation constitutes a cultural unity. Any differences existing among its sons are accidental and unimportant. They will disappear with the awakening of the Arab consciousness … The national bond will be the only bond existing in the Arab state. It ensures harmony among the citizens by melting them in the crucible of a single nation, and combats all other forms of factional solidarity such as religious, sectarian, tribal, racial and regional factionalism.”

Bashir al-Da’uq ed; Nidal al-Ba’th; Volume 1; Beirut 1970; pp172-6; Cited by:
Van Dam Nicholas: “The Struggle for power in Syria. Politics & Society Under Asad & the Ba’th party”; London 1997; ; p. 15.

Michel Aflaq and Zaki Arsouzi, in 1943, at first formed the Arab Ba’th Party, in secret out of two small groups. But the legal establishment of the party: had to wait till the French military left in 1946 (Dilip Hiro; ” Inside The Middle East”; London 1982; p. 130).

From its formal beginning in 1947, the Ba’th Party intended to cover all countries where Arabs were predominant. It was not restricted to Syria. Its’ programme called for land reform and nationalisation of major parts of the economy, and a constitutional democracy:

“At its first pan-Arab congress in Damascus in April 1947, delegates from Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, Transjordan, and Morocco adopted a constitution and a programme. The party’s basic principles were described as: the unity and freedom of the Arab nation within its homeland; and a belief in the ‘special mission of the Arab nation’, the mission being to end colonialism and promote humanitarianism. To accomplish it the party had to be ‘nationalist, populist, socialist and revolutionary’. While the party rejected the concept of class conflict, it favoured land reform; public ownership of natural resources, transport, and large-scale industry and financial institutions; trade unions of workers and peasants; the cooption of workers into management, and acceptance of ‘non-exploitative private ownership and inheritance’.” It stood for a representative and constitutional form of government, and for freedom of speech and association, within the bounds of Arab nationalism.”

Dilip Hiro; ” Inside The Middle East”; London 1982; p. 130.

The main social base for the Ba’th was not initially the larger sections of the bourgeoisie. They were not yet convinced that the Ba’th would serve their interests. Later, these were to follow the lead of  President Nasser of Egypt:

“In Syria the party drew its initial support either from the urban Sunni (Muslim) and Orthodox (Christian) petty bourgeoisie, or the rural notables, particularly those in the Alawi and Druze areas of Latakia.

‘The party’s social base remained the petit bourgeoisie of the cities, and in the countryside middle landlords with local social prestige,’ notes Tabitha Petran. ‘However, the Baath did not develop much in the cities. Most of the Sunni petit bourgeoisie, even in Damascus, was influenced by the Muslim Brotherhood and later also by President Nasser. But the Ba’th won a following among students and military cadets: future intellectuals and army officers.”

Dilip Hiro; ” Inside The Middle East”; London 1982; p. 130.

A related party was the Arab Socialist Party. This party had a mass peasant base, which was to become vital to the Ba’th:

“The other party to draw support from the military cadets was the Arab Socialist Party, founded in January 1950 by Akram Hourani, a lawyer from Hama. .. At his suggestion the Syrian government had instituted the egalitarian policy of disregarding the social background of the applicants to the only military academy at Horns. Since a military career was the only way a son of a poor or middle peasant could raise his social status, the Horns academy attracted many applicants from this section of society. Given the ASP’s commitment to ending feudalism and distributing government land to the landless, and its leadership of peasant agitations, it was not surprising that it enjoyed considerable following among young cadets and officers.”

Hiro; Ibid; p. 131.

Soon the ASP and the Ba’th Party came together, forming the Arab Socialist Ba’th party (ASBP) in 1953. Its’ leaders, who later forced into exile, were Michel ‘Aflaq, Salh al-Din Bitar, and Akram al-Hawrani.

As discussed they represented the “middle ground” elements consisted of representatives of the petit bourgeoisie who having become educated, were cognizant of the need for progressive modern change. But most of these elements (white-collar urban workers school-teachers, government employees, large sections of the army and the air force etc;) were not of communist mentality. The Ba’th Socialist Party now restated the Ba’th’s founding aims:

“Drawn together by their opposition to the dictatorial regime of Colonel Adib Shishkali, the leaders of the Baath and the ASP decided in September 1953 to form the Arab Baath Socialist Party: this was formally done six months later. The new party re-stressed the Baath’s central slogan: ‘Freedom, unity, socialism’.” 

Hiro, Ibid p.131.

What did “socialism” mean for the Arab Ba’th Socialist Party? It was a very vague and imprecise ideology:

“Socialism, which comes last in the Baath trinity, is less a set of socio-economic principles than a rather vague means of national moral improvement. . . . All they [Ba’thist leaders] said was that socialism was a means of abolishing poverty, ignorance, and disease, and achieving progress towards an advanced industrial society capable of dealing on equal terms with other nations.”

Hiro Ibid; p.131.

The ASP’s peasant base gave the new party a mass following:

“The infusion of the ASP’s predominantly peasant following into the new party gave it the militant mass base that the old urban-based party had lacked. Winning sixteen parliamentary seats in Hama, the ASP’s stronghold, in the general election of September, strengthened the hands of the leftists in the party, and softened its anti-Communist stance, associated with the founders of the pre-merger Arab Ba’th Party.” 

Hiro Ibid; p.131.

(vii) The Egyptian Modification of Ba’th Ideology – Nasserism

Nasserism was  a specific form of Pan-Arabism, led by Gamel Abdul Nasser. Starting in the context of a nationalist movement in Egypt alone, Nasser struck a renewed hope for liberation from imperialism throughout large sections of the Middle East, using instead of Ba’th – the notion of Wahda, to mean ultimately the same. Wahda (Arabic for union) was to be a renewal of Arabic “culture,” under a twentieth century guise of nationalism.

As a strategy of the national bourgeoisie in the Middle East, both these ideologies aimed to contain the mass movement, emphasising the notions of an Arab peoples, denying any class content.

Revisionism in the parties of the entire Middle East had deprived the working class of capable leadership. Nasserism was only able to consolidate itself because the Egyptian Workers Party, the Communist Party, was itself under the influence of the now Soviet-revisionist leaders.

Wahda called for unity of several different struggling national bourgeoisies against imperialism. It hoped to be able to avoid the social revolution, by using nationalistic demagogic slogans. Effectively a class coalition was to be created, of all the national bourgeoisies, and the working classes of the different countries, led by the national bourgeoisie.

That way it was to be hoped, that the singly weak national bourgeoisie together would be strong enough to fight imperialism, and yet still be able to contain the social revolution.

Ultimately Pan-Arabism failed, as there was a single dominant national bourgeoisie, which itself tried to create “comprador” relations with the other weaker national bourgeoisie. This dominant national bourgeoisie was Egyptian and it was led by Nasser. It was successful for a time, as evidenced by the short lived creation of the UNITED ARAB REPUBLIC– consisting of Egypt and Syria. However the dominant Egyptian bourgeoisie, could not suppress the Syrian national bourgeoisie of the coalition. The experiment thus failed.

(viii) The Syrian Communist Party

The party was founded by Yusuf Ibrahim Yazbak, who used the paper al-Sahafi al-T’eh (The Wandering Journalist) to form a base; and Fouad al-Shamli, who after expulsion from Egypt, formed a base for the Lebanese Communist party. The two groups united to form the first Arab communist party:

“After two meetings were held in October 1924 at al-Hadath (a suburb of Beirut), a communist party in Syria and Lebanon was formed on 24 October 1924 by five Arabs (four workers and one intellectual): Yazbak, al-Shamali, Farid Toma, Ilyas Qashami, and Butros Hishimah. They selected Yazbak as secretary general and called the party the Lebanese People’s Party (LPP) as a public front for the communist party. The Supreme Committee of Syndi-cates constituted the main membership of the communist party and its front organization, the Lebanese People’s Party. This was the first organized and constituted communist party in the Arab world.”

Tareq Ismael and Jacqueline Ismael: “The Communist Movement in Syria And Lebanon”; Gainsville Florida, 1998; p. 8.

They contacted the Comintern in 1924, who sent them Joseph Berger of the Palestine Communist Party (PCP). This was only established in 1923, but it was a member of the Communist International (Degras J: Volume 2; p. 95). Berger was assigned the responsibility of “setting up the Lebanese CP”.  But problems rapidly surfaced as he insisted on a PCP hegemony:

“Almost since the very beginning there were signs of major disagreement between the representative of the Palestinian Communist Party, Joseph Berger, and the Lebanese communists in connection with the rejection by those present of the Palestinian guardianship of the Lebanese party. It was obvious that the Palestinian Communist Party wanted the Lebanese party to be a branch, whereas the Lebanese insisted on maintaining their independence. This occurred in spite of the coordination that was going on between members of the party and their counterparts in Palestine during the party’s first decade. The Communist Party of Palestine, which was then almost exclusively Jewish, was at that time the most ideologically mature, organizationally coherent, and genuine communist outpost in the Middle East. Its leaders believed the party to be “the only communist front in the Arab Orient” and considered it their duty “to pay attention to every question … in relation to the revolution … to look into matters relating to Syria, Egypt, and Islamic Congresses in Cairo, Mecca, and elsewhere.”” However, their aspirations were soon curtailed by the Secretariat for Oriental Affairs of the Executive Committee of the Communist International, which in December 1926 “censured” the Palestinian communists for their “ambitious demand to monopolize work in contiguous countries” and considered it to be a malady, harmful for the further expansion of communist influence in the region.”

Ismael and Ismael; Ibid; p. 8.

This attitude of the Palestine CP persisted, as seen in the 1929 Comintern discussion on the revolution in Arabistan. This forms Appendix 3 (See: Comintern on Arabistan).

The party put forward a short term programme including labour demands, and

“promotion of Lebanese industry agriculture and trade” and nationalisation; and control of religious endowments by public agencies”

(Ismaels Ibid; p. 10-11).

In 1925, an Armenian organisation (Spartacus League) initiated contacts, and they fused on May Day to form the Communist Party of Syria and Lebanon (CPSL). The first Central Committee also included a representative of the Palestine CP – Jacob Tepper (Heikal M; “The Sphinx and the Commissar”; New York; 1978; p. 41).

In 1926 however, the Oriental Secretariat Executive Committee of the Communist International, placed the party under the supervision of the Palestine CP, countermanding the prior Lebanese decision (Ismael and Ismael; Ibid; p.14). At the 6th Congress of the Communist International in September 1928, the CPSL took part.

During the French mandate, the Syrian CP (SCP) legally functioned, though suffered harassment such as the banning of its paper – al-Insaniya (Mankind – or Humanity).

At the time of partition of Greater Syria, the CPSL strongly objected. In 1930, it emerged from secrecy to become public (Ismaels Ibid; p.17). Its first full programme was published in 1931. 

The programme called for the national liberation of Syria and Lebanon and a democratic revolution to include land reform and abolition of feudalism.

Khalid Bakdash joined the party in 1930, recruited by al-Shamali. Promoted to the Central Committee in mid-1931, he was sponsored by Artin Madoyan. Within six months he had ensured al_Shamali’s expulsion – on:

“unsubstantiated and specious allegations that he had connections with the Security”

Ismaels Ibid; p.20.

Six months later, Bakdash became the party Secretary-general in early 1932, and went on to translate the Communist Manifesto in 1933 into Arabic. He was given further training in Moscow, and there, was made the permanent representative of Arab communist parties in 1934. Although the Comintern rejected the formation of a federation of Arab communist parties, on the grounds of security, the CPCL was accorded in effect the guardianship of the region.

The CPSL supported the French Popular Front government and hoped this would led to the independence of Syria.  During this time, the first legal organ of the Syrian CP was allowed – Sawt-al-Sha’b (People’s voice). However the SCP remained small, in the range of 200 members, rising to 2000 by 1939. In the mid-1930’s an internal purge was undertaken of those calling for collaboration with Arab Nationalists (Ramet, Pedro: “The Soviet Syrian Relationship Since 1955 – A Troubled Alliance”; Boulder; 1990; p.65.).

On the declaration of war on the USSR, the CPSL came to the aid of the Allied efforts against fascism. But during the war, significant steps towards downplaying the revolution were taken. In the elections of August 1943, the CPSL declared:

“We assure the national capitalist , the national factory owner, that we do no look with envy or malice on his national enterprise. On the contrary, we desire his progress and vigorous growth. All that we ask is the improvement of the conditions of the national worker. We assure the owner of land that we do not and shall not demand the confiscation of his property.. All that we ask is kindness towards the peasant and the alleviation of his misery”

Ismaels Ibid; p. 32.

While it is correct to fight for a national democratic revolution – such promises violate the meaning of a principled united front. Similarly, Bakdash was prepared to accept the leadership of the National Bloc. Bakdash went so far as to state that the CPSL was ‘a party of national liberation’:

“above all, and before ever consideration, a party of national liberation, a party of freedom and independence.”

Ismaels Ibid; p. 33.

And he traced the attraction to the USSR to a nationalist perspective:

“We approach this [issue of relation with the USSR] as patriots and as Arabs… not because the Soviet Union has a particular social system”

Ismaels Ibid; p. 33.

It can be concluded that already as early as 1945, Bakdash was a revisionist.

In 1943, Bakdash reversed the whole prior policy of the CPSL and assisted the goals of the French colonists and future neo-colonists by splitting the party into separate organisations for Syria and for Lebanon. This decision took place at the national Congress of 1943 held in Beirut. Its grounds were contradictory – arguing that firstly the “national movement in Lebanon was less developed than in Syria,” and that “democracy is more deeply rooted in Lebanon than in Syrian. where the feudal landlords still continue to rule” (Ismaels Ibid; p.35).

The relations with the French CP were one of close liaison – if not instruction. Since, in the post Independence year of 1947 – the new Syrian government again banned the CP – the two sections of Lebanon and Syria amalgamated again, until 1958.

Since its inception the Syrian CP had been anti-Zionist. However with the revisionist inspired support of the diplomatic corps of the USSR, the USSR vote at the United Nations for the creation of Israel, led the Syrian CP to reverse itself. (The revisionist manoeuvres underlying this are described in Alliance 30).

As a result of this the party rapidly lost public support (Ismaels Ibid; p.39). Bakdash refused to tolerate criticism of this within the party, which was purged. At the Central Committee meeting of 1951, he reasserted control. At this juncture, Bakdash re-discovered the injunction of Stalin to maintain a “complete freedom to carry out its political and organisational activity” within a United Front” (Ismaels Ibid; p.43). He also correctly reasserted that the strategic aim at that time, was the democratic national liberation. As a result of these steps, party support ws re-built.

In the 1954 general election, in Damascus Khalid Bakdash became the first Communist deputy to be elected, his margin was 11,000 votes. This indicated a popular respect for the Communist Party. (Mohamed Heikal “The Sphinx and the Commissar”; New York; 1978; p. 48).

This suggests that the Syrian CP was following correct strategy and tactics at this stage. Indeed Bakdash declared in 1955, in parliament, an unequivocally Marxist-Leninist viewpoint:

“We, the communists, always announced, and repeat today, that the center of our policy is to find meeting points, not disagreements, with all true nationalists…. Our program in this national democratic lib-eration stage that our country is now experiencing is crystal clear: to strengthen the foundations of independence and sovereignty … ; to participate in strengthening world peace; and to challenge imperialist conspiracies;… to spread democracy and strengthen it; to liberate our economy and work to improve it; to reform our agriculture; to raise the standard of living of workers, peasants and all toilers. After the achievement of national democratic liberation, we open the door to a higher stage of socialism … scientific socialism admits that the road of each nation toward socialism must be consistent with the character-istics of each nation and with its historic evolution, economic conditions and the other national specificities of the society … this is our program, and these are our grand aims. Show me where these conflict with the interests of Syria.”

(Ismaels Ibid; p.47).

At the same elections, the Arab Ba’th Party also won several seats. They were cooperating with the Syrian CP in the control of the streets (Hiro Ibid; p. 131).

The correct policy, was indeed to move from the first stage towards the second stage of the National democratic liberation struggle – for socialism. Yet one year after, after the USSR 1956 20th Party Congress, Bakdash again steered the party towards a more total emphasis on purely national goals rather than a conscious movement to the second stage.

(ix) The Syrian CP (SCP), the Ba’th and the United Arab Republic

By 1957, the Syrian party was one of the strongest in the Middle East. At the same time, the  alliance with the Ba’ath party, was stronger than it had ever been. The coalition between the SCP and the Ba’ath, proceeded to expel American diplomats, sign arms agreements with Moscow, and appoint a member of the Syrian CP (General Afif el-Bizri) as Chief of staff – all in August 1957 (Mohammed Heikal; “The Sphinx and the Commissar – The Rise and Fall of Soviet Influence in the Middle East”; New York; 1978; p.76-78).

This precipitated anti-Syrian moves by the USA imperialists – who arranged that an Iraqi and Turkish troop amassment took place on the borders with Syria. In September 1957, Kermit Roosevelt  of the CIA was sent to Egypt to warn Nasser not to proceed with an arms agreement with the USSR. Nasser pre-empted the USA by a public announcement of the impending arms. This transformed the Middle East from a pure “Western” preserve into a free-for-all.

When the Suez incident led to the subsequent humiliation of the British and French, the USA was using the episode as a further breach through which their imperialism would dominate. (This is discussed in more detail at: Three Tactics of the Nationalists in the Middle East).

This led to further USA attempts to destabilise Syria. A coup they sponsored had already failed in August (Hiro Ibid p.132).  Under pressure a polarisation took place, and it appeared that the Syrian CP was likely to gain further control of the leading positions in the coalition government with the Ba’thists. The Ba’thist leaders called for Nasser’s aid in fighting off the communists.

A situation analogous to the Shanghai massacre of the peasants and workers during the 1928 Chinese Revolution – was in the making. (See Notes on “Stalin & the 1928 Chinese Revolution” at Stalin & China). Stalin had repeatedly urged the CCP, through 1926 and early 1927 to break the bloc with the right KMT and move to a militant revolutionary struggle. The CCP did not heed this.

“The victory of the revolution cannot be achieved unless this bloc is smashed, but in order to smash this bloc, fire must be concentrated on the compromising national bourgeoisie, its treachery exposed, the toiling masses freed from its influence, and the conditions necessary of the hegemony of the proletariat systematically prepared. … the independence of the Communist Party must be, the chief slogan of the advanced communist elements, of the hegemony of the proletariat can be prepared and brought about by the Communist party. But the communist party can and must enter into an open bloc with the revolutionary part of the bourgeoisie in order, after isolating the compromising national bourgeoisie, to lead the vast masses of the urban and rural petty bourgeoisie in the struggle against imperialism.”

J.V.Stalin “Stalin’s Letters to Molotov”; Edited Lars T.Lih; Oleg V. Naumov; and Oleg V. Khlevniuk; Yale 1995; p.318-9.” at: Stalin & China

The situation of the Syrian Ba’th and the Syrian CP was very much the same. The Ba’th were preparing to renege. The Syrian CP was refusing to take the struggle forward, using the guise of preserving the united front. The Ba’th flew emissaries to Egypt offering Nasser an immediate military and political union of Syrian and Egypt. It was well understood that Nasser had brutally suppressed Egyptian communists. The Syrian army was strongly in support of this offer of the Ba’th leadership.

As the Syrian CP refused to go beyond their “national front,” they were dragged further backwards. Rather than oppose Nasser – the “hero” of Suez – they abandoned their prior insistence on a loose federal formula with Egypt. They now outdid the Ba’th, and insisted on a “total union” with Egypt (Ismaels; Ibid; p. 50). Belatedly they again changed tack, but it was now too late.

Nasser had seized the opportunity to accept the disastrous (For Syrian workers and peasants, and national bourgeoisie) formation of the United Arab Republic (UAR) in February 1958. This was the formal amalgamation of Syria and Egypt, and represented an expansionist phase of Egyptian national capital under Nasser. After the UAR was formed, the Arab Socialist Ba’th party was completely dissolved by its leaders on Nasser’s insistence. (Seale Ibid; p. 60). The Syrian CP refused to dissolve. Nasser was never a whole-hearted supporter of the USSR, as evidenced by his treatment of Egyptian communists.

The Egyptian suppression of both Ba’thists and communists proceeded apace. Syria’s rule was transferred to Nassers’ aide, Marshall ‘Amer (Seale Ibid; p. 59).

But when the Iraqi monarchist regime was toppled by the USSR supported military coup of General Abdul Karim Qasssem, the UAR relations became tense with Iraq. Iraq was now a client state of the USSR. Matters became worse for Syrian communists, whose Syrian CP supported Qassem. Qassem refused Nasser’s offer to join in the UAR.

But by 1961, the suppression of native Syrian capital had been so blatant, that the Syrian nationalists allied to the army,  launched a coup that separated the states of Egypt and Syria once mere. Strongly supported by Jordan and Saudi Arabia, and  Syrian businessmen. Another wing  of discontents were led by Hafiz al-Asad in a “Military Committee”. Because the Ba’th leading politicians had first asked for the Union with Egypt, and then reneged on it – they were discredited. The Military Committee members were jailed. This situation allowed the former comprador notables to take control of the state, led by Dr Ma’ruf al-Dawalibi, then Dr Bashir al-‘Azmah, and finally, Khalid al-‘Azm (Seale Ibid p. 72).

The Military Committee now united with the Ba’thists under Michel ‘Aflaq. In the coup of March 1963, the Military Committee took power in a complex coalition with both the Ba’thists and elements of ex-Nasserites. Asad was very much in the background at this stage. When the Nasserites were prompted by Egypt, they tried to seize power. In a pitched battle on 18 July 1963, the Ba’thist loyalists of the army won. In the ensuing years, Asad took control of the Ba’th Party. By 1966 the leading lights of the Ba’th were dealt with – Amin al-Fafiz was arrested; and Michel Aflaq & Salah al-Bitar were expelled (Seale Ibid p.102).

Bakdash had been previously expelled from Syria. When he was now allowed back to Syria in 1966, it was only under severe conditions:

“Khalid Bakdash the veteran leader of the Syrian Communist Party was allowed home after eight years of exile, while for the first time in Syrian History a Communist – Samih ‘Atiyya entered the government as Minister of Communications… Bakdash came home on stringent terms forbidden to hold meetings or make speeches.. “

Seale; Ibid; p. 108-109.

In fact, Bakdash had only been allowed back as a quid pro quo – the Khruschevites had demanded his return in lieu of payment for the construction of the Euphrates dam – only able to be constructed with the Khruschevite “aid.” The other two conditions included the Cabinet post named above to Atiyya – and the permission to publish a CP paper in Damascus. (Ramet Pedro: Ibid; p. 38).

The Syrian state was now fast becoming a client state of neo-USSR imperialism.

There were two primary vehicles for the USSR-  the Syrian CP – but now increasingly important – and over-taking the SCP was the Ba’th.

(x) The Syrian CP and the Khruschevite Revisionists

Over the very same period, counter-revolutionary events were taking place inside the USSR. Khrushchev was eliminating the Marxist-Leninists from any state positions. Shepilov, Molotov, Kaganovich, were all removed from any control in the party of the USSR by July 1957.

The positions of the Syrian Communist Party (SCP), were unlikely to recieve revolutionary clarification from the Khruschevites. In particular, a correct approach to the question of United Front in alliance with bourgeois democracy was jeopardised. We have detailed the switches and turns engineered by the revisionists following Stalin’s death, on this question (See Alliance 25: Khruschev Revisionism On The Colonial Question). Bakdash was to launch open polemics with the Khruschevite forces.

As Egypt was an important new semi-colony of the revisionist USSR, the Middle East merited special attention. R.A.Ulianovsky who specialised in national liberation struggles, was an aide to the revisionist Boris Ponomarev, himself an aide to Mikhail Suslov chief party ideologist. Ulianovsky was assigned a special role in the Middle East. Nasser and Ulianovsky came to an understanding over what would supposedly constitute the Arab Socialist Union.

The debate first opened in its new form at the 23rd Congress of the CPSU, in Moscow between 29 March and April 8 1966. Already Khrushchev had denounced Stalin at the 20th Party Congress (February 1956). The issue erupted as to how Communists interacted with bourgeois nationalists in the Middle East.

Bakdash took yet another turn, and now took a correct Marxist-Leninist line, against the Russian revisionists led by Ulianovsky.  We believe that it is likely that Bakdash was now becoming concerned that the USSR revisionists were favouring the Ba’th Party as their “vehicle of choice”. He therefore tacked back towards a more correct Marxist-Leninist viewpoint on the question.

Bakdash opened the subsequent printed debate in the Cominform monthly “Problems of Peace and Socialism”, called the “National Liberation Movement and the Communists” (December 1965). Here:

1) Bakdash asserted the independence in united fronts of the Communist parties: In his article he denied that:

“Even though the Soviet Union and other socialist countries pursued a policy of alliance with some of the newly free countries in Asia and Africa, this does not mean that the communist parties and the democratic forces generally must under all circumstances support their governments and renounce the fight for democratic freedoms.”

(Heikal Ibid; pp 157-161).

2) Bakdash asserted that the communists should hold the hegemony in the united front on behalf of the working class:

In fact Bakdash insisted that:

“No other social group, no class and no individual leader could take over the historic mission of the working class. Though he admitted that situations might arise in which another social group of individual leader was ‘carried to the fore on the tide of struggle against fascism, imperialism, feudalism and in some cases, also against the big bourgeoisie.'”

3) Bakdash asserted that bourgeois nationalists should be critically supported:

Bakdash stated that:

“They should be supported, ‘But we must be on our guard against attempts to justify such alliances by spurious theories repudiating the role of the working class.’ Bakdash insisted the proletariat must be the leaders of socialist transformation and the ‘future depends on the struggle between the classes and the outcome of this struggle.'”

4) Bakdash rejected any “populist” variants on Scientific socialism, such asArabic socialism”:

“He cast doubts on the argument that those who have come to Marxism partially, can be induced to accept it completely at some future stage- ‘there are those who say that the supporters of the so-called ‘Arab’; ‘African’; or ‘Islamic’ socialism will ultimately discover that the only real socialism is scientific socialism… Experience shows that this is not the case.”

5) Bakdash asserted that socialism required a centralized mass Communist party; that took power; and was not the same as the enactment of simple reforms:

He argued that reforms undertaken in state were NOT the same as establishing socialism, and that the latter is dependent upon the working class being the leaders of the revolution and of the government:

“He rejected the idea that the superstructure in a country always reflected the base: ‘On the contrary internal and domestic factors can cause sudden changes in the superstructure capable of influencing the base’; Referring to land reforms in countries like Algeria and The U.A.R., and Syria, he said that the machinery of state alone, with army and police, was not sufficient to deal with the problems involved:

‘What is needed is an influential authoritative revolutionary mass party enjoying the confidence of the people’… ‘At the same time there are no grounds for saying that the given country has taken the socialist way. To take this view would be tantamount to saying that the leading role in establishing socialism no longer belongs to the working class but has passed over to the nationalist groupings and the small bourgeoisie.'”

6) Finally he rejected the Egyptian variant of Liquidationism.

He openly criticized the Egyptian communist party for dissolving itself, in April 1965. This had been on the advice of the Khruschevites.

“Its members were advised to join the Arab Socialist Union – as individuals.”

(see Heikal Ibid; p. 140-1)

In return the USSR Revisionists, in their turn now chastised Bakdash.

As Heikal says, the official answer to Bakdash came in an article by R.A.Ulianovsky entitled: “Some problems of the Non-Capitalist Development of liberated Countries” – which appeared in the Soviet monthly magazine “Kommunist” for January 1966. Here Ulianovsky repudiated on behalf of Khruschevite revisionism – all these points. (Heikal Ibid; pp.158-161). There, Ulianovsky wrote:

“Life demands the creation of a left-wing bloc in wihhc the more conscious and better equipped Marxist-Leninist elements would play the role of friend and helper of the national democrats….If the Marxist-Leninists undertake this mission in a left-wing bloc they will help the progressives to avoid making mistakes and will thus exert a beneficial influence at critical moments of development”;

Cited heikal; Ibid; pp. 158-159.

Unfortunately, even now, to the best of our knowledge, Bakdash did not yet openly and fully repudiate Khruschevite revisionism.

Later on during the post 1967 Egyptian/Arab war with Israel, after the collusion of the Russians revisionists, with the USA and the state of Israel, in the  estruction of the Arab forces, (See Heikal, Ibid; pp 178-183) various attempts were made to enforce a so called “negotiated settlement.”

During this period, Bakdash was asked to comment upon the two rival plans being floated for this “negotiated settlement”. One emanated from Gromyko and the Russian revisionists; one came from the USA imperialists. His comment was revealing:

“After reading the Russian version…He was shown the American proposals. He could not help noticing the similarities, and admitted that there was no Arab Communist who could defend the Gromyko Plan – and no Arab nationalists who could defend it either. Bakdash’s explanation of what had happened was… That the Russians wanted to demonstrate to the Americans that it was the Arabs who were being negative… Bakdash confessed that he was disappointed at the other communist parties over Palestine. ‘We have to admit it,’ he said, ‘That there is a lot of Jewish influence in European Communist parties, and that if it had not been for Soviet influence the resolution on the Middle East at the Moscow Conference would have been weaker. Over Zionism the Rumanians showed themselves more royalist than the king- the Israeli communists were prepared to recognize the rights of the Palestinian people, but the Rumanians refused.'”

Heikal Ibid; p. 195-196.

By 1971 when the Russians formally left Egypt, Khaled Bakdash was again in Moscow, now able to argue that the policy of an un-principled support – to the point of jettisoning the independence of the Communist party – had been proven again to be wrong. But the revisionists had by now created huge damage already in the Middle East (Heikal; Ibid; p. 253).

The later career of Bakdash was however a renewed slide into revisionism.

In Conclusion

We believe that Bakdash tried to fight the Soviet revisionist distortions of the revolutionary line in colonial and semi-colonial countries, but ultimately, due to the disintegration of the world communist movement led by revisionism, Bakdash was unable to overcome the world propagation of the new revisionist line, pushed by Moscow. As Heikal puts it:

“There was a considerable contrast between the views of Khaled Bakdash and Ulianovsky – Khaled Bakdash wanted each local party to be an individual entity….whereas Ulianovsky was trying to keep them inside the national organizations.”

(Heikal; Ibid; p.160).

Overall Conclusion:

There can be no solution to the problems of Syria’s people until the formation of a new Marxist-Leninist party there.

The “solutions” of Pan-Arabism have been shown to be false.

On the 100th anniversary of World War I

YourCountryNeedsYou

The following entry is from the Great Soviet Encyclopedia.

 – E.S.

World War I (1914–18) 

an imperialist war between two coalitions of capitalist powers for a redivision of the already divided world (a repartition of colonies, spheres of influence, and spheres for the investment of capital) and for the enslavement of other peoples. At first, the war involved eight European states: Germany and Austria-Hungary against Great Britain, France, Russia, Belgium, Serbia, and Montenegro. Later, most of the countries in the world entered the war (see Table 1). A total of four states fought on the side of the Austro-German bloc; 34 states, including four British dominions and the colony of India, all of which signed the Treaty of Versailles in 1919, took part on the side of the Entente. On both sides, the war was aggressive and unjust. Only in Belgium, Serbia, and Montenegro did it include elements of a war of national liberation.

Although imperialists from all the principal belligerent powers were involved in unleashing the war, the party chiefly to blame was the German bourgeoisie, who began World War I at the “moment it thought most favorable for war, making useof its latest improvements in military matériel and forestalling the rearmament already planned and decided upon by Russia and France” (V. I. Lenin, Poln. sobr. soch., 5th ed., vol. 26, p. 16).

The immediate cause of World War I was the assassination of Archduke Francis Ferdinand, heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne, by Serbian nationalists on June 15 (28), 1914, in Sarajevo, Bosnia. German imperialists decided to take advantage of this favorable moment to unleash the war. Under German pressure, Austria-Hungary delivered an ultimatum to Serbia on July 10 (23). Although the Serbian government agreed to meet almost all of the demands in the ultimatum, Austria-Hungary broke diplomatic relations with Serbia on July 12 (25) and declared war on Serbia on July 15 (28). Belgrade, the Serbian capital, was shelled. On July 16 (29), Russia began mobilization in the military districts bordering on Austria-Hungary and on July 17 (30) proclaimed a general mobilization. On July 18 (31), Germany demanded that Russia halt its mobilization and, receiving no reply, declared war on Russia on July 19 (Aug. 1). Germany declared war on France and Belgium on July 21 (Aug. 3). On July 22 (Aug. 4), Great Britain declared war on Germany. The British dominions (Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and the Union of South Africa) and Britain’s largest colony, India, entered the war on the same day. On Aug. 10 (23), Japan declared war on Germany. Italy formally remained a member of the Triple Alliance but declared its neutrality on July 20 (Aug. 2), 1914.

Causes of the war. At the turn of the 20th century capitalism was transformed into imperialism. The world had been almost completely divided up among the largest powers. The uneven-ness of the economic and political development of various countries became more marked. The states that had been late in embarking on the path of capitalist development (the USA, Germany, and Japan) advanced rapidly, competing successfully on the world market with the older capitalist countries (Great Britain and France) and persistently pressing for a repartition of the colonies. The most acute conflicts arose between Germany and Great Britain, whose interests clashed in many parts of the globe, especially in Africa, East Asia, and the Middle East, focal points of German imperialism’s trade and colonial expansion. The construction of the Baghdad Railroad aroused grave alarm in British ruling circles. The railroad would provide Germany with direct route through the Balkan Peninsula and Asia Minor to the Persian Gulf and guarantee Germany an important position in the Middle East, thus threatening British land and sea communications with India.

WWIGraph1WWIGraph2

France, rooted in the desire of German capitalists to secure permanent possession of Alsace and Lorraine, which had been taken from France as a result of the Franco-Prussian War of 1870–71, and in the determination of the French to regain these provinces. French and German interests also clashed on the colonial issue. French attempts to seize Morocco met with determined resistance from Germany, which also claimed this territory.

Contradictions between Russia and Germany began to increase in the late 19th century. The expansion of German imperialism in the Middle East and its attempts to establish control over Turkey infringed on Russian economic, political, and strategic interests. Germany used its customs policy to limit the importation of grain from Russia, imposing high duties while simultaneously making sure that German industrial goods could freely penetrate the Russian market.

In the Balkans, there were profound contradictions between Russia and Austria-Hungary, caused primarily by the expansion of the Hapsburg monarchy, with Germany’s support, into the neighboring South Slav lands (Bosnia, Hercegovina, and Serbia). Austria-Hungary intended to establish its superiority in the Balkans. Russia, which supported the struggle of the Balkan peoples for freedom and national independence, considered the Balkans its own sphere of influence. The tsarist regime and the Russian imperialist bourgeoisie wanted to take over the Bosporus and Dardanelles to strengthen their position in the Balkans.

There were many disputed issues between Great Britain and France, Great Britain and Russia, Austria-Hungary and Italy, and Turkey and Italy, but they were secondary to the principal contradictions, which existed between Germany and its rivals— Great Britain, France, and Russia. The aggravation and deepening of these contradictions impelled the imperialists toward a repartition of the world, but “under capitalism, the repartitioning of ‘world domination’ could only take place at the price of a world war” (Lenin, ibid., vol. 34, p. 370).

The class struggle and the national liberation movement grew stronger during the second decade of the 20th century. The Revolution of 1905–07 in Russia had an enormous influence on the upsurge in the struggle of the toiling people for their social and national liberation. There was considerable growth in the working-class movement in Germany, France, and Great Britain. The class struggle reached its highest level in Russia, where a new revolutionary upsurge began in 1910 and an acute political crisis ripened. National liberation movements grew broader in Ireland and Alsace (the Zabern affair, 1913), and the struggle of the enslaved peoples of Austria-Hungary became more extensive. The imperialists sought to use war to suppress the developing liberation movement of the working class and oppressed peoples in their own countries and to arrest the world revolutionary process.

For many years the imperialists prepared for a world war as a means of resolving foreign and domestic contradictions. The initial step was the formation of a system of military-political blocs, beginning with the Austro-German Agreement of 1879, under which the signatories promised to render assistance to each other in case of war with Russia. Seeking support in its struggle with France for possession of Tunisia, Italy joined Austria-Hungary and Germany in 1882. Thus, the Triple Alliance of 1882, or the alliance of the Central Powers, took shape in central Europe. Initially directed against Russia and France, it later included Great Britain among its main rivals.

To counterbalance the Triple Alliance, another coalition of European powers began to develop. The Franco-Russian Alliance of 1891–93 provided for joint actions by the two countries in case of aggression by Germany or by Italy and Austria-Hungary supported by Germany. The growth of German economic power in the early 20th century forced Great Britain to gradually renounce its traditional policy of splendid isolation and seek rapprochement with France and Russia. The Anglo-French agreement of 1904 settled various colonial disputes between Great Britain and France, and the Anglo-Russian Agreement of 1907 reinforced the understanding between Russia and Great Britain regarding their policies in Tibet,Afghanistan, and Iran. These documents created the Triple Entente (or agreement), a bloc opposed to the Triple Alliance and made up of Great Britain, France, and Russia. In 1912, Anglo-French and Franco-Russian naval conventions were signed, and in 1913 negotiations were opened for an Anglo-Russian naval convention.

WWIGraph3

The formation of military-political groupings in Europe, as well as the arms race, further aggravated imperialist contradictions and increased international tensions. A relatively tranquil period of world history was followed by an epoch that was“much more violent, spasmodic, disastrous, and conflicting” (ibid., vol. 27, p. 94). The worsening of imperialist contradictions was evident in the Moroccan crises of 1905–06 and 1911, the Bosnian crisis of 1908–09, the Italo-Turkish War of 1911–12, and the Balkan Wars of 1912–13. In December 1913, Germany provoked a major international conflict by sending a military mission under the command of General O. Liman von Sanders to Turkey to reorganize and train the Turkish Army.

In preparation for a world war the ruling circles of the imperialist states established powerful war industries, based on large state plants: armaments, explosives, and ammunition plants, as well as shipyards. Private enterprises were drawn into the production of military goods: Krupp in Germany, Skoda in Austria-Hungary, Schneider-Creusot and St. Chamond in France, Vickers and Armstrong-Whitworth in Great Britain, and the Putilov Works and other plants in Russia.

The imperialists of the two hostile coalitions put a great deal of effort into building up their armed forces. The achievements of science and technology were placed in the service of war. More sophisticated armaments were developed, including rapid-fire magazine rifles and machine guns, which greatly increased the firepower of the infantry. In the artillery the number of rifled guns of the latest design increased sharply. Of great strategic importance was the development of the railroads, which made it possible to significantly speed up the concentration and deployment of large masses of troops in the theaters of operations and to provide an uninterrupted supply of personnel replacements and matériel to the armies in the field. Motor vehicle transport began to play an increasingly important role, and military aviation began to develop. The use of new means of communication in military affairs, including the telegraph, the telephone, and the radio,facilitated the organization of troop control. The size of armies and trained reserves grew rapidly. (See Table 2 for the composition of the ground forces of the principal warring powers.)

Germany and Great Britain were engaged in a stiff competition in naval armaments. The dreadnought, a new type of ship, was first built in 1905. By 1914 the German Navy was firmly established as the world’s second most powerful navy(after the British). Other countries endeavored to strengthen their navies, but it was not financially and economically possible for them to carry out the shipbuilding programs they had adopted. (See Table 3 for the composition of the naval forces of the principal warring powers.) The costly arms race demanded enormous financial means and placed a heavy burden on the toiling people.

WWIGraph4

There was extensive ideological preparation for war. The imperialists attempted to instill in the people the idea that armed conflicts are inevitable, and they tried their hardest to inculcate militarism in the people and incite chauvinism among them. To achieve these aims, all means of propaganda were used—the press, literature, the arts, and the church. Taking advantage of the patriotic feelings of the people, the bourgeoisie in every country justified the arms race and camouflaged aggressive objectives with false arguments on the need to defend the native land against foreign enemies.

The international working class (more than 150 million persons) was a real force capable of significantly restraining the imperialist governments. At the international level, the working-class movement was headed by the Second International,which united 41 Social Democratic parties from 27 countries, with 3.4 million members. However, the opportunist leaders of the European Social Democratic parties did nothing to implement the antiwar decisions of the prewar congresses of the Second International. When the war began, the leaders of the Social Democratic parties of the Western countries came to the support of their governments and voted for military credits in parliament. The socialist leaders of Great Britain (A. Henderson), France (J. Guesde, M. Sembat, and A. Thomas), and Belgium (E. Vandervelde) joined the bourgeois military governments. Ideologically and politically, the Second International collapsed and ceased to exist, breaking up into social chauvinist parties.

Only the left wing of the Second International, with the Bolshevik Party led by Lenin in the vanguard, continued to fight consistently against militarism, chauvinism, and war. The basic principles defining the attitude of revolutionary Marxists toward war were set forth by Lenin in the Manifesto of the Central Committee of the RSDLP, “War and Russian Social Democracy.” Firmly opposed to the war, the Bolsheviks explained its imperialist character to the popular masses. The Bolshevik faction of the Fourth State Duma refused to support the tsarist government and vote for war credits. The Bolshevik Party called on the toiling people of all countries to work for the defeat of their governments in the war, the transformation of the imperialist war into a civil war, and the revolutionary overthrow of the power of the bourgeoisie and the landlords. A revolutionary, antiwar stance was adopted by the Bulgarian Workers’ Social Democratic Party (Narrow Socialists), headed by D. Blagoev, G. Dimitrov, and V. Kolarov, and by the Serbian and Rumanian Social Democratic parties. Active opposition to the imperialist war was also shown by a small group of left-wing Social Democrats in Germany, led by K. Liebknecht, R. Luxemburg, C. Zetkin, and F. Mehring; by a few socialists in France, led by J. Jaurès; and by some socialists in other countries.

War plans and strategic deployment. Long before the war began, the general staffs had worked out war plans. All strategic calculations were oriented toward a short, fast-moving war. The German strategic plan provided for rapid, decisive actions against France and Russia. It assumed that France would be crushed in six to eight weeks, after which all German forces would descend on Russia and bring the war to a victorious conclusion. The bulk of German troops (four-fifths) were deployed on the western border of Germany and were designated for the invasion of France. It was their mission to deliver the main attack with the right wing through Belgium and Luxembourg, turning the left flank of the French Army west of Paris and, throwing it back toward the German border, forcing it to surrender. A covering force (one army) was stationed in East Prussia to oppose Russia. The German military command figured that it would be able to crush France and transfer troops to the east before the Russian Army went over to the offensive. The main forces of the German Navy (the High Seas Fleet) were to be stationed at bases in the North Sea. Their mission was to weaken the British Navy with actions using light forces and submarines and then destroy the main British naval forces in a decisive battle. A few cruisers were detailed for operations in the British sea-lanes. In the Baltic Sea the German Navy’s mission was to prevent vigorous actions by the Russian Navy.

The Austro-Hungarian command planned military operations on two fronts: against Russia in Galicia and against Serbia and Montenegro in the Balkans. They did not exclude the possibility of forming a front against Italy, an unreliable member of the Triple Alliance that might go over to the Entente. Consequently, the Austro-Hungarian command drew up three variations of a war plan and divided their ground forces into three operational echelons (groups): group A (nine corps), which was designated for actions against Russia; the “minimum Balkan” group (three corps), which was directed against Serbia and Montenegro; and group B (four corps), the reserve of the supreme command, which could be used either to reinforce the other groups or to form a new front if Italy became an enemy.

The general staffs of Austria-Hungary and Germany maintained close contact with each other and coordinated their strategic plans. The Austro-Hungarian plan for the war against Russia provided for delivering the main attack from Galicia between the Vistula and Bug rivers and moving northeast to meet German forces, which were supposed to develop an offensive at the same time moving southeast from East Prussia toward Siedlce, with the objectives of surrounding and destroying the grouping of Russian troops in Poland. The mission of the Austro-Hungarian Navy, which was stationed in the Adriatic Sea, was to defend the coast.

The Russian General Staff worked out two variations of the war plan, both of which were offensive. Under Variation A, the main forces of the Russian Army would be deployed against Austria-Hungary. Variation G was directed against Germany, should it deliver the main attack on the Eastern Front. Variation A, which was actually carried out, planned converging attacks in Galicia and East Prussia, with the aim of destroying the enemy groupings. This phase of the plan would be followed by a general offensive into Germany and Austria-Hungary. Two detached armies were assigned to cover Petrograd and southern Russia. In addition, the Army of the Caucasus was formed in case Turkey entered the war on the side of the Central Powers. It was the mission of the Baltic Fleet to defend the sea approaches to Petrograd and prevent the German fleet from breaking through into the Gulf of Finland. The Black Sea Fleet did not have a ratified plan ofaction.

The French plan for the war against Germany (Plan XVII) envisioned going over to the offensive with the forces of the right wing of the armies in Lorraine and with the forces of the left wing against Metz. At first, the possibility of an invasion byGerman forces through Belgium was not taken into account, because Belgian neutrality had been guaranteed by the great powers, including Germany. However, a variation of Plan XVII ratified on Aug. 2, 1914, specified that in case of an offensive by German troops through Belgium, combat operations were to be developed on the left wing up to the line of the Meuse (Maas) River from Namur to Givet. The French plan reflected the lack of confidence of the French command,confronted with a struggle against a more powerful Germany. In fact, the plan made the actions of the French Army dependent on the actions of the German forces. The mission of the French fleet in the Mediterranean Sea was to ensure themovement of colonial troops from North Africa to France by blockading the Austro-Hungarian fleet in the Adriatic Sea. Part of the French fleet was assigned to defend the approaches to the English Channel.

Expecting that military operations on land would be waged by the armies of its allies, Russia and France, Great Britain did not draw up plans for operations by ground forces. It promised only to send an expeditionary corps to the continentto help the French. The navy was assigned active missions: to set up a long-range blockade of Germany on the North Sea, to ensure the security of sea-lanes, and to destroy the German fleet in a decisive battle.

The great powers carried out the strategic deployment of their armed forces in conformity with these plans. Germany moved seven armies (the First through Seventh, consisting of 86 infantry and ten cavalry divisions, with a total of about 1.6million men and about 5,000 guns) to the border with Belgium, Luxembourg, and France, along a 380-km front from Krefeld to Mulhouse. The main grouping of these forces (five armies) was located north of Metz on a 160-km front. The defense of the northern coast of Germany was assigned to the Northern Army (one reserve corps and four Landwehr brigades). The commander in chief was Kaiser Wilhelm II, and the chief of staff was General H. von Moltke the younger(from Sept. 14, 1914, E. Falkenhayn, and from Aug. 29, 1916, until the end of the war, Field Marshal General P. von Hindenburg).

The French armies (the First through Fifth, consisting of 76 infantry and ten cavalry divisions, with a total of about 1.73 million men and more than 4,000 guns), which were under the command of General J. J. C. Joffre, were deployed on front of approximately 345 km from Belfort to Hirson. (From December 1916, General R. Nivelle was commander in chief of the French armies, and from May 17, 1917, until the end of the war, General H. Pétain. On May 14, 1918, Marshal F. Foch became supreme commander of Allied forces.) The Belgian Army under the command of King Albert I (six infantry divisions and one cavalry division, with a total of 117,000 men and 312 guns) occupied a line east of Brussels. The British Expeditionary Force under the command of Field Marshal J. French (four infantry divisions and 1.5 cavalry divisions, with a total of 87,000 men and 328 guns) was concentrated in the Maubeuge region next to the left flank of the grouping of French armies. (From December 1915 until the end of the war, the British Expeditionary Force was under the command of General D. Haig.) The main grouping of Allied forces was northwest of Verdun.

Against Russia, Germany placed the Eighth Army (14.5 infantry divisions and one cavalry division, with a total of more than 200,000 men and 1,044 guns), under the command of General M. von Prittwitz und Gaffron, in East Prussia andGeneral R. von Woyrsch’s Landwehr corps in Silesia (two Landwehr divisions and 72 guns). Austria-Hungary had three armies (the First, Third, and Fourth) on a front from Czernowitz (now Chernovtsy) to Sandomierz. H. Kövess vonKövessháza’s army group (from August 23, the Second Army) was on the right flank, and Kummer’s army group was in the Kraków region (35.5 infantry divisions and 11 cavalry divisions, with about 850,000 men and 1,848 guns). Thesupreme commander in chief was Archduke Frederick. (Emperor Charles I became supreme commander in chief in November 1916.) The Austro-Hungarian chief of staff was Field Marshal General F. Conrad von Hötzendorf (from Feb. 28,1917, General Arz von Straussenburg).

Russia had six armies on its Western border (52 infantry divisions and 21 cavalry divisions, with a total of more than 1 million men and 3,203 guns). Two fronts were formed: the Northwestern Front (First and Second armies) and theSouthwestern Front (Third, Fourth, Fifth, and Eighth armies). The Sixth Army was to defend the Baltic coast and cover Petrograd; the Seventh Army was to defend the northwest coast of the Black Sea and the boundary with Rumania. The divisions of the second strategic echelon and the Siberian divisions arrived at the front later, at the end of August and during September. On July 20 (August 2), Grand Duke Nikolai Nikolaevich was appointed supreme commander in chief.(For a list of his successors, see SUPREME COMMANDER IN CHIEF.) The chiefs of staff of the supreme commander in chief were General N. N. Ianushkevich (July 19 [Aug. 1], 1914, to Aug. 18 [31], 1915) and General M. V. Alekseev (Aug. 18 [31],1915, to Nov. 10 [23], 1916; Feb. 17 [Mar. 2] to Mar. 11 [24], 1917; and Aug. 30 [Sept. 12] to Sept. 9 [22], 1917). At the end of 1916 and during 1917 the duties of chief of staff were temporarily carried out by Generals V. I. Romeiko-Gurko,V. N. Klembovskii, A. I. Denikin, A. S. Lukomskii, and N. N. Dukhonin. From Nov. 20 (Dec. 3), 1917, to Feb. 21, 1918, the chief of staff was M. D. Bonch-Bruevich, whose successors were S I. Kuleshin and M. M. Zagiu.

In the Balkans, Austria-Hungary set two armies against Serbia: the Fifth and Sixth armies, under the command of General O. Potiorek (13 infantry divisions and one cavalry division, with a total of 140,000 men and 546 guns). Serbiadeployed four armies under the command of Voevoda R. Putnik (the First, Second, Third, and Fourth armies, consisting of 11 infantry divisions and one cavalry division, with a total of 250,000 men and 550 guns). Montenegro had six infantrydivisions (35,000 men and 60 guns).

The strategic deployment of the armed forces of both sides was basically completed by August 4–6 (17–19). Military operations took place in Europe, Asia, and Africa, on all the oceans, and on many seas. The principal operations tookplace in five theaters of ground operations: Western Europe (from 1914), Eastern Europe (from 1914), Italy (from 1915), the Balkans (from 1914), and the Middle East (from 1914). In addition, military operations were carried out in East Asia (Tsingtao, 1914), on the Pacific islands (Oceania), and in the German colonies in Africa, including German East Africa (until the end of the war), German Southwest Africa (until 1915), Togo (1914), and the Cameroons (until 1916).Throughout the war the chief theaters of ground operations were the Western European (French) and the Eastern European (Russian). Particularly important theaters of naval operations were the North, Mediterranean, Baltic, and Black seas and the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian oceans.

Campaign of 1914. In the Western European theater, military operations began with the invasion by German troops of Luxembourg (August 2) and Belgium (August 4), the latter having rejected a German ultimatum regarding the passage of German troops through its territory. Relying on the fortified areas of Liège and Namur, the Belgian Army offered the enemy stubborn resistance on the Meuse River line. Abandoning Liège after bitter fighting (August 16), the Belgian Army retreated toward Antwerp. Dispatching about two corps (80,000 men and 300 guns) against the Belgian Army, the German command directed the main grouping of its armies to the southwest, toward the Franco-Belgian border. The French armies of the left flank (the Third, Fourth, and Fifth armies) and the British Army were moved forward to meet the German forces. The Battle of the Frontiers took place on Aug. 21–25, 1914.

In view of the danger of the enemy turning the left flank of the Allied forces, the French command withdrew its armies deeper into the country to gain time to regroup its forces and prepare a counteroffensive. From August 7 to 14 the Frencharmies of the right flank (the First and Second armies) conducted an offensive in Alsace and Lorraine. But with the invasion by German forces of France through Belgium, the French offensive was brought to a halt, and both armies were drawn back to their initial positions. The main grouping of German armies continued its offensive along a southwest axis of advance toward Paris and, winning a series of local victories over the Entente armies at Le Cateau (August 26),Nesle and Proyart (August 28–29), and St. Quentin and Guise (August 29–30), reached the Marne River between Paris and Verdun by September 5. The French command completed the regrouping of its forces and, having formed two newarmies (the Sixth and the Ninth) from reserves, created a superiority of forces in this axis. In the battle of the Marne (Sept. 5–12, 1914), the German troops were defeated and forced to withdraw to the Aisne and Oise rivers, where they dug in and stopped the allied counteroffensive by September 16.

From September 16 to October 15, three operations by maneuver known as the Race to the Sea developed out of the attempts of each side to seize the “free space” west of the Oise and extending to the Pas-de-Calais, by enveloping the enemy’s open flanks on the north. The forces of both sides reached the coast west of Ostend. The Belgian Army, which had been forced to withdraw from Antwerp on October 8, occupied a sector on the left flank of the Allied armies. The battle in Flanders on the Yser and Ypres river (October 15 to November 20) did not change the overall situation. Attempts by the Germans to break through the Allied defense and take the ports on the Pas-de-Calais were unsuccessful.Having suffered considerable losses, both sides stopped active combat actions and dug in on the established lines. A static front was established from the Swiss border to the North Sea. In December 1914 it was 720 km long, with 650 km assigned to the French Army, 50 km to the British, and 20 km to the Belgians.

Military operations in the Eastern European theater began on August 4–7 (17–20), with the invasion of East Prussia by the inadequately prepared troops of the Russian Northwestern Front (commanded by General la. G. Zhilinskii; chief ofstaff, General V. A. Oranovskii). During the East Prussian Operation of 1914 the First Russian Army (General P. K. Rennenkampf, commander), advancing from the east, smashed units of the German I Corps near Stallüponen on August 4(17) and inflicted a defeat on the main forces of the German Eighth Army on August 7 (20) in the battle of Gumbinnen-Goldap. On August 7 (20) the Russian Second Army (commanded by General A. V. Samsonov) invaded East Prussia, delivering an attack on the flank and rear of the German Eighth Army. The commander of the Eighth Army decided to begin a withdrawal of forces from East Prussia beyond the Vistula, but the German supreme command, dissatisfied with this decision, ordered a change in command on August 10 (23), appointing General P. von Hindenburg commander and General E. Ludendorff chief of staff.

The offensive by Russian troops in East Prussia forced the German command to take two corps and one cavalry division from the Western Front and send them to the Eastern Front on August 13 (26). This was one of the causes of the defeat of German forces in the battle of the Marne. Taking advantage of the lack of cooperation between the First and Second armies and the mistakes of the Russian command, the enemy was able to inflict a heavy defeat on the Russian Second Army and then on the First Army and drive them out of East Prussia.

In the battle of Galicia (1914), which took place at the same time as the East Prussian Operation, the troops of the Russian Southwestern Front (commander in chief, General N. I. Ivanov; chief of staff, General M. V. Alekseev) inflicted amajor defeat on the Austro-Hungarian forces. They took L’vov on August 21 (September 3), laid seige to the Przemyśl fortress on September 8 (21), and, pursuing the enemy, reached the Wisłoka River and the foothills of the Carpathians by September 13 (26). A danger arose that Russian forces would invade the German province of Silesia. The German supreme command hurriedly transferred major forces from East Prussia to the region of Częstochowa and Kraków and formed a new army (the Ninth). The objective was to deliver a counter strike against Ivangorod (Dęblin) in the flank and rear of the troops of the Southwestern Front and thus to thwart the attack on Silesia that the Russian forces were preparing. Owing to a timely regrouping of forces carried out by Russian General Headquarters, in the Warsaw-Ivangorod Operation of 1914 the Russian armies stopped the advance of the German Ninth Army and the Austro-Hungarian First Army on Ivangorod by September 26 (October 9) and then repulsed the German attack on Warsaw. On October 5 (18), Russian forces went over to the counteroffensive and threw the enemy back to the initial line.

The Russian armies resumed preparations for an invasion of Germany. The German command moved the Ninth Army from the Częstochowa region to the north, having decided to deliver a blow at the right flank and rear of the Russian offensive grouping. In the Łódź Operation of 1914, which began on October 29 (November 11), the enemy succeeded in thwarting the Russian plan, but an attempt to surround the Russian Second and Fifth armies in the Łódź region failed, and German troops were forced to withdraw, suffering heavy losses. At the same time, Russian troops of the Southwestern Front inflicted a defeat on Austro-Hungarian forces in the Częstochowa-Kraków Operation and reached the approaches to Kraków and Częstochowa. Having exhausted their capabilities, both sides went over to the defensive. The Russian armies, which had experienced a critical shortage of ammunition, dug in on the line of the Bzura, Rawka, and Nida rivers.

In the Balkan theater of operations, Austro-Hungarian forces invaded Serbia on August 12. Defeated in a meeting engagement that began on August 16 in the region of Cer Mountain, by August 24 the Austro-Hungarian forces had been thrown back to their initial position beyond the Drina and Sava rivers. On September 7 they renewed the offensive. A shortage of artillery and ammunition forced the Serbs to withdraw on November 7 to the east of the Kolubara River, but after receiving supplies from Russia and France, they went over to the counteroffensive on December 3. By mid-December they had liberated their country from enemy forces. The two sides took up defensive positions on the river boundary lines.

At the end of 1914 hostilities began in the Middle Eastern theater of operations. On July 21 (August 3), Turkey declared its neutrality, waiting and preparing for a convenient moment to come out on the side of the Central Powers. Encouraging Turkey’s aggressive aspirations in the Caucasus, Germany sent the battle cruiser Göben and the light cruiser Breslau to the Black Sea at the war’s beginning (August 10), to support the Turkish Navy. On October 16 (29),Turkish and German ships unexpectedly shelled Odessa, Sevastopol’, Feodosia, and Novorossiisk. On October 20 (November 2), Russia declared war on Turkey, followed by Great Britain (November 5) and France (November 6). Turkey declared a “holy war” against the Entente powers on November 12.

Turkish ground forces consisted of about 800,000 men. The Turkish First, Second, and Fifth armies were deployed in the Straits region; the Third Army, in Turkish Armenia; the Fourth Army, in Syria and Palestine; and the Sixth Army, in Mesopotamia. Sultan Mehmed V was nominally the supreme commander in chief, but in fact the duties of this position were carried out by Enver Pasha, the minister of war. The chief of staff was a German general, W. Bronsart von Schellendorf. Russia moved its Army of the Caucasus to the Turkish border (commander in chief, General I. I. Vorontsov-Dashkov; deputy commander in chief, General A. Z. Myshlaevskii; 170,000 men and 350 guns). In the second half of October (early November) clashes took place in the Erzurum axis. On October 25 (November 7) the Russians seized fortified positions near Köprüköy (50 km north of Erzurum). However, under pressure from the superior forces of the enemy, the Russians withdrew to their initial positions by November 26 (December 9). The Turkish Third Army went over to the offensive on December 9 (22), but during the Sankamuş Operation of 1914–15 it was routed. On November 10 British expeditionary corps landed at the mouth of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, forming the Mesopotamian Front. On November 22 the British took Basra, which had been abandoned by the Turks. The British captured al-Qurnah on December 9 and established a firm position in southern Mesopotamia.

Germany was unsuccessful in combat operations in Africa, the Far East, and the Pacific Ocean, losing most of its colonies during a single military campaign. In 1914, Japan seized the Caroline, Mariana, and Marshall islands in the Pacific Ocean as well as Tsingtao, a German naval base in China. The Australians seized the German part of New Guinea and the Solomon Islands, and New Zealand captured the Samoan Islands. Anglo-French forces occupied the German colonies in Africa: Togo in August 1914, the Cameroons in January 1916, Southwest Africa by July 1915, and East Africa by late 1917. (Until the end of the war, German forces continued to conduct partisan actions in the Portuguese colony of Mozambique and the British colony of Southern Rhodesia.)

Naval operations were of a limited character in 1914. On August 28 there was a battle between light forces of the British and German fleets in the North Sea near the island of Helgoland. On November 5 (18) a Russian squadron waged battle against the German ships Göben and Breslau near Cape Sarych in the Black Sea (50 km southeast of Sevastopol’). Damaged, the German ships retreated. The German command attempted to step up the actions of its fleet in British sea-lanes in the Atlantic, Indian, and Pacific oceans. In the battle of Coronel (Nov. 1, 1914), Admiral M. von Spee’s German squadron (five cruisers) defeated Rear Admiral C. Cradock’s British squadron, but on December 8, Admiral von Spee’s squadron was destroyed by Admiral F. Sturdee’s British squadron near the Falkland Islands. By the beginning of November, three additional German cruisers operating in the Atlantic and Pacific had been sunk.

The campaign of 1914 did not produce decisive results for either side. In France both sides went over to a static defense. Elements of trench warfare also emerged in the Eastern European theater of operations. Military operations demonstrated that the general staffs had been mistaken in their prewar predictions that the war would be short. Stockpiles of armaments and ammunition were used up during the very first operations. At the same time, it became clear that the war would be long and that emergency measures must be taken to mobilize industry and to develop the production of arms and ammunition.

Campaign of 1915. The Anglo-French command decided to go over to a strategic defensive in the Western European theater of operations, in order to gain time to stockpile matériel and train reserves. In the campaign of 1915 the main burden of armed struggle was shifted onto Russia. At the demand of the Allies the Russian command planned simultaneous offensives against Germany (in East Prussia) and Austria-Hungary (in the Carpathians). The prospect of protracted war did not please the German high command, which knew that Germany and its allies could not withstand a lengthy struggle with the Entente powers, who possessed superiority in manpower reserves and material resources.Therefore, the German plan for the campaign of 1915 was an offensive plan that counted on rapidly achieving victory. Lacking sufficient forces to conduct offensives simultaneously in the East and the West, the German command decided to concentrate its main efforts on the Eastern Front, with the objectives of crushing Russia and forcing it to leave the war. A defensive posture was planned for the Western Front.

Russia had 104 divisions against the 74 divisions of the Central Powers (36 German and 38 Austro-Hungarian divisions). Attempting to forestall the offensive prepared by the Russians, between January 25 (February 7) and February 13 (26) the German command undertook the Augustów Operation of 1915 in East Prussia. However, they did not attain their objective of surrounding the Tenth Army of the Russian Northwestern Front. In February and March Russian command used the forces of the Tenth, Twelfth, and First armies to carry out the Przasnysz Operation, during which the enemy was thrown back to the borders of East Prussia. On the southern wing of the Eastern Front, the command of the Russian Southwestern Front carried out the Carpathian Operation of 1915. Beseiged by Russian troops, the 120,000-strong Przemyśl garrison surrendered on March 9 (22). Heavy but indecisive fighting continued in the Carpathians until April 20.Experiencing a critical shortage of weapons and ammunition, the Russian forces brought a halt to their active operations in April 1915.

By the summer of 1915 the German command had formed the Eleventh Army with troops transferred from the Western Front to Galicia. The German Eleventh Army and the Austro-Hungarian Fourth Army, under the overall command of the German general A. von Mackensen, went over to the offensive on April 19 (May 2). With an enormous superiority in forces and means (especially in artillery), the enemy broke through the defense of the Russian Third Army near Görlitz. The Görlitz breakthrough of 1915 led to a deep withdrawal of the forces of the Southwestern Front, which left Galicia in May and June.

At the same time, German troops were advancing in the Baltic region. On April 24 (May 7) they took Libau (Liepāja) and reached Shavli (Ŝiauliai) and Kovno (Kaunas). In July the German command attempted to break through the defense of the Russian First Army with an attack of the newly formed Twelfth Army in the Przasnysz region. The Twelfth Army, in cooperation with the Austro-Hungarian Fourth and German Eleventh armies, which were advancing from Galicia toward the northeast, was to surround the main groupings of the Russian forces, which were in Poland. The German plan was unsuccessful, but the Russian troops were forced to withdraw from Poland.

In the Vil’na Operation of August 1915 the Germans attempted to surround the Russian Tenth Army in the Vil’na (Vilnius) region. On August 27 (September 9) the enemy managed to break through the Russian defense and gain the rear of the Tenth Army. However, the Russian command stopped the enemy breakthrough. In October 1915 the front stabilized on the line of Riga, the Zapadnaia Dvina River, Dvinsk, Smorgon’, Baranovichi, Dubno, and the Strypa River. The German command had failed in its plan to force Russia to leave the war in 1915.

At the beginning of 1915 there were 75 French, 11 British, and six Belgian divisions opposing 82 German divisions in the Western European theater of operations. The number of British divisions increased to 31 in September and 37 in December. Planning no major operations, both sides conducted only local battles in this theater of military operations during the campaign of 1915. On April 22 at Ypres the German command became the first to use chemical weapons(chlorine gas) on the Western Front: 15,000 persons were poisoned. The German troops advanced 6 km. In May and June the Allies launched an offensive in Artois. Carried out with insufficient forces, it did not influence the course of combat operations on the Russian Front.

On July 7 the Interallied War Council was formed in Chantilly, to coordinate the strategic efforts of the Entente powers. To assist Russia, the council decided to undertake an offensive on the Western Front, with the objective of drawing considerable German forces away from the Eastern Front. However, offensive operations were carried out only from September 25 to October 6 in Champagne and Artois. At this time active military operations had in fact ceased on the Russian Front. Moreover, the Allied forces were unable to break through the strong enemy defense.

In the Middle Eastern theater of operations Russian forces conducted the most active military operations. In the Alashgerd Operation they cleared the enemy from the area around Lakes Van and Urmia. The increasing activity of German and Turkish agents in Iran forced the Russian command to send troops into the northern part of that country. General N. N. Baratov’s Caucasus Expeditionary Corps (about 8,000 men and 20 guns) was transferred from Tiflis to Baku and transported over the Caspian Sea to the Iranian port of Enzeli (Bandar-e Pahlavi), where it landed on October 17 (30). In November the corps occupied the city of Qazvin, and on December 3 (16) it took the city of Hamadan. Attempts by Germany and Turkey to strengthen their influence in Iran and draw it into the war against Russia were thwarted. The Caucasian Front (commander in chief, Grand Duke Nikolai Nikolaevich), which united all the Russian forces operating in the Middle Eastern theater, was formed in October 1915.

On the Mesopotamian Front, British troops under the command of General C. Townshend moved slowly toward Baghdad in September 1915, but on November 22 they were attacked and routed by the Turks, 35 km from the city, and on December 7 they were beseiged in Kut al-Amarah. The Russian command offered to organize coordinated actions between the British forces and the forces of the Caucasian Front, but the British command refused the offer, because it did not want Russian forces to enter the oil-rich Mosul region. At the end of 1915 the British corps in Mesopotamia was replenished and converted into an expeditionary army. On the Syrian Front the Turkish Fourth Army attempted to take the Suez Canal, by attacking Egypt from Palestine, but the Turks were driven back by two Anglo-Indian divisions. The Turks took up a defensive position in the al-Arish region.

In 1915 the Entente succeeded in drawing Italy into the war on its side. The vacillation of the Italian government was ended by the promises of the Entente powers to give greater satisfaction to Italy’s territorial claims than had been offered by Germany. On Apr. 26, 1915, the Treaty of London was signed. On May 23, 1915, Italy declared war on Austria-Hungary, but it did not declare war against Germany until Aug. 28, 1916. The Italian Army (commander in chief, King Victor Emmanuel III; chief of staff, General L. Cadorna) had 35 divisions, with a total of about 870,000 men and 1,700 guns. On May 24, Italian forces began military operations on two axes: against Trent and simultaneously toward the Isonzo River with the mission of reaching Trieste. The Italians failed on both axes. By June 1915 military operations in the Italian theater had already assumed a static character. Four attacks by Italian forces on the Isonzo River ended in collapse.

In the Balkan theater of operations the position of the Allies became more complicated in October 1915, when Bulgaria entered the war on the side of the Central Powers (the Bulgarian-German Treaty of 1915 and the Bulgarian-Turkish Treaty of 1915). On September 8 (21), Bulgaria proclaimed a mobilization of its army (12 divisions, about 500,000 men). In late September (early October), 14 German and Austro-Hungarian divisions and six Bulgarian divisions under the overall command of Field Marshal General von Mackensen were deployed against Serbia. The Serbs had 12 divisions. To assist Serbia, Great Britain and France, under an agreement with Greece, began on September 22 (October 5) to land an expeditionary corps at Salonika (Thessaloniki) and move it toward the border between Greece and Serbia. On September 24 (October 7) the Austro-German and Bulgarian forces launched a converging offensive against Serbia from the north, west, and east. For two months the Serbian Army courageously repulsed the onslaught of the superior forces of the enemy, but it was compelled to withdraw through the mountains to Albania. Approximately 140,000 men were transported by the Entente fleet from Durrës (Durazzo) to the Greek island of Corfu (Kerkira). The Anglo-French expeditionary corps retreated to the Salonika region, where the Salonika Front was formed in late 1915. The occupation of Serbia secured for the Central Powers the opportunity to establish direct rail communication with Turkey, making it possible to provide Turkey with military assistance.

During 1915 the German Navy continued its attempts to weaken the fleets of its enemies and to undermine the supply of Great Britain by sea. On January 24 a battle took place between British and German squadrons at Dogger Bank (North Sea). Neither side attained success. On Feb. 18, 1915, Germany declared that it was initiating “unrestricted submarine warfare.” The sinking of the passenger steamers Lusitania (May 7) and Arabic (August 19) evoked protests from the USA and other neutral countries, forcing the German government to limit its submarine warfare to actions against warships.

In February 1915 the Anglo-French command began to carry out a naval operation, the Gallipoli Expedition (the Dardanelles Operation of 1915), attempting to use naval forces to cross the Dardanelles, break through to Constantinople, and put Turkey out of the war. The breakthrough failed. In April 1915 a major landing party was set down on the Gallipoli Peninsula, but Turkish forces offered stiff resistance. In December 1915 and January 1916 the Allied command was forced to evacuate the landing forces, which were transferred to the Salonika Front. During the preparation for and execution of the Gallipoli Expedition, there was a bitter diplomatic struggle among the Allies. The expedition was undertaken under the pretext of assisting Russia. In March-April 1915, Great Britain and France had reached an agreement with Russia, under which Constantinople and the Straits would be handed over to Russia after the war, on the condition that the latter did not interfere in the partitioning of Asiatic Turkey. In reality, the Allies intended to capture the Straits and deny Russia access to them. Anglo-French talks on the partitioning of Asiatic Turkey concluded with the signing of the Sykes-Picot Agreement of 1916. In August the German Navy undertook the Moonsund Operation of 1915, which was a failure. The Russian Black Sea Fleet continued to operate in Turkish sea-lanes. On April 21 (May 2), during the Gallipoli Expedition, it shelled the fortifications on the Bosporus.

The campaign of 1915 did not fulfill the hopes of either of the hostile coalitions, but its outcome was more favorable for the Entente. The German command, again failing to solve the problem of crushing its enemies one by one, faced the necessity of continuing a long war on two fronts. The chief burden of the struggle in 1915 was borne by Russia, giving France and Great Britain time to mobilize their economies to meet war needs. Russia also began to mobilize its industry. In 1915 the Russian Front grew more important: in the summer, 107 Austro-German divisions, or 54 percent of all the forces of the Central Powers, were stationed there, as compared to 52 divisions (33 percent) at the beginning of the war.

The war placed a heavy burden on the toiling people. Gradually freeing themselves of the chauvinistic attitudes that had been widespread at the beginning of the war, the popular masses became more and more resolutely opposed to the imperialist slaughter. Antiwar demonstrations took place in 1915, and the strike movement in the warring countries began to grow. This process developed with particular speed and violence in Russia, where conditions were greatly exacerbated by military defeats, and a revolutionary situation developed in the autumn of 1915. At the fronts, there were cases of fraternization among soldiers from hostile armies. The propaganda of the Bolsheviks, led by Lenin, and the left groups of European socialists and Social Democratic parties helped arouse the masses to revolutionary activity. In Germany the International Group was formed in the spring of 1915 under the leadership of K. Liebknecht and R. Luxemburg. (From 1916 the group was known as the Spartacus League.) The Zimmerwald Conference (Sept. 5–8, 1915), an international socialist conference of great importance for the consolidation of revolutionary antiwar forces, adopted a manifesto that signified “a step toward an ideological and practical break with opportunism and social chauvinism” (Lenin, Poln. sobr. soch., 5th ed., vol. 27, p. 38).

Campaign of 1916. By the beginning of 1916 the Central Powers, having expended enormous efforts in the first two campaigns, had considerably depleted their resources but had been unable to force France or Russia to leave the war. The Entente raised the number of its divisions to 365, as against the 286 divisions of the German bloc.

The 1916 operations by the armies of the Central Powers were based on General von Falkenhayn’s plan, according to which the main efforts were again to be directed against France. The main attack was to be delivered in the Verdun region, which was of great operational importance. A breakthrough on this axis would threaten the entire northern wing of the Allied armies. The German plan called for active operations at the same time in the Italian theater, using the forces of the Austro-Hungarian armies. In the Eastern European theater of operations, the Germans decided to limit operations to a strategic defensive. The fundamentals of the Entente’s plan for the 1916 campaign were adopted at a conference in Chantilly (France) on Dec. 6–9, 1915. Offensives were planned for the Eastern European, Western European, and Italian theaters of operations. The Russian Army was to be the first to launch offensive operations, followed by the Anglo-French and Italian forces. The Allies’ strategic plan was the first attempt to coordinate troop operations on different fronts.

The Entente plan did not provide for going over to a general offensive until the summer of 1916. This ensured that the German command would keep the strategic initiative, a factor which it decided to use to its advantage. The Germans had 105 divisions on a front 680 km long in the Western European theater of operations. They were opposed by 139 Allied divisions (95 French, 38 British, and six Belgian divisions). On February 21 the German command began the Verdun Operation of 1916, without an overall superiority in forces. Bitter combat, during which both sides suffered heavy losses, continued until December. The Germans expended enormous efforts but were unable to break through the defense.

In the Italian theater of operations the command of the Italian Army launched its fifth unsuccessful offensive on the Isonzo River in March 1916. On May 15, Austro-Hungarian forces (18 divisions and 2,000 guns) delivered a counter blow in the Trentino region. The Italian First Army (16 divisions and 623 guns), unable to hold back the enemy onslaught, began to withdraw to the south. Italy requested emergency assistance from its allies.

Operations in the Eastern European theater, where 128 Russian divisions were deployed against 87 Austro-German divisions along a front 1,200 km long, were particularly important in the campaign of 1916. The Naroch (Narocz) Operation,which was carried out on March 5–17 (18–30), forced the Germans temporarily to weaken their attacks on Verdun. The Russian offensive on the Southwestern Front (commander in chief, General A. A. Brusilov), which began on May 22 (June 4), was of great importance. The Russians broke through the defense of the Austro-German forces to a depth of 80–120 km. The enemy suffered heavy losses (more than 1 million killed and wounded and more than 400,000 taken prisoner). The command of the Central Powers were forced to move 11 German divisions from France and six Austro-Hungarian divisions from Italy to the Russian Front.

The Russian offensive saved the Italian Army from destruction, eased the situation of the French at Verdun, and hastened Rumania’s entry into the war on the side of the Entente. Rumania declared war on Austria-Hungary on August 14(27), on Germany on August 15 (28), on Turkey on August 17 (30), and on Bulgaria on August 19 (September 1). The Rumanian armed forces consisted of four armies (23 infantry and two cavalry divisions; 250,000 men). The Russian 47th Army Corps was moved across the Danube to the Dobruja region to assist the Rumanian forces. With Russian support, Rumanian forces launched an offensive in Transylvania on August 20 (September 2) and later in the Dobruja region, but they did not attain success. The Austro-German command concentrated General von Falkenhayn’s army group in Transylvania (the German Ninth Army and the Austro-Hungarian First Army, with a total of 26 infantry and seven cavalry divisions) and Field Marshal General von Mackensen’s German Danube Army in Bulgaria (nine infantry and two cavalry divisions). On September 13 (26) both groups, under the overall command of General von Falkenhayn, went over to the offensive at the same time. The Rumanian Army was routed.

On November 22 (December 6), German forces entered Bucharest, which the Rumanians abandoned without a fight. The Russian command moved in 35 infantry and 13 cavalry divisions to assist Rumania. Russia had to form a new Rumanian front. By the end of 1916, its forces had stopped the advance of the Austro-German armies on the line between Focşani and the mouth of the Danube. The formation of the Rumanian Front increased the total length of the front line by 500 km and diverted about a fourth of Russia’s armed forces, thereby worsening the strategic position of the Russian Army.

After lengthy preparation, Anglo-French forces opened a major offensive on the Somme River on July 1, but it developed very slowly. Tanks were used for the first time on September 15 by the British. The Allies continued the offensive until mid-November, but despite enormous losses, they advanced only 5–15 km and failed to break through the German static front.

In the Middle Eastern theater of operations the forces of the Russian Caucasian Front successfully carried out the Erzurum Operation of 1916, the Trabzon Operation of 1916, and the Erzincan and Oğnut operations, taking the cities ofErzurum, Trabzon, and Erzincan. General N. N. Baratov’s I Caucasus Cavalry Corps launched an offensive on the Mosul and Baghdad axes, with the objective of assisting the British, who were beseiged at Kut al-Amarah. In February the corps took Kermanshah, and in May it reached the Turkish-Iranian border. With the surrender of the garrison at Kut al-Amarah on Apr. 28, 1916, the Russian corps brought a halt to its advance and took up a defensive position east of Kermanshah.

In naval operations, the British fleet continued its long-range blockade of Germany. German submarines were active on the sea-lanes. The system of minefields was improved. The battle of Jutland (1916) was the war’s only major naval battle between the main forces of the British Navy (Admiral J. Jellicoe) and the German Navy (Admiral R. Scheer). The battle involved 250 surface ships, including 58 capital ships (battleships and battle cruisers). As a result of its superiority in forces, the British fleet was victorious, even though it suffered greater losses than the German fleet. The defeat shattered the German command’s belief that it was possible to break through the British blockade. The Russian Black Sea Fleet continued its actions on enemy sea-lanes, blockading the Bosporus from August 1916.

The campaign of 1916 did not result in the achievement of the objectives set at the beginning by either coalition, but the superiority of the Entente over the Central Powers became evident. The strategic initiative passed fully to the Entente, and Germany was forced to go over to the defensive on all fronts.

The bloody battles of 1916, which involved enormous human sacrifices and great expenditures of matériel, were depleting the resources of the belligerent powers. The situation of the working people continued to worsen, but the revolutionary movement also continued to grow stronger in 1916. The Kienthal Conference of internationalists (Apr. 24–30, 1916) played an important role in increasing solidarity among revolutionary forces. The revolutionary movement developed with particular speed and turbulence in Russia, where the war had finally revealed to the popular masses the complete decadence of tsarism. A powerful wave of strikes swept over the country, led by the Bolsheviks under the slogans of struggle against the war and the autocracy. The Middle Asian Uprising, a national liberation movement, took place from July to October 1916. In the autumn a revolutionary situation took shape in Russia. The inability of tsarism to win the war aroused discontent among the Russian imperialist bourgeoisie, who began to prepare a palace revolution. The revolutionary movement grew stronger in other countries. The Irish Rebellion, or Easter Rising (Apr. 24–30, 1916), was harshly suppressed by British troops. On May 1, K. Liebknecht led a massive antiwar demonstration in Berlin. The growing revolutionary crisis forced the imperialists to direct their efforts toward quickly ending the war. In 1916, Germany and tsarist Russia attempted to open separate peace negotiations.

Campaign of 1917. As the campaign of 1917 was prepared and carried out, the revolutionary movement grew considerably stronger in every country. Protest against the war with its enormous losses, against the sharp decline in the standard of living, and against the increasing exploitation of the working people became stronger among the popular masses at the front and in the rear. The revolutionary events in Russia had a tremendous effect on the subsequent course of the war.

By the beginning of the campaign of 1917, the Entente had 425 divisions (21 million men), and the Central Powers, 331 divisions (10 million men). In April 1917 the USA entered the war on the side of the Entente. The fundamental principles of the plan for the campaign of 1917 were adopted by the Allies at the third conference in Chantilly on Nov. 15–16, 1916, and were made more specific in February 1917 at a conference in Petrograd. The plan provided for limited operations on all fronts early in the year, to hold the strategic initiative. In the summer the Allies were to go over to a general offensive in the Western European and Eastern European theaters of operations, with the objective of finally crushing Germany and Austria-Hungary. The German command rejected offensive operations on land and decided to focus its attention on waging “unrestricted submarine warfare,” believing that it could disrupt the British economy in six months and force Great Britain out of the war. On Feb. 1, 1917, Germany declared “unrestricted submarine warfare” on Great Britain for the second time. Between February and April 1917, German submarines destroyed more than 1,000 merchant ships of the Allied and neutral countries (a total of 1,752,000 tons). By mid-1917, Great Britain, which had lost merchant ships amounting to approximately 3 million tons, found itself in a difficult situation. It could only make up for 15 percent of the losses, and this was not enough to sustain the export and import traffic essential to the country. By the end of 1917, however, after the organization of a reinforced defense of the sea-lanes and the development of various means of antisubmarine defense, the Entente managed to reduce its merchant ship losses. “Unrestricted submarine warfare” did not fulfill the hopes of the German command. Meanwhile, the continuing British blockade was starving Germany.

In executing the general plan for the campaign, the Russian command carried out the Mitau Operation on Dec. 23–29, 1916 (Jan. 5–11, 1917), with the objective of diverting part of the enemy forces from the Western European theater of operations. On February 27 (March 12) a bourgeois democratic revolution took place in Russia (the February Bourgeois Democratic Revolution of 1917). Under the leadership of the Bolsheviks, the proletariat, demanding peace, bread, and freedom, led the majority of the army, which was made up of workers and peasants, in the overthrow of the autocracy. However, the bourgeois Provisional Government came to power. Expressing the interests of Russian imperialism, it continued the war. Deceiving the masses of soldiers with false promises of peace, it opened an offensive operation with the troops of the Southwestern Front. The operation ended in failure (the June Operation of 1917).

By the summer of 1917 the combat capability of the Rumanian Army had been restored with Russian assistance, and in the battle of Mărăşeşti (July-August) Russian and Rumanian forces repulsed the German forces, which were attempting to break through to the Ukraine. On August 19–24 (September 1–6), during the Riga defensive operation, Russian troops surrendered Riga. The revolutionary sailors of the Baltic Fleet heroically defended the Moonsund Archipelago in the Moonsund Operation of Sept. 29 (Oct. 12)-Oct. 6 (19), 1917. These were the last operations on the Russian Front.

The Great October Socialist Revolution took place on Oct. 25 (Nov. 7), 1917. The proletariat, in alliance with the poorest peasants and under the leadership of the Communist Party, overthrew the power of the bourgeoisie and the landlords and opened the era of socialism. Carrying out the will of the people, the Soviet government addressed a proposal to all the warring powers, calling for the conclusion of a just democratic peace without annexations and reparations (the decree on peace). When the Entente powers and the USA refused to accept the proposal, the Soviet government was forced to conclude an armistice with the German coalition on December 2(15) and begin peace negotiations without the participation of Russia’s former allies. On November 26 (December 9), Rumania concluded the Focşani armistice with Germany and Austria-Hungary.

In the Italian theater of operations there were 57 Italian divisions opposing 27 Austro-Hungarian divisions in April 1917. Despite the numerical superiority of the Italian forces, the Italian command was unable to attain success. Three more offensives against the Isonzo River failed. On October 24, Austro-Hungarian troops went over to the offensive in the Caporetto region, broke through the Italians’ defense, and inflicted a major defeat on them. Without the assistance of 11 British and French divisions transferred to the Italian theater of operations, it would not have been possible to stop the advance of the Austro-Hungarian forces at the Piave River in late November. In the Middle Eastern theater of operations British troops advanced successfully in Mesopotamia and Syria. They took Baghdad on March 11 and Be’er Sheva’ (Beersheba), Gaza, Jaffa, and Jerusalem in late 1917.

The Entente plan of operations in France, which was developed by General Nivelle, called for delivering the main attack on the Aisne River between Reims and Soissons, in order to break through the enemy defense and surround the German forces in the Noyon salient. Learning of the French plan, by March 17 the German command withdrew its forces 30 km to a previously prepared line known as the Siegfried Line. Subsequently, the French command decided to begin the offensive on a broad front, committing to action major forces and means: six French and three British armies (90 infantry and ten cavalry divisions), more than 11,000 guns and mortars, 200 tanks, and about 1,000 airplanes.

The Allied offensive began on April 9 in the Arras region, on April 12 near St. Quentin, and on April 16 in the Reims region and continued until April 20–28 and May 5 on some axes. The April offensive (the “Nivelle slaughter”) ended incomplete failure. Although about 200,000 men had been lost, the Allied forces had not been able to break through the front. Mutinies broke out in the French Army, but they were cruelly suppressed. A Russian brigade that had been in France since 1916 took part in the offensive on the Aisne River. In the second half of 1917, Anglo-French forces carried out a number of local operations: Messines (June 7-August 30), Ypres (July 31-November 6), Verdun (August 20–27),and Malmaison (October 23–26). At Cambrai (November 20-December 6) massed tanks were used for the first time.

The campaign of 1917 did not produce the results anticipated by either side. The revolution in Russia and the lack of coordinated action by the Allies thwarted the Entente’s strategic plan, which had been intended to crush the Austro-Hungarian bloc. Germany succeeded in repulsing the enemy attacks, but its hope of attaining victory by means of “unrestricted submarine warfare” proved vain, and the troops of the coalition of Central Powers were forced to go over to the defensive.

Campaign of 1918. By early 1918 the military and political situation had changed fundamentally. After the October Revolution Soviet Russia quit the war. Under the influence of the Russian Revolution, a revolutionary crisis was ripening in the other warring powers. The Entente countries (excluding Russia) had 274 divisions at the beginning of 1918—that is, forces approximately equal to those of the German bloc, which had 275 divisions (not counting 86 divisions in the Ukraine, Byelorussia, and the Baltic region and nine divisions in the Caucasus). The military and economic situation of the Entente was stronger than that of the German bloc. However, the Allied command believed that even more powerful human and material resources would have to be prepared, with the assistance of the USA, in order to finally crush Germany.

Strategic defensives were planned for all theaters of military operations in the campaign of 1918. The decisive offensive against Germany was postponed until 1919. Their resources running out, the Central Powers were eager to end the war as quickly as possible. Having concluded the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk with Soviet Russia on Mar. 3, 1918, the German command decided in March to go over to the offensive on the Western Front to crush the Entente armies. At the same time, German and Austro-Hungarian forces, in violation of the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk, began occupying the Ukraine, Byelorussia, and the Baltic region. Rumania was drawn into the anti-Soviet intervention after May 7, when it signed the Bucharest Peace Treaty of 1918, the terms of which were dictated by the Central Powers.

On March 21 the German command began a major offensive operation on the Western Front (the March Offensive in Picardy). Their intention was to cut off the British forces from the French forces by means of an attack on Amiens, then crush them and reach the sea. The Germans made sure that they would have superiority in forces and means (62 divisions, 6,824 guns, and about 1,000 airplanes against 32 divisions, about 3,000 guns, and about 500 airplanes for the British). The German forces broke through the Allied defense to a depth of 60 km. The Allied command eliminated the breakthrough by bringing reserves into the battle. The German forces suffered heavy losses (about 230,000 men) but did not achieve their assigned objective. Going over to the offensive again on April 9 in Flanders on the Lys River, the German forces advanced 18 km, but by April 14 the Allies stopped them.

On May 27 the German armies delivered an attack north of Reims (the battle of the Chemin des Dames). They managed to cross the Aisne River and penetrate the Allied defense to a depth of about 60 km, reaching the Marne in the Château-Thierry region by May 30. Having arrived within 70 km of Paris, the German forces were unable to overcome French resistance, and on June 4 they went over to the defensive. The attempt of German troops from June 9 to 13 to advance between Montdidier and Noyon was equally unsuccessful.

On July 15 the German command made a final attempt to defeat the Allied armies by opening a major offensive on the Marne. The battle of the Marne of 1918 (the second battle of the Marne) did not fulfill the Germans’ hopes. After crossing the Marne, they were unable to advance more than 6 km. On July 18, Allied forces delivered a counterattack; by August 4 they had driven the enemy back to the Aisne and the Vesle. In four months of offensive operations the German command had completely exhausted its reserves but had been unable to crush the Entente armies.

The Allies took firm control of the strategic initiative. On August 8–13 the Anglo-French armies inflicted a major defeat on the German forces in the Amiens Operation of 1918, making them withdraw to the line from which their March offensive had begun. Ludendorff referred to August 8 as “the black day of the German Army.” On September 12–15 the American First Army, commanded by General J. Pershing, won a victory over German forces at St. Mihiel (the St. Mihiel Operation). On September 26, Allied forces (202 divisions against 187 weakened German divisions) began a general offensive along the entire 420-km front from Verdun to the sea and broke through the German defense.

In the other theaters of military operations the campaign of 1918 ended with the defeat of Germany’s allies. The Entente had 56 divisions, including 50 Italian divisions, in the Italian theater of operations, as well as more than 7,040 guns and more than 670 airplanes. Austria-Hungary had 60 divisions, 7,500 guns, and 580 airplanes. On June 15 the Austro-Hungarian forces, going over to the offensive south of Trent, broke through the enemy defense and advanced 3–4 km, but on June 20–26 they were thrown back to the starting line by counterattack by Allied forces. On October 24 the Italian Army went over to the offensive against the Piave River, but it made only an insignificant advance. On October 28 units of the Austro-Hungarian Fifth and Sixth armies, refusing to fight, began to abandon their positions. They were soon joined by troops of other armies, and a disorderly retreat of all the Austro-Hungarian forces began on November 2. On November 3,Austria-Hungary signed an armistice with the Entente at Villa Giusti (near Padua).

In the Balkan theater of operations, the Allied forces consisted of 29 infantry divisions (eight French, four British, six Serbian, one Italian, and ten Greek divisions and one French cavalry group, a total of about 670,000 men; and 2,070 guns).Facing them along a 350-km front from the Aegean to the Adriatic were the forces of the Central Powers—the German Eleventh Army; the Bulgarian First, Second, and Fourth armies; an Austro-Hungarian corps (a total of about 400,000 men); and 1,138 guns. On September 15 the Allies began an offensive; by September 29 they had advanced to a depth of 150 km along a front of 250 km. Surrounded, the German Eleventh Army surrendered on September 30. The Bulgarian armies were smashed. On September 29, Bulgaria signed an armistice with the Entente in Salonika.

The British army of General E. H. Allenby and the Arab army commanded by Emir Faisal and the British intelligence officer Colonel T. E. Lawrence (a total of 105,000 men and 546 guns) were operating on the Syrian Front, where Turkey had three armies—the Fourth, the Seventh, and the Eighth (a total of 34,000 men and about 330 guns). The Allied offensive began on September 19. Breaking through the enemy defense and pushing forward cavalry units to the enemy rear, Allied troops forced the Turkish Eighth and Seventh armies to surrender; the Turkish Fourth Army retreated. Between September 28 and October 27 the Allies captured Akko (Acre), Damascus, Tripoli, and Aleppo. A French landing party went ashore at Beirut on October 7.

On the Mesopotamian Front the British expeditionary army of General W. Marshall (five divisions) went on the offensive against the Turkish Sixth Army (four divisions). The British captured Kirkuk on October 24 and Mosul on October 31.The Entente powers and Turkey signed the Moudhros Armistice on Oct. 30, 1918, aboard the British battleship Agamemnon in Moudhros Bay (the island of Limnos).

In early October, Germany’s position became hopeless. On October 5 the German government asked the US government for an armistice. The Allies demanded the withdrawal of German forces from all occupied territory in the west. The military defeats and economic exhaustion of Germany had accelerated the development of a revolutionary crisis. The victory and progress of the October Revolution of 1917 in Russia strongly influenced the growth of the revolutionary movement of the German people. On Oct. 30, 1918, an uprising broke out among the sailors in Wilhelmshaven. The Kiel Mutiny of sailors in the German fleet took place on Nov. 3, 1918; on November 6 the uprising spread to Hamburg, Lübeck, and other cities. On November 9 the revolutionary German workers and soldiers overthrew the monarchy. Fearing further development of the revolution in Germany, the Entente hurried to conclude the Armistice of Compiègne with Germany on Nov. 11, 1918. Germany, admitting that it had been defeated, obligated itself to remove its forces immediately from all occupied territories and turn over to the Allies a large quantity of armaments and military equipment.

Results of the war. World War I ended in the defeat of Germany and its allies. After the conclusion of the Armistice of Compiègne the victorious powers began developing plans for a postwar “settlement.” Treaties with the defeated countries were prepared at the Paris Peace Conference of 1919–20. A number of separate treaties were signed: the Peace Treaty of Versailles with Germany (June 28, 1919), the Treaty of St.-Germain with Austria (Sept. 10, 1919), the Treaty of Neuilly with Bulgaria (Nov. 27, 1919), the Treaty of Trianon with Hungary (June 4, 1920), and the Treaty of Sèvres with Turkey (Aug. 10, 1920). The Paris Peace Conference also adopted a resolution regarding the establishment of the League of Nations and approved its Covenant, which became part of the peace treaties. Germany and its former allies were deprived of considerable territories and compelled to pay heavy reparations and greatly reduce their armed forces.

The postwar peace “settlement” in the interests of the victorious imperialist powers was completed by the Washington Conference on Naval Limitations (1921–22). The treaties with Germany and its former allies and the agreements signed at the Washington Conference constituted the Versailles-Washington system of peace. The result of compromises and deals, it failed to eliminate the contradictions among the imperialist powers and in fact considerably exacerbated them. Lenin wrote: “Today, after this ‘peaceful’ period, we see a monstrous intensification of oppression, the reversion to a colonial and military oppression that is far worse than before” (ibid., 5th ed., vol. 41, p. 217). The imperialist powers began to struggle for a repartition of the world, preparing for another world war.

In its scope and consequences World War I was unprecedented in the history of the human race. It lasted four years, three months, and ten days (from Aug. 1, 1914, to Nov. 11, 1918), engulfing 38 countries with a combined population of more than 1.5 billion. The Entente countries mobilized about 45 million men, and the coalition of the Central Powers, 25 million —a total of 70 million men. The most able-bodied men on both sides were removed from material production and sent to exterminate each other, fighting for the interests of the imperialists. By the end of the war, the ground forces exceeded their peacetime counterparts by a factor of 8.5 in Russia, five in France, nine in Germany, and eight in Austria-Hungary. As much as 50 and even 59.4 percent (in France) of the able-bodied male population was mobilized. The Central Powers mobilized almost twice the percentage of the total population as the Entente (19.1 percent, as compared to 10.3 percent). About 16 million men—more than one-third of all those mobilized by the Entente and its allies— were mobilized for the Russian armed forces. In June 1917, 288 (55.3 percent) of the Entente’s 521 divisions were Russian. In Germany, 13.25 million men were mobilized, or more than half of all the soldiers mobilized by the Central Powers. In June 1918, 236 (63.4 percent) of the Central Powers’ 361 divisions were German. The large size of the armies resulted in the formation of vast fronts up to 3,000–4,000 km long.

WWIGraph5

The war demanded the mobilization of all material resources, demonstrating the decisive role of the economy in an armed struggle. World War I was characterized by the massive use of many types of matériel. “It is the first time in history that the most powerful achievements of technology have been applied on such a scale, so destructively and with such energy, for the annihilation of millions of human lives” (Lenin, ibid., vol. 36, p. 396). Industry in the warring countries supplied the fronts with millions of rifles, more than 1 million light and heavy machine guns, more than 150,000 artillery pieces, 47.7 billion cartridges, more than 1 billion shells, 9,200 tanks, and about 182,000 airplanes (see Table 4). During the war the number of heavy artillery pieces increased by a factor of eight, the number of machine guns by a factor of 20, and the number of airplanes by a factor of 24. The war created a demand for large quantities of various materials, such as lumber and cement. About 4 million tons of barbed wire were used. Armies of millions of men demanded an uninterrupted supply of food, clothing, and forage. For example, from 1914 to 1917 the Russian Army consumed (in round figures) 9.64 million tons of flour, 1.4 million tons of cereal, 8.74 million tons of meat, 510,000 tons of fats, 11.27 million tons of forage oats and barley, and 19.6 million tons of hay, with a total value of 2,473,700,000 rubles (at 1913 prices). The front was supplied with 5 million sheepskin coats and pea jackets, 38.4 million sweaters and padded vests, more than 75 million pairs of underwear, 86.1 million pairs of high boots and shoes, 6.6 million pairs of felt boots, and other clothing.

Military enterprises alone could not produce such enormous quantities of armaments and other supplies. Industry was mobilized by means of a large-scale conversion of consumer-goods plants and factories to the production of war goods. In Russia in 1917, 76 percent of the workers were engaged in meeting war needs; in France, 57 percent; in Great Britain, 46 percent; in Italy, 64 percent; in the USA, 31.6 percent; and in Germany, 58 percent. In most of the warring countries, however, industry was unable to supply the needs of the armies for armaments and equipment. Russia, for example, was forced to order armaments, ammunition, clothing, industrial equipment, steam locomotives, coal, and certain other types of strategic raw materials from the USA, Great Britain, France, Sweden, Japan, and other countries. During the war, however, these countries provided the Russian Army with only a small proportion of its total requirements for armaments and ammunition: 30 percent of the rifles, less than 1 percent of the rifle cartridges, 23 percent of the guns of different calibers, and 20 percent of the shells for these guns.

In all the major countries special state bodies were established to manage the war economies: in Germany the Department of War Raw Materials, in Great Britain the Ministry of Munitions, and in Russia the Special Conferences (for state defense, fuel, shipping, and food). These state bodies planned war production; distributed orders, equipment, and raw and processed materials; rationed food and consumer goods; and exercised control over foreign trade. The capitalists formed their own representative organizations to assist the state bodies: in Germany the Central War Industries Council and war industries committees for each sector, in Great Britain the supervisory committees, and in Russia the war industries committees and the Zemstvo and Municipal unions. As a result, an interlocking relationship developed between the state administrative apparatus and the monopolies. “The imperialist war has immensely accelerated and intensified the process of transformation of monopoly capitalism into state-monopoly capitalism” (Lenin, ibid., vol. 33, p. 3). Although the state bodies managing the war economy had strong assistance from the representative organizations of the capitalists, the very nature of the capitalist economy prevented them from achieving complete success.

The war made intensive demands on all types of transportation. Up to half of all railroad rolling stock was loaded with military shipments. Most motor vehicles were used for military needs. A large number of the merchant vessels of the warring and neutral countries were engaged in shipping cargoes for war industries and armies. During the war 6,700 vessels (excluding sailing ships) were sunk (total displacement, about 15 million tons, or 28 percent of the prewar world tonnage).

The increase in military production, which was achieved primarily at the expense of nonmilitary sectors, placed excessive strains on the national economies, resulting in the disruption of the proportion between different sectors of production and, ultimately, in economic disorder. In Russia, for example, two-thirds of all industrial output went for war needs and only one-third for consumer needs, giving rise to a scarcity of goods, as well as to high prices and speculation. As early as 1915 there were shortages of many types of industrial raw materials and fuel, and by 1916 there was a severe raw materials and fuel crisis in Russia. As a result of the war, the production of many types of industrial output declined in other countries. There was a significant decline in the smelting of pig iron, steel, and nonferrous metals; the extraction of coal and petroleum; and output from all branches of light industry. The war damaged society’s productive forces and undermined the economic life of the people of the world.

In agriculture the effects of the war were especially grave. Mobilization deprived the countryside of its most productive workers and draft animals. Sown areas were cut back, yields dropped, and the number of livestock decreased and their productivity declined. Severe shortages of food developed in the cities of Germany, Austria-Hungary, and Russia, which later experienced famine. The shortages spread to the army, resulting in cuts in food rations.

World War I demanded colossal financial expenditures, many times greater than the expenditures in all previous wars. There is no scientifically substantiated estimate of the total cost of World War I, but the one most commonly cited in the literature was calculated by the American economist E. Bogart, who set the total cost of the war at $359.9 billion in gold (699.4 billion rubles), including $208.3 billion (405 billion rubles) of direct (budgeted) expenditures and $151.6 billion (294.4 billion rubles) of indirect expenditures. Direct war expenditures included the cost of maintaining the army (40 percent) and the cost of the material and technological means for waging war (60 percent). The national income provided the economic base for covering war expenditures. Additional sources of financing the war were increases in existing (direct and indirect) taxes and the institution of new taxes, the sale of domestic and foreign bonds, and the issuing of paper money. The full weight of the financial burden of the war fell on the toiling classes of the population.

World War I was an important stage in the history of the art of war and in the building of armed forces. There were major changes in the organization and relationships of the various combat arms. The great length of the fronts and the deployment on them of vast armies of millions of soldiers led to the creation of new organizational units: fronts and army groups. The firepower of the infantry increased, but its proportionate role decreased somewhat as the result of the development of other combat arms: engineers, signal troops, and especially, the artillery. The number of artillery pieces rose sharply, technology improved, and new types of artillery were developed (antiaircraft, infantry support, and antitank artillery). The range of fire, destructive force of fire, and mobility of the artillery increased. The density of artillery reached 100 or more guns per kilometer of front. Infantry attacks were accompanied by rolling barrages.

Tanks, a powerful striking and mobile force, were used for the first time. Tank forces developed rapidly. By the war’s end there were 8,000 tanks in the Entente armies. In aviation, which also developed rapidly, several different branches emerged: fighter, reconnaissance, bombardment, and ground attack aviation. By the end of the war the belligerent powers had more than 10,000 combat aircraft. Antiaircraft defense developed in the air war. Chemical warfare troops appeared. The significance of the cavalry among the combat arms declined, and by the war’s end the number of cavalry troops had dropped sharply.

The war revealed the growing dependence of the art of war on economics and politics. The scale of operations, the extent of the front of attack, and the depth and rate of advance increased. With the establishment of continuous fronts,combat operations became static. The frontal blow, the success of which determined the outcome of an operation, became very important. During World War I the problem of the tactical breakthrough of a front was solved, but the problem of developing a breakthrough into an operational success remained unsolved. New means of fighting complicated the tactics of the combat arms. At the beginning of the war the infantry conducted offensives in skirmish lines and later, in waves of lines and combat teams (squads). Combined arms combat was based on cooperation between old and new combat arms—the infantry, the artillery, tanks, and aviation. Control of troops became more complex. The role of logistics and supplies increased significantly. Rail and motor-vehicle transport became very important.

The types and classes of naval ships were refined, and there was an increase in the proportion of light forces (cruisers, destroyers, patrol vessels and patrol boats, and submarines). Shipboard artillery, mines, torpedoes, and naval aviation were used extensively. The chief forms of military operations at sea were the blockade; cruiser, submarine, and mine warfare; landings and raids; and engagements and battles between line forces and light forces. The experience of World War I greatly influenced the development of military thinking and the organization and combat training of all combat arms (forces) until World War II (1939–45).

The war brought unprecedented deprivation and human suffering and widespread hunger and devastation. It brought mankind “to the brink of a precipice, to the brink of the destruction of civilization, of brutalization” (Lenin, ibid., vol. 31, p.182). Valuables worth 58 billion rubles were destroyed during the war. Entire regions, especially in northern France, were turned into wastelands.

Casualties amounted to 9.5 million killed and dead of wounds and 20 million wounded, of whom 3.5 million were permanently crippled. The heaviest losses (66.6 percent of the total) were suffered by Germany, Russia, France, and Austria-Hungary. The USA sustained only 1.2 percent of the total losses. Many civilians were killed by the various means of combat. (There are no overall figures for combat-related civilian casualties.) Hunger and other privations caused by the war led to a rise in the mortality rate and a drop in the birthrate. The population loss from these factors was more than 20 million in the 12 belligerent states alone, including 5 million in Russia, 4.4 million in Austria-Hungary, and 4.2 million in Germany. Unemployment, inflation, tax increases, and rising prices worsened the poverty and extreme deprivation of the large majority of the population of the capitalist countries.

Only the capitalists gained any advantages from the war. By the beginning of 1918, the war profits of the German monopolies totaled at least 10 billion gold marks. The capital of the German finance magnate Stinnes increased by a factor of ten, and the net profits of the “cannon king” Krupp, by a factor of almost six. Monopolies in France, Great Britain, Italy, and Japan made large profits, but the American monopolies made the most on the war—between 1914 and 1918, $3 billion in profits. “The American multimillionaires profited more than all the rest. They have converted all, even the richest, countries into their tributaries. And every dollar is stained with blood—from that ocean of blood that has been shed by the 10 million killed and 20 million maimed” (Lenin, ibid., vol. 37, p. 50). The profits of the monopolies continued to grow after the war.

The ruling classes placed the entire burden of the economic consequences of the war on the toiling people. World War I led to an aggravation of the class struggle and accelerated the ripening of the objective prerequisites for the Great October Socialist Revolution, which opened a new epoch in world history—the epoch of the transition from capitalism to socialism. The example of Russia’s toiling people, who threw off the oppression of the capitalists and landlords, showed other peoples the way to liberation. A wave of revolutionary actions swept over many countries, shaking the foundations of the world capitalist system. The national liberation movement became active in the colonial and dependent countries. “World War I and the October Revolution marked the beginning of the general crisis of capitalism” (Programma KPSS, 1974, p. 25). Politically, this was the chief result of the war.

SOURCES

Mezhdunarodnye otnosheniia, 1870–1918 gg.: Sb. dokumentov. Moscow, 1940.
Mirovaia voina ν tsifrakh. Moscow-Leningrad, 1934.
Brusilov, A. A. Moi vospominaniia. Moscow, 1963.
Lloyd George, D. Voennye memuary, vols. 1–6. Moscow, 1934–38. (Translated from English.)
Ludendorff, E. Moi vospominaniia o voine 1914–1918 gg, vols. 1–2. Moscow, 1923–24. (Translated from German.)
Tirpitz, A. von. Vospominaniia. Moscow, 1957. (Translated from German.)
Foch, F. Vospominaniia (Voina 1914–1918 gg). Moscow, 1939. (Translated from French.)
Die Grosse Politik der europäischen Kabinette 1871–1914: Sammlung der diplomatischen Akten des Auswärtigen Amtes, vols. 1–40. Berlin, 1922–37.
British Documents on the Origins of the War, 1898–1914, vols. 1–11. London, 1926–28.
Documents diplomatiques français [1871–1914], series 1–3, vols. 1–41. Paris, 1929–59.
Der erste Weltkrieg in Bildern und Dokumenten, 2nd ed., vols. 1–3. Munich, 1969.
Conrad von Hôtzendorf, F. Aus meiner Dientzeit, 1906–1918, vols. 1–5. Vienna, 1921–25.
Churchill, W. L. S. The World Crisis, vols. 1–6. London, 1923–31.
Joffre, J. Mémoires (1910–1917,) vols. 1–2. Paris, 1932.

REFERENCES

Lenin, V. I. Poln. sobr. soch., 5th ed. (See Reference Volume, part 1, pp. 177–87.)
Vsemirnaia istoriia, vols. 7–8. Moscow, 1960–61.
Istoriia SSSR s drevneishikh vremen do nashikh dnei, vols. 6–7. Moscow, 1967–68.
Istoriia diplomatii, 2nd ed., vols. 2–3. Moscow, 1963–65.
Istoriia KPSS, vols. 2–3 (book 1). Moscow, 1966–67.
Strategicheskii ocherk voiny 1914–1918, vols. 1–7. Moscow, 1920–23.
Strokov, A. A. Istoriia voennogo iskusstvo, vol. 3. Moscow, 1967.
Talenskii, N. A. Pervaia mirovaia voina (1914–1918): (Boevye deistviia na sushe i na more). Moscow, 1944.
Verzhkhovskii, D., and V. Liakhov. Pervaia mirovaia voina, 1914–1918. Moscow, 1964.
Zaionchkovskii, A. M. Mirovaia voina 1914–1918 gg., 3rd ed., vols. 1–3. Moscow, 1938–39.
Zaionchkovskii, A. M. Podgotovka Rossii k imperialisticheskoi voine: Ocherki voennoi podgotovki i pervonachal’nykh planov. Moscow, 1926.
Bovykin, V. I. Iz istorii vozniknoveniia pervoi mirovoi voiny: Otnosheniia Rossii i Frantsii ν 1912–1914. Moscow, 1961.
Ignat’ev, A. V. Russko-angliiskie otnosheniia nakanune pervoi mirovoi voiny. Moscow, 1962.
Ignat’ev, A. V. Russko-angliiskie otnosheniia nakanune Okliabr’skoi revoliutsii. Moscow, 1966.
Asta’ev, I. I. Russko-germanskie diplomaticheskie otnosheniia 1905–1911. Moscow, 1972.
Ganelin, R. Sh. Rossiia i SShA, 1914–1917. Leningrad, 1969.
Poletika, N. P. Vozniknovenie pervoi mirovoi voiny (iiul’skii krizis 1914). Moscow, 1964.
Fay, S. Proiskhozhdenie mirovoi voiny, vols. 1–2. Moscow, 1934. (Translated from English.)
Falkenhayn, E. von. Verkhovnoe komandovanie 1914–1916 gg. ν ego vazhneishikh resheniiakh. Moscow, 1923. (Translated from German.)
Kolenkovskii, A. K. Manevrennyi period pervoi mirovoi imperialisticheskoi voiny 1914 g. Moscow, 1940.
Arutiunian, A. O. Kavkazskii front 1914–1917 gg. Yerevan, 1971.
Korsun, N. G. Balkanskii front mirovoi voiny 1914–1918 gg. Moscow, 1939.
Korsun, N. G. Pervaia mirovaia voina na Kavkazskom fronte. Moscow, 1946.
Bazarevskii, A. Mirovaia voina 1914–1918 gg.: Kampaniia 1918 g. vo Frantsii i Bel’gii, vols. 1–2. Moscow-Leningrad, 1927.
Novitskii, V. Mirovaia voina 1914–1918 gg.: Kampaniia 1914 g. ν Bel’gii i Frantsii, vols. 1–2. Moscow, 1938.
Villari, L. Voina na ital’ianskom fronte 1915–1918 gg. Moscow, 1936. (Translated from English.)
Flot ν pervoi mirovoi voine, vols. 1–2. Moscow, 1964.
Petrov, M. Podgotovka Rossii k mirovoi voine na more. Moscow-Leningrad, 1926.
Corbett, J. S., and H. Newbolt. Operatsii angliiskogo flota ν mirovuiu voinu, 3rd ed., vols. 1–4. Moscow, 1941. (Translated from English.)
Aleksandrov, A. P., I. S. Isakov, and V. A. Belli. Operatsii podvodnykh
lodok. Leningrad, 1933.
Scheer, R. Germanskii flot ν mirovuiu voinu. Moscow-Leningrad, 1940. (Translated from German.)
Sidorov, A. L. Ekonomicheskoe polozhenie Rossii ν gody pervoi mirovoi voiny. Moscow, 1973.
Pisarev, Iu. A. Serbiia i Chernogoriia ν pervoi mirovoi voine. Moscow, 1968.
Vinogradov, V. N. Rumyniia ν gody pervoi mirovoi voiny. Moscow, 1969.
Vinogradov, K. B. Burzhuaznaia istoriografiia pervoi mirovoi voiny. Moscow, 1962.
Khmelevskii, G. Mirovaia imperialisticheskaia voina 1914–1918: Sistematicheskii ukazatel’ knizhnoi i stateinoi voenno-istoricheskoi literatury za 1914–1935. Moscow, 1936.
Rutman, R. E. Bibliografiia literatury, izdannoi ν 1953–1963 gg. po istorii Pervoi mirovoi voiny. Moscow, 1964.
Otto, H., K. Schmiedel, and H. Schnitter. Der erste Weltkrieg, 2nd ed. Berlin, 1968.
History of the Great War: Series A–M. [vols. 1–49]. London, 1922–48.
Der Weltkrieg 1914 bis 1918: Die militärischen operationen zu Lande, vols. 1–14. Berlin, 1925–44.
Deutschland im Ersten Weltkrieg, vols. 1–3. Berlin, 1968–69.
Les Armées françaises dans la Grande guerre, vols. 1–11. Paris, 1922–37.
Osterreich—Ungarns letzter Krieg 1914–1918, vols. 1–7; Supplement, vols. 1–10. Vienna, 1929–38.
Fischer, F. Griff nach der Weltmacht: Die Kriegszielpolitik des kaiserlichen Deulschland 1914–18, 4th ed. Düsseldorf, 1971.
Schlachten des Weltkriegs, vols. 1–36. Oldenburg-Berlin, 1921–30.
Der Krieg zur See, 1914–1918 [vols. 1–22], Berlin, 1920–37; Bonn, 1964–66.

I. I. ROSTUNOV

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

ICMLPO (Unity and Struggle): Meeting of Marxist-Leninist Parties and Organisations of Europe

The crisis of the capitalist system on the world level is getting still worse, and in Europe it is taking the form of a recession. At the same time, the rejection of the austerity policy is stronger and more massive than ever before; tens of millions of workers, men and women, are taking to the streets in all the capitals of Europe.

The austerity policy imposed everywhere, instead of “solving the crisis,” as the neo-liberal and social liberal governments would have us believe, is deepening it. This policy is increasing the recession in the countries hardest hit by the crisis and is beginning to have consequences in which some have taken advantage of the crisis of others, as is the case of German imperialism. This policy is increasing the public debt and economic inequality, promoting unequal development as well as competition among the countries of the European Union (EU).

It is a vicious circle that the workers and peoples must break if they do not wish to be sucked into a spiral that will return them to conditions of the 19th century. The fiscal pact signed by Merkel and Sarkozy has been accepted as is by almost all the EU governments. It is a pact that combines the austerity policy and increases “competitiveness,” which clearly means greater flexibility, easier layoffs and brutal and massive falls in wages, which are presented as “costs”: we say that labour is not a “cost”, it is capital that is increasingly intolerable for the workers and peoples. The leaders of the major European imperialist powers, particularly Merkel and Hollande, are trying to impose a “European government,” a real General Staff of the financial oligarchy. In this way they are trying to strengthen the economic and political power of the oligarchy and to transform the elected institutions in the states – specifically parliaments as well as regional and local institutions – into simple transmission belts for their policies.

Taking advantage of the crisis that hit Cyprus, the European leaders have opened a new stage of trying to appraise the small savers and make them pay. It is a message, a threat to the peoples: tomorrow your savings will be confiscated by capital.

All this makes clear their true goal: super-exploit the working class, eliminate the mechanisms of social protection, weaken the fighting ability of the workers, transfer an ever greater share of the wealth created to the oligarchy, to the holders of capital who live at the expense of the workers and peoples. When poverty reaches unimaginable proportions, when hunger is a scourge that plagues millions of men, women and children, the oligarchy displays its wealth and luxury and its insulting lifestyle.

Austerity Goes Hand in Hand with Authoritarianism

Capital is carrying out its violent offensive with tremendous brutality and is trampling on democratic rights. The austerity goes hand in hand with the authoritarianism of the Troika imposed on States and supervised governments, as in Greece, which are required to submit their accounts regularly to committees of “experts” led by the Troika.

The workers and trade union movement is the main target of the attacks of capital. In several countries social protest is criminalized and limits are imposed on the exercise of trade union rights. The fighting sectors of the workers and the militants who are fighting against class collaboration are excluded from the unions by the leaders who practice such collaboration.

At the same time the governments and employers are carrying out an intensive campaign to discredit the unions. The government and employers are using the crisis, the large number of unemployed, etc., to pressure workers so that they do not join the unions, although this is a fundamental right enshrined in the constitution of all EU states. The migrant workers are particularly suffering from these repressive policies; they are being harassed and attacked by fascist and racist groups. They leave their countries fleeing war and poverty, for all of which the imperialist powers are responsible, particularly in Africa, and they suffer super-exploitation and racism.

In various countries the progressive, political and trade union movements are mobilizing and fighting so that these immigrant men and women have the same rights as their class brothers and sisters.

Also in many EU countries racist and fascist groups and parties are spreading their ideas which are repeated by the large media in order to influence broad sections of the popular masses. To the traditional discourse of the xenophobic and racist extreme right there is now added a dangerous populist discourse that mixes “social” formulations with rabid nationalism. They use the discontent of the masses and the rejection of the parties applying austerity policies, both those of the right and the left.

The Crisis Is Sharpening the Contradictions between the Imperialist Powers and Imperialist Blocs

The problem of control of energy resources, raw materials, strategic areas and markets is the main cause of wars of aggression and military intervention by the imperialist powers. After Libya, its oil and its riches, now it is Mali that is suffering the policy of war. French and British imperialism were the most involved in the war in Libya, French imperialism is the one that launched the war in Mali, but both have turned to their European and EU allies for help in these reactionary actions. At the same time they are maintaining troops in Afghanistan, and other countries are in the crosshairs of the imperialist powers, particularly Syria.

U.S. imperialism and its military arm, NATO, is pressing its European allies to take charge, particularly the “European” component of NATO, and they are committed even more financially and militarily. The fight within each country to leave NATO, as well as for its outright dissolution, is completely relevant today.

The peoples of Europe have nothing to gain from the war­mongering policy that only serves the interests of the oligarchy. The people are interested in increasing their ties of solidarity with those who are suffering from plunder and domination by the European imperialist powers, particularly the peoples of Africa, in order to fight united against the system of oppression and exploitation.

Our Camp Is That of the Workers and Peoples

The aspiration for united struggles against austerity, against the dictates of the Troika, is growing. Currently, more than ever, the problem is put forward of making these struggles converge and developing solidarity across borders.

In various countries the rejection of the austerity policy coincides with opposition to the Troika, the euro and the EU. The supporters of this Europe of reaction and capital are worried by this rejection and are trying to avoid it with the reactionary positions raised by the fascist and nationalist parties and organizations, which do not question the capitalist system but divide the peoples and pit them against each other.

The reformist forces are responding to these protests with a pathetic and deceptive call for a “social Europe” that in no way corresponds to reality.

We proclaim that the people have the right to decide to leave the euro and also the EU. We also know that not all the European countries belong to the Euro zone.

Along with the progressive forces who defend this position, we state that this is a problem linked to the issue of the defence of sovereignty; we support this fight as part of the struggle against the austerity policy imposed by the EU.

We state that if a people decides and brings about its withdrawal from the Euro, we stand in solidarity with the fight that will be waged against the offensive of the oligarchy, which will do everything possible to make them pay for that decision.

In any case, we defend the slogan of refusing to pay the debt, whether in euros or in any other currency.

The breadth of the workers and popular resistance, which must be developed, puts forward the problem of the political solution that we must give to this increase in the class struggle. The working class is in the vanguard of these battles and broad sections of the working masses of the cities and countryside are joining it on the streets and in demonstrations. The problem of the unity of the working class and the unity of all sections of the people are the basis for carrying out a policy of the united front, which has already taken concrete forms in different countries.

Our parties and organizations are calling for developing this policy everywhere, with the perspective of the revolutionary transformation of society and the development of international solidarity.

Germany,
25 June 2013

Communist Party of the Workers of DENMARK (APK)
Communist Party of the Workers of FRANCE (PCOF)
Organization for the Reconstruction of a Communist Party of GERMANY (Arbeit Zukunft)
Movement for the Reorganization of the KKE (1918-1955) GREECE
Communist Platform of ITALY
Communist Party of SPAIN (M-L)
Revolutionary Communist Party of TURKEY

Source

PCOF: New Military Occupation by French Imperialism

IMG_1759

Even before the United Nations Organisation had given the green light, the first French troops occupied the capital Bangui, where bloody chaos reigned. Prepositioned in neighbouring Cameroon, they joined the French contingent of 250 soldiers charged with guarding the French embassy, about 1,200 foreign residents and the security of the airport. This was the beginning of “Operation Sangaris”. As in Mali, this is officially under the guise of the UNO in support of the African troops of the MISCA (International Support Mission to the Central African Republic). As in Mali, France is claiming humanitarian reasons, the risk of the conflict escalating into a religious and ethnic one, to justify its interference and, as in Mali, the French leaders promise a blitz operation, mobilising about 1,500 soldiers in limited and targeted actions “for a brief period of about 6 months,” according to Le Drian, Minister of Defence.

Francophone Africa at its most grotesque

This country, as large as France, with only about 5 million inhabitants, remains one of the world’s poorest countries despite its immense resources. The primary responsibility lies with French imperialism, which, since independence in 1959, has dismissed the most capable leaders to place puppets at the head of the country, with the sole criterion their fidelity to French interests. Since the death of the father of independence, Boganda, in a very suspicious airplane accident, the country has had eight leaders, only one of whom was elected. All the others came to the presidency by coups, with the active complicity of the French army and of auxiliaries supplied by the neighbouring countries, particularly Chad. Francophone Africa experienced its most grotesque expression in Central Africa with Bokassa, a sergeant in the French colonial army, who fought in Indochina and Algeria, before being propelled to the head of the country by Foccart, Mister Africa of General de Gaulle. From 1965 to 1979, this soldier systematically bled his country, selling off the national companies, ruining the economy by lavish expenses, offering gifts of great value to Western leaders such as the famous “Bokassa diamonds” offered to Giscard d’Estaing.

He was removed from office by the former colonial power, not for having imposed a regime of terror and squandering the country’s wealth, but because he wanted to move closer to Gaddafi’s Libya, thus threatening French interests in Chad. After his ouster, his cousin David Dacko succeeded him, but he too was overthrown by another soldier for having wanted to open the country to Chinese interests. The last military coup was by Bozize, who remained in power for ten years, during which time he provided his family and his clan with all good deals and placed them in all key positions. Over all these years he benefited from France’s unconditional support, which in 2007 sent in paratroopers to quell a rebellion in the northeast of the country. However in 2013, [French President] Hollande decided to no longer support him against the armed bands of the Seleka, which eventually overthrew him.

The negotiations initiated by France and the neighbouring countries led to the temporary appointment of the main leader of the Seleka, Djotodia, as President of the Central African Republic. But he was never able to impose himself. For several months now, the country has been beset by acts of violence by the armed groups of the Seleka, which had nothing to do with a popular rebellion. The confrontations with those faithful to Bozize or with the committees of self-defence have become the daily lot of the population. Today, a third of the population suffers from hunger and hundreds of thousands of people are hiding in the forest or are refugees in neighbouring countries.

The real reasons for the “Operation Sangaris”

Hollande, [French Foreign Minister] Fabius, Le Drian and others claim to have launched “Operation Sangaris” for purely humanitarian reasons, even raising the risk of genocide. These are crocodile tears on their part. The worst dictators were brought to and kept in power by the leaders of French imperialism as long as they defended their interests.

The Central African Republic occupies a geostrategic location of primary importance, at the heart of the continent, surrounded by the countries Congo, Gabon, Cameroon and Chad, weakened by the interference of the imperialist powers that already exploit their raw material resources. Today, the Central African subsoil produces little: diamonds and gold mined by hand. But it is known that there are huge reserves of bauxite (the ore used to produce aluminium) and rare and precious metals. For several years, the Areva monopoly exploited a uranium deposit at Bankouma, but the global overproduction and above all the insecurity created by the bands of looters that the Bozize regime was unable to contain, led to the closure of the mine. Recently, in the north of the country, oilfields were discovered, which are the extension of the Chadian fields already in operation. Bozize dared to sign exploration contracts with the Chinese monopoly CNPC [Chinese National Petroleum Corporation], defying the interests of Total [French energy monopoly]. If one adds the fact that, for some time, the Bozize clan has received many visitors, members of the large diamond companies of South Africa, it is clear that Bozize was dropped by Hollande and French imperialism because he became an obstacle to French interests. The African continent is especially rich in raw materials and, with the emergence of new large consumers such as China, the competition over mineral resources and agricultural lands is leading to a redivision of spheres of exploitation due to the new relationships of power.

Therefore, it is to ensure the ownership of these riches, for now and for the future, that French imperialism unleashed “Operation Sangaris”.

An Operation That Extends the War in Mali and That Will Make It Last

Ten months after the start of “Operation Serval” in Mali, the French army again provided weapons to another former French colony in sub-Saharan Africa. While the withdrawal of occupation troops in Mali is behind schedule because the war is far from over, it had to send more troops to Central Africa. In a large country like France, the sending of 1,500 men to pacify the country appears insufficient. Certainly, the MISCA is expected to mobilize 4,000 men in the first half of 2014 and this figure is expected to reach about 7,000 in a year. But experience shows that the troops of the neighbouring countries, poorly equipped and poorly trained, are not very operational. On the other hand, imperialism is reluctant to arm and train seasoned fighters. And in the state of decomposition in the Central African Republic, the African troops already in the country cannot secure the population. They participate in the general chaos, robbing, raping and holding people for ransom. In short, the French army cannot rely on them to bring order to the country, to secure the cities and the main highways.

On the other hand, the presence of French troops can only increase the risk of escalation in the character of the war. After Mali and the Libyan conflict, thousands of mercenaries using Islam as a banner are ready to join in a war in which, once again, France is fighting to defend the interests of the Western world against the interests of the peoples of Muslim faith. Among the fighters of the Seleka, there are many Central Africans, Congolese and Chadians, but there are also an increasing number of fighters coming from Libya and Mali. The conflict could therefore quickly take on a dimension of a “religious war”.

Finally, there is a difference with the war in Mali where there was an enemy that was easily identifiable but difficult to fight. In Central Africa, who is the enemy and who is the ally? In the chaotic situation of the country, French imperialism will have to choose one camp against another and to find interlocutors, otherwise it will have to openly return to a situation of colonial domination.

Under these conditions, the intervention in the Central African Republic can in no case bring the Central African people peace and security. As in Mali, the presence of French troops is sharpening the contradictions between imperialism and the oppressed peoples. For the Central African people, this will lead to more victims, more misery, more people displaced or forced into exile, a tyrannical military occupation whose length nobody can predict. Already a blitz operation is expected to last at least six months, that is enough!

In Central Africa and Mali we demand:
FRENCH ARMY OUT OF AFRICA!

La Forge, December 2013, # 546.

Translated from the French by Antonio Artuso

Communist Platform (Marxist-Leninist): NATO’s Favourite Social Democrat Dog of War

kpml

Former Prime Minister and Labour Party leader Jens Stoltenberg has been appointed Secretary General of NATO.

The Norwegian right-wing Government of Erna Solberg, as well as the Labour party leadership itself, are bursting with pride on behalf of the Norwegian administration as well as that of the Labour Party. The neo- liberalist rightist government has been actively lobbying in order to ensure that Mr. Stoltenberg, supposedly a political opponent, would replace Danish Anders Fogh Rasmussen in Brussels.

But the Norwegian people have no reason to rejoice at Stoltenberg becoming the front-runner for NATO’s “Drang nach Osten.” His assignment is to spearhead an aggression eastwards, which in the worst case could end with another major European war. A Norwegian Secretary General of NATO will mean that Norway to an even greater extent than hitherto will spearhead this expansive alliance when it engages in new wars of aggression. It will bring about even more NATO-subservient media, more militarization and more looting of taxpayers’ money.

Being a tool of imperialism is an unbroken and shameful tradition of social democracy since the onset of the First imperialist world war one hundred years ago. 1914 was a watershed. Most of the old social democratic parties in Europe, but not in Russia, betrayed their roots and ideals by entering into the service of imperialism and their “own” bourgeoisie.

At first, they swore that they opposed imperialist war and would never raise arms against brothers in other countries, before they swung round and voted for war credits. After this class betrayal, it became impossible for revolutionary socialists to call themselves social democrats.

Today, the Social Democratic leaders are no longer merely lackeys of imperialism. They have themselves become spokesmen and the most prominent figures of modern imperialism.

It was Stoltenberg’s “red and green” government coalition project (2005-2013) that really transformed Norway into NATO’s most efficient bulldog. The appointment of Stoltenberg is a reward for obedience and ability to adapt to the agenda of greater imperialist powers in America and Europe. Stoltenberg has shown that he not only obeys the U.S. and UK, but that he also lends an ear to Germany and France. He is therefore acceptable for Merkel and Hollande, too. The imperialist unity around Stoltenberg is also a signal that NATO will further escalate the militarisation vis a vis Russia in the Arctic area, corresponding to the long-standing request from the Norwegian political elite and the oil monopolies.

It has been said that a secretary general of NATO is more secretary than general, and there is much to it. The task of a Fogh Rasmussen or a Stoltenberg is to smoothe tensions between the U.S. and European powers. Their obligation is to get this imperialist alliance to agree on a common strategy, which in practice coincides with the strategic interests of U.S. imperialism. An important part of this strategy is, of course, how to face main rival Russia, and to a certain extent China. But more important than anything, is how to quell the aspirations of freedom-loving peoples and rebellious workers at home and abroad.

It is no national honour, but the contrary, when Norway will spearhead the most aggressive military alliance in the world in the years to come. Labour Party leader and former Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg is objectively a war criminal, who is acquitted because those who retain the power, i.e. the USA and NATO, also have the power to define who should or should not be impeached.

In several New Year speeches Jens Stoltenberg told the Norwegian people that he was “filled with pride to see what Norwegian soldiers accomplish in a distant land.” In 2011 this “distant land” was Afghanistan. The following year, Stoltenberg boasted how Norwegian F-16 fighters had bombed Libya to the ground: “Our crews were among the most skilled in a broad coalition, and have since garnered deserved praise from our allies.” The sufferings which Norwegian attack forces have inflicted on civilians in Afghanistan and Libya, is inconceivable. But to the imperialists and monopolies, this is merely collateral damage.

President Obama is no doubt impressed by the vigour Stoltenberg demonstrated when he and his ministers from the Labour Party, The Socialist Left party (SV) and the Centre party swept international law and the Norwegian constitution aside, agreeing by means of text messages to declare war against Libya in March 2011.

A US President would hardly have dared anything of the kind, without first having secured the backing of Congress. This was one reason why Obama was compelled to back out from the planned attack on Syria in September 2013. Or when British Prime Minister David Cameron had to put up with a stinging defeat in the British Parliament. Jens Stoltenberg, however, has shown that he can go to war by phone if necessary. Reassuring? Hardly.

Stoltenberg has demonstrated that he will not allow popular protest or constitutional rules to curb the road to war if the U.S. of A. and NATO have given the word “Go”. Simultaneously, his rhetorical skills prod the media to exhibit him as a peace dove. A two-faced secretary general is to the liking of the major NATO powers.

Getting Norway out of NATO would be the greatest service the people of Norway can offer in favour of world peace and the oppressed peoples and nations on this planet.

Source

Joint Communiqué of the Revolutionary Communist Party of the Ivory Coast and the Communist Party of Benin

logo2588171-3651775

On 23 February 2014, a meeting was held in Cotonou between the PCRCI [Revolutionary Communist Party of the Ivory Coast] and the PCB [Communist Party of Benin] related to the events organised by the INIREF [International Institute of Research and Training]-Benin for the celebration of the International Day of the Mother Tongue and the peoples of Benin.

The two parties exchanged views on the international situation and the respective national situations and identified the tasks they imply.

I. On the international situation

1) The global capitalist crisis began in 2008 and its effects continue to worsen the living conditions of the proletariat and the peoples of the world. This leads them around the world to wage different forms of struggle for their liberation.

2) The arrival on the world stage of new so-called emerging powers, whose known core is made up of the BRICS group: Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, increasing the inter-imperialist rivalries with the multiplication of local clashes concerning domination; this constitutes the elements of a world war by proxy.

The first counter-offensive by the classical imperialist powers to stop the rise of the “emerging” countries was launched against Libya. They succeeded in regaining control with this counter-offensive, directed against China and Russia, as well as against the African peoples. At the end of the war France would have won 35% of Libyan oil. The second counter-offensive was against Syria; they have bitten the dust faced with the determination of the Syrian people but also with the policy of Russia and China. It is the same with the evolution of the situation in Iran.

II. On the African continent

1) Africa is the focus of all world contradictions: an abundance of untapped wealth, crying misery of the majority of the population, greed of the imperialists, cultural domination, military aggression against the peoples, installation of military bases in some countries to serve as Advanced Operational Bases such as Ivory Coast and Djibouti. The fight is fierce between the old powers and the new so-called emerging powers. This rivalry is the basis of all the conflicts of which the African peoples are the victims.

2) To protect its neo-colonial “backyard,” French imperialism resorts to the policy of direct military occupation of its former colonies. The military infrastructure of imperialism (French and U.S. – Africom – etc.) aim at criss-crossing Africa with assault troops through their military bases in Djibouti, Chad, Gabon, Ivory Coast, Sahel, Gulf of Guinea, etc. So from now on, Abidjan will officially serve as a rear base to attack the peoples of the sub-region.

The latest military intervention to date is the one taking place in the Central African Republic. Any excuse is good to intervene in the African countries: “Hunting a despot who refused to recognise the election results” for the Ivory Coast; “To help the Libyan people in revolt against the dictator Gaddafi” for Libya; “To fight the jihadists and restore the territorial integrity” of Mali; “To restore security and order and stop the massacres” for the Central African Republic. The tactics of imperialism are the same: To set a fire to give a pretext to intervene to put it out. However, we now know that it is the French intervention in Central Africa that is exacerbating the ethno-religious relations in the country disarming the Seleka and covering up the crimes of so-called Christian militias.

The PCRCI and PCB declare that French imperialism and its military forces are the only ones responsible for the current massacres of Central African citizens, particularly those of the Muslim faith and therefore for the ongoing genocide in that country.

The PCRCI and PCB denounce and condemn the military aggressions of international imperialism and particularly French imperialism, which is hiding behind the UN forces and behaves like a pyromaniac fireman to maintain its African backyard.

They pay tribute to all Africans who fell victim to the bullets of the French interventionist aggressors, whether in Libya, Ivory Coast, Mali, Central Africa, etc. And they declare them heroes and martyrs of African patriotism.

3) The PCRCI and PCB welcome the victories of the fraternal people of Tunisia under the leadership of the Workers’ Party and the Popular Front of Tunisia for Democracy against Islamist obscurantism, and for a democratic constitution.

They also greet the fraternal people of Niger who fought bravely against the plundering of the mineral resources, particularly uranium, which is the object of the AREVA group and for the sovereignty over its natural resources.

III. The situation in Benin and the Ivory Coast is characterised by the unchallenged domination of French imperialism whose monopolies control large parts of the national economies (ports, banks, energy, etc.).

1) In Benin, Yayi Boni, having ransacked the economy and finances of the country, aims to restore a fascist dictatorship of another age. It is against this that all the people are rising up to oppose him and establish the power of the workers and peoples. The PCRCI firmly supports the ongoing struggles of the Benin workers and youths in the struggles for their total emancipation and wish them a successful result.

2) In the Ivory Coast, under the false pretext of development after the disaster of the war period, the Ouattara authorities are confiscating the state media, stifling freedom, trying to ban student organisations and put in their place puppet structures. The Communist Party of Benin supports the struggles of the Ivorian people and the Revolutionary Communist Party of the Ivory Coast in their struggle against French imperialism and against the anti-democratic regime of Ouattara to liberate the Ivory Coast from neo-colonial dependency.

3) The Revolutionary Communist Party of the Ivory Coast (PCRCI) thanks the Communist Party of Benin (PCB) and the INIREF-Benin for inviting it to the events for the commemoration of the International Day of the Mother Tongue and the celebration of the peoples of Benin.

The PCRCI and PCB send the proletariat, the peoples, the democrats and the youth the following call:

* NO TO MILITARY INTERVENTION AGAINST THE PEOPLES!
* NO TO FOREIGN MILITARY BASES OF AGGRESSION ON AFRICAN SOIL!
* IMPERIALISM OUT!

Cotonou, February 23, 2014

For the PCRCI: Yokore Gnagnon.
For the PCB: Philippe Noudjenoume

Source

Revolutionary Communist Party of Volta (PCRV): The West African sub-region and Mali: zone of imperialist rivalries and military interventions against the peoples

pcrv

From Unity & Struggle No. 25, Spring/Summer 2013

Burkina Faso

Since the beginning of the 2000s with the political-military crisis in the Ivory Coast, and particularly in 2010, the West African sub-region has undergone major political events with great interests at play. Consider:

The evolution of the political and military situation in the Sahel (sub-Saharan) region because of the activities of AQIM (Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb) and the intervention of U.S. and French troops, under the “pious” pretext of fighting terrorism .

The post-election conflict in the Ivory Coast, as a result of the presidential elections in December 2010, marking a new phase in the reactionary civil war in which the country has been plunged since September 2002, and which led to the capture of Laurent Gbagbo and the coming to Power of Alasane Dramane Ouattara, thanks to the military intervention by French troops supported by mercenaries, in particular from Burkina Faso.

One must take account of developments in the West African sub-region if we want to correctly understand the situation in Mali: its profound significance, the importance of what is at stake, the fundamental interests of the many national and foreign participants.

The development in the West African region, and particularly in Mali, is very disturbing; it affects all social classes and strata as well as the political forces that represent them. The PCRV (Revolutionary Communist Party of Volta), the real representative of the proletariat of Burkina Faso, loyal to proletarian internationalism, in these difficult times for the proletariat and peoples of the West African sub-region has the duty to:

• Address the proletariat and people of our country to make them understand the important political change in the situation in the West African sub-region and in Mali; present the revolutionary alternative and help fight to bring it about; show solidarity with the proletariat and peoples of the African sub-region on the basis of proletarian internationalism.

I. The situation in the West African sub-region: characteristic features, the biggest change since 2010

For some time this region has had the following characteristic features:

• Great political instability: the various States have been hard hit by the crisis of the imperialist capitalist system, they have been weakened and are unable to meet the demands of the people living in poverty and misery.

• Great lack of democracy: most of the powers in place are undemocratic and repressive, they have been established by military coups or rigged elections, or else by atrocious reactionary civil wars.

• Many countries in the sub-region have experienced violent conflicts (Ivory Coast, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Senegal and Guinea Bissau) or have been affected by lesser conflict (Sierra Leone and Liberia).

• The struggle among different imperialist powers (U.S., France, Britain, etc.) and between these imperialist powers and new players such as China, India and Brazil, for control of the area in the context of the struggle for the redivision of the world, specifically the African continent that is in dispute.

This struggle is increasing and becoming ever more ferocious due to the crisis that is striking the French zone in West Africa and due to the desperate struggle of French imperialism to maintain its influence against the rapacity of its imperialist rivals, particularly U.S. imperialism, which is very aggressive in this sub-region.

These problems are particularly acute in the Saharan area, a sensitive area:

• In this area, which extends from the boundaries of Algeria to Sudan and Somalia, there is all kinds of trafficking (in drugs, tobacco, weapons, human beings, etc.), cross-border banditry, Tuareg rebellions, AQIM activities, etc.

• The neighboring States and powers of this sensitive area have no effective control over it, they are in crisis (Algeria, Mali, Niger and Mauritania) and they are the object of sporadic attacks by armed political groups that are fighting for various socio-political reasons.

These political States and powers openly admit their inability to control the area and ask the imperialist powers (U.S. and France) to intervene militarily under the pretext of combating terrorism. This has enabled U.S. imperialism to penetrate militarily in the area with its special forces and military instructors charged with training the neocolonial armies, particularly in Mali, Mauritania and Burkina Faso. French imperialism, for its part, is strengthening its influence over the armies of its former colonies (Burkina Faso, Niger, Mauritania and Mali) and is deploying its own troops and material, such as combat helicopters. Concerning Burkina Faso one must emphasize the following important facts:

• The French special forces stationed in Burkina Faso are using the country as a center of operations against AQMI in Mali and other countries. General Beth, a veteran of the “Licorne” special forces in the Ivory Coast, has been appointed French ambassador to Burkina Faso in order to organize the French intervention in the sub-region and in our country.

• U.S. imperialism has installed a detection, listening and spying center for West Africa in Burkina Faso. It has financed, trained and equipped three battalions composed of mercenary soldiers from the country to intervene in Darfur under his (U.S.) command.

The interference of the imperialist powers in the West African sub-region and the sub-Saharan area are very important:

• Political, geostrategic and military interests related to the struggle for the redivision of the world and the African continent.

• Economic interests: access to the oil in the Gulf of Guinea and the Ivory Coast, to uranium in Niger and to the precious minerals that abound in the region, solar energy, cocoa, coffee, etc.

• The struggle of the Anglo-Saxon (U.S., Great Britain) and French imperialists to curb the penetration into the area of new players such as China, India and Brazil.

• The attempts by different imperialist powers to stifle any protest of the masses, who are reduced to poverty and who lack political liberty, and are suffering repression exerted by the corrupt puppets trying to crush any revolutionary movement and insurrection.

The “fight against terrorism” and the “struggle for democracy” are only excuses for the imperialist powers (the same ones that are destroying and looting Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya) and their lackeys (despised by the peoples) of the West African sub-region. The evolution of the political situation in this area must be well understood and integrated into the analysis of the current situation in Mali, and the interests pursued by the different players (national and international), as well as their consequences.

II. The evolution of the political situation in Mali since the military coup of the CNRDRE, and the military occupation of northern Mali by the MLNA and the “Jihadists” (AQMI, Ansar-dine, Mujao, Boko haram, etc.

The military coup of March 22, 2012, took place in a context of a political, economic, social and military crisis under the puppet and corrupt power of Ahmadou Toumani Toure.

The military coup of the CNRDRE (National Committee for the Recovery of Democracy and the Restoration of the State) deepened the political-military crisis in Mali. It accelerated the disintegration of the defense and security forces that were already demoralized by the defeat suffered against the fighters of the MNLA, AQIM and Ansar-Dine. This favored the stunning conquest of northern Mali (2/3 of the national territory) by the coalition of Islamist forces that met no resistance whatsoever, given the prevailing political chaos in Bamako and the degeneration of the State of Mali.

Besides the internal factors, the political-military crisis in Mali had serious consequences for the neighboring countries, particularly Algeria, Niger, Burkina Faso, Mauritania and the rest of the countries of the West African sub-region.

AQIM is a real threat to the countries of the area in that they recruit young fighters and maintain “sleeper cells.” It has colossal means (financial and material) and benefits from favorable circumstances (the bankruptcy of the neocolonial States with corrupt leadership, the poverty and lack of prospects for the disoriented youth, etc.).

The “jihadists” of the Boko Haram zone of Nigeria have established contacts with AQIM and are active in the north of Mali, which has become a real sanctuary for the Islamic terrorists of the world. They favor the proliferation of all types of arms (heavy and light weapons, missiles, anti-personnel mines, etc..). They cause massive displacement of the population to the south of Mali, and also to neighboring countries that receive hundreds of thousands of Malian refugees. The country that receives these refugees, who are struck by the food crisis, has trouble dealing with the situation. There is the threat of a humanitarian catastrophe in Mali and the neighboring countries. It threatens to revive the Tuareg rebellion in Mali and to create one in Burkina Faso.

The political-military crisis is also a serious threat to the interests of imperialism, particularly French imperialism in Mali and in the area. For all these reasons it has an important sub-regional and international dimension. The countries of the sub-region, encouraged by French imperialism, decided to intervene in Mali using ECOWAS (Economic Community of West African States) in order to: expel the coup leaders of March 22 who were in power, install the representatives of the different fractions of the reactionary bourgeoisie beholden to French imperialism, preserve and defend the interests of imperialism in Mali and the sub-Saharan area; and evict the AQIM from the north of Mali. A plan of political, diplomatic, economic, financial and military dimensions has been developed to achieve these objectives. To carry out this reactionary plan they have chosen Blaise Compaore, pawn of French imperialism, as mediator for ECOWAS.

The political-military crisis that Mali is experiencing is very complex, important interests are at play, it has a sub-regional and international dimension, and its multiple actors have different objectives. The solution must be a long-term one. There are three possible outcomes to the present situation in Mali:

• The first is the consolidation of the de facto division of the country. The Northern region would remain under the control of AQIM, Ansaqr, Dine, the MNLA, various warlords and major traffickers. The southern area would remain under the control of the CNRDRE, with a president and a government of “consensus.” This is the most dangerous outcome for the Malian people and the people of the region, since it may lead Mali into a reactionary civil war (both in the North and in the South), to a deep economic and social chaos, a major humanitarian crisis and serious repercussions on the entire West African sub-region and particularly in the sub-Saharan area.

• The second outcome would be the military intervention by ECOWAS to impose the plan prepared by French imperialism. For these imperialists, the achievement of that plan must lead to the establishment of a federal Mali, with great political and administrative autonomy in the Northern region under the leadership of the MNLA and its potential allies. This outcome would be violent. Therefore French imperialism and ECOWAS are insisting on sending ECOWAS troops to Mali to strengthen French and U.S. imperialism that are already on the ground in that country and in Niger, Mauritania and Burkina Faso.

• The third outcome is the revolutionary one; to achieve this the working class and people of Mali must organize, provide themselves with a genuine communist party to carry out a National Democratic and Popular Revolution (a transition to socialism), through the General Armed Insurrection (GAI) which will allow it: to free the country from French imperialist domination; to expel the reactionary classes allied with imperialism from the country; to liberate, unify and bring about equality among the different nationalities of the country, and thus correctly solve the national problem in Mali; to begin revolutionary political, economic and social reforms to place Mali on the road to progress.

This outcome is the most favorable for the working class and people of Mali and the peoples of the West African sub-region.

III. The position of principles and the revolutionary alternative of the PCRV towards political change in the political evolution of the West African sub-region and in Mali.

The PCRV, internationalist revolutionary party of the proletariat of our country, faced with the major political shift that is taking place in the West African sub-region and in Mali:

1. Denounces the intervention of imperialist troops of foreign aggression in West Africa, particularly in the sub-Saharan area, and demands their withdrawal. It denounces and condemns the pro-imperialist puppet powers that have opened their territories (particularly in Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger, Mauritania and Senegal) to the imperialist aggressor troops.

2. Reaffirms its opposition to terrorism and coups, which are not ways appropriate to the revolution and the establishment of socialism. It condemns the coup carried out by the Malian Junta, commanded by Captain Amadou Sanogo.

3. Denounces and condemns the proclamation of independence of the State of AZAWD by the MNLA, tool of French imperialism. It denounces and condemns the crimes perpetrated by terrorist group AQIM, the Islamist groups Ansar-Dine, MUJAO and the MNLA. It supports the brave resistance of the peoples, particularly the youth, against the oppression and medieval practices of these reactionary, obscurantist groups.

4. Denounces and condemns the reactionary plan of ECOWAS and the imperialists, particularly the French imperialists and opposes sending ECOWAS troops to Mali.

5. Denounces and condemns the adventurous foreign policy of the mafia clan of Blaise Compaore, which is a danger to the peoples of the area and of Burkina Faso.

6. Is committed to working with all their might, on the basis of proletarian internationalism, to:

• ensure the realization of the revolutionary alternative in Burkina Faso, which involves the overthrow of the mafia power of the Fourth Republic.

• support the proletariat and peoples of the sub-region against the rule of the imperialists and their African lackeys.

• support the proletariat and people of Mali to achieve a revolutionary outcome to the crisis striking the country. The PCRV will always be at their side and assures its support in everything, faced with the many difficulties and serious and complex situation that they face.

7. Calls on the proletariat and people of Burkina Faso to mobilize and organize with the PCRV to carry out powerful actions and to confront:

• the presence of imperialist troops in the sub-region, particularly in our country, and to demand their withdrawal.

• the military intervention of the imperialists and their lackeys of ECOWAS in Mali; to expel the mafia clan of Blaise Compoare, the troops of Burkina Faso from Mali in the framework of ECOWAS.

It also calls for solidarity with the struggle of the proletariat and peoples of the sub-region and of Mali.

Source

Revolutionary Communist Party (PCR): Imperialism Wants a New War in the World

PCR_partido_comunista_revolucionario

From Unity & Struggle No. 25, Spring/Summer 2013

Brazil

To satisfy its thirst for profit, the powerful war industry in the U.S. and other countries want another war in the world, whether it is against Syria or Iran, or against both countries at the same time. To do this, the gigantic propaganda machine of capitalism spreads lies and hides the fact that the CIA made agreements with Al-Qaeda to organize attacks against Syria.

Syria is not a socialist country and, therefore, it is not democratic. The principal law of the country’s economy is profit and those who rule and govern are the class of the rich. The elections are manipulated, those who fight for a revolution and real socialism are persecuted and there are numerous cases of corruption in the country. Those with money, the rich families, manage to resolve their problems, but those without, the vast majority of the population, suffer to even get a job.

Despite having socialism in its name and program, the Baath Party (Arab Socialist Renaissance Party) in practice does not defend the scientific socialism of Marx and Lenin, even though in its constitution in 1963 it was a progressive party, it nationalized oil and the land and adopted measures against foreign plunder of the country. But since the 1980s, it has become an instrument in the service of the privileges of a few hundred families and private groups. Consequently, several multinationals have ever more businesses in Syria. For two years the Italian multinational arms company, Finmeccanica, has been among the suppliers of the Syrian government. Finmeccanica is the eighth largest supplier of the Pentagon and also produces in association with the U.S. company Lockheed Martin.

As a dependent country, Syria is greatly suffering the consequences of the present capitalist economic crisis. This is aggravated by the fact that since the 1990s the government has adopted a series of neoliberal reforms that allow for the penetration of foreign capital, it has eliminated the welfare programs and reduced public investment by 50%. Large tracts of land in the city have been privatized and given to large enterprises that raised prices of real estate, forcing thousands of families to live on the outskirts of the cities and to form slums. Today, the country has a large number of unemployed youths, inequality is increasing greatly and poverty is growing. This led to the fact that, in March of 2011, amid the popular uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt, the youth took to the streets demanding social and political changes in the country.

It was under these circumstances that the imperialist countries began to operate, sending mercenaries who had been in Iraq to Syria to organize attacks and recruit those dissatisfied with the regime in order to form an army. Even the terrorist organization Al-Qaeda was used by the CIA and is an active member of the so-called Free Syrian Army. Also, the reactionary Turkish government of Tayyip Erdogan bombed Syria at the service of the imperialist strategy, fulfilling the role of provocateur seeking to accelerate the new imperialist war.

But it is not to put an end to capitalism nor to corruption much less to uphold human rights in Syria that the United States, France, Britain and Germany want to bomb Syria and overthrow the government of Bashar al-Assad. Incidentally, it is enough to note what occurred when those countries took over Libya, Afghanistan and Iraq after the military interventions of the imperialist countries to see what will happen to Syria in a NATO attack.

Indeed, none of these countries has become more democratic or less violent after the wars of which they were victims. On the contrary, today in Libya, in various public buildings the flag of the terrorist organization Al-Qaeda waves, the one that is accused of carrying out the attacks on the Twin Towers in the United States, which killed more than 3,000 U.S. citizens and which last September 11 led an attack that killed the U.S. ambassador to Libya, Christopher Stevens. In Afghanistan, between January 1 and June 30, 2012, 1,145 people died and 1,945 were injured due to attacks. Women and children made up 30% of the victims.

If the imperialist powers had any respect for human rights, the United States would not have financed and aided the military coup in Honduras, tried to overthrow the government of Hugo Chavez and would not continue to support and maintain the bloody dictatorships in Yemen, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia.

The defense that Russia and China made of the Syrian government has nothing to do with respect for the self-determination of the peoples. Let us recall that these two countries were favorable to the criminal wars against Iraq and Afghanistan and that they supported the various economic sanctions against Syria and Iran, depriving millions of people of food and medicine.

The old lie repeated

Furthermore, to justify a new imperialist war, the United States and other imperialist powers are repeating the same argument (or rather, the same lie) used against Iraq: Saddam has chemical weapons of mass destruction, or against Libya: Gaddafi is massacring the civilian population.

Therefore, the main reason raised by the United States and its allies to pressure the UN to approve the attack on Syria and use its deadly war machine made up of military satellites, nuclear weapons, submarines, drones, intercontinental missiles and millions of armed men deployed in over 1,000 military bases in about 50 countries, is that Syria has “powerful chemical weapons that can be used against the population.”

Look at what the U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said, on September 28, when he was asked by the U.S. media about chemical weapons depots in Syria: “U.S. intelligence reports state that the arsenal is in secure locations, but some of them have been moved. It is not clear when the weapons were transferred, nor whether that movement took place recently.” The story goes on to say that the U.S. believes that Syria has dozens of chemical and biological weapons depots scattered throughout the country.

In late August, President Barack Obama declared: “We have been very clear to the Assad regime, but also with all the other fighters, the red line would be when we start to see a whole bunch of chemical weapons being moved and used. That would change our calculus.”

There has never even been an international mission to Syria to investigate whether or not the country has chemical weapons. And now, not only that the country has them, but that they are transferring them from one place to another.

But how can one give credit to a government that has already lied so many times? Let us recall some of them: it said it would not drop atomic bombs on Japan and it dropped them; it said it would not use biological weapons against Vietnam and it used them; it said that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction and that was a lie. It says Iran is producing nuclear weapons, but so far, despite various inspections by the IAEA it was not able to find a single nuclear weapon in the country; however, according to the Pentagon the U.S. has 5,113 nuclear weapons and Israel has several hundred.

Moreover, what has mainly appeared about Syria are lies and disinformation. On September 28, U.S. and French news agencies made the following report: “Yesterday was the second consecutive day of bombings in the capital (Damascus). Two organizations of anti-Assad activists announced that several bodies were found in a suburb south of the capital. Apparently, the deaths were caused by forces loyal to the dictatorship.”

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said that 40 bodies, including women and children, were dumped in the suburb of Thiyabiyeh. The leader of the organization, Rami Abdul-Rahman, stated he had no details about the deaths. Other groups opposed to Assad, the Local Coordination Committees, estimated that a total of 107 bodies had been found, that many of the bodies showed signs of execution and some of the victims were beheaded. The numbers indicate one of the worst massacres of civilians since the start of the uprising. (O Globo, September 28, 2012).

Note that the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said it had no details about the 40 deaths. The other said there were 107 deaths. Was it they did not learn how to count or that they did not have time to fix the numbers? And who are the real murderers?

Crimes against the Syrian people, murders and executions are not uncommonly practiced by the so-called rebel forces of Syria. Look at what the Brazilian Ambassador Paulo Sergio Pinheiro, head of an independent international panel investigating the situation in Syria, said unexpectedly: “there are reasonable grounds to establish that anti-government forces of that country are perpetrating assassinations, extrajudicial executions and torture”.

Paulo Pinheiro also denounced the fact that the use of children under the age of 18 years by armed opposition groups is increasing, that these forces do not identify their members with real uniforms or insignia to distinguish them from civilians. Crimes committed by these elements, such as kidnappings, torture and ill-treatment of captured government soldiers, were also rejected by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay.

Concluding, Pinheiro criticized the government for carrying out indiscriminate attacks, such as air strikes and artillery shelling of residential areas. He also opposed the application of sanctions against Syria, because they constitute a denial of the fundamental rights of the people of that country, where according to the UN there are 2.5 million people who need humanitarian assistance. The specialist reiterated the need for a political solution in Syria, stressing that “there is no possibility of a military solution” (Correio do Brasil, September 22, 2012).

This is the truth.

Why imperialism wants war?

Nevertheless, the big bourgeois media want to convince people of the need for another imperialist war; they spread more and more lies, reminding us of Hitler’s propaganda minister, the Nazi Joseph Goebbels, who stated: “a lie told a thousand times becomes the truth.”

Actually, what is behind the war that is developing in Syria, which has killed 25,000 Syrians, are the interests of the imperialist powers in controlling a country that produces oil and natural gas – Syria produces 380,000 barrels of oil per day and has reserves of 2.5 billion barrels and 240 billion cubic meters of natural gas; it is located in a strategic region of the Middle East and borders on Iraq, Iran, Turkey, Lebanon and Israel. Moreover, Syria is forced by circumstances, since part of its territory, the Golan Heights, has been occupied by Israel since 1967; it is a country that has supported the fight for a Palestinian State and has almost 500,000 Palestinian refugees on its territory.

Thus, the replacement of the current Syrian government by a government subservient to the domination of the U.S., France and England in the region, besides ensuring the monopolies in these countries control over the oil and gas, would also weakens Iran and the struggle of the Palestinian people and would facilitate the political control of the Middle East. In short, this is a war to secure the interests of the multinationals such as Exxon (U.S.), General Dynamics (U.S.), Raytheon (U.S.), BAE Systems, EADS (Europe), Finmeccanica (Italy), L-3 Communications (U.S.) and United Technologies (U.S.).

In fact, there are various proofs of the presence of CIA paramilitaries in Syria; the government has denounced to the UN the presence of 60,000 mercenaries acting in the country paid by the imperialist powers.

The so-called Free Syria Army receives a lot of money and weapons from Britain, France and the U.S. According to the BBC, the British news agency, the British government gave more than $7 million in “medical supplies and communications equipment” to Syrian armed groups. France, which held Syria as a colony until 1949, defended, through its Foreign Minister, Laurent Fabius that “Syrian liberated areas under rebel control will receive financial, administrative and medical assistance.” The French Foreign Minister promised aid of 5 million Euros (12.8 million reales) to the opponents.

On September29, the U.S. Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, announced more than $30 million in assistance for food, water and medical services and more than $15 million in “communication equipment” to the unarmed political opposition.

Now, despite the fact that the UN adopted sanctions against Syria – the Syrian government is recognized by that organization and by hundreds of countries – this intervention violates all international laws and shows that imperialism long ago threw the principle of peaceful coexistence among countries and respect for the self-determination of nations into the garbage bin.

These, therefore, are the reasons why one more imperialist war is on the way. This situation places before all free men and women who do not want or accept a world dictatorship of capital and the enslavement of mankind by a handful of imperialist countries governed by a half dozen banks and monopolies, the question of what to do to stop these genocides and prevent new wars from being unleashed by capitalist powers. Such powers, immersed in a serious economic crisis, see their salvation in increasing the exploitation of the workers, seizing the wealth of the people and dominating the world. In the words of Che Guevara: “Capitalist imperialism has been defeated in many partial battles. But it is a significant force in the world and one cannot expect its final defeat without the effort and sacrifice of all.”1

Luis Falcao,  PCR CC

1 Che Guevara, Speech at the Economic Seminar of Afro-Asian Solidarity, 1965

Source

The Communist League: The Soviet Union and the Spanish Civil War

no-pasaran-ugt

‘Non-Intervention’? Between ourselves, it’s the same thing as profitable intervention – but profitable only for the other side’.

Charles-Maurice Talleyrand (1754-1838)

INTRODUCTION

In January 1996, the Association of Communist Workers and the Association of Indian Communists held an extremely interesting meeting in the Conway Hall, London, devoted to exposing the slanderous misrepresentation of the Republican forces in the Spanish Civil War presented in Ken Leaches recent film ‘Land and Freedom’.

The main speaker was Bill Alexander, author of ‘British Volunteers for Liberty’. Bill Alexander himself fought in the British section of the International Brigade and movingly and eloquently disposed of Leaches attempt to whitewash the near-trotskyist ‘Party of Marxist Unification’.

In particular, Bill Alexander paid tribute to Stalin’s policy of military aid to the Republican forces and characterised the policy of ‘non intervention’ pursued by the European imperialist powers as the principal cause of the Republic’s defeat.

This stimulated a member of the audience to point out that the Soviet government participated in the Non-Intervention Agreement, and to ask if this indicated some duality in Soviet foreign policy, perhaps between rival groups in the leadership of Communist Party of the Soviet Union — one pursuing a Marxist-Leninist policy and one not.

Ella Rule replied front the platform that she felt that there was no duality in Soviet policy on Spain, since the Soviet policy of non-intervention was not simultaneous with, but succeeded by the Soviet policy of military aid to the Republican government.

While respecting Ella’s long-standing defence both of the Soviet Union and of the Spanish Republic, we do not believe that her theory on Soviet policy on Spain can be reconciled with known facts.

THE OUTBREAK OF THE CIVIL WAR

In January 1936, a number of ostensibly left-wing Spanish parties and organisations created an electoral bloc called the ‘Popular Front’. This adopted

“… a liberal programme set in a bourgeois framework and deliberately excluded Socialist demands”.

(Pierre Broué & Emile Témime: ‘The Revolution and the Civil War in Spain’; London; 1972; p.76).

At elections in February 1936, the Popular Front gained an overwhelming majority of deputies —

“… 277, as against 132 from the Right and 32 from the Centre”.

(Pierre Broué & Emile Témime: ibid.; p.77).

Despite the moderate nature of the Popular Front’s programme, it was unacceptable to the Spanish aristocracy, and in July 1936

“… a revolt against the Spanish Republic broke out in many military garrisons in Spanish Morocco. From thence the revolt spread rapidly throughout Spain…

The rebel forces… were led by General Franco.”

(‘Keesing’s Contemporary Archives’, Volume 2; pp.2199, 2290).

The rebel military junta

“… had at their disposal the greater part of the armed forces of the country… They had also … the promise of Italian and German tanks and aeroplanes if necessary. Against these the Government had only the Republican Assault Guards and a small and badly armed air force”.

(Gerald Brenan: ‘The Spanish Labyrinth: An Account of the Social and Political Background of the Civil War’; Cambridge; 1971; p.316).

THE ATTITUDE OF THE WESTERN IMPERIALIST POWERS

The attitude of the British imperialist government was made clear at the very beginning of the civil war. It was to deny, on 31 July 1936, the legitimate Spanish government its traditional right under international law to purchase arms to defend itself. This action was disguised as

“… an arms embargo against both sides”.

(Robert H. Whealey: Foreign Intervention in the Spanish Civil War’, in: Raymond Carr (Ed.): ‘The Republic and the Civil War in Spain’: London; 1971; p.213).

But since Spain’s neighbour, France, also had a Popular Front government

“… the only other Popular Front regime in Europe” —

(‘New Encyclopaedia Britannica’, Volume 19; Chicago; 1994; p.520).

On 20 July 1936 the Spanish government

“… asked France . . . for 20 planes. Minister of Air Pierre Cot and Premier Léon Blum … agreed”.

(Robert H. Whealey: op.cit.; p.213).

“In 1935, the Spanish government had signed a trade agreement with France. One of the clauses stipulated that in case of need the Spanish Government could not purchase arms from any country other than France. With this agreement in its hand, the Republican government appealed to the French for the arms and equipment needed to protect the nation from aggression”.

(Dolores Ibarruri: ‘They shall not pass: The Autobiography of La Pasionaria’; London; 1960; pp.201-202).

However, the sympathies of the British imperialist government, headed by Stanley Baldwin, lay with the Spanish rebels, and

“… at the beginning of August (1936– Ed.) M. Léon Blum was informed (by London — Ed.) that the guarantee given by Great Britain to maintain the frontiers of France would not remain valid in the event of independent French action beyond the Pyranees”.

(André Géraud (‘Pertinax’): Preface to: Eleuthère N. Dzelepy: ‘The Spanish Plot’; London; 1937; p.viii).

“The British warning, as we knew at the time was conveyed to M. Yvon Delbos,. the French Minister of Foreign Affairs, in the course of a visit by Sir George Clerk, British Ambassador to Paris. Sir George is understood to have said that, if France should find herself in conflict with Germany as a result of having sold war material to the Spanish Government,. England would consider herself released from her obligations under the Locarno Pact and would not come to help”.

(Julio Alvarez del Vayo: ‘Freedom’s Battle’: London; 1937; pp.69-70).

In other words, if France were to give military assistance to the Spanish Government, its defensive alliance with Britain would be declared null and void.

Thus, according to Blum’s testimony to the French Chamber of Deputies in July 1947,

“… after visiting London on 22-23 July, Blunt was forced to reverse his decision to aid the Republic”.

(Robert H. Whealey: op.cit.; p.220).

So, on 25 July 1936,

“… the Blum government issued a decree forbidding the export of arms from France to Spain”.

(Ivan Naisky: ‘Spanish Notebooks’; London; 1966; p.29).

“The refusal of the French Government to hand over to the Republic the arms that had long ago been ordered and paid for was a veritable stab in the back for Spanish democracy”.

(‘International Solidarity with the Spanish Republic: 1936-1939’ (hereafter listed as ‘International Solidarity’; Moscow; 1976; p.362).

The United States imperialist government applied the 1935 Neutrality Act to the Spanish Civil War, but US corporations exported large quantities of much-needed oil to the rebels, this being exempted from its provisions:

“United States neutrality… favoured Franco, since American companies took advantage of the Neutrality Act’s failure to classify oil as a war material and began sending tankers to Lisbon on 18 July”.

(David Mitchell: ‘The Spanish Civil War’; London; 1982; p.70).

On the other hand, like Britain and France, the USA

“… refused to sell arms to the Republic”. (Harry Browne: ‘Spain’s Civil War’; Harlow; 1983; p.38).

But the arms embargo did non affect both sides in the civil war equally, since the rebels were in receipt of large supplies of arms from Germany, Italy and (to a lesser extent) Portugal:

“The Nationalists enjoyed the advantage of… military supplies from Italy and Germany. These played a crucial role in the Nationalist victory, especially at the end of July (1936 — Ed.,) when German and Italian aircraft facilitated the ferrying of the Army of Africa to Spain, thus allowing the Nationalists to sweep through Andaluzia and Estremadura.

(Gerald N. D. Howat (Ed.): ‘Dictionary of World History’. London; 1973; p.1,421).

On the other hand,

“… the fascist government of Italy and the Nazis met no obstacles in sending arms… to the assistance of the rebel generals”.

(Luigi Longo: ‘An Important Stage in the People’s Struggle against Fascism’, in: ‘International Solidarity ; op.cit.; p.11).

“While the legitimate government was being denied the right to purchase any type of arms, the insurgents were receiving all they needed from Germany and Italy”. (Dolores Ibarruri: op.cit.; p.202).

Furthermore,

“… the strongly pro-rebel government in Lisbon was not only supplying material but permitting transhipment of German and Italian supplies across its country”

(David T. Cattell: ‘Soviet Diplomacy and the Spanish Civil War’ (hereafter listed as ‘David T. Cattell (1957)’; Berkeley (USA); 1957; p.21).

As Australian-born author and translator Gilbert Murray said in a letter to the ‘Times’ in October 1936:

“The professedly double-edged embargo really cuts only one way. It keeps the Government forces unarmed for the benefit of the well-armed rebels”.

(Gilbert Murray: Letter to the ‘Times’ (22 October 1936): p.12).

SOVIET HUMANITARIAN AID TO THE SPANISH PEOPLE

From the beginning of the Spanish Civil War, both the Comintern and the Soviet Union organised extensive humanitarian aid to the Spanish people.

On the outbreak of the civil war, the decision was taken

“… to give financial aid to the republicans through the trades unions…

All public statements at this time about shipments from the USSR to Spain emphasised that they consisted of food and other supplies for the civilian population”.

(Edward H. Carr: ‘The Comintern and the Spanish Civil War1; London; 1984; p.16, 24).

By 6 August 1936,

“… there were already 12.1 million roubles in the open current account of the All-Union Central Council of Trade Unions Fund of Aid to Republican Spain, and by the end of October this sum had risen to 47.6 million roubles.

Food and clothing were purchased and sent to Spain with the money collected by Soviet people…

In December (1938 – Ed.) . . . the trade unions and other organisations had raised another 14 million roubles”.

(‘International Solidarity’; op.cit.; p.301-303).

Soviet and Comintern relief for Spain

“… consisting of food and clothing for women and children, started at the very beginning of the Civil War. In every city and town in the Soviet Union meetings were held during the first weeks of the rebellion to demonstrate solidarity with the Spanish people”.

(David T. Cattell: ‘Communism and the Spanish Civil War’ (hereafter listed as ‘David T. Cattell (1955)’; Berkeley (USA): 1955; p.70).

In addition to organisations linked with the Comintern, a

“… new network of organisations solely for the support of Spain… A typical organisation was the ‘International Committee for Aid to the Spanish People’ in Paris which, between August 1936 and June 1938 collected over half a million dollars”.

(David T. Cattell (1955): ibid.; p.71).

THE QUESTION OF SOVIET MILITARY ASSISTANCE TO SPAIN

On the question of whether the Comintern and the Soviet government should give material assistance to the war effort of the Spanish Republic, there were from the outset different views in high Soviet circles.

On this question,

“… no word came from the Soviet government or from Comintern…

The only decision taken was to give financial aid to the republicans through the trade unions”.

(Edward H. Carr: op.cit.; pp.15, 16).

and for two months the Comintern was silent on the question of the war:

“There does not appear to have been a Comintern statement on the outbreak of the Spanish civil war in July 1936”.

(Jane Degras (Ed.): ‘The Communist International: 1919-1943: Documents Volume 3; London; 1965; p.392).

“It was not until September 18 1936 that the Secretariat of ECCI… set out to define the attitude of Comintern to the Spanish War, now just two months old”.

(Edward H. Carr: op.cit.; p.20).

NON-INTERVENTION

On 1 August 1936, France addressed a Note to the British government

“… proposing that they associate themselves with the French action and strictly observe a policy of non-intervention in Spanish affairs…

On 4 August Britain returned a positive answer to the French proposal…

Then the French government addressed their proposal to other European powers”.

(Ivan Maisky: op cit.; p.29).

As Julio Alvarez del Vayo, who was Spanish Foreign Minister for most of the Civil War period, relates: the British government allowed it to be thought that the initiative for non-intervention’ came from the French Popular Front government in order to make the policy more acceptable to democratic public opinion than if it wore known to emanate front a British Tory government:

“The simple truth is that Non-Intervention was fathered in London. The legal experts in the British Foreign Office … made such efforts to attribute its paternity to a person less suspect than they of hostility to democratic principles. In M. Blum and the French Government they found the ideal sponsors for their creation. … Millions of supporters of the Popular Front in France … would certainly have raged against the plan had it been frankly labelled for what it was, the work of a British Tory Government. On the other hand, they were able to justify the plan… , in Parliament and in the country, by evoking its supposed paternity.

From that day on, the Quai d’Orsay (the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs)– Ed.), in all that referred to Spain, became a branch of the Foreign Office…

While in July 1936 France ostensibly took the initiative in proposing Non-Intervention, for the next three years she was to be denied any initiative whatever”.

(Julio Alvarez del Vayo: op. cit.; pp.68, 70).

On 23 August 1936,

“… the Soviet government adhered to the Agreement on ‘Non-Intervention’ in Spanish Affairs”

(Ivan Maisky: op.cit.; p.31).

As historian Edward Carr notes:

“Soviet acceptance, in view of the campaign in the USSR and in communist parties abroad in support of the republican government, at first sight seemed a surprising gesture”.

(Edward H. Carr: op.cit.; p.17).

The People’s Commissar for Foreign Affairs of the USSR, Maksim Litvinov, admitted to a plenary session of the League of Nations in September 1936 that the Soviet government had adhered to the ‘Non-Intervention’ Agreement solely in order to oblige the French imperialists:

“The Soviet government has associated itself with the Declaration on Non-Intervention in Spanish Affairs only because a friendly power (i.e., France — IM) feared an international conflict it we did not do so”.

(Maksim Litvinov: Speech to Plenary Session of League of Nations (28 September 1936), in: Ivan Maisky: op.cit.; p.31).

THE ‘NON-INTERVENTION COMMITTEE’

On 26 August 1936 the French government put forward a new proposal;

“… the creation in London of a permanent Committee of representatives of all the participating countries, the main aim of the Committee being supervision of the exact observance of the Agreement by the powers which had signed it”.

(Ivan Maisky: ibid.; p.29).

The Non-Intervention Committee’ functioned on

“… the unanimity principle’, (Ivan Maisky: ibid.; p 36).

the Soviet delegate — and every other — having the right of veto over all decisions.

All the European powers adhered to the ‘Non-Intervention Committee’ –officially called the ‘Committee for Non-Intervention in the Internal Affairs of Spain’ — except for

“… Spain, as the country around which the ‘quarantine of non-intervention’ was to be established, and Switzerland, which refused to participate”

(Ivan Maisky: ibid.; p.30).

On 28 August 1936, an order was issued by the Soviet

“… People’s Commissar of Foreign Trade prohibiting the export of war supplies to Spain”.

(Max Beloff: ‘The Foreign Policy of Soviet Russia: 1929-1942’, Volume 2: ‘1936-1941’; London; 1949; p.32).

On 9 September 1936, the Non-Intervention Committee had

“… its first meeting, and agreed that it should have a permanent Chairman. This post was offered to the British representative, Lord Plymouth”.

(Ivan Maisky: op.cit.; pp.30-31).

THE TRUE ROLE OF ‘NON-INTERVENTION’

The Non-Intervention Agreement

“… deprived states of the legal right to give aid to the legitimate government of Spain”.

(David T. Cattell (1957); op.cit.: p.15).

denying

“… the Spanish government the traditional right of buying arms to defend itself against domestic treason”.

(Harry Browne: op.cit.; p.37).

Although Germany. Italy and Portugal had signed the ‘Non-Intervention Pact’, they had not the slightest intention of adhering to its provisions, but continued to supply arms in large quantities to the Spanish rebels. Thus the real role of the Non-Intervention Agreement’ was to provide a screen behind which the Fascist powers could arm the rebels.

‘Non-Intervention’ was a farce which assisted the Fascist powers in their war against the Spanish Republic:

‘While the legitimate government was being denied the right to purchase any type of arms, the insurgents were receiving all they needed from Germany and Italy”

(Dolores Ibarruri: op.cit.; p.202).

“When the war ended, the Non-Intervention Pact had leaked copiously — and overwhelmingly in Franco’s direction”.

(David Mitchell: op.cit.; p.72).

“Throughout September 1936, while the flow of arms and equipment to the Nationalists from Italy and Germany steadily increased, the ban on shipments from . . . the USSR to Republican Spain remained effective”.

(Edward H. Carr: op.cit.; p.23).

“The policy of non-intervention ended by developing into a veritable blockade and an effective intervention in favour of the rebels”. (Eleuthère N. Dzelepy: op.cit.; p.77)

“Non-Intervention became one of the greatest farces of our time”.

(Julio Alvarez del Vayo: op.cit.; p.50).

“The so-called policy of non-intervention… in effect meant aiding and abetting the aggressor”.

(Dolores Ibarruri: ‘The Fight goes on’ in: ‘International Solidarity’; op.cit.; p.7).

“Non-intervention… contributed to the victory of fascism in Spain”.

(‘Great Soviet Encyclopaedia’, Volume 31; New York; 1972; p.176).

The true role of ‘Non-Intervention’ was admitted by Maksim Litvinov , who was People’s Commissar for Foreign Affairs between 1930 and 1939:

“If the Non-Intervention Committee had anything to boast of, it was that it had genuinely interfered with the supplies for the legitimate Republican army and with the provision of food for the civil population in the territory occupied by the latter”.

(Maksim Litvinov: Speech at Political Committee of League of Nations (29 September 1938), in: William P.& Zelda Coates: ‘A History of Anglo-Soviet Relations’; London: 1943; p.569).

and by the German Ambassador to Britain, Joachim von Ribbentropp, who declared that the ‘Non-Intervention Committee’

“… might have been better called the Intervention Committee”.

(Joachim von Rippentropp, cited in: David Mitchell: op.cit.; p.71).

Stalin, in his report to the 18th Congress of the CPSU in March 1939, put the matter even more strongly — implying that ‘Non-Intervention’ was immoral and treacherous:

“Actually speaking, the policy of non-intervention means conniving at aggression, giving free rein to war and, consequently, transforming the war into a world war. The policy of non-intervention reveals an eagerness, a desire, not to hinder the aggressors in their nefarious work…

Far be it from me to moralise on the policy of non-intervention, to talk of treason, treachery and so on. It would be naive to preach morals to people who recognise no human morality”.

(Josef V. Stalin: Report on the Work of the Central Committee to the 18th Congress of the CPSU (B) (March 1939), in: ‘Works’, Volume 14; London; 1978; pp.365, 368).

THE CAMPAIGN AGAINST ‘NON-INTERVENTION’

As the true character of ‘Non-Intervention’ became increasingly clear, outspoken opposition to it arose in democratic and anti-fascist circles. This opposition was reflected in circles normally supportive of Soviet policy:

“The strict neutrality adopted by Moscow in the Spanish struggle was giving rise to embarrassing questions even in the friendliest quarters”

(Walter C. Krivitsky: ‘I was Stalin’s Agent’; London; 1939; p.101).

These circles included sections of the international communist movement, particularly in France. For example, headlines in L’Humanité, (Humanity), organ of the Communist Party of France, in September 1936 read:

“GUNS! PLANES!

END THE BLOCKADE WHICH IS KILLING OUR BROTHERS IN SPAIN”.

(‘L’Humanité’, 5 September 1936; p.1).

“FOR REPUBLICAN SPAIN.

FOR PEACE AND THE SECURITY OF FRANCE”.

(‘L’Humanité’, 7 September 1936; p.4).

“TO THE AID OF THE REPUBLICAN FIGHTERS OF SPAIN”.

(‘L’Humanité’, 14 September 1936; p.4).

“IT IS NECESSARY TO RECONSIDER THE PRINCIPLE OF NON-INTERVENTION”

(‘L’Humanité’, 20 September 1936; p.4).

“THE VOICE OF THE PEOPLE OF FRANCE RISES EVER MORE STRONGLY FOR THE LIFTING OF THE BLOCKADE”..

(‘L’Humanité’, 21 September 1936; p.4).

Maurice Thorez, General Secretary of the Communist Party of France, wrote in ‘L’Humanité’:

“For the honour of the working class, for the honour of the Popular Front, for the honour of France, the blockade that is killing our Spanish brethren and that is killing peace must be lifted”.

(Maurice Thorez, in: ‘L’Humanité’ (9 September 1936), in: David T. Cattell (1957): op.cit.; p.24).

In August 1836, Paul Nizan wrote in the Comintern journal, ‘International Press Correspondence’

“This ‘neutrality’… is definitely to be challenged from the point of view of international justice…

While the government in Madrid is being actually affected by real sanctions, the rebels and the rebel government… have every sort of supply they can wish for at their disposal.

The actual blockade of Republican Spain must be raised at once. . .

The Communists will take the lead in this fight for the support of the

Spanish people”.

(Paul Nizan: ‘To the Aid of the Spanish Republic!’. in: ‘International Press Correspondence’, Volume 16, No. 37 (15 August 1936); p.990).

In a speech during the first week in September 1936, interrupted by shouts of ‘Aeroplanes for Spain’, French Prime Minister Léon Blum countered the campaign against ‘Non-Intervention’ by the reminder that the policy was supported by the Soviet government:

“Do not let us forget that the international convention of non-intervention in Spain bears the signature of Soviet Russia.” (Léon Blum: Statement, in: David T. Cattell (1957): op.cit.; p.24).

THE DIVISION IN THE CPSU

The campaign against ‘Non-Intervention’ was reflected within the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. From early in the civil war, a rift was observable in the higher circles of the CPSU between those who stood for the furnishing of arms to the Spanish Republic — that is, the Marxist-Leninists and genuine anti-fascists — on the one hand, and those who stood for collaboration with the Western imperialist powers in the policy of ‘Non-Intervention’ on the other hand.

Lieutenant-Colonel Simon, the French military attaché in Moscow, reported to the French Minister of National Defence Edouard Daladier in August 1936, the existence of two rival factions in the leadership of the CPSU.

“The moderate faction . . . would wish to avoid all intervention.

The extremist faction on the other hand, considers that the USSR should not remain neutral but should support the legal government”.

(Lt.-Col. Simon: Letter to Edouard Daladier (13 August 1936). in: ‘Documents diplomatiques français: 1932-1939’, 2nd Series (1936-1939). Volume 3; Paris; 1966; p.208).

“Influential circles in the Russian Party, like most Leftists in Western countries, pressed for support for the Spanish republic. But this pressure was, for the time being, subject to the restraint of diplomatic expediency”. (Edward H. Carr: op.cit.; p.15).

“In foreign affairs, fundamentalist Bolsheviks tended to dislike Maksim Litvinov’s conciliatory approach to the West…

The Soviet press was hostile to the whole idea of Non-Intervention”

(Michael Alpert:: ‘A New International History of the Spanish Civil War’; Basingstoke; 1994; pp.50, 51).

THE CHANGE OF SOVIET POLICY TOWARDS SPAIN

As a result of the democratic pressure instanced above, the Marxist-Leninists in the leadership of the CPSU were able to bring about a fundamental change in Soviet policy towards the supply of arms to the Spanish Republic.

On 7 October 1936, Samual Kagan, Counsellor at the Soviet Embassy in London (who was Acting Soviet Representative on the Non-Intervention Committee) presented Lord Plymouth with a list of violations of the Non-Intervention Agreement and concluded with an ultimatum

“… that unless violations of the Agreement on Non-Intervention cease forthwith, it (the Soviet government — Ed.) will consider itself as freed from the obligations arising from the Agreement”.

(Samuel B. Kagan: Statement of 7 October 1936, in: Ivan Maisky: op. cit.; p.47).

On 15 October 1936, Stalin sent a telegram to José Diaz, leader of the Communist Party of Spain, saying:

“The workers of the Soviet Union are merely carrying out their duty in giving help within their power to the revolutionary masses of Spain. They are aware that the liberation of Spain from the yoke of fascist reactionaries is not a private affair of the Spanish people but the common cause of the whole of advanced and progressive mankind”.

(Josef V. Stalin: Telegram to CC, CPSp (15 October 1936), in: ‘Works’, Volume 14; London; 1978; p.149).

On 23 October 1936, Soviet Ambassador to Britain Ivan Maisky, who had now taken over as Soviet representative on the ‘Non-Intervention Committee’, sent a further statement to Lord Plymouth, saying:

“The Agreement has turned out to be an empty, torn scrap of paper. It has ceased in practice to exist. Not wishing to remain in the position of persons unwittingly assisting an unjust cause, the Government of the Soviet Union . cannot consider itself bound by the Agreement for Non-Intervention to any greater extent than any of the remaining participants of the Agreement”.

(Ivan Maisky; Statement of 23 October 1936, in; Ivan Naisky: op.cit.; p.48-49).

On 27 August 1936, Marcel Rozenberg arrived in Madrid as the first Soviet Ambassador to Spain

“… with an impressive retinue of military, naval and air attachés and experts

(Edward H. Carr; op.cit,; p.22).

SOVIET MILITARY AID TO THE SPANISH REPUBLIC

The defector Walter Krivitsky, who was at the time Chief of Soviet Military Intelligence in Europe, states that

“… the first communication from Moscow about Spain reached him on September 2”,

(Edward H. Carr: op.cit.; p.24).

and that it stated:

“Extend your operations immediately to cover Spanish Civil War. Mobilise all available agents and facilities for prompt creation of a system to purchase and transport arms to Spain”.

(Walter H. Krivitsky: op.cit.; p.100).

Within days,

“… an apparatus based upon Arms Purchase Commissions in European capitals and supervised by the NKVD (the People’s Commissariat for Internal Affairs — Ed.) . . was set up to organise the purchase of arms”

(Harry Browne: op.cit.; p.38).

“The first appearance of Soviet tanks and planes in the defence of Madrid late in October (1936– Ed.) and early in November made a tremendous Impression”.

(David Mitchell: op.cit.; p.63).

During the war:

“… the sending of military aid was never acknowledged…

No official Communist publication ever mentioned the sending of military equipment”.

(David T. Cattell (1955): op.cit.; p.72).

However,

“… the Soviet Union sent to the Spanish Government 806 military aircraft, mainly fighters, 362 tanks, 120 armoured cars, 1,555 artillery pieces, about 500,000 rifles, 340 grenade launchers, 15,113 machine-guns, more than 110,000 aerial bombs, about 3.4 million rounds of ammunition, 500,000 grenades, 862 million cartridges, 1,500 tons of gunpowder, torpedo boats, air defence searchlight installations, motor vehicles, radio stations, torpedoes and fuel”.

(‘International Solidarity’; op.cit.; p.329-30).

and under the new Soviet policy,

“… a little more than 2,000 Soviet volunteers fought and worked in Spain on the side of the Republic throughout the whole war, including 772 airmen, 351 tank men, 222 army advisers and instructors, 77 naval specialists, 100 artillery specialists, 52 other specialists, 130 aircraft factory workers and engineers, 156 radio operators and other signals men, and 204 interpreters”.

(‘International Solidarity’: op.cit.; p.328).

THE INTERNATIONAL BRIGADES

In September 1936,

“… the Secretariat of the Executive Committee of the Communist International took a decision to organise the recruitment of men with military experience”.

(Bill Alexander: ‘British Volunteers for Liberty: Spain 1936-1939’; London: 1982; p.53).

and the Spanish Republican Government

“… agreed, on 12 October 1936, to the formation of the International Brigades’1.

(Bill Alexander: ibid.: p.53).

On 17 October 1936,

“… the first recruits to the International Brigades arrived in Spain”.

(David Mitchell: op.cit.; p.63).

The International Brigades

“… formed a corps d’elite involved in all fighting of any importance until the end of 1938”.

(Pierre Broué & Emile Témime: op.cit.; p.375).

The total number of foreigners

“… who fought for the Spanish Republic was probably about 40,000, about 35,000 being in the International Brigades”.

(Hugh Thomas: ‘The Spanish Civil War’; London; 1977; p.982).

According to Dimitri Manuilsky at the 18th Congress of the CPSU, Spanish resistance

“… was made possible by the international support given to the Spanish people by the working people and above all the political support given them by the nations of the Soviet Union and by the father of all working people — Comrade Stalin”.

(Dimitri Manuilsky: Report on the Delegation of the CPSU (B) in the ECCI to the 18th Congress of the CPSU (b) (March 1939), in: ‘The Land of Socialism Today and Tomorrow ; Moscow; 1939; p.71).

THE SOVIET UNION AND SPAIN AFTER SEPTEMBER 1936

To sum up, in September 1936 the Soviet government reversed its previous policy and began to supply much needed military assistance to the Spanish Republic.

It might, therefore. seem at first glance as though the thesis presented at the January 1996 meeting by Ella Rule (p.1) — that there was no duality in Soviet foreign policy at the time of the Spanish civil war, since the Soviet policy of ‘non-intervention’ was succeeded by the Soviet policy of military aid to the Republican government — had validity.

Indeed, some well-known revisionists, like Dolores Ibarruri, assert precisely this:

“When the Soviet Union saw that in practice the Non-Intervention Committee was a cover for activities of the fascist and ‘democratic’ powers in favour of the insurgents, the Soviet Union declared on October 7 1937 (clearly an error for 1936 — Ed.) that it would withdraw its participation in the Non-Intervention Committee”. (Dolores Ibarruri: op.cit.; p.263).

But in fact, even after it had begun to supply military equipment to the Republican government, the Soviet Union did not withdraw from the ‘Non-Intervention Committee’. On the contrary,

“The Soviet Union did not make a move to leave the committee’1.

(David T. Cattell (1957): op.cit.; p.50).

“The USSR participated in the Agreement on ‘Non-Intervention’ and in the Committee for the same almost until they ceased to exist”.

(Ivan Maisky; op.cit.; p.32).

To be exact, only on 4 March 1939 did the TASS news agency announce the Soviet Union’s withdrawal from the ‘Non-Intervention Committee’:

“The Council of People’s Commissars of the USSR decided on 1 March of

this year to recall its representatives from the Committee for ‘Non-Intervention'”

(TASS News Agency: Statement (4 March 1939), in: Ivan Maisky: ibid.; p. 202).

This was a few days after the British and French governments had officially recognised the rebel government:

“On 27 February 1939 Britain and France officially recognised Franco and broke off diplomatic relations with the Republican government (Ivan Maisky: ibid.; p.199).

and only a few weeks before the ‘Non-Intervention Committee’ was dissolved:

“On 20 April 1939 the Committee as a whole officially ceased to be”.

(Ivan Maisky: ibid.; p.203).

A leading role in the decision to remain in the Non-Intervention Committee, and to ‘work closely’ on it with the British and French imperialists, was played by the Soviet People’s Commissar for Foreign Affairs. Maksim Litvinov:

“The Soviet Union’s new policy generally took the form of working closely with France and England on the committee. It is believed that Litvinov was able to persuade the … rasher elements among the Soviet leaders and remain”.

(David T. Cattell (1957): op.cit.; p.50).

In other words, in the situation existing in the Soviet Union in 1936-39, the Marxist-Leninist forces were able to reverse Soviet policy on the supply of arms to the Spanish Republic, but not strong enough to carry this reversal through to its logical conclusion by repudiating the whole concept of ‘non-intervention’.

THE EFFECT OF CONTINUED SOVIET PARTICIPATION IN ‘NON~INTERVENTION’

The effect of the continued participation of the Soviet Union in the ‘Non-Intervention Committee’ was to continue to lend Soviet prestige to the false view that it was capable of playing a progressive role.

Over the next months, the ‘Non-Intervention Committee’ was able to carry through policies which would, without doubt, have been vociferously rejected by progressive opinion had it not been for the screen of Soviet support around them.

Firstly, they were able to sabotage the control plan which was ostensibly designed to make the paper arms embargo internationally effective.

From the very outset of the civil war, the Soviet Union refused to take part in the international naval patrols around Spain, preferring to ‘entrust this to the imperialist powers — Britain and France. As Litvinov said in a speech on 14 September 1937:

“I recall that at the very beginning of the Spanish conflict the Soviet Government proposed that naval control be entrusted to England and France alone, and that it consequently voluntarily renounced the right… to send its naval vessels into the Mediterranean to take part in the control”.

(Maksim Litvinov: Speech of 14 September 1937, in: Jane Degras (Ed.): ‘Soviet Documents on Foreign Policy’, Volume 3 (hereafter listed as ‘Jane Degras (Ed.) (1953)’); London; 1953; p.254).

As a result,

“… the coming into force of control during the night of 19-20 April 1937 swiftly demonstrated the futility of this policy”. (Pierre Broué & Emile Témime: op.cit.; p.342).

Even Litvinov admitted in an election speech on 27 November 1937:

“Control is established on the frontiers and coasts of Spain, but the control immediately springs a leak and whole divisions and army corps, with proportionate military equipment, penetrate to the Spanish mutineers1′.

(Maksim Litvinov: Election Speech of 27 November 1937, in: Jane Degras (Ed.) (1953): ibid.; p.267).

And on 17 September 1937, the British and French governments

“… informed the other 25 ‘Non-Intervention’ Powers . . . that they had decided to discontinue their naval patrols of the Spanish coast”.

(‘Keesing’s Contemporary Archives’, Volume 3; p.2,744).

Secondly, they were able to halt the influx of volunteers to the International Brigades which played such an important role in the anti-fascist resistance.

On 4 December 1936,

“… the Soviet government came forward with a new, extremely important initiative”.

(Ivan Maisky: ibid.; p.97).

This proposal was

“… that the Governments, parties to the Non-Intervention Agreement, shall undertake to prevent by every means the despatch and transit of volunteers to Spain”, (lvan Maisky: Letter to Non-Intervention Committee (4 December 1936), in: ibid.; 1). 97).

On 10 January 1937, the British Foreign Office declared that

“… the provisions of the Foreign Enlistment Act 1870 … are applicable in the case of the present conflict in Spain”, (‘Keesing’s Contemporary Archives’, Volume 3; p.2,411).

so that

“… it is … an offence for any British subject to accept or agree to accept any commission or engagement in the military, naval or air service of either party in the present conflict”. (‘Keesing’s Contemporary Archives’, Volume 3; p.2,411).

On 16 February 1937, the Non-Intervention Committee decided

“… to prohibit the passage to Spain of any ‘volunteers’ whatsoever as from 21 February 1937”

(Ivan Maisky: op.cit.; ibid.; p.106).

On 18 February 1937 the French government issued a decree

“… to forbid the recruiting of volunteers for Spain and their transport thither”.

(‘Keesing’s Contemporary Archives’, Volume 3; p.2,463).

and on 20 February 1937 the Soviet government issued a decree stating:

“1. Citizens of the USSR are forbidden entrance into Spain to participate in the military activities underway in Spain’.

2. Recruiting of persons for participation in the military activities in Spain… is forbidden in the territory of the USSR”

(USSR Decree of 20 February 1937, in: Jane Degras (Ed.) (1953): op.cit.; p.234-35).

Thirdly, they were able to bring about the repatriation of volunteer fighters already serving in the International Brigades.

At a meeting of the Sub-Committee of the Non-Intervention Committee on 23 March 1937, Maisky declared:

“There is nothing more pressing and important for us at the present time than the evacuation from Spain of the so-called ‘volunteers'” (lvan Maisky: op.cit.; p.125).

and was not deterred when the Italian delegate, Dino Grandi, who had

“… only just agreed to… the evacuation of foreign combatants from the Pyrenean peninsula”,

(Ivan Maisky: ibid.; p.125-26).

boasted

“Not one single Italian volunteer will leave Spain until Franco is victorious”.

(Dino Grandi: Statement at Sub-Committee of ‘Non-Intervention Committee’ (23 March 1937). in: Ivan Maisky: ibid.; p.125).

On 14 July 1937, a new British plan was laid before the Committee. It included

“… the evacuation of all foreign combatants from Spain”.

(Ivan Maisky: ibid.; p.158).

on 31 July 1937, a TASS communiqué stated:

“The Soviet Government considers that all foreigners… taking part in one way in military operations should be withdrawn from Spain. The Soviet Government is ready to co-operate in accomplishing this by all the means at its disposal”.

(TASS Communiqué (31 July 1937). in: Jane Degras (Ed.) (1953): op.cit. p.249).

on 5 July 1938, at a plenary meeting of the ‘Non-Intervention Committee’

“… the British plan for the withdrawal of foreign volunteers from Spain was unanimously adopted”.

(‘Keesing’s Contemporary Archives’, Volume 3; p.3,735).

Although Franco later — on 30 December 1938– rejected the plan, (‘Keesing’s Contemporary Archives’, Volume 3; p.3,384).

on 23 September 1938, Prime Minister Juan Negrin

“… announced that his Government had decided on the immediate and complete withdrawal of all non-Spanish combatants fighting on its side”.

(‘Keesing’s Contemporary Archives’, Volume 3; p.3,252).

THE DUALITY IN SOVIET POLICY TOWARDS SPAIN

The Soviet policies of military assistance to the Spanish republic and of co-operation in the work of the ‘Non-Intervention Coinmittee are contradictory and yet after September 1936 they were carried on simultaneously.

It is, therefore, clear that there was a duality in Soviet foreign policy towards Spain in this period.

This duality is explicable by the fact that, in addition to Marxist-Leninists like Stalin in the leadership of the CPSU — Marxist-Leninists who favoured military assistance to Spain — there were also revisionists, people who had departed from Marxist-Leninist principles, and who favoured co-operation with the appeasement policy of the West European powers at the expense of the Spanish Republic. The policy actually pursued by the Soviet government towards the Spanish Republic in this period was a compromise between these two opposed policies.

The most prominent Soviet politician in the second, revisionist, category was the People’s Commissar for Foreign Affairs, Maksim Litvinov.

THE ROLE OF MAKSIM LITVINOV

Introduction

Maksim Maksimovicb Litvinov was appointed Minister to Britain in January 1918:

“This appointment was officially made by Trotsky”,

(John Carswell. ‘The Exile: A Life of Ivy Litvinov’ London; 1983: p.86)

who was then People’s Commissar for Foreign Affairs.

After being Deputy People’s Commissar for Foreign Affairs in 1920-30, in July 1930 he succeeded Georgi Chicherin as People’s Commissar for Foreign Affairs, a post he held until 1939.

Litvinov’s Influence

Litvinov remoulded the Commissariat in his charge, filling it with his nominees:

“The People’s Commissariat of Foreign Affairs, as the Soviet Foreign Office was called, was an organisation largely created by Litvinov. He recruited its staff and designed its system…

The People’s Commissariat for Foreign Affairs, and many of the principal posts abroad, were already (1930 — Ed.) filled with his friends and nominees”.

(John Carswell: ibid.; p.109, 126).

Litvinov, married to an English wife, was steeped in West European culture:

“… Maksim had been soaked in the ways of the West”.

(John Carswell: ibid.; p.103).

“Maksim was the only surviving Old Bolshevik who had thoroughly assimilated Western European culture”.

(Edgar Snow: ‘Journey to the Beginning’; London; 1959; p.312).

and this was reflected politically in Litvinov’s support for cooperation with Western imperialism. He became

“… the best-known Soviet spokesman for . . . cooperation with the West”.

(Alexander Dallin: ‘Allied Leadership in the Second World War: Stalin’ in: ‘Survey’, Volume 21, Nos. 1/2 (Winter/Spring 1975); p.15).

In the period leading up to 1939, Litvinov was particularly associated with Soyiet attempts to form a ‘collective security’ alliance with the more satisfied (and so less aggressive) imperialist powers, such as Britain and France, against the less satisfied (and so more aggressive) imperialist powers, Germany, Italy and Japan:

“The Soviet Government … is prepared, as hitherto, to participate in collective action, the scope of which should have as its aim the stopping of the further development of aggression and the elimination of the increased danger of a new world slaughter”.

(Maksim Litvinov: Press Statement (17 March 1938). in: William P.& Zelda Coates: op. cit.; p 585).

He genuinely believed

“… that Soviet power and influence could best be promoted by collaboration with the West”.

(Voitech Mastny: ‘The Cassandra of the Foreign Comissariat: Maksirn Litvinov and the Cold War’, in: ‘Foreign Affairs’, Volume 54, No. 2 (January 1976); p.376).

Already, on 17 January 1938, Politburo member Andrei Zhdanov criticised the People’s Cornmissariat for Foreign Affairs for its liberal attitude towards certain imperialist powers:

“Almost every foreign power has a consul in Leningrad; and I must say that some of these consuls clearly go beyond their powers and duties and behave in an illegal fashion, engaging in activities prejudicial to the people and country to which they are accredited.

Why does the People’s Commissariat for Foreign Affairs tolerate a state of affairs in which the number of consuls representing foreign powers in the USSR is not equal to but greater than the number of consuls representing the USSR in foreign countries?

Then, comrades, … what are we to think of a situation in which the government of a country (France — Ed.) with which we, the USSR, are in fairly close relations… allows organisations to exist on its territory which plan and carry out terrorism against the USSR?”

(Andrei Zhdanov: Speech on the Work of the People’s Commissariat for Foreign Affairs (17 January 1938). in: Jane Degras (Ed.) (1953): op.cit.; p.269, 270).

and Vyacheslav Molotov, then USSR Prime Minister, added in a speech to the USSR Supreme Soviet a few days later, on 19 January 1938:

“Comrade Zhdanov’s remarks about foreign consulates …have been carefully noted by the Council of People’s Commissars, which will in the near future take all the necessary steps.

Now to our relations with France. Here again we must recognise that Comrade Zhdanov’s remarks were well founded. . . . Refuge is found on French territory for every kind of adventurist and criminal organisation, nests of vipers, of terrorists and diversionists … How does this accord with the Soviet-French pact of friendship? The People’s Commissariat for Foreign Affairs should certainly look into this”.

(Vyacheslav Molotov: Speech at USSR Supreme Soviet (19 January 1938), in: Jane Degras (Ed.) (1953): op.cit.; pp.271, 272).

As Litvinov’s wife Ivy commented later:

“At the January (1938– Ed.) session of the Supreme Soviet, Zhdanov, made disparaging remarks about the administrative work of the Commissariat for Foreign Affairs. Litvinov’s name was not mentioned, but criticism is never lightly made in the Soviet Union…

Maksim was aware that he was out of favour”.

(Ivy Litvinov: ‘To Russia with Love’, in: ‘Observer Review’ (25 July 1976); p.17).

Litvinov and the Soviet-German Non-Aggression Pact

Even in 1937 British Foreign Secretary Lord Halifax was already telling Hitler how much the British government admired his suppression of Communism in Germany:

“The great service the Fuehrer had rendered in the rebuilding of Germany were fully and completely recognised, and if British public Opinion was sometimes taking a critical attitude toward certain German problems, the reason might be in part that people in England were not fully informed of the motives and circumstances which underlie certain German measures…

The British Government were fully aware that … by destroying Communism in his country, he had barred the road to Western Europe, and that Germany therefore could rightly he regarded as a bulwark of the West against Bolshevism”.

(Lord Halifax: Record of a Conversation with Hitler (19 November 1937), in: ‘Documents and Materials relating to the Eve of the Second World War: From the Archives of the German Ministry of Foreign Affairs’, Volume 1 (hereafter listed as ‘Archives’); Moscow; 1948; pp.19-20).

and was proposing to Berlin the formation of a four-power alliance to include Britain, France, Germany and Italy:

“After the ground had been prepared by an Anglo-German understanding, the four Great West-European powers must jointly lay the foundations for lasting peace in Europe.

The Fuehrer replied that … Lord Halifax had proposed an agreement of the four Western Powers as the ultimate aim of Anglo-German Cooperation”.

(‘Archives’; ibid.; p.29-30, 31).

In other words, the British government was already proposing that

“… Britain, and France as well, should join the ‘Berlin-Rome Axis'”

(Soviet Information Bureau: ‘Falsifiers of History (Historical Information); London; 1948; p.21).

In these circumstances,

“… the Soviet Union faced the alternative:

either to accept, for purposes of self-defence, Germany’s proposal to conclude a non-aggression pact and thereby ensure to the Soviet Union a prolongation of peace for a certain period of time which might be used by the Soviet State to prepare better its forces for resistance to a possible attack on the part of the aggressor;

or to reject Germany’s proposal for a non-aggression pact and thereby permit the war provocateurs from the camp of the Western Powers immediately to involve the Soviet Union in armed conflict with Germany at a time when the situation was utterly unfavourable to the Soviet Union and when it was completely isolated.

In this situation, the Soviet Government found itself compelled to make its choice and conclude the Non-Aggression Pact with Germany”.

(Soviet Information Bureau: ‘Falsifiers of History (Historical Information); London; 1948; p.44).

Litvinov, however, was, and remained, opposed to the Soviet government’s rapprochement with Germany.

“Litvinov . . . disapproved . . . of Stalin’s planned rapprochement with Germany'”.

(Voltech Mastny: op.cit.; p.367).

He

“… never, by word or hint, approved of Stalin’s pact policy with Hitler”.

(Louis Fischer: ‘The Great Challenge’; New York; 1971; p.54).

In May 1939, Litvinov was replaced as People’s Commissar for Foreign Affairs by Vyacheslav Molotov. The change reflected the preparation for

“… a momentous change of foreign policy”,

(John Carswell: op.cit.; p.145).

for in August 1939 the Soviet government signed the Non-Aggression Pact with Germany.

It was at this time that Molotov made a more direct public criticism of ‘short-sighted’ people in the Soviet Union who ‘over-simplified anti-fascist propaganda’ and forgot about the danger from other (non-fascist) imperialist powers:

“There were short-sighted people in our country too who, tending to over-simplify anti-fascist propaganda, forgot this provocative work of our enemies”.

(Vyacheslav Molotoy: Statement in Supreme Soviet of the USSR on the Ratification of the Soviet-German Pact of Non-Aggression (August 31 1939); London; 1939; p.8).

In a biographical article on Litvinov, henry Roberts points out that Molotov’s comment

“… may be interpreted as a slap at Litvinov”.

(Henry L. Roberts: ‘Maksim Litvinov’ in: Gordon A. Craig & Felix Gilbert (Eds.): ‘The Diplomats: 1919-1939’; Princeton (USA); 1953; p.375).

The revisionist diplomat Andrei Gromyko, who was USSR Foreign Minister in a later period. writes in his memoirs about an incident in 1942:

“During Molotov’s visit to Washington in June 1942, I was struck by a conversation between him and Litvinov while the three of us were driving to the Appalachian mountains. We were talking about the French and the British, and Molotov sharply criticised their pre-war policy, which was aimed at pushing Hitler into war against the USSR. In other words, he voiced the official Party line. Litvinoy disagreed. This had been the prime reason for his removal from the post of Foreign Commissar in 1939 yet here he was, still stubbornly defending Britain’s and France’s refusal to join the Soviet Union and give Hitler a firm rebuff before he could make his fateful attack upon the USSR. Despite having been relieved of his post for such views, Litvinov continued to defend them in front of Molotov, and consequently in front of Stalin.

It was strange listening to someone who appeared not to have noticed Munich and its consequences”.

(Andrel Gromyko: ‘Memoirs’. London; 1989; p.312),

In 1948, however, the Soviet Information Bureau was still commenting politely on Litvinov’s removal:

“In the complex situation when the Fascist aggressors were preparing the Second World War, … it was necessary to have in such a responsible post as that of People’s Commissar of Foreign Affairs a political leader with greater experience and greater popularity in the country than Maksim Litvinov”.

(‘Falsifiers of History’; op.cit.; p.16-17).

Litvinov’s Further Demotion

In February 1941, Litvinov was further demoted: the step was taken

“… of depriving Maksim of the one public position he retained — membership of the Central Committee of the Communist Party”.

(John Carswell: op.cit.; p.148).

This action was taken,

“.. according to the official announcement, because of non-fulfilment of his obligations'”.

(Vojtech Mastny: op.cit.; p.367).

According to Ivy Litvinov,

“… as Stalin was leaving the meeting, Lityinov called after him ‘Does this mean that you consider me an enemy of the people?’. The boss removed the pipe from his mouth to say . . . ‘We don’t consider you to be an enemy of the people’ “.

(Ivy Litvinov: op.cit.; p.17).

and John Carswell, the biographer of Ivy Litvinov, writes that

“… this humiliation… was an important stage in Maksim’s disillusionment with the ‘reality’ which the Revolution claimed to have created”.

(John Carswell: op.cit.; p.149).

Litvinov to Washington

However, in December 1941, some months after the German attack on the Soviet Union,

“… Stalin sent for for Litvinov, shook hands with him in a friendly manner and appointed him to Washington”. (Ilya Ehrenburg: ‘Men, Years — Life’, Volume 6: ‘Post-War Years: 1945-1954’, London; 1966; p.279).

And Litvinov’s biograoher Voitech Mastny remarks that in the new situation of Anglo-American-Soviet co-operation, Litvinov was

“… the right person to be chosen to reassure the West”.

(Voitech Mastny: op.cit.; p.368).

Litvinov Voices Dissent from Soviet Foreign Policy

Litvinov’s biographer Vojtech Mastny notes:

“Towards the end of his long and distinguished career in the Soviet diplomatic service, Maksim Litvinov tantalised his foreign interlocutors with increasingly candid expressions of dissent from his employers’ official line. There are several such incidents on record from May 1943 to February 1947”.

(Voitech Mastny: op.cit.; p.366).

In May 1943, having been recalled to Moscow, he is on record complaining to US Assistant Secretary of State Sumner Welles