Category Archives: Arab & Mid-East Liberation

Grover Furr: Israeli Rule over Palestinians is Fascist

Apartheid South Africa - Apartheid Israel (1)

Originally published in The Montclarion, student newspaper at Montclair State College (now University), Thursday, May 5, 1988, p. 13.

To the editor:

Professor Edward Aronow’s letter of April 21 on Israeli treatment of Palestinians is so filled with error and distortion that one short response can only begin to correct it.

Israeli rule over Palestinians is essentially fascist. The Israeli army assault on the West Bank town of Beita in the wake of the death of an Israeli teenager can only be described as a pogrom — brutal, murderous assault such as the Tsarist police and the Nazis committed against Jews.

Killing persons armed only with stones or “trying to flee” – – including numerous Palestinian teenagers — collective punishment, beatings, imprisonment without trail for indefinite periods, deportations — this is fascist repression, akin to Nazi terrorism.

The lesson of World War II — especially of the Nazi holocaust — is that fascism cannot be fought with “moderation.” Mass Palestinian protests, including violent protests, must be welcomed, and supported by all those who oppose injustice. Pacifist and “non-violent” protest would be morally irresponsible, since they can never succeed against fascist oppression, but only lead to the unnecessary deaths of many protesters.

Terrorist assassinations, whether by the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO), or the far more numerous acts of terrorist murder by the Israeli army and settlers, must be condemned. However, Israel is far more guilty in this regard, quantitatively, than the PLO.

About 10 times the number of Palestinians have been murdered by Israel than the number of Israelis murdered by PLO terrorists. Yet Israeli terrorist repression against Palestinians is termed `retaliation” or “assassination” in the US media!

Israeli fascist brutalities follow a long history of working with some of the worst fascists on earth, including South Africa, Iran, Turkey, and Argentina. Israel is a major supplier of arms and military advisors to South Africa. Israeli advisors helped train the Iranian Secret Police under the fascist Shah in torture techniques. Today Israel is the major arms supplier to Khomeini’s Iran!

One need not look far to find the roots of Israeli terrorism and fascism. Take Israeli Prime Minister Yitzak Shamir. Before World War II he belonged to a Zionist grouplet that, in 1940, offered to enter the war on the side of Nazi Germany if the Nazis would permit a Zionist state, run along fascist lines, in Palestine. Shamir personally planned the 1948 terrorist murder of Count Folke Bernadotte, the UN Special Mediator for Palestine.

During the war, the major Zionist leaders collaborated with Adolf Eichmann to send half a million Hungarian Jews to their deaths in Nazi extermination camps, in return for the Nazis letter 1500 or so Zionists emigrate to Palestine — a fact long since documented by Zionist writers. Such is the “love” of the Zionist leaders for “their own people”!

The root problem is racism and its twin, nationalism. Israeli law claims that any Jew, anywhere in the world, has a right to full Israeli citizenship, while Arabic-speaking Palestinians have no such right even if they were born and have lived all their lives on the territory now comprising Israel. This is an inherently racist policy. Fascist racism is built into the very existence of the Israeli state.

It is in the interest of Israeli rulers to foment as much hatred between Jews and Palestinians as they can. Israel’s economy depends heavily upon the exploitation of very cheap Palestinian labor, just as South Africa’s does on Black labor.

Israeli Jewish workers are very militant; relative to population;there are more work-days lost to strikes in Israel than in any country in the world. Racism and nationalism are the main things keeping Jewish and non- Jewish workers from allying with one another.

At all costs, Israeli bosses must prevent this, while keeping the super-exploited Palestinian workers nearby and without rights. The parallel with South Africa — or with American treatment of “illegal aliens” and minorities — is unmistakable.

Incidentally, there are not “dozens of Arab states,” as Professor Aranow, following the Israeli government propaganda line, says. There is one major Arab state, Saudi Arabia, and several minor ones on that peninsula. There are many Arabic-speaking states, just as there are many countries besides England where English is spoken. There is no “Palestinian state” in Jordan. Here Professor Aranow simply parrots Israeli disinformation.

Like Israel, the Moslem, Arabic-speaking states are also undemocratic, elite-run dungeons. In light of Israeli terror, however, Professor Aranow’s prattle about the need to “await greater Arab political maturity” is racist nonsense.

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The dirty dozen: Israel’s racist ringleaders

Israelis chant “Sudanese Back To Sudan” during a right-wing demonstration against African refugees in south Tel Aviv, 30 May 2012.

(Oren Ziv / ActiveStills)

David Sheen

Does Israel refuse to grant equal rights to Palestinian citizens of the state because it is based on an ideology of racism towards people who are not Jewish? Or does Israel refuse to grant equal rights to Palestinian citizens because, since some of them are opposed to the Jewish sectarian nature of the state, it prioritizes state security over racial equality?

While this debate has raged for decades, new evidence has come to light which would seem to suggest that the former is more true. Because if Jewish Israelis are only antagonistic to Palestinian citizens because they supposedly represent security risks, then why do they also despise sub-Saharan Africans, with whom they have never had any conflict?

Approximately 60,000 people from sub-Saharan African countries have migrated to Israel in recent years, fleeing persecution and requesting asylum. Instead of providing them with aid or permitting them to support themselves, the Israeli government refuses to grant them any rights, forces them into abject poverty, and seeks to deport the lot of them.

Although Israel is a regional superpower, it has the second-highest poverty rate among developed countries. After last year’s Arab uprisings, hundreds of thousands of Israelis took to the streets, demanding a higher standard of living. In response, public officials scapegoated the Africans for Israel’s economic problems and launched a racist campaign to expel them.

If there is to be justice, these leaders must be brought to trial to answer for their crimes. Maybe Israelis will come to their senses, cancel all the laws that discriminate against African asylum-seekers and call for a truth and reconciliation commission. Sadly, that is unlikely to happen in the near future, because the hatred of African asylum-seekers has become so widespread in Israel.

Perhaps the people of Eritrea and Sudan will eventually overthrow their repressive regimes, install democratic governments and charge these Israeli officials in an international court of law.

Until that day comes — if it ever does — it is important to document evidence of the wrongdoing. In fact, this is an easy task. Since these officials are not ashamed of their racism, it is all a matter of public record. Of those most responsible, these are the top twelve, Israel’s dirty dozen, its axis of racism:

12. Chaim Avitan

In July 2007, there was only a smattering of African asylum-seekers in the country. At that time, a group of approximately 20 genocide survivors from Darfur in western Sudan were legally living and working in an orchard belonging to a moshav, a small agricultural settlement, near the city limits of Hadera.

A proposal to Hadera city council to open the city’s absorption center to these migrants was defeated by the mayor Chaim Avitan. Avitan then forged an eviction order and sent a security team in the middle of the night to rough up the Darfuris, destroy their documents, shove them onto buses and kick them out of town (“Complaint filed against Hadera mayor for expelling refugees,” Ynet, 7 August 2007).

Avitan announced that the city was not “the country’s garbage can,” called upon the government not to grant refugee status to anyone who is not Jewish and stressed that “Hadera will not permit a single Sudanese to enter.”

Hadera is twinned with Big Spring, Texas (5 percent African American), Saint Paul, Minnesota (14 percent African American) and Charlotte, North Carolina (35 percent African American).

11. Benjamin Babayof

In July 2010, dozens of rabbis in Tel Aviv issued a religious edict forbidding Jews from renting apartments to African asylum-seekers. The language of the letter included warnings against inter-racial marriages and references to Biblical passages calling for ethnic cleansing of all non-Jewish people from the “land of Israel.”

This initiative was such a hit that before the year was out, hundreds of leading rabbis from throughout Israel (who also draw their salaries from the public coffers) issued a similar edict applying to the entire country.

The brainchild behind the edict, the man who went from rabbi to rabbi collecting signatures, calling the African presence in Israel an “abomination,” was the Tel Aviv city councilor representing the Shas party, Benjamin Babayof (“South Tel Aviv realtors: we won’t rent to ‘infiltrators,” The Jerusalem Post, 4 August 2010).

That same year, travel guide publishers Lonely Planet called Tel Aviv the third best city in the world.

Babayof continued his anti-African crusade in February 2012, calling upon the transportation ministry to run segregated bus lines for Africans, or at the very least to prevent them from riding the regular bus lines during rush hour, because “they smell bad.”

South Tel Aviv residents carrying signs reading “Return them now” during a protest calling on the government to deport African asylum-seekers back to their home countries.

(Oren Ziv / ActiveStills)

10. Yaakov Asher

Weeks after the original rabbis’ edict was issued, the holy war against African asylum-seekers expanded from Tel Aviv to its environs.

In August 2010, Rabbi Yaakov Asher, the mayor of Tel Aviv satellite city Bnei Brak, met with the minister of public security and the police regional commander to discuss the expulsion of the African population.

When they explained to Asher that there was no legal basis for physically preventing African asylum-seekers from moving to Bnei Brak, Asher’s spokesperson announced that the municipality would use building code infractions by their landlords as an excuse to run the Africans out of town.

When winter came, the municipality followed through on its promise, informing asylum-seekers that they would have to vacate their apartments immediately. When an African man took his legal rental contract down to the city hall and asked to know on what basis he was being evicted, he was told that it was because he was not Jewish.

Many African asylum-seekers did not even receive the courtesy of an eviction notice before their water and electricity were summarily cut off. Without any way to stay warm, the asylum-seekers were frozen out of their flats and sent into the streets in the middle of the winter (“Eritreans say Bnei Brak waging campaign to run them out,” The Jerusalem Post, 1 December 2010).

While he still serves as Bnei Brak mayor, Asher also holds the number seven spot on the United Torah Judaism party list for upcoming elections to Israel’s parliament, the Knesset. The party has five seats in the current Knesset.

9. Meir Yitzhak Halevy

In 2007, African asylum-seekers began to move to Eilat at the invitation of the local hospitality industry. They found work washing dishes and performing other menial tasks for low wages.

Since hoteliers expressed satisfaction with this new arrangement, and since tourism is the only significant industry in Eilat, many more African asylum-seekers have since moved to town. They now number about 10,000 residents, approximately 12 percent of the population of Eilat.

In January 2011, Meir Yitzhak Halevi, the mayor of Eilat, said that African asylum-seekers were coming to conquer Eilat and announced that the city was at war with them. The municipality paid for anti-African posters to be plastered across the city and for red flags to be hung throughout the town (“Eilat demands gov’t action against migrant workers,” The Jerusalem Post,” 13 January 2011). In April 2012, Halevi said that all the Africans will be gone within two years’ time.

For years, Halevi refused to allow the children of African asylum-seekers to attend local schools, so they languished in a makeshift activity center run by sympathetic volunteers. It was only after the Israeli high court intervened and declared Eilat’s segregation policy illegal that children of asylum-seekers were permitted to enroll in September 2012.

Eilat is twinned with Los Angeles, California (10 percent African American).

8. Amnon Yitzhak

An immensely popular preacher, Amnon Yitzhak travels all across Israel turning secular and traditional Jews on to fundamentalist Judaism. Eilat is considered to be a secular stronghold, but Yitzhak crossed its cultural divide by infusing his religious message with rabid anti-African racism.

In February 2012 he told an Eilat audience that the dark skin of Sudanese people is a punishment from Yahweh, the god of Judaism. He further compared them to monkeys, saying that if a Jewish woman goes out with a Sudanese man, she will end up in Africa, “climbing trees and eating bananas” (Cancer in our body’: On racial incitement, discrimination and hate crimes against African asylum-seekers in Israel,” Hotline for Migrant Workers, January-June 2012 [PDF]).

Over the past few weeks, Yitzhak founded a new political party, Power To Influence, that is now running for the Knesset. It is too early to estimate how many seats he might garner, but whether from within the Knesset or without, he wields tremendous clout.

7. Ben-Dror Yemini

Instead of using a neutral lexicon to describe African asylum-seekers, most of the Israeli media have uncritically adopted the pejorative language that government officials who are hostile to their presence use to describe them.

But the mainstream journalist who has spread the most lies about African asylum-seekers in order to stoke fears and incite hatred of them is the opinion page editor of the popular daily paper Maariv, Ben-Dror Yemini.

Some Western countries grant refugee status to between 80 percent and 90 percent of East African asylum-seekers. But in December 2011, just before the right-wing-dominated Knesset voted to criminalize asylum-seekers, Yemini provided them with the ideological ammunition to do so by printing the vicious lie that none of them are refugees, only work migrants.

An official Knesset report from May 2012 stated that the proportion of asylum-seekers out of the entire population of Israel is low compared to Western countries. But only days later Yemini published a column saying that Israel would soon have the largest proportion of asylum-seekers of any country in the world.

Tzipi Livni, Israel’s former foreign minister, recently offered Yemini a prominent spot on her Movement Party list for the Knesset elections. Whether he accepts her offer or not, the mere fact that he was invited is a testament to his widespread influence.

Michael Ben-Ari rallies the crowd during a protest against African refugees and asylum seekers in Tel Aviv’s Hatikva neighborhood, 23 May 2012.

(Oren Ziv / ActiveStills)

6. Michael Ben-Ari

Although he lives in an Israeli settlement in the West Bank, Michael Ben-Ari opened up a parliamentary office in south Tel Aviv, where more than half the Africans in Israel live, in order to mobilize residents opposed to their presence.

While other politicians draw complaints for only visiting the area and surrounding themselves with bodyguards when they finally arrive, the charismatic Ben-Ari confidently leads the community in anti-African street marches. He has also established an anti-African neighborhood watch posse there, earning the admiration of locals.

Ben-Ari has also called for Israeli soldiers to kill in cold blood any African person approaching the border to request political asylum. Ironically, when I interviewed him in the summer of 2010, he admitted that Israel was responsible for mass slaughter in Africa because it exported killing machines to Africa for profit.

Ben-Ari was refused admission to the United States in February 2012 because he was a member of Rabbi Meir Kahane’s now-defunct Kach organization, considered to be a Jewish terrorist group by the State Department.

In the current Knesset, he belongs to National Union, the only party that was too right-wing for the governing coalition. For the upcoming elections, he started a new party called Strength For Israel that is expected to pass the minimum threshold for Knesset representation. Ben-Ari may be an outlier, but he is pulling the entire political spectrum to the right.

5. Miri Regev

On 23 May 2012, a thousand Jewish Israelis ran rampant throughout Tel Aviv for hours, attacking any dark-skinned person — or property of dark-skinned people — they could find. They set off on their campaign of terror after being whipped into a frenzy by members of Knesset.

One of those parliamentarians whose comments were most incendiary was Miri Regev, a lawmaker with the main government party, Likud. She told the assembled crowd that African asylum-seekers were “a cancer in the body” of the nation.

After news of her racist comments and the pogrom that followed it was published the following day, she took to YouTube to make a public apology — but not to Africans for comparing them to cancer, but rather to Israeli cancer victims, for minimizing their suffering by comparing it to Africans (“Israeli MK: I didn’t mean to shame Holocaust by calling African migrants a ‘cancer,” Haaretz, 27 May 2012).

A professional survey conducted just days after the pogrom confirmed that 52 percent of Jewish Israelis identified with Regev’s contention that Africans are akin to cancer, and 33 percent of Jewish Israelis identified with the vigilante violence perpetrated against them.

Although Likud’s list for the forthcoming election must still be combined with that of its coalition partner Yisrael Beiteinu, Regev has already surged into its upper ranks, moving from number 26 to number 13 on the strength of these and other racist statements.

A section of the new detention camp for asylum seekers under construction in the Naqab/Negev Desert near the Egyptian border, 7 November 2012.

(Oren Ziv ActiveStills)

4. Ron Huldai

The day after the pogrom, Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai initiated an anti-African “mayors’ letter,” gathering their pledges of support — just as Babayof, the city councilor, had initiated the anti-African “rabbis’ letter” and collected rabbis’ signatures.

The letter, supported by the mayors of Ashdod, Bnei Brak, Ashkelon, Petach Tikvah and Eilat, called for African asylum-seekers to be either imprisoned or deported (“Day after violent anti-African protest, Likud MK calls to ‘distance infiltrators’ immediately,” Haaretz, 24 May 2012).

If there are approximately 25,000 to 30,000 African asylum-seekers in Tel Aviv, then Huldai’s call to round up and remove African asylum-seekers amounts to ethnic cleansing between 6 percent and 8 percent of the city’s population.

Huldai is surely not the only mayor in the world that has called for the ethnic cleansing of a portion of its residents. But he is probably the only mayor to do so the same year that a corporate-sponsored gay organization crowned his town the “best gay city” in the world.

Tel Aviv is twinned with New York City (25 percent African American).

3. Yossi Edelstein

Edelstein’s official title is director of the interior ministry’s Population Administration’s Foreign Workers’ Enforcement Unit, established in 2009. Simply put, he is directly in charge of the Oz unit, the security agents who are tasked with physically harassing and arresting African asylum-seekers.

One would hope that agents of the state given a monopoly on the use of violence would exercise that power very carefully and with as little prejudice as possible. Sadly, it would seem that Oz agents are not instructed to treat African people with the respect that they deserve, but rather, exactly the opposite.

Even when the African people in question are Jewish, they can be subjected to shocking levels of physical and emotional abuse. In October 2010, the Oz unit brutally beat an entire family of African Americans who had converted to Judaism and were living in the country legally, including a seven-months-pregnant woman, her mother and her one-year-old daughter.

While beating them, the Oz officers yelled, “niggers, we don’t need you here!” (“Interior ministry’s Oz police unit accused of beating US immigrants,” Haaretz, 21 October 2010).

Edelstein made clear his true feelings for African asylum-seekers at a briefing for security officers in July 2012. When asked what to do in the event that an African woman begins to disrobe in protest — a not uncommon form of political protest in Africa — Edelstein suggested that the woman should be engaged sexually. The officers charged with carrying out his orders laughed heartily at his response (hear Edelstein and his audience’s laughter in the video embedded in Israel Channel 10’s report on the briefing).

2. Eli Yishai

The highest-ranking government official to spew the most amount of anti-African invective is without doubt Edelstein’s boss, Eli Yishai. Yishai holds the portfolio of interior minister, an immensely powerful position in Israel. Yishai uses this power to implement the Jewish supremacist ideology of the ultra-Orthodox Shas party that he leads.

This attitude was summarized best by the party’s spiritual leader Rabbi Ovadiah Yosef in October 2010, when he said that the sole reason non-Jewish people exist is to serve Jewish people. Yishai does his level best to ensure that the non-Jewish people who come to Israel — to do the dirty work that Israelis aren’t willing to do — leave the country before they find love and start having kids.

If he wanted to, Yishai could grant work permits to African asylum-seekers, allowing them to be self-sustaining. This would quickly dissolve the homeless African population that is a burden to south Tel Aviv and greatly reduce tensions in those run-down neighborhoods that were economically impoverished to begin with.

But instead of giving work to the non-Jewish Africans already in the country, Yishai prefers to import tens of thousands of Southeast Asians every year, which he expels and exchanges for new ones every few years. This revolving door policy ensures that the non-Jewish population is always vulnerable to abuse. It is also very lucrative for Israeli human resource agencies — a laundered term for glorified slave traders.

Yishai does not mince his words. In June 2012, he lamented that African asylum-seekers didn’t understand that “this country belongs to us, to the white man,” and in August 2012, he said, “until I can deport them I’ll lock them up to make their lives miserable.” That month, he also branded African asylum-seekers a threat as severe as nuclear missiles and fabricated a baseless blood libel against them, accusing them of turning synagogues into toilets (“Israel enacts law allowing authorities to detain illegal migrants for up to 3 years,”Haaretz, 3 June 2012).

Benjamin Netanyahu at the Likud party convention in Tel Aviv, 6 May 2012.

(Yin Dongxun /Xinhua/Zumapress)

1. Benjamin Netanyahu

Ultimately, the person primarily responsible for Israel’s racist war against non-Jewish African asylum-seekers is none other than Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Although he has issued tame condemnations of the most egregious examples of anti-African racism, he has also rubber-stamped every draconian measure taken against them.

When hundreds of Israeli rabbis issued a religious edict forbidding Jewish Israelis from renting flats to Africans, Netanyahu criticized the clerics at an insignificant photo-op — a teenage trivia contest — but took no measures against them. Just the opposite: within months, Netanyahu’s government doubled and tripled their salaries.

In December 2011, Netanyahu announced that he would seal Israel’s open border with Egypt — by which Africans cross into Israel — as soon as possible. I contacted his office then to ask if he would balance his efforts to prevent any more African asylum-seekers from reaching Israel with other measures that would improve the lives of those already in the country — like granting them work permits and health benefits, for example.

Netanyahu’s office responded in the negative. He soon followed these words with actions, demonstrating that he does not only want to reduce the amount of Africans entering Israel, but to completely reverse their migration and expel them from the country. Until such time as that is feasible, he has heartily backed all of Yishai’s plans to construct prison camps to hold the African asylum-seekers indefinitely (“Shas’ Deri eyes Arab vote,” Ynet, 6 November 2012).

Netanyahu is likely to win the upcoming national elections and remain prime minister of the country for at least a few more years. There is no hope on the horizon that any political leader capable of forming a majority in the Knesset could see African asylum-seekers as human beings and potential partners — not as existential threats.

David Sheen is an independent writer and filmmaker. Born in Toronto, Canada, Sheen now lives in Jaffa. His website is www.davidsheen.com and he can be followed on Twitter:@davidsheen.

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PFLP condemns Zionist attack on Syria

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Statement by Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine

Commenting on the Zionist aggression on Syria, the official spokesperson of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), Comrade Abu Ahmad Fouad of the Political Bureau of the PFLP, made a statement denouncing the brutal aggression on Syria as a heinous crime and a blatant challenge of the principles of international Law and the resolutions of international legitimacy.

Fouad added that this aggression is one episode in a series of state terrorist attacks practiced by the Zionist entity against the Arab nation and the Palestinian people.

Furthermore, he called upon the international community, the Arab League and all Arab countries and civil society institutions to condemn this aggression, and for international institutions to end their double standards and silence on the crimes committed against the Arab nation and the Palestinian people.

Finally, Fouad concluded his statement that the enemy has underestimated the capabilities and commitments of the Arab nation, adding that it engages in daily attacks against the Palestinian Arab people throughout Palestine as well as the Arab people of Lebanon and Syria, and that it is important that the enemy faces an immediate response to its attacks. The crimes of the Zionist enemy should not pass with impunity.

Teargas as thousands protest top opposition leader assassination in Tunisia (PHOTOS)

chokri-belaid-500

Tunisian opposition leader Chokri Belaid has been shot dead outside his home, prompting thousands of Tunisians to protest in the capital and across the country, torching ruling party offices in several towns and chanting “the government should fall.”

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In Tunis thousands of people flooded the central Habib Bourguiba Avenue, close to the tree-lined boulevard, where violent anti-government protests were raging two years ago, when the so-called Arab Sprig was ignited.

Flocking to the Interior Ministry office, protesters were chanting “The people want the fall of the regime!”

Security forces cordoned off the area.

As an ambulance carrying Belaid’s body was driven in front of the ministry, hundreds of mourners crowded around the vehicle.

Calls for a second revolution were heard from the crowd. The protesters were chanting “We are all Chokri,” “O Chokri, O martyr, we will follow your path,” and “Terrorism, bullets, Tunisians are fearless”.

Police responded to mass gathering in Tunis with teargas and warning shots. One officer has already lost his life in a violent clash with the people. There have also been reports that an ambulance was teargased.

Further protests have erupted in more than 12 towns and cities across Tunisia.

Rubber bullets and tear gas were also used to contain the crowds in Sidi Bouzid, central Tunisia, the birthplace of last year’s revolution.

A local man placed the number protesting at “more than 4,000” in Sidi Bouzid, according to Reuters. He said that many were “burning tires and throwing stones at the police.”

Some 200 protesters attacked the police station in the central town of Sidi Bouzid. Police had to fire teargas to force the crowd back.

Angry crowds set fire to or vandalized HQs of the ruling Ennahda party in the capital Tunis and in several cities around the country.

Amid raging mass protests, the Tunisian opposition has announced in a statement the suspension of its membership in the constituent assembly. It has also called for a general strike on Chokri Belaid’s funeral.

Four opposition parties have followed in their steps and announced the suspension of their membership in Tunisia’s constituent assembly as well. They have also joined calls for a strike to protest the assassination of the prominent leader.  

Later Tunisian prime minister said he was going to dissolve government and form a national unity cabinet consisting of non-partisan technocrats.

myriam ben ghazi tweet

Two men on motorbike killed Belaid – Interior Ministry

Chokri Belaid, 47, who was leader of Tunisia’s Democratic Patriotic Party, was killed as he was leaving his house in Tunis, the country’s capital, according to the county’s Interior Ministry. Belaid reportedly took four bullets to his head and chest. Shortly after the shooting, Belaid was rushed to a nearby medical clinic, but the injuries proved fatal.

There have been reports about “three men in a black vehicle” had been present at the scene. However, the latest statement from the Interior Minister said that killer of Chokri Belaid is believed to be a middle-aged man on a motorcycle that was ridden by an accomplice, Reuters reports. The Interior Ministry said after the shooting the attacker and rider sped away.

No responsibility has been claimed so far, but protesters and supporters of Chokri Belaid, who had recently formed a coalition in opposition against the Islamist-led government, blame members of the ruling Ennahda for assassinating country’s prominent opposition leader.  

The Ennahda has said it had nothing to do with the assassination of Belaid, Reuters reported. 

Forensic inspectors examine the car of prominent Tunisian opposition politician Chokri Belaid, who was shot dead outside his home, in Tunis February 6, 2013. (Reuters / Zoubeir Souissi)
Forensic inspectors examine the car of prominent Tunisian opposition politician Chokri Belaid, who was shot dead outside his home, in Tunis February 6, 2013. (Reuters / Zoubeir Souissi)

The Ennahda came to power following the 2011 revolution when Tunisia’s long-ruling leader was ousted. The Islamist party has been widely accused of seeking to monopolize power. 

“Ennahda bargains and claims to want to expand the coalition, but refuses to cede any of the key ministerial portfolios sought by opposition,” an anonymous Western diplomat told AFP. The country has been waiting on a ‘long overdue’ cabinet reshuffle.

Belaid recently spoke out against alleged attacks by the Islamists, targeting his party’s members, stating that, “a group of Ennahda mercenaries and Salafists attacked our activists.” The attacks reportedly occurred as a party meeting drew to a close last Saturday.

There have been tensions over the role of Rashid al-Ghannushi, the so-called ‘spiritual leader’ of the Ennahda Movement, which is currently the ruling party in Tunisia. In October 2012, clashes took place in the southern city of Tataouine, during which the coordinator of Nida Touns political party, Lofi Nakd, was killed. Tunisians suspect that Ghannushi might have been behind such radical actions against political opponents.

The fact that his son-in-law is the country’s foreign minister could also be fanning the flames of protest. 

“The fact that the members of the family of the spiritual leader of this Islamic ruling movement have prominent positions of power is one of other things that makes even people who supported the general tendency say “all we are seeing are revolutions to get rid of the Ben Ali family only to replace it with a new ruling family,” professor of international relations at Bilikent University in Turkey, Mark Almond told RT.

A picture taken on December 29, 2010 shows Tunisian opposition leader Chokri Belaid. (AFP Photo / Fethi Belaid)
A picture taken on December 29, 2010 shows Tunisian opposition leader Chokri Belaid. (AFP Photo / Fethi Belaid)

‘Assassination of Tunisian revolution’

Prime Minister Hamadi Jebali has condemned the suspected politically-motivated assassination, labeling the death of Belaid “the assassination of the Tunisian revolution,” adding that, “by killing him they wanted to silence his voice.”

Tunisia’s President Moncef Marzouki canceled a foreign visit following the news to return home. He denounced the“the odious assassination of a political leader who I knew well and who was my friend”.

Asma Belaid, Chokri’s wife, told reporters his death is a catastrophe for Tunisia and their family.

French President Francois Hollande has expressed great concern over the escalating political violence in France’s ex-colony.

“This murder deprives Tunisia of one of its most courageous and free voices,” Hollande’s office said in a statement.

Protests have also been spotted in Paris near the Tunisian embassy, AFP reports. Some protesters even managed to get into the building.

Two years ago Tunisia was the first country to overthrow its leader, following uprisings throughout the country, in what came to be known as the Arab Spring. The country has been gripped by social and religious uncertainty following the introduction of subsequent free elections, yet has managed a smooth transition to democracy up until this point.

“There hadn’t been too much of violence, but unfortunately with these deep disappointments with the failure to make life better (life has got worse) and the sense that a trajectory that takes many people in Tunisia away from what they wanted,” said Almond.

Tunisia is fast becoming a microcosm of the Middle East, where the dichotomy between an Islamic regime and the predominantly secular opposition is magnified – especially after this recent assassination, believes political analyst Danny Makki. He claims that in the current era, the Arab world is so completely politicized that even a minute change can spark hatred and mass outrage.

And because Tunisia’s current Islamist regime is supported by Salafists, it has strong links to other Muslim Brotherhoods, further widening the country’s ideological rift. President Marzouki, for instance, is a firm supporter of the so-called Syrian Jihad. “[Belaid’s] assassination was committed by people with close links to the government, though they deny it”, Makki told RT.

He adds that the move to dissolve the coalition could be to dissuade further unrest, but whether it will work is unclear as “there is a stigma attached to the Muslim Brotherhood government, whose policies are incompatible with the liberal, outgoing nature of Tunisians – this is a problem within itself.”

Makki told RT that the latest events are testimony to the backwardness of the Arab Spring in Tunisia and the Brotherhood’s inadequate leadership, which has no tangible political policies or social and economic programs.

Screenshot from YouTube video / MegaBigpoopa (posted 6 Feb 2013)
Screenshot from YouTube video / MegaBigpoopa (posted 6 Feb 2013)
People surround an ambulance transporting the body of Tunisian opposition leader and outspoken government critic Chokri Belaid on February 6, 2013. (AFP Photo / Feithi Belaid)
People surround an ambulance transporting the body of Tunisian opposition leader and outspoken government critic Chokri Belaid on February 6, 2013. (AFP Photo / Feithi Belaid)
Tunisian people shout slogans during a rallye in front of Interior ministry to protest after Tunisian opposition leader and outspoken government critic Chokri Belaid was shot dead with three bullets fired from close range, on February 6, 2013. (AFP Photo / Feithi Belaid)
Tunisian people shout slogans during a rallye in front of Interior ministry to protest after Tunisian opposition leader and outspoken government critic Chokri Belaid was shot dead with three bullets fired from close range, on February 6, 2013. (AFP Photo / Feithi Belaid)
The body of Tunisian opposition Chokri Belaid (top R) arrives amidst tens of thousands of protesters as they demonstrate on Avenue Habib Bourguiba in Tunis February 6, 2013.(Reuters / Anis Mili)
The body of Tunisian opposition Chokri Belaid (top R) arrives amidst tens of thousands of protesters as they demonstrate on Avenue Habib Bourguiba in Tunis February 6, 2013.(Reuters / Anis Mili)
Tunisian protesters shout slogans during a demonstration after the death of Tunisian opposition leader Chokri Belaid (pictured on flag), outside the Interior ministry in Tunis February 6, 2013.(Reuters / Anis Mili)
Tunisian protesters shout slogans during a demonstration after the death of Tunisian opposition leader Chokri Belaid (pictured on flag), outside the Interior ministry in Tunis February 6, 2013.(Reuters / Anis Mili)
A police officer fires teargas to break up a protest during a demonstration in Tunis February 6, 2013.(Reuters / Zoubeir Souissi)
A police officer fires teargas to break up a protest during a demonstration in Tunis February 6, 2013.(Reuters / Zoubeir Souissi)

Leila Khaled on Revolution & Life

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“I have learned that a woman can be a fighter, a freedom fighter, a political activist, and that she can fall in love and be loved. She can be married, have children, be a mother. Revolution must mean life also; every aspect of life.”

Leila Khaled

Party of Labour of Iran (Toufan): Condemn the Despicable Assassination of Chokri Belaid in Tunisia!

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Chokri Belaid, a popular, prominent, and tireless fighter for the freedom and independence of Tunisia was assassinated in front of his house on the morning of February 6, 2013. Comrade Chokri was the general secretary of the United Party of Patriotic Democrats (PUPD) of Tunisia and a leading member of the Popular Front, a coalition of democratic and left wing forces including the Workers’ Party (PT) of Tunisia.

The criminal assassination of Chokri Belaid is one among a series of repressive acts and barbaric attacks against the activists of the Popular Front that have been carried out for a while with the backing and support of the Tunisian government led by Ennahda Islamic Party. As Comrade Hemma Hemmami, the spokesperson of the Front and the leading figure of PT stated: “The government as a whole is responsible for this crime”.

The barbaric assassination of Comrade Chokri Belaid reminds us of the gradually increasing offensive acts of the reactionary forces of the regime of the Islamic Republic of Iran, soon after they took power, against the advancement of the Iranian Revolution and against the secular and radical left forces in Iran.

Chokri Belaid strongly opposed the “elected” government of Tunisia dominated by the Ennahda Islamic Party, the Party that was put in power through conspiracy, deception, election rigging, and imperialist backing.

The assassination of Chokri Belaid is a vile act that stems from, on the one hand, the weakness and sagging power of the present reactionary rulers in Tunisia and, on the other hand, the advances of the Popular Front. The democratic and revolutionary forces in Tunisia are extending and deepening their influence among the labourers, toilers, deprived masses, and intellectuals. They are holding high the banner of their national-democratic revolution. This has frightened the regime and decaying forces. The assassins not only have targeted Comrade Chokri and PUPD, but also have targeted all democratic and left forces, the trade unions, the women organizations, all secular and progressive institutions. All these forces were and are under the offenses of the dark and reactionary forces backed by the Ennahda movement.

The Party of Labour of Iran (Toufan) strongly condemns the assassination of Chokri Belaid and expresses solidarity with his immediate family, with the United Party of Patriotic Democrats, and with the United Front. We call on all revolutionary and progressive forces of all lands to condemn the reactionary regime of Tunisia for this despicable act and other ongoing criminal offenses against the people of Tunisia.

The Party of Labour of Iran (Toufan) supports the struggle of the Tunisian people for the continuation of their revolution. We support the Popular Front, the force that is fighting for deepening the revolution and establishing a national and democratic order. We continue to expose the criminal Islamic regime of Tunisia headed by Ennahda, a regime that is backed by imperialists and the remnants of Ben Ali regime.

The Party of Labour of Iran (Toufan) supports the call by trade unions and the Popular Front for general strikes, for dissolution of the government, and for the formation of a new democratic constitutional assembly.

Long Live the Tunisian Revolution!
Down with Imperialism and Reaction!
Long Live International Solidarity!

The Party of Labour of Iran (Toufan)
February 7, 2013

WWW.Toufan.org
Toufan@toufan.org

Source

When Gaza Burns

Smoke and fire from an Israeli bomb rises into the air ove Gaza City

When Gaza Burns

by Charlie Mann

Gaza burns tonight.
It burns alone by the sea,
And it burns in the minds
of the masses,
Tears in their eyes with news of
dead children,
Explosions that reverberate
In the ears of those
Across the globe.
Mothers, daughters, fathers, sons,
Brothers and sisters and uncles and aunts
Feel the loss and pain
of dead relatives.

And tonight,
When Gaza burns,
It burns around the world.

Source

International Conference of Marxist-Leninist Parties and Organizations: Resolution on the West African Region and Mali

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Since 2010, the West African region and particularly the sub-Saharan zone has been marked by the armed interference and intervention of the imperialist powers. The objectives of those actions are:

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

* Economic (access to the petroleum of the Gulf of Guinea and the Ivory Coast; to the uranium of Niger and the precious metals that abound in the region; to solar energy; cacao, coffee, etc.

* The struggle of the Anglo-Saxon (U.S. and Great Britain) and French imperialists to prevent the penetration into the region by new actors such as China, India, Brazil, etc.

* The will of the imperialist powers to crush any type of protest by the popular masses, who are condemned to misery and lacking in political freedom, as well as the repression that they suffer carried out by the corrupt puppet powers, and their desire to crush any revolutionary insurrectionary movement.

The military-political crisis after the military coup d’état of the National Committee for the Defense and Restoration of the State (CNRDE) of March 22, 2012, as well as the military occupation of the North of Mali, begun January 22, 2012, which covers two thirds of the national territory, an occupation carried out by the National Movement for the Liberation of AZAWAD (MNLA) and the “jihadists” (AQMI, ANSAR, DINE, MUJAO, BOKO, HARAM…) must be put in this context

The military-political crisis in Mali has grave consequences for the neighboring countries, particularly Algeria, Niger, Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast, Mauritania, etc. and the group of the countries of the west African region (destabilization of States, proliferation of arms, massive displacement of populations towards the South of Mali, and thousands of refugees in other neighboring countries).

The military-political crisis in Mali is also a threat to the interests of imperialism, particularly French imperialism, in that country and the whole region. That is why there are preparatory maneuvers for an open military intervention that the troops provided by the members countries of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) can carry out, with the consent and logistical support of the great imperialist powers (France and U.S.A.) and of the UN under the pretext of “making a secure transition,” of “restoring constitutional life” and of “restoring Mali’s territorial integrity.” This is a reactionary plan by the imperialist powers and their allies in the region to maintain and reinforce their domination.

Faced with this serious situation, the International Conference of Marxist-Leninist Parties and Organizations (ICMLPO):

* Denounces and condemns the puppet powers that have opened their territories (particularly in Mali, Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast, Niger, Mauritania and Senegal) to the troops of imperialist aggression.

* Denounces and condemns the proclamation of independence of the State of AZAWAD by the MNLA, instrument of French imperialism.

* Denounces and condemns the crimes perpetrated against the peoples of the North of Mali by terrorist group AQMI and the Islamist groups ANSAR-DINE, MUJAO and the MNLA.

* Supports the brave resistance of the peoples, particularly of the youth, against oppression and medieval and obscurantist practices.

* Denounces and condemns the reactionary plan of the ECOWAS in Mali.

* Calls on the proletariat and peoples of the imperialist countries, particularly France, to support the Malian people in their struggle for a revolutionary solution of the military-political crisis.

* Calls for solidarity and support for the struggle of the peoples of the West African region against imperialist domination and their African lackeys.

Tunisia, November of 2012.

Source

International Conference of Marxist-Leninist Parties and Organizations: Resolution on the Situation in Syria

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The plenary of the ICMLPO, held for the first time in Africa, reaffirms its support for the right of the Syrian people to live under a democratic regime: a regime that guarantees freedom, equality, social justice and dignity, as well as assures the unity and total independence of the country, including the recovery of the Golan Heights occupied by Zionism since 1967.

The ICMLPO:

1. Denounces the dangerous development of events in Syria. The popular movement of protest has been transformed into a destructive civil war. The bloodthirsty repression is striking the people, and since the beginning, the Assad regime has rejected any democratic reform that would satisfy the aspirations of the Syrian people. This situation is the consequence of the foreign reactionary, imperialist and Zionist intervention, through Turkey, Qatar and Saudi Arabia, which masked by the so-called “Free Syrian Army” and under the pretext of “saving the Syria people”

2. We reaffirm that this war has nothing to do with the interests of the Syrian people and their aspirations. On the contrary, it serves the reactionary forces of the country, the region and internationally. Syria is at the moment the place of confrontation between, on the one side the U.S., France and Israel and Arab and Turkish reaction that are trying to subject Syria to Western rule and make it break its ties with Iran and Hezbollah. On the other side, Russia and China are supporting the regime to preserve their strategic interests in Syria and the region, after having lost their influence in Libya.

3. We reject all intervention by NATO in Syria under any pretext, given the dangers that this represents for the Syrian people, the peoples of the region and world peace in general. The Conference calls on the Turkish people to oppose Turkey’s intervention in Syria. It sends a call to the workers and peoples of the Western countries, in the first place of the United States, Great Britain and France, whose leaders are threatening military intervention in Syria, to pressure their governments to stop them from carrying out their criminal strategy that caused disasters in Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia, Libya, etc. in the past

4. It is up to the Syrian people, in all cases, to determine their own future. The ICMLPO calls on the Syrian patriotic and democratic forces to unite to save their country from the claws of the Assad regime and the armed gangs and to prevent the foreign powers from mortgaging their future and making use of a part of their minorities to undermine their unity. The ICMLPO calls on those forces to strive to build a new, democratic, secular, independent and united Syria in which the different religions and nationalities live together in freedom and equality.

5. Calls on the patriotic, democratic and progressive forces of the region to urgently mobilize and to undertake the necessary measures of solidarity to support the patriotic and democratic forces of Syria, forces that must act to end the slaughters perpetrated against the Syrian people, to stop the destruction of the country and prevent the foreign intervention, to facilitate dialogue among its inhabitants to achieve their aspirations and break with the tyranny and foreign domination.

Organisation pour la construction d’un parti communiste ouvrier d’Allemagne

Parti Communiste des Ouvriers du Danemark – APK

Parti Communiste d’Espagne (marxiste – léniniste) – PCE(ml)

Plateforme Communiste d’Italie

Parti Communiste des Ouvriers de France – PCOF

Organisation Marxiste Léniniste Révolution de Norvège – Revolusjon !

Parti Communiste Révolutionnaire de Turquie – TDKP

Parti des Travailleurs de Tunisie – PT

Parti Communiste Révolutionnaire de Côte d’Ivoire – PCRCI

Source

Tunisia’s ‘unfinished revolution’ — interview with Workers’ Party militant

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By Peter Boyle

November 16, 2012 — Green Left Weekly — Abdel Jabbar Madouri (pictured above) has been a militant in Tunisia since his early secondary school days. He was jailed three times (in 1987,1993 and 2002) because of his political activism. After every arrest, he was tortured and then sentenced to more then 12 years in jail. Madouri spent four years in hiding during the Ben Ali regime. He was also deprived of the right to work or to obtain a passport.

Madouri is also novelist and member of the League of Free Writers and some of his novels were banned by the dictatorship. Today he is member of the national committee of the Tunisian Worker’s Party and is editor of its newspaper Sawt Echaab(People’s Voice).

Green Left Weekly interviewed Madouri by internet with with the assistance of and translation from Arabic by Tunisian journalist Haithem Mahjoubi.

* * *

The sacrifice of the young Tunisian street vendor Mohamed Bouazizi opened a new wave of popular revolt across the Arabic countries and beyond to Spain and eventually the whole world through the Occupy movement. But how much has been gained by the revolution in Tunisia? Is the democratic space still opening up?

We can say that this revolution has achieved certain aims such as the abolition of the ex-ruling party (though elements of it still operate freely but with little public support), freedom of expression and media and also the dissolution of the hated secret police, if only in a formal way.

The revolution also achieved for the first time a democratic election despite some failures and lack of transparency and equal opportunity in the election campaigns. The election of the constituent assembly was one of the goals that people fought to achieve, unfortunately, the Islamic Ennahdha coalition exploited the revolution win a majority in those elections.

Many of the tasks of the revolution remain unfinished because of the strength of the forces of counter revolution seeking to circumvent the revolution. Among these unfinished tasks are the enforcement of accountability; an investigation and end to corruption in government institutions; a purge state agencies, bringing those responsible to account for crimes against the people – especially putting on trial those who murdered the martyrs of the struggle – and redress for their victims.

What has been achieved by the one-year-old Constituent Assembly? And did the workers’ movement and the left have much input into its decisions?

More then a year after the election, the Constituent Assembly has still not drafted laws that reflecting the demands of the revolution. With the majority of assembly members, of representatives, Ennahdha is able to pass laws for its own benefit. This has made it clear to the people that this is no revolutionary government but a government of a new dictatorship working against the completion of the tasks of the revolution.

The people’s rejection of this government can be seen in the growing demonstrations and sit-ins in public squares and in the streets in front of government offices.

So the revolutionary process is moving slowly along with the transitional to equality.

Amnesty International says there have been some reversals of the democratisation. Protesters, activists and journalists have been attacked. What is the situation for freedom of political expression and organisation?

The Ennahda government has used the Islamic fundamentalist Salafist militias to attack independent journalists so that it dominate public media and put its loyal supporters and allies in charge of the main media institutions. It has refused to put to into practice laws guaranteeing media freedom and establishing an independent commission for information.

So, journalists are still fighting for independence and freedom.

What is the state of the trade union movement? How strong is your party in the trade union movement? Is there a problem with corruption and co-option of trade union leaders by the capitalist parties and the state?

The General Union of Tunisian Workers (UGTT) is the biggest union in Tunisia. The UGTT has been organised since 1952 and is playing a very important role in fighting the government’s plans.

It is true that this union suffered from corruption during the Ben Ali regime, but after the revolution it has regained its integrity, energy and a leading role social and political struggles in cooperation all with other popular organisations.

The Worker’s Party is is very strong in the UGTT. The trade union movement is working with the newly formed Popular Front, which was launched in October by 12 political parties that are all active in the UGTT.

The constituent parties of the Popular Front are left-wing parties and progressive nationalists that participated in the revolution and suffered repression under former dictatorship.

The Popular Front is the now largest political force apart from the ruling Ennahda and the “Tunisia Appeal” party, which represents the remnants of the old regime.

How much danger does Tunisia face from the religious fundamentalists?

Islamic fundamentalism remains part of the political landscape of Tunisia and occasionally expresses itself through attacks on bars, artists and police. Some fundamentalists have been killed in clashes with the police.

But the popular resistance has led to the isolation and decline of the influence of the fundamentalists. The recent manifestations of Salafist violence is due to growing government complicity with these groups.

There have been some recent significant strikes in Tunisia. Can you explain what this was about?

We’ve been organising several workers’ campaigns to claim three main things. First, the passing and implementation of the laws to regulate working conditions which remain precarious for most workers. Second, wage increases to keep up with the rising cost of living and better working conditions, especially working hours and occupational safety. Third, regulation of employment and dismissal of workers in public institutions.

Can you explain the recent protests about women’s rights in Tunisia?

Since it came to power the current government has tried to circumvent the demand for women’s rights, especially in relation to polygamy, the regulation of the minimum age of marriage and gender equality in rights and duties. But its attempts have failed because of the resistance from civil society, including the women’s associations which are very strongly engaged. Still the struggle women’s rights in Tunisia remains strong challenge.

Will the elections promised for June 2013 satisfy the popular will in Tunisia? How well do you expect the left to do in this elections? What are the prospects of a new revolutionary upsurge?

The revolutionary forces are aiming to be influential in next June’s election and to use these elections as an opportunity to achieve the demands for which the people revolted.

Our most important goal is providing employment, freedom and ending our country’s dependency on the great imperialist powers.

It is certain that the left led by the Popular Front will be active and influential in this election. According the last opinion poll, the Workers Party had 6% of the vote and is in the fourth place. But it is expected that the Popular Front would get more than 15% of the vote in the coming elections.

Because of the deterioration of the living conditions of the Tunisian people and the government’s inability to deal with these situations, a second revolution in Tunisia is also expected. The Popular Front is ready for this eventuality and prepared to lead such a revolution to achieve its goals.

What is your party’s view of the developments in Libya and Syria? Are the imperialist powers beginning to successfully manipulate the “Arab Spring”?

The imperialist powers are collaboration with reactionary regimes in the Arabic region especially Qatar and Saudi Arabia and they have succeeded in thwarting revolution in Syria by converting it from a popular uprising to a devastating and dirty civil war.

In Libya, the situation looks somewhat different, especially since the Libyans began rebuilding state institutions. But the Libyan revolution needs to make a lot more struggle to achieve Libyan people’s demands.

The imperialist powers are working hard to control the situation in the countries of the so-called “Arab spring” so they are aiming to find help customers in the area especially after the coming to power of Islamist parties in Tunisia and Egypt and their collaboration with the imperialist-Zionist agenda. In the other side, there are the ongoing revolutionary processes and the parties that lead them in both these countries.

Source

Marxism & Bourgeois Nationalism

As always, a re-posting of articles does not necessarily imply an absolute endorsement of the entirety of its content. However, this well-written article does make a good point about the duality of the bourgeois class, particularly in the Third World and oppressed countries.

– Espresso Stalinist.

Tripoli is burning. Thousands of black Libyans and African immigrants are rounded up by the NATO-backed rebels and thrown into prisons. Supporters of the ousted nationalist government wait with baited breath for the inevitable and bloody purge by the new rebel government. Libyan oil gushes out of Benghazi into the pipelines of Western energy companies. And militia groups, deputized by Interpol and the now-victorious National Transitional Council (NTC) government, hunt for Colonel Muammar Qaddafi and his family across the Libyan desert.

Now that NATO has won this asymmetrical imperialist war, at least in the short term, no one can reasonably say that the Libyan people are better off with the rebel government in power. For all of the flaws of Qaddafi’s government – and other nationalist governments like his – the Libyan people enjoyed the highest standard of living on the African continent, rising from the lowest standard of living in the world as of 1951. (1) The national and tribal governments had an amicable working relationship that allowed for decentralized planning and local decision-making. Moreover, Libya’s natural resources were controlled by a national government at-odds with Western energy corporations, and the wealth they generated was publicly owned and shared. (1) In other words, the Libyan nation exercised its inherent right to self-determination.

Qaddafi’s government wasn’t socialist; it was nationalist. The relations of production in Libya were capitalist in nature, but to deny that Qaddafi’s government was more progressive and objectively anti-imperialist ignores the brutal material reality that millions of Libyans are facing because of the NTC government.

As the West begins to re-calibrate its war machine and set its crosshairs on President Bashar al-Assad’s government in Syria, Marxist-Leninists need to understand their relationship with nationalist bourgeois states, like Qaddafi’s Libya. History has objectively proven those “leftists” who were cheerleaders for the fall of Qaddafi’s government in Libya or Saddam Hussein’s government in Iraq wrong.

At the same time, every bourgeois state operates fundamentally in the interest of some sector of the capitalist ruling class, whether national or international, and in time the proletariat will replace that old machinery with socialism through revolution.

I posit these theses:

Because of their relation to imperialism after the fall of the socialist bloc, the objective historical position of nationalist states in the Third World is progressive.

Marxist-Leninists must uphold the right of nations to self-determination, which in the present is principally characterized by freedom from imperialist subjugation.

Where it arises, Marxist-Leninists must support genuine revolutionary proletarian struggles for socialism against bourgeois nationalist governments.

Josef Stalin, author of Marxism & the National Question

What is nationalism?

To understand when and why Marxist-Leninists should support nationalism, it’s important to examine the material conditions from which nationalism arises.

As a starting point, it’s important to distinguish a nation from other units of social or geographical organization, like a tribe or country. Historically speaking, national identity is a relatively recent development in class society. In his seminal 1913 work, Marxism and the National Question, Josef Stalin outlines the characteristics of a nation as “a historically evolved, stable community of people, formed on the basis of a common language, territory, economic life and psychological make-up manifested in a common culture.” (2)

Two important characteristics to note about Stalin’s definition. First, while territory and geography is a defining feature of a nation, it is not its sole determining characteristic, meaning that within the existential boundaries of a country–itself a recent social development–many nations may exist. Second, while a common economic life is also a defining characteristic, nations are not formed on the basis of class unity. In other words, there is no proletarian nation or bourgeois nation, but rather these two classes are both part and parcel of their respective nations.

In its inception, nationalism arises as an ideology of the bourgeoisie. From Marxism and the National Question:

The chief problem for the young bourgeoisie is the problem of the market. Its aim is to sell its goods and to emerge victorious from competition with the bourgeoisie of another nationality. Hence its desire to secure its “own,” its “home” market. The market is the first school in which the bourgeoisie learns its nationalism. (2)

Though all classes in a given nation are capable of embracing nationalism, Stalin argues that its historical basis lies in the bourgeoisie and its need for capital accumulation as a class. While other classes can appropriate and have transformed this concept, the demand for national self-determination begins as a bourgeois demand for exclusive access and control of its own national markets and resources.

European and American nationalism, for instance, arose from the break-up of feudal empires and the fledgling bourgeoisie’s struggle to establish itself as a class via primitive accumulation. American merchants, traders, shopkeepers, and speculators, denied full access to the readily available land and resources in North America by British mercantilism, led revolution of 1776 on the basis of American national unity. Though the American revolution of 1776 was waged in the interests of the fledgling bourgeoisie, the working masses rallied to the banner of American nationalism and led a successful struggle against British colonialism. Stalin notes that the “strength of the national movement is determined by the degree to which the wide strata of the nation, the proletariat and peasantry, participate in it.” (2)

Though the role of American nationalism in 1776 was historically progressive, the triumph of the American national movement was fueled by and resulted in the further subjugation of the African masses kidnapped and violently lashed into slave labor, along with the indigenous tribes ruthlessly slaughtered in the expansion of the American empire. Dialectically, American nationalism’s progressive features became the basis for the rise of the most oppressive imperialist power in the history of the world.

Without the subjugation of the African masses as a slave labor force, the Western bourgeoisie could never have established itself as an independent ruling class. Indeed, the same American nationalism that united the colonists against British mercantilism would unite the country in waging genocidal wars for land against indigenous people and Mexicans. After the series of successful European bourgeois revolutions, all ideologically fueled through nationalism, colonialism in Africa, Asia, South America, and the Pacific Islands became central to acquiring the cheap labor and resources necessary to generating extreme national wealth.

Because of the cheap labor and resources acquired through ruthless expansion, American capitalism transformed into imperialism, in which developed countries use force and comparative advantages in trade to violently extract resources and exploit the labor force of other colonies. Central to maintaining the colonial apparatus was the denial of equal rights and the cultivation of racist myths about colonized people, which materially manifested itself in slave labor, apartheid, and denial of access to the liberal democratic institutions established by the colonial bourgeoisie in imperialist countries.

Inevitably, the placement of capital in colonial countries allowed some small fraction of the colonized population to gain access to limited amounts of their own capital, albeit usually dependent on the colonial power. In other words, this small class of propertied yet colonized people constituted a bourgeoisie. Of this bourgeoisie, Stalin writes:

The bourgeoisie of the oppressed nation, repressed on every hand, is naturally stirred into movement. It appeals to its “native folk” and begins to shout about the “fatherland,” claiming that its own cause is the cause of the nation as a whole. It recruits itself an army from among its “countrymen” in the interests of… the “fatherland.” Nor do the “folk” always remain unresponsive to its appeals, they rally around its banner: the repression from above affects them too and provokes their discontent. (2)

The bourgeoisie of oppressed nations has the same basic features as the American and European bourgeoisie, in that both classes sought greater access to their own markets, resources, and labor. However, the conditions around the oppressed national bourgeoisie are qualitatively different than those around the Western bourgeoisie; they cannot seize control of their own national resources because of the fetters of colonialism.

Unquestionably the type of colonial oppression faced by the oppressed national bourgeoisie was different than that felt by the colonized proletariat and peasantry, who faced more brutal repression from the state and worse terms of labor. However, these colonized classes all had something to gain by overthrowing colonial and imperialist rule and achieving self-determination for their nation.

Nationalism becomes vital to the colonized bourgeoisie because it unites themselves and the colonized laboring masses in the struggle for national liberation. At the point where the laboring masses embrace nationalism, “the national movement begins.” (2)

National liberation struggles are not exclusively led by the nationalist bourgeoisie, and historically the bourgeoisie in colonial or semi-colonial nations is often too weak or too connected to the colonizing nation to exert itself independently as a class. Numerous examples of successful revolutionary proletarian national liberation movements exist, including the People’s Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA). These successful communist movements, like the MPLA, also made use of nationalism to unite the country around the central task of expelling the colonizers. In essence, although nationalism is originally a bourgeois ideology, other revolutionary classes can appropriate it during the national liberation struggle phase.

Saddam Hussein, with an AK-47

Bourgeois nationalist states in the Third World

Because the nationalist bourgeoisie finds itself opposed to imperialism in the Third World, they can function as a tactical ally for the proletariat and peasantry in these same oppressed nations. Marxist-Leninists should never accept this alliance as permanent, however, and must carefully evaluate the place of the national bourgeoisie in relation to imperialism and the vast laboring masses.

Iraq provides one of the most potent examples of the fickle and unreliable nature of the nationalist bourgeoisie. The Arab Socialist Ba’ath Party, for instance, was primarily bourgeois in its orientation and leadership, but it also attracted a mass following in the wake of the Iraq’s independence from British colonialism in 1958. (3)

Ba’ath was not committed to socialist revolution in Iraq, but they did preside over an aggressive nationalization program in 1972, which seized oil refineries from British and American companies and allowed them to diversify Iraq’s economy. Though these nationalizations were motivated by the access considerations of the national bourgeoisie, they also allowed the Ba’ath state to redirect revenues into public works projects that lifted nearly half the country out of poverty. In a 2006 profile piece on Saddam, PBS News writes of Ba’ath’s accomplishments:

As vice chairman, he oversaw the nationalization of the oil industry and advocated a national infrastructure campaign that built roads, schools and hospitals. The once illiterate Saddam, ordered a mandatory literacy program. Those who did not participate risked three years in jail, but hundreds of thousands learned to read. Iraq, at this time, created one of the best public-health systems in the Middle East — a feat that earned Saddam an award from the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. (4)

True to form, Saddam and Ba’ath rose to power in direct response to British colonialism. Acting in the interests of the Iraqi national bourgeoisie, they ‘took back’ the resources monopolized by the West’s colonial subjugation and used the revenues to rapidly construct a modern Iraq, which required an educated populace, secular government, a functional road system, and social infrastructure like hospitals. One can question the sincerity of Ba’ath’s actions towards the masses, but one cannot dispute the profoundly positive effect these nationalist policies had on the lives of ordinary Iraqis.

However, the social accomplishments of bourgeois nationalist regimes should never obscure their reactionary character. With both Ba’ath and the Communist Party of Iraq (ICP) vying for supremacy after the 1958 revolution, hostile confrontations between the parties continued until 1963, when Ba’ath launched a coup d’etat against Prime Minister Abdul Karim Qasim. (5) During the coup, communists organized massive militant resistance to Ba’ath, and over the course of the three days in Baghdad, “5,000 Iraqi citizens were apparently killed, including 80 Ba’th Party activists and 340 Iraqi communist activists.” (6)

Following the consolidation of Ba’ath rule in Iraq, the ICP experienced two separate waves of repression: one in 1963 following the coup and the subsequent unrest, and the other in 1977, led by Saddam. (5) Historian Bob Feldman writes in a February 2006 piece on Iraq that “By March 1963, an estimated 10,000 Communist Party of Iraq members had been arrested by the Ba’th regime and many imprisoned Iraqi leftist activists were not treated gently.” (6) Quoting Said Aburish’s book, “A Brutal Friendship: The West and the Arab Elite”, Feldman continues:

The number of people eliminated remains confused and estimates range from 700 to 30,000. Putting various statements by Iraqi exiles together, in all likelihood the figure was nearer five thousand…. There were many ordinary people who were eliminated because they continued to resist after the coup became an accomplished fact, but there were also senior army officers, lawyers, professors, teachers, doctors and others. (6)

The CPI was correct to resist the 1963 Ba’ath coup and oppose the consolidation of a bourgeois nationalist regime. Iraq’s independence in 1958 had shifted their primary adversary from British colonialism to the Iraqi bourgeoisie, seeing as no colonial entity to struggle against still existed. Saddam’s case reminds Marxist-Leninists that it’s strategic to enter into a popular front with bourgeois nationalists against imperialism, but after the national liberation struggle is complete, they constitute a vicious and dangerous foe.

Palestinian women wave PFLP flags

Nationalist governments support revolutionary people’s struggles in the Third World.

Failure to conform to imperialist foreign policy is the most common wedge issue between bourgeois nationalists and the West. Often driven by pan-national ideological unity, bourgeois nationalist countries objectively support revolutionary people’s struggles and national liberation movements abroad, placing them at odds with imperialism.

Finding common ground with the Shi’a-led Iraqi resistance to US occupation, Iran has provided weapons to Iraqi insurgents, as well as training for assembling their own weapons. (7) While many allegations about Iranian aid to the Iraqi resistance are exaggerated by Western capitalist media to ratchet up tensions, journalist Michael Perry describes Iran’s rationale in a February 2007 article:

But let’s go even further and say, for the sake of argument, that the Iraqi insurgents are receiving officially authorized aid from the Iranian state. It is true that having a neighboring nation in chaos does not generally benefit any country, but the Iranians have been under the gun from the U.S. for a very long time –decades in fact. The recent threats and provocations from the Bush administration make it clear that Iran is an imminent target. I’m quite sure the Iranians realize that the quagmire in Iraq is the primary impediment to an American invasion of Iran. Troubles for U.S. forces in Iraq may buy the Iranians more time. Could the Iranians be so blind to their own self-interests? (8)

At odds with Saddam’s secular Sunni government for decades, the Iranian bourgeoisie would relish the opportunity to have an oil-rich Shi’a-dominated Iraq to its west. More pressing, however, is the collective national fear of having another US-client state in the region. There’s a reason that Tehran, and not Qatar, the UAE, or Saudi Arabia, is actively subverting US occupation by materially supporting the Iraqi resistance. That reason, of course, is because the Iran’s ruling nationalist bourgeoisie has a material class interest in anti-imperialism.

The best evidence for the progressive quality of the Iranian nationalist bourgeoisie, embodied in President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, is the attempted color revolution in 2009 by the US-backed Mir-Hossein Mousavi. This so-called ‘Green revolution’ was financially supported by both the West and the wealthy neo-liberal bourgeoisie, represented by multi-millionaire former President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani. (9) In the 2005 Presidential elections, Ahmadinejad defeated Rafsanjani largely on the basis of the latter’s gaudy neo-liberal orientation. A 2005 article in GreenLeft by Doug Lorimer highlights the divergent class interests represented by Ahmadinejad and Rafsanjani. While both accept the fundamental tenents of the Iranian capitalist state:

In the same TV interview [Ahmadinejad] claimed the country’s vast oil wealth was controlled by one powerful family — a reference to Rafsanjani, who is alleged to have enriched himself through his son’s management of the country’s nationalised oil industry. The Rafsanjanis also have investments worth US1 billion in pistachio farming, real estate, automobile manufacture and a private airline.

“The whole Iranian economy is set up to benefit the privileged few”, Ray Takeyh, a professor and director of studies at the US National Defense University’s Near East and South Asia Center in Washington, told the Bloomberg news agency last December. “Rafsanjani is the most adept, the most notorious and the most privileged.” (10)

Rafsanjani, and his running dog Mousavi, hoped to rise to power via a US-supported color revolution and open Iran to Western markets; in other words, they represent the comprador Iranian bourgeoisie. Despite the best efforts of the imperialist powers to oust Ahmadinejad–who by every objective measure legitimately won the 2009 election–the Iranian people resisted these attacks on their national sovereignty. (11) Even as he nears the end of his two terms as President, Ahmadinejad remains popular with the Iranian masses because of his consistent anti-imperialism on the world stage, along with the social programs he has championed at home despite Western sanctions.

Pivoting to another nationalist state, Syria has consistently functioned as the most progressive of the multitude of Middle Eastern countries by substantially supporting the major national liberation movements in the region. Trinity University professor of history David Lesch writes in his fantastic book, The New Lion of Damascus: Bashar al-Asad and Modern Syria that:

Syria does not deny claims of support for Hizbollah, Hamas, and Islamic Jihad, viewing that such operations constitute legitimate resistance and not terrorism; indeed, Damascus often views Israeli activities vis-a-vis the Palestinians and its actions in Lebanon as terrorism. (12)

Since the Syrian Ba’ath party took power in 1963, the state has always supported the Palestinian and Lebanese liberation struggles and sought to keep Israeli imperialism in-check. (13) Sharing the common trait of secularism, Syria allows the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), the largest Marxist-Leninist revolutionary movement in Palestine, to operate comfortably out of Damascus and materially supports their struggle with supplies and resources. (14) Because of the Syrian bourgeoisie’s desire for regional secular pan-Arab unity–rooted in the Alawi faith of President Bashar al-Assad and others–and the Israeli occupation of the Golan Heights, Assad’s government is objectively anti-imperialist.

Similarly, Saddam’s Ba’ath state in Iraq financially supported and championed the cause of Palestinian national liberation, which was played up by the West in the months leading up to the 2003 invasion. On March 13, 2003–just six days before the invasion–the BBC reported, “Saddam Hussein has paid out thousands of dollars to families of Palestinians killed in fighting with Israel. Relatives of at least one suicide attacker as well as other militants and civilians gathered in a hall in Gaza City to receive cheques.” (15) Later, the same article estimates that the Iraqi government had paid out nearly $35 million to Palestinian families since 2000.

In hindsight, the timing and purpose of this BBC article is obvious, but that Saddam’s support for ‘terrorist groups’ was one of the reasons for the 2003 invasion demonstrates the extreme degree to which his support for the Palestinians offended and scared the West. Startlingly few people remember that Israel invaded Syrian airspace and bombed a peaceful nuclear power plant in September 2007 for many of the same reasons. When a bourgeois state in the Third World becomes nationalist in its orientation, as opposed to comprador bourgeois states, it demands a response from the West.

Emperor Haile Selassie I of Ethiopia

Never confuse your primary and secondary contradictions!

Although a multitude of contradictions exist in class societies, at any given time, one of these contradictions is principal in comparison to the others. If a person goes for a walk, decides s/he wants a cigarette, and then gets bitten by a rattlesnake, the order of the day is to call a doctor and receive medical attention immediately for the venom. As much as that person might have wanted–or even needed–a cigarette, only a great fool would tell this person that s/he should prioritize smoking over seeking medical attention.

Primary and secondary contradictions seem like common sense, but a multitude of so-called ‘leftists’ and revolutionaries confuse them when analyzing imperialism. Ultimately, the approach that Marxist-Leninists ought to take to bourgeois nationalist governments is tied up in correctly identifying and acting on primary and secondary contradictions.

Though largely ignored in Marxist-Leninist writings, the experience of the Ethiopian revolution offers valuable insight as to how communists ought to struggle against bourgeois nationalist governments. Having played an instrumental role in repelling the Italian fascist occupation of Ethiopia, Emperor Haile Selassie I began as an archetype bourgeois nationalist. He encouraged pan-African unity, promoted decolonization, and began an aggressive process of modernizing Ethiopia.

That said, Selassie’s government became firmly aligned with the West after World War II and opened the country up to an influx of foreign capital. Presiding over and encouraging severely unequal land distribution, Selassie’s government was also responsible for a series of famines and foot shortages, the worst of which claimed an estimated 40,000 to 80,000 victims. (16) Ahmed Khan of the Communist Workers and Peasants Party in Pakistan writes this of Selassie’s government:

During the monarchical period, life expectancy was a mere 38 years and 90% of the people were illiterate. Only a tiny handful of feudal landowners and royal sycophants controlled the entire wealth of the country.

Severe drought and famine engulfed Ethiopia which led to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of peasants, and led to widespread hunger and food crises in the urban areas. (16)

Even bourgeois sources regard these famines as the product of Selassie’s destructive policies. A 1997 report by Human Rights Watch called “Rebellion and Famine in the North under Haile Selassie” indicted the nationalist government for its culpability in this famine, saying:

The Wollo famine was popularly blamed on drought, a backward and impoverishedsocial system, and the cover-up attempted by the imperial government. These factors were all-important — though it must be remembered that specific actions by the government, especiallyafter the Ras Gugsa and Weyane revolts, were instrumental in creating the absence of development. (17)

By 1974, Selassie’s bourgeois government lost all legitimacy in the eyes of the masses. Because of the widespread crises brought on by Selassie’s selective industrial development and close trade relations with the West, Ethiopian workers and peasants began to mobilize against the government. Khan writes, “The inability of the monarchy to deal with the crisis and the propensity of the feudalists to bleed the peasantry dry led to increasing hatred for the monarchy on part of the oppressed peasants, workers and a section of the emergent urban middle class.” (16)

Although no Marxist-Leninist vanguard party existed in Ethiopia at this time, a communist council of military officers known as the Derg organized alongside labor leaders in the urban centers and peasant communities in the countryside to produce the Ethiopian revolution of 1974. (18)

The revolutionary experience of the Ethiopian people in overthrowing Selassie’s government and establishing the People’s Democratic Republic of Ethiopia–firmly committed to socialist construction–has tremendous lessons for Marxist-Leninists about their relation to bourgeois nationalists. Objectively, Selassie’s government was essential to the anti-imperialist and anti-fascist struggle waged against fascist Italy in 1935. The Communist Party of the United States of America (CPUSA) went so far as to launch a “Hands off Ethiopia” campaign in the same year, which included substantial demonstrations supporting Ethiopia’s right to self-determination (19).

However, classes do not exist in a vacuum. While one class may play a historically progressive role at one time, a change in the material conditions–like increased trade relations with the West following World War II–may render that same class reactionary. For as important as nationalism was to Ethiopia repelling fascist Italy in 1941, the same nationalist government’s reactionary policies reached a boiling point in 1974, resulting in a popular socialist revolution.

The lesson from Ethiopia is clear: Marxist-Leninists in nationalist states must organize with a keen awareness of primary and secondary contradictions. For a moment, let’s assume that an organization like the Derg existed in Ethiopia circa-1935. Said organization would commit a grave error in throwing in with the fascists in hopes of toppling an admittedly reactionary monarchy. First, the organization would undeniably alienate the Ethiopian masses, who despite their poverty and poor military training, flocked to defend their homeland, the only African state never colonized by the West, from fascist occupation. (20) Second, although Selassie’s bourgeois government was at-odds with the interests of Ethiopian workers and peasants, that contradiction receded into the background the moment that fascist Italy began poison gassing entire villages of Ethiopians.

When Mussolini’s forces invaded Ethiopia in 1935, there was only one organized military force capable of mounting a resistance: Selassie’s nationalist government. Unsuccessful at first, Ethiopian patriots of all classes, albeit predominantly workers and peasants, struggled onward to victory and liberation in 1941. That this liberation struggle took place across class lines on a nationalist basis is no small detail. It’s paramount that Marxist-Leninists, in light of Iraq, Libya, and increasing aggression towards Syria, comfortably identify anti-imperialism as the primary contradiction facing the international proletarian revolution today.

Proletarian internationalism is superior in every way to bourgeois nationalism, but so long as neo-colonialism and imperialism exist, communists must unite all who can be united in the anti-imperialist struggle. Simultaneously, though, communists must remember the other side of the dialectic: When bourgeois nationalists become complicit partners in Western imperialism and alienate themselves from the masses, communists must never hesitate to overthrow that state with extreme prejudice and on its ruins erect revolutionary socialism.

The irrelevance and obscurity of the Iraqi Communist Party (ICP) following the toppling of Saddam’s Ba’ath regime demonstrates the devastating effects of incorrectly identifying primary and secondary contradictions.

Saddam was by no means a consistent anti-imperialist throughout his reign. Though Ba’athist Iraq established diplomatic relations with the Soviet Union and China, it still retained casual relations with the West; relations that were strengthened following Saddam’s condemnation of Soviet intervention in the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan, as well as the Iranian Revolution in 1979. (21) Between the overthrow of the US-backed Shah, the establishment of a militant Islamic republic, and the Iranian hostage crisis, Iraq began to work closely with the West to curb Tehran’s influence in the Middle East. Though the Reagan Administration would notoriously fund the Iranians also, the US comfortably placed their initial bets behind Saddam in the devastating Iran-Iraq war of 1983-1988.

Even though the imperialists used Saddam during the Iran-Iraq war to sow chaos in the Middle East, the Ba’ath state remained largely at odds with Western interests because of its nationalist orientation. Refusing to privatize its oil industry and allow Western capital to fully penetrate its national markets, the West increasingly saw Saddam as a danger to imperialist interests in the Middle East. Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait over territorial disputes, the subsequent Gulf War, and Saddam’s unabashed support for the Palestinian liberation struggle cemented Iraq’s status as a pariah state in the eyes of the West by the early 1990s.

In an effort to eliminate an unfriendly pro-Palestinian government perched atop massive oil reserves, the US and UK fabricated the now-infamous falsehood that Saddam’s government had weapons of mass destruction. While communists around the world uniformly condemned the imperialist invasion of Iraq, “the Iraqi Communist Party (ICP) welcomed Saddam Hussein’s removal and is happy that the ousted president is to be put on trial.” (22) Exhausted and furious from decades of repression by Ba’ath, the ICP’s position is understandable on a purely visceral and emotional level. However, Marxist-Leninists must remain level-headed during periods of crisis and correctly identify primary and secondary contradictions; a task at which the ICP uniformally failed.

In the coming years, the ICP would come to participate in the puppet state erected by the West–most recently in the liberalizing ‘Political Reconciliation’ movement–and integrate themselves into this comprador government imposed from without. (23) Despite comprising the strongest opposition to the Ba’ath government during the 1960s, the ICP has descended into relative obscurity, having lost any credibility with the masses for their blunder. Instead, Muqtada al-Sadr’s Mahdi Army and other religious sects comprised the mass base of resistance after Saddam was captured, though their bourgeois and petty-bourgeois class character has led them to also participate in Maliki’s bogus government.

One would think that the international ‘left’ would have learned about correctly handling primary and secondary contradictions after witnessing the failure of the ICP to lead a mass revolutionary resistance to imperialist occupation. Instead, the same ‘leftists’ who witnessed the invasion of Iraq cheerled a racist, imperialist-backed ‘rebel movement’ in Libya, and many made the full leap into supporting NATO’s invasion to oust Qaddafi.

When a nation achieves self-determination, the secondary contradiction between the proletariat and the national bourgeoisie will ascend to the forefront as the new primary contradiction. Before that time, however, the primary contradiction facing the masses in oppressed nations is between imperialism and national liberation. In bourgeois nationalist states, this contradiction can and must draw in all who can be united to strike a blow against imperialism.

Countries want independence.

Nations want liberation.

People want revolution.

—-

(1) Gerald A. Perreira, “Libya Getting it Right: A Revolutionary Pan-African Perspective,” March 4, 2011, Dissent Voice, http://bit.ly/mQT4iz

(2) Josef Stalin, Marxism & the National Question, March-May 1913, http://bit.ly/cwOCSQ

(3) Said K. Aburish, “How Saddam Hussein Came to Power,” 2002, From Saddam Hussein: The Politics of Revenge, Published in The Saddam Hussein Reader, pg. 41-42

(4) Jessica Moore, “Saddam Hussein’s Rise to Power,” 2003, PBS News, http://to.pbs.org/65tro

(5) Turi Munthe (Editor), The Saddam Hussein Reader, 2002, pg. xv-xviii

(6) Bob Feldman, “A People’s History of Iraq: 1950 to November 1963,” February 2, 2006, Toward Freedom, http://bit.ly/qwCar2

(7) CNN, “Iraqi insurgents being trained in Iran, US says,” April 11, 2007, http://bit.ly/nHra0S

(8) Michael Perry, “So what if Iran is Interfering in Iraq?,” February 21, 2007, AntiWar.com, http://bit.ly/ogwqxd

(9) Paul Craig Roberts, “Are the Iranian Protests Another US Orchestrated ‘Color Revolution’?,” June 20-21, 2009, CounterPunch, http://bit.ly/pmXj7w

(10) Doug Lorimer, “IRAN: A vote against neoliberalism,” July 6, 2005, Green Left, http://bit.ly/nYcOll

(11) Terror Free America, New America Foundation, “Ahmadinejad Front Runner in Upcoming Elections,” June 12, 2009, http://bit.ly/k8x0w

(12) David W. Lesch, The New Lion of Damascus: Bashar al-Asad and Modern Syria, 2005, pg. 102

(13) Reuters, “Syrian President Vows to Keep Supporting Hezbollah, Hamas,” August 2, 2007, http://bit.ly/qex219

(14) Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, “PFLP condemns attack on Syria,” November 3, 2008, Fight Back! News, http://bit.ly/qWDlmo

(15) BBC News, “Palestinians get Saddam funds,” March 13, 2008, http://bbc.in/9BWsXr

(16) Ahmed Khan, “Defend Comrade Mengistu! On the struggle of our Ethiopian brothers,” November 19, 2008, Red Diary, http://bit.ly/jbYhks

(17) Human Rights Watch, “3. Rebellion and Famine in the North Under Haile Selassie,” 1997, http://bit.ly/pzy53w

(18) Christopher Clapham, Transformation and Continuity in Revolutionary Ethiopia, 1988, Cambridge University Press.

(19) Robin D.G. Kelley, Hammer and Hoe: Alabama Communists During the Great Depression, 1990, pg. 123.

(20) A.J. Barker, The Rape of Ethiopia, 1936, 1971.

(21) Said K. Aburish, “How Saddam Hussein Came to Power,” 2002, From Saddam Hussein: The Politics of Revenge, Published in The Saddam Hussein Reader, pg. 44

(22) Shaheen Chughtai, “Iraqi communists celebrate change,” June 1, 2004, http://aje.me/qp5rVW

(23) Talal Alrubaie, “The Iraqi Communist Party and Hegel’s Owl of Minerva,” February 2, 2010, http://bit.ly/rqF6fr

Source

Fighting the Bigger Oppressor First

A Syrian detainee, who was arrested over participation in the protests against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime, is seen in a prison vehicle at Damascus police leadership building to sign his release papers 11 July 2012. (Photo: Reuters – Khaled al- Hariri)

By: Amal Saad-Ghorayeb

In March 2011, a commentator for al-Jazeera wrote: “Events in Egypt and Tunisia have revealed that Arab unity against internal repression is stronger than that against foreign threat.” While this may have been an over-generalization at the time, events in Syria have borne out this assumption. This is due to the deep polarization between Arabs who place primacy on opposition to the Syria regime’s authoritarianism and Arabs who view such opposition as secondary to Assad’s struggle against imperialism and Zionism.

In this essay, I will outline the main moral and intellectual considerations informing the resistance or anti-imperialist camp’s (known as mumanaists in Arabic) prioritization of confronting imperialism over other forms of domination.

The Violence in Syria is Misrepresented

Although supporters of the Syrian opposition often accuse this camp of being ready to countenance any type of violence, no matter how heinous, in the interests of the resistance priority, this accusation ignores the fact that the seeming consensus on the nature and scope of the violence in Syria is a purely manufactured one. Mumanaists do not view the current violence engulfing Syria as a dictatorial regime’s one-sided brutal suppression of peaceful protesters, as is commonly misrepresented in mainstream media, but rather, as a civil war by proxy that the Syrian army was dragged into as it sought to stamp out a US-NATO-GCC-backed armed insurrection.

While supporters of the Syrian uprising contend that this perception of the conflict is designed to reduce the cognitive dissonance produced by the regime’s brutality, few mumanaists harbor the illusion that the regime is not repressive. What they do believe, however, is that the extent of this repression has been grossly distorted by mainstream media. To bolster their argument, they point to a growing number of mainstream media reports which have admitted to the existence a singular master-narrative that is widely used to frame the conflict.

As acknowledged by the BBC in its recent self-study on its coverage of the “Arab Spring”, “journalism is not an exercise in simply relaying raw and untreated facts to the audience…This cannot be done without some sort of framework – if you will, a “narrative” – and therefore the construction of such a narrative by journalists should not be treated as if it were a sin in itself.”

Writing on Syria in the Sunday Times, Peter McKay contends that “It’s not simply uprisings by ground-down peasants against tyrants who repress them. It’s about a transfer of power to rival clans and/or religious groups. About a continuation of the old US-Russia Cold War stand-off.” In a similar vein, the BBC’s world news editor, Jon Williams, has recently admitted in a blog post on Syria that “stories are never black and white – often shades of grey.”

But such admissions are the exception rather than the norm in a psych-ops campaign that is stage-managed by US-NATO-GCC information warlords to bring about a military victory for proxy forces. At the helm of this campaign are politically embedded journalists, political activists and human rights representatives who work in concert to ensure that all coverage of the Syrian crisis remains confined within a carefully guarded body of self-referential “evidence.”

The effectiveness of this information warfare in enlisting public opinion in support of military intervention is substantiated by the aforementioned BBC report: “No doubt these reports…helped stimulate empathy for the [Libyan] rebel cause among the British public, and thereby to facilitate, if not actually bring about the NATO intervention – as similar reports had done in northern Iraq as long ago as 1991.”

Imperialism Cannot Be Equated with Authoritarianism

The second premise guiding the resistance camp’s position on Syria is that imperialism cannot be equated either morally or politically with authoritarianism, let alone demoted to a secondary rank. By contrast, the liberal democratic impulse driving the “Arab Spring” has led some to declare the obsolescence of anti-imperialism as a unifying force in the region. Al-Jazeera commentator Lamis Andoni epitomizes this view with her assertion that “The old ‘wisdom’ of past revolutionaries that liberation from foreign domination precedes the struggle for democracy has fallen.” In the new Arab Spring vernacular, revolutionary struggle is no longer synonymous with resisting US-NATO interventions and Israeli aggression, but has come to mean confronting internal repression even when that confrontation benefits the Empire and its colonial outpost, Israel.

Furthermore, this new liberal political discourse and the preeminent status accorded to securing internal freedoms has served to effectively remove Palestine from the forefront of Arab concerns. In effect, Palestine has been relegated to just another Arab nation which is responsible for freeing itself from its own domestic, i.e. intra-Palestinian, authoritarian rulers, over and above its Israeli oppressors. The mumanaists’ response to this logic is multi-pronged.

As a matter of principle, neither Palestine nor questions of national self-determination in general are viewed as fashions; justice doesn’t go out of style for truly conscientized and committed intellectuals and activists for whom Palestine remains the cornerstone of Arab political identity. What is more, the resistance camp sees this new trend of reducing Palestine to a national cause that belongs exclusively to the Palestinians as a very dangerous development that requires Arabs to unlearn generations of political socialization in order to expunge Palestine from their political consciousness.

Some supporters of the Syrian opposition have argued that the insistence on maintaining the primacy of the Palestinian cause over the concern with authoritarianism, and the concomitant precedence given to Israeli violence over the Assad regime’s repression, is tantamount to claiming that Syrian blood is cheaper than Palestinian blood. But this charge misunderstands the extent of Israel’s iniquity by locating it solely in Zionist aggression, human rights violations or in the circumstances of the occupation. The resistance camp conceives of Israel as the greatest injustice because of its very existence and the unprecedented nature of its oppression, which renders it not merely a human rights cause, but humanity’s cause.

As detailed by the Never Before Campaign for Palestine: “What happened in Palestine since 1947 has never happened before, in terms of the combination of the elements: brutality and racism of the occupier, the injustice of granting one peoples land to others, duration of this injustice, complicity and apathy of the civilized world as well as Palestinian people’s will to resist all that against all odds.”

Even on the level of violence alone, Israel’s violence by far exceeds any domestic repression in so far as it is systematic and genocidal violence that is deeply embedded in its military ethos and strategic culture. Indeed, the celebration of violence is part of its collective consciousness as illustrated by a number of recent examples on social media where many Israelis celebrated the killing of Palestinian children. More importantly for mumanaists, any parallels drawn with Israel are Zionist-enabling in so far as comparing Israel’s violence with that practiced by repressive Arab regimes, legitimizes Israel’s existence as just another authoritarian regime in the region.

Not only are such comparisons with Israel morally and ideologically indefensible, but the very equivalence between imperialism and authoritarianism is an intellectually flawed one that is rooted in a liberal-leftist tradition that conceives of all deployments of power as being equally coercive and oppressive, irrespective of the global hierarchy of power.

In the mumanaists’ conceptual hierarchy of oppression, imperialism and authoritarianism are situated in two entirely different levels of domination. This rank-ordering is not based on an ideological abstraction that is divorced from political reality or on the rhetorical value of anti-imperialist sentiment, but on immediate, practical concerns. Imperialism is not evil because it is practiced by the West, but because it harms people’s lives and interests. Empire kills; it kills vast amounts of people, whether it occupies countries directly or intervenes militarily, economically or politically, it is responsible for innumerable deaths, destruction and impoverishment of all those in its wake.

Thus, viewed from a purely utilitarian perspective, or according to a basic cost-benefit calculus, there is no comparison between the type of violence autocratic regimes exercise when they repress dissent and the death and devastation wreaked by Empire. This moral logic would still hold even if we were to set aside the Assad regime’s anti-imperialist and resistance credentials and assume it was neutral on Palestine; when faced with a choice between the Assad regime’s repression on the one hand and the threat of NATO invasion, coupled with the externally-instigated sectarian civil war and terrorism on the other, anti-imperialists and the majority of Syrians alike will choose the former, especially when they don’t have the luxury of rejecting both.

Resisting Regimes Safeguard Collective Rights and Freedom

If anti-imperialists place far greater political and moral value on resisting the Empire than on unseating autocratic regimes, then surely that is even more so the case when those regimes themselves resist imperialism. As in the case of Syria, anti-imperialist leaders are identified with a set of rights and a concept of freedom that is considered far more conducive to democracy, justice and dignity than the western liberal discourse of “human rights” which is informed by the “negative freedom” from authority.

While not rejecting liberal freedoms outright, anti-imperialists view liberal freedoms that stress the individual’s right to be free from government interference and coercion as being secondary to positive and liberationist conceptions of freedom which affirm human agency and self-determination. As critiqued by political theorist, Anthony Bogues, “when freedom morphs only into rights, then the very question of freedom itself is delinked from other forms of domination other than political authority.” Indeed, it could be argued that the universalization of the Euro-American-centric human rights doctrine that has come to dominate the Arab Spring freedom discourses, serves to obscure imperialism and foreign domination.

The great anti-colonialist thinker, Franz Fanon, anticipated this intellectual colonization by liberal rights discourses when he wrote: “History teaches us clearly that the battle against colonialism does not run straight away along the lines of nationalism. For a very long time the native devotes his energies to ending certain definite abuses: forced labour, corporal punishment, inequality of salaries, limitation of political rights, etc. This fight for democracy against the oppression of mankind will slowly leave the confusion of neo-liberal universalism to emerge, sometimes laboriously, as a claim to nationhood. It so happens that the unpreparedness of the educated classes, the lack of practical links between them and the mass of the people, their laziness, and, let it be said, their cowardice at the decisive moment of the struggle will give rise to tragic mishaps.”

Clearly cognizant of their deviation from the anti-imperialist struggle, Arab Spring intellectuals attempt to reconcile this disconnect between liberal freedoms and liberationist freedom by arguing that liberation from western hegemony and Israeli occupation can only be achieved once freedom from internal tyranny is won. Andoni contends that “combating internal injustice – whether practiced by Fatah or Hamas – is a prerequisite for the struggle to end Israeli occupation and not something to be endured for the sake of that struggle.”

But this logic operates in a geo-political intellectual void which elides any kind of world systems analysis’ recognition of the hegemony exercised by core nations over peripheral ones. In a world order characterized by an uneven division of labour, the notion of achieving any kind of comprehensive and far-reaching internal change without a commensurate change in the global balance of power, is futile.

If there cannot be genuine revolutionary change from within, given prevailing power disparities on the international level, then the expectation that domestic change will inevitably balance out global power asymmetries is nothing short of liberal self-delusion. It is precisely this reasoning which undergirds mumanaists’ claim that liberation from foreign domination is a prerequisite to genuine democratic change.

Furthermore, resistance intellectuals and activists maintain that there can be no progress or democracy in the Arab world so long as a colonial implant like Israel continues to exist in our midst, perpetually threatening our security. Viewed from this lens, liberating Palestine is the prerequisite for the democratization of the region.

As such, mumanaists prioritize a collectivist notion of rights that emphasizes people’s rights as opposed to human rights. In this collectivist understanding of the term, freedom is conceived as liberation from foreign domination and oppression and the pursuit of self-determination. In effect, to be free is not to be left alone, unencumbered by external constraints and hindrances, but to struggle for justice. Seyyid Hassan Nasrallah provides the clearest definition of what this freedom entails: “[it is] not just the blood of a man, the fate of a woman, the crushed bones of a child, or a piece of bread stolen from the mouth of a poor or hungry person. It is the issue of a people, a nation, a fate, holy places, history, and the future.”

In other words, the ultimate purpose of freedom for Arab mumanaists is not merely the protection of various civil and political rights of the individual, but the trans-historical collective right of the umma in its past, present and future manifestations. In this dispensation, freedom and democracy are not reduced to procedural aspects like elections and political reforms as they are in western liberal thought, but more substantially, the ability of peoples enjoying popular sovereignty to shape their own political identity, control their national resources and participate in determining their national destiny.

Amal Saad-Ghorayeb is a Lebanese academic and political analyst. She is author of the book, “Hizbullah: Politics and Religion”, and blogger at ASG’s Counter-Hegemony Unit.

Source

Peking Review on Environment and Development

Environment and Development
by Chu Ko-ping
Peking Review
May 14, 1976, p. 19

The question of environment and development is of common concern to various countries in the world. The numerous developing countries are speeding up the development of their national economies and, in the course of such development, are protecting and improving the environment so that economic development and environmental protection can be co-ordinated with each other. This is a question of special concern to the developing countries and their people.

The question of environmental pollution and its damages has cropped up in many areas of the world. Pollution has become a scourge of society in some countries with highly developed economies. What is the root cause of environmental pollution and damage? The main social cause of environmental pollution and its damages lies in the fact that, as a result of the development of capitalism into imperialism, the monopoly capitalist groups, in their quest for big profits, are unscrupulously plundering the natural resources and disposing of harmful substances at will, thereby polluting and poisoning the environment. The developing countries also face certain questions concerning the environmental pollution and damage. But their environmental question is different in nature from that in the developed countries. Over a long period in the past, the colonialists and imperialists dominated the Asian, African and Latin American regions by various means, controlling their economic lifelines, carrying out savage plunder and ruthless exploitation, and engaging in indiscriminate development and utilization of natural resources, thereby wreaking serious havoc on their national economies and natural environment. This is the root cause of the poverty and backwardness of the developing countries and of the damage to their environment. In the face of superpower hegemonism, this state of affairs has become even more serious in these regions.

Now some people still regard economic development as the root cause of environmental pollution, while others consider poverty its root cause. All these views represent an attempt to evade the essence of the matter and seek the causes of the problem from superficial phenomenon, thus making it impossible to reach a correct conclusion in conformity with objective reality, and leading to pessimism about the future of the human environment.

Economic development and environmental protection are interrelated and promote each other. The former gives rise to the environmental problem and the latter constitutes an important condition for developing the economy; economic development increases the capability to protect the environment, and environmental improvement in turn promotes economic development. This is the interdependent relationship between the two.

At present, the developing countries have a pressing need to develop their national economies, gradually build up a modern industry and modern agriculture and achieve economic independence so as to consolidate their political independence. This is the urgent task of the developing countries in freeing themselves from imperialist, colonialist, neo-colonialist and big-power hegemonist control and plunder; it is also a basic guarantee for the protection and improvement of the environment. In the absence of political independence and economic development, how can the environment be effectively protected and improved? Economic development will be bring with it the problem of environmental pollution, which, however, can be solved only in the course of development, not by calling a halt to development or slowing down its pace. We hold that in the struggle against nature, man has constantly to sum up experience and go on discovering, inventing, creating and advancing. With social progress and scientific and technological development, the problem of environmental pollution can be prevented and solved in the course of development so long as we proceed from the interests of the people and adopt effective measures to this end.

China is a developing socialist country. We have in the course of advance also come across the problem of economic development causing environmental pollution. The main cause of pollution is the problem left over from the old China. It takes some time to transform the lopsided economy in the old society. So far we are still short of adequate experience and knowledge of environmental protection work, which is a new problem for us. Chairman Mao has taught us that we should proceed in all cases from the interests of the people. Economic development is in the interests of the people and so is environmental protection. The development and protection are in harmony with each other. We are constantly summing up experience and striving to reduce and eliminate pollution while developing the economy so as to create good living and working conditions for the working people.

In developing the economy, we should make an overall planning and arrangement when handling the relations between industry and agriculture, between town and country, between production and livelihood, between economic development and environmental protection, so that they will advance in co-ordination with each other. This is an important measure for preventing industrial pollution.

As to the development and utilization of natural resources, we should also make an all-round planning to ensure multiple benefits, pay attention to immediate and long-term effects, take into consideration the accruing gains and the possible effect on the ecological conditions. Our practice in the building of water conservancy projects over the years has proved that by making an overall planning and striving to ensure multiple benefits in flood-control, power-generation, irrigation, navigation and cultivation of aquatics, we can make the best use of water resources and at the same time reduce and avoid damage to the environment.

Geographical distribution of industries should be put on a rational basis, with greater stress put on small cities and towns. The small cities and towns have characteristics favouring the environmental protection such as the integration of cities with the countryside, of workers with peasants, facilitating production and conveniencing daily life. Meanwhile, the difficulties which often arise in big cities can be averted in small cities and towns: difficulties in housing, communications and transport, supplies of agricultural and sideline products and other public welfare facilities. This is also beneficial to environmental improvement.

To prevent industrial wastes from contaminating the environment, we put anti-pollution measures into practice simultaneously with the designing, construction and commission of the projects in our industrial construction. Such practice has proved effective. In so doing, we can ponder over the ways and means,before the construction work starts, of getting rid of the harmful substances as best we can in the course of production, or adopt purifying measures against any possible damage which might accrue from these harmful substances. This may cost more money when a project is under construction, but the cost will be much smaller than the price which has to be paid for keeping the pollution under control after it has occurred, and the results have proved much better.

Will the environmental protection and improvement affect development and slow down its pace? This depends on what policies are adopted. Our country regards the multiple-purpose use of resources as an important policy for economic development. Thanks to the development of modern industrial technology, the natural resources discovered and used by mankind are increasing daily. Discharge of industrial wastes at will will contaminate the environment. Multiple-purpose utilization of industrial wastes makes it possible to turn many harmful things to good account and make useless things useful. This will help to open up new sources of raw materials for industry, expand social production, increase social wealth and promote the development of production.

Agriculture is the foundation for the development of the national economies of the developing countries. Without the development of agriculture, industrial development cannot go very far. Protection and improvement of the environment is of particular importance to promoting the development of agriculture.

Agriculture production, including food crops, forestry, livestock breeding, side occupations and fishery, depends to a large extent on natural conditions. There is a certain limit to the development of agriculture under certain natural conditions, that is, it will be hampered by natural conditions. However, through its own hard work, mankind can change the existing natural conditions and strive to master the natural law governing the reproduction of living things, and create still greater productive forces. On the question of the natural conditions for agriculture, the naturalist point of view is wrong, and the ideas of pessimism and inertia are both groundless. In the old China, as a result of the long years of oppression and plunder by the imperialists and their lackeys, rural natural environment was seriously damaged, agricultural production was ruined because large tracts of land turned alkaline or became deserts. One-third of the cultivated lands were red soils or alkaline, sand-stony and cold-swampy fields and lands susceptible to drought and waterlogging. Some lands became barren. Since the founding of New China,  our Government has given the first place to agriculture in developing the national economy.

By extensive mobilization of the masses, relying on our own efforts and transforming our country in an indomitable spirit as displayed by the legendary Foolish Old Man who removed the mountains,  it has worked with great will to transform the natural conditions for production. After more than two decades of hard work, we have improved over one half of the alkaline land in north China, reclaimed, utilized and improved over 120 million mu of red soil which is sometimes called “red deserts,” and brought one-fifth of the land subject to erosion under preliminary control. With the planting of shelter belts over large areas and the improvement of water conservancy conditions in the desert regions in northwest and north China, more and more oases have emerged. The improvement of natural conditions for agriculture has enabled China to reap good harvests for 14 years running, with the broad masses of the people enjoying a happy life. Certain people assert that speedy development of agriculture would reduce the fertility of soil and bring about an ecological crisis. The fact that China has improved the  natural conditions for agriculture and reaped good harvests in succession shows that mankind can transform nature and create a more suitable environment. So long as the creative power of the people is brought into full play and necessary measures are taken, the fertility of soil will not be destroyed; instead, poor soil can be turned into fertile soil and produce more food grains.

EMEP: Tunisian Workers Communist Party Changes Its Name

The leader of the Communist Party of Tunisian Workers (PCOT) Hamma Hammami gestures during a press conference on March 19, 2012 in Tunis. Tunisia is in a state of immobility five months after the election of members of the National Constituent Assembly (ANC) and three months after the appointment of a new transitional authority “, said Mr Hammami. AFP PHOTO/ FETHI BELAID (Photo credit should read FETHI BELAID/AFP/Getty Images)

Please note that this is a computer translation from Turkish and is not entirely accurate.

— Espresso Stalinist

Tunisian Workers’ Communist Party (PCOT) resulted in an on-site-standing name change debate. Party, the Workers’ Party of Tunisia as a way to continue after that.

Secretary-General of the party that Hamma Hammami, a tactical move in order to reach a wider audience, he said. Hammami, communism, religion, or that their decision is effective in keeping identical hostility, he said.

Hammami, change the name of the party does not mean that changes in the political line, Tunisian Workers’ Party, a Marxist-Leninist party would continue to fight, he said. There were no changes in the party’s program and constitution.

Hammami, “Tactical had to make a choice, or Islamists communism ‘is anti-religion,’ the propaganda would spend the time or the strength to tell you that’s not true, people use it to unite around the Party program, and thus the workers, the youth, the other sections of the struggle for socialism kazanabilecektik” he said.

Hammami who launched a propaganda campaign in this direction, distributing press party program stated that 500 thousand units.

Workers’ Party of Tunisia opened 60 new party organization in the region, the next step is planning to open dozens more recording Hammami, this process strengthened the party’s youth organization said. (FOREIGN NEWS)

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Tunisian Workers Communist Party Changes Name to Tunisian Workers Party

Tunisia’s eminent communist political party, the Tunisian Communist Workers Party (POCT), has officially changed its name to Tunisian Workers Party (POT). POT decided to omit the word “communist” from their title following a series of discussions that have been ongoing since February that concluded with a general referendum within the party.

“Our goal is to avoid the stereotype most Tunisians would think of when hearing the word ‘communist’,” said Mohamed Mzam, a representative of POT. Mzam stated that the name change came as a response to, “numerous admirers of the party who were suspicious about our ideology.”

Mzam explained that programs and agendas of political parties are more important than their ideologies. “Tunisians should focus on what a political party is committed to offer them on political, social, and economic levels,” he said.

Additionally, POT has participated in discussions concerning the formation of a coalition of progressive, leftist, political parties and independent politicians. “We held a meeting on Sunday during which nine parties announced that they’ll join the front. We, the coalition, aim at representing a political alternative to the two major political poles: Ennahdha and ‘pro-Dostouri’s [supporters of ideology the party of Tunisia’s first president Habib Bourguiba],” Mzam added.

Hama Hammami, the secretary general of POT, told Mosaique FM radio that the Wafa movement – consisting of former members of the Congress of the Republic (CPR) – might join the coalition as well. “Both POT and the Wafa movement have a lot in common. We share similar political history with opposition and oppression by the previous regime,” Mzam reiterated.

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