Studies I: PCOT on Foreign Affairs (I)

This post is a part of a new series of posts which will consist of translations and excerpts from the communiques, statements, pamphlets and other literature from left-wing political parties in the Arab world, especially Tunisia (others as well, Egypt, Algeria and Mauritania in particular). The selections will focus on foreign policy, women’s issues, relations with other political factions (mainly Islamists and other leftist tendencies), ideology, rhetoric and general worldview. The purpose of this series is to put into English elements of the contemporary Arab political discourse which are generally neglected in western and English-language reportage and analysis while the of Islamist tendency receives extensive, if not excessive coverage. The translations in this series should not be taken as this blogger endorsing or promoting the content of particular materials: the objective is to increase access to and understanding of the contemporary Arab left by making its perspectives known, especially in areas of interest and relevance to English-speakers. This series will include both leftist and Arab nationalist [party] documents, statements, communiques, articles and so on. The series will attempt to touch on as many of the main (and interest) leftist parties as possible.

The following post contains translations of tree communiques and articles dealing with uprisings in the Arab region from the Tunisian Communist Workers Party (Parti communiste des ouvriers tunisiens/حزب العمال الشيوعي التونسي‎, or PCOT; its website is malfunctioning as of early afternoon, 13 July). The PCOT is a hard left party, led by Hamma Hammami and belonging to the International Conference of Marxist-Leninist Parties and Organizations (Unity & Struggle). It is a Marxist-Leninist party with Hoxhaist and Stalinist tendencies (see later postings) and considers itself to be a revolutionary party. It is stridently pro-Palestinian and against normalization with Israel. It was founded in 1986 and has an active presence among youth and students. The party operated continuously through the Ben Ali period and its members and leaders were persecuted like many other Tunisian oppositionists. The PCOT was legalized after the January 2011 uprising. It has allied with other leftwing parties and supported the decision to postpone constituent assembly election until October, believing this would give the left more time to organize and prepare (the Islamist party an-Nahdha is considered the frontrunner out does most other parties in the polls). The PCOT came in fourth in a Sigma poll in May (9.2%) and third in an al-Jazeera poll this month (5%; conducted in late May/early June). (Note the wide discrepancy between the polls. Also see The Economist‘s analysis of the situation here which is less triumphant in an-Nahda’s favor and which gives more attention to the fact that most voters are undecided and that a large coalition of secular factions has formed in an effort to counter an-Nahdha.) The PCOT represents one of the strongest currents on the far left side of the Tunisian political spectrum. Though it takes support from a small minority, its activists and members have been heavily involved in demonstrations during and after the uprising that overthrew Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali.

The three communiqués here deal with foreign affairs in the Arab region. One deals with Palestine, another with the UN/NATO intervention in Libya and a third with the Syrian uprising. These are selected for the following reasons: (1) they deal directly with timely issues related to the “Arab spring” from the perspective of a political party which was heavily involved in the Tunisian uprising; (2) they are representative of the general tone of the party’s attitudes on Arab uprisings and external intervention and interference; (3) they are written by diverse segments of the party’s organs and membership. Future translations from the PCOT will deal with (1) more foreign affairs issues inside and outside the Arab region; (2) religious and women’s issues and (3) general ideology.

1. Libya

PCOT: “Statement on the military intervention in Libya”

LINK: http://www.albadil.org/spip.php?article3741

DATE: 20 March, 2011

A number of imperialist countries (France, the United States, etc.) have launched air and missile attacks on sites said to belong to Mu’amar al-Qadhafi. These attacks came after the decision of the “Security Council,” which gave the green light to initiate military operations in Libya.

The Tunisian Communist Workers’ Party is concerned that the purpose of this intervention is not the protection of the Libyan people from the oppression of Qadhafi, but instead the occupation of the country, to subjugate its people, plunder its resources and use its territory to establish military bases for the control of North Africa in order to ensure the security of the Zionist Entity and safeguard the interests of the imperialist powers in the region. France, the United States and all western countries which have launched attacks on Libya today have no interest in the triumph of the popular revolts blowing down Arab regimes, corruption and unemployment, things which long found support and backing from the colonial powers, so today we see they are quick to take the necessary precautions so as not to let things get out of hand.

The brotherly Libyan people will be able to overthrow Qadhafi, depending on their capabilities and the support of other Arab peoples (and all the revolutionary forces of the world), and are not in need foreign intervention which will only bring them more killing and destruction, as well as violations of their sovereignty and the occupation of their land and the plunder of their resources.

The Tunisian Communist Workers’ Party expresses its rejection of the military intervention and calls for their immediate halt. It also calls on all anti-imperialist forces in the Arab and Islamic world at large to move and calls on all the peoples of the world to come out in marches and demonstrations and engage in all forms of struggle in order to stop this interference.

Long live the struggle of Arab peoples for freedom, dignity and the fall of the Arab regimes and corrupt puppets. Down with the imperialist enemies of the people and the protectors of the Zionist Entity.

— The Tunisian Communist Workers’ Party, 20 March, 2011.

2. Palestine

Tunisian Union of Communist Youth: “On the Anniversary of Land Day: Let the Revolution of the Arab Peoples be a step in the direction of the liberation of Palestine”

LINK: http://www.albadil.org/spip.php?article3754

DATE: 30 March, 2011

Let the Palestinian people be revived today, the thirty-fifth anniversary of Land Day under the obnoxious Zionist occupation and under political division, which has bedeviled Palestinian ranks and prevented success in stopping the gushing of settlements, which seek to obliterate the Arab identity of Palestinians towns and villages under the mantle of “more land and fewer Arabs”. The celebration of this anniversary in these particular circumstances mark national resistance and are a reminder of the persistence of resistance in the face of this racist [regime] which does not hesitate to use the dirtiest and most arrogant methods to swallow up the Palestinian territories. There is no doubt that the return of sovereignty to the Arab peoples, especially the Tunisians, will provide strong support for the Palestinian cause after the removal Ben Ali and Mubarak, who dedicated themselves in service of the occupation and forced their people to remain silent and easily suppressed demonstrations and campaigns [against Israel] in obedience to the racist entity to provide a good “neighborhood” and faith.

The Tunisian Union of Communist Youth salutes the steadfastness of the Palestinian people, reiterates its absolute support as it has since its establishment as an advanced and progressive site for the Palestinian national cause and:

  • That the unity of the Palestinian ranks, nation, resistance, democracy best answers and expresses the demands of the Palestinian reality, especially with the failure of successive governments to put an end to the barbaric and racist policy back up by the United States of America and employed by the regimes of the Arab countries;
  • That the Tunisian people, on the day after their glorious revolution bear more responsibility on the basis of national and humanitarian bonds to provide support for the brotherly Palestinian people in regaining their usurped land and their right to impose their sovereignty in the context of a progressive and democratic state.

Thus it emphasizes breaking all forms of normalization with the Zionist enemy and annulling all secret treaties which the previous regime spent its time on.

It calls for all the activities of the community of activists, parties, organizations, associations and personalities toward the activation of solidarity with and to publicize the Palestinian cause and to celebrate this anniversary in a manner fitting of its symbolism.

Long live the Palestinian people.

Downfall to Zionism, imperialism and reactionary Arabs.

Long live the Tunisian Revolution supporting the brotherly Palestinian people.

Immortality to the martyrs and victory to the resistance. 

— Tunisian Union of Communist Youth. Tunis, 30 March, 2011.

3. Syria

Article by Samir Hammouda: “Syria: The Pending Dictatorship…”

LINK: http://www.albadil.org/spip.php?article3755

DATE: 1 April, 2011

The Arab masses continue to make history. Current events in Syria today developed from ideological struggle and political fact. The most notorious dictatorships, including those hide by painting themselves as “nationalist” and “resisting Zionism” also downfall by means of mass vibrations.

From its start till now the popular uprising in Syria proceeds with more than 150 martyrs and hundreds of wounded after only a few days. The martyrs and the wounded are not the result of Zionist bombing or terrorism. Instead they come from the bloody repression of the “nationalist” Syrian regime.

In that country, as in Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen, Bahrain, Algeria, Morocco and Libya events are in essence repeating by similar ways, despite different specificities in this or that country, for be sure that the catastrophe is the Arab reality and true despotism for all Arab regimes.

The uprising of the masses in Syria is the result of the same underlying social, economic and political causes which shook the pillars of dictatorship in the rest of the Arab world. Syria is also a country of poverty, unemployment, regional disparities and is penetrated by liberal capitalism. In Syria, too, there is a total absence of freedoms, suppression of the opposition for the sake of maintaining sectarianism and smashing people’s most basic political, economic and cultural rights. In Syria corruption is rampant and the minority of the local bourgeoisie holds a monopoly on the country’s economy and wealth and the control of the political police has a hold on the judiciary and the throats of the citizens.

The policies and words of the Syrian regime in the face of popular protests and its suppression and distortions are of the same version know  to Arab peoples under the despotic regimes in Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen and other countries. If Bashar al-As’ad accused his opponents of being controlled by outsiders and the public of a tendency to drift along according to foreign schemes hostile to the country’s interests this is not the best political speech since Ben Ali and Mubarak or Qadhafi and Ali Saleh. All dictatorships, whatever their ideological dress — “nationalist” or “socialist” or “Islamic” — resort to the same outdated and false arguments to justify tyranny and the depravation of the people’s liberties as is necessary for political and social emancipation. While the Syrian regime boasts of thousands at the demonstrations of its supporters its security and military apparatus massacres and tortures its opponents. But history does not run out of lessons. Yushenko was boasting thousands at his crowds before his downfall, Ben Ali bragged of two million members in his own party a few days before fleeing.

But the popular uprising in Syria increases the taste for blood and for politics and other dimensions at the local level as in the rest of the Arab world. The Syrian regime is the last in a series of regimes that embraced the Ba’th project on the basis of Arab nationalist aspirations for unity, socialism and liberation from colonialism and Zionism. In recent decades, the Syrian regimes support has been an important component in Arab power, not only on the nationalist file, but also on the leftist and Islamist ones. This was done under the banner of “nationalism” and claiming that the Syrian regime is part of the nationalist forces that stand on the front lines of confrontation with the Zionist Entity.

We have stood on many occasions against political forces urging us to overlook the dictatorial approach of this regime on the pretext of standing against the Zionist Entity and we consider this approach opportunistic, harmful and against the development of the revolutionary movement and combativeness in the Arab world and national liberation. Patriotism and resistance to colonialism and to Zionist and imperialist plans facing us cannot be in contradiction with the people’s enjoyment of their full democratic and political freedoms, or their condition at the forefront. It is true that political freedoms alone are not sufficient to realization of national aims, but the sovereignty of the Arab peoples and the revival of the Arab world and unity in the face of imperialism will not be achieved without them. Why would democracy for the Arab peoples not antagonize the Zionist Entity if this were not a threat to its very existence?! And why has America supported and still support the tyranny of Arab regimes if these do not serve its interests and objectives?! And how can our peoples achieve unity and finally dispose of the poisons of religious conflict, sectarianism, tribalism and local infighting among their parties without citizenship and equality without democracy and the triumph of citizenship and equality without conquering discrimination based on classism, sectarianism, religion, gender or ideology?!

The failure of the Syrian regime once again confirms the failure of authoritarian regimes in achieving national goals: unity and socialism and liberation from colonialism and Zionism. If bourgeois democracy is the gateway to the dismantlement of Arab dictatorships and despotic regimes then the Arab people are not doomed to merely copy them and are instead able to overcome their shortcomings and negative aspects toward  broader and greater democracy, democracy responsive to the grassroots, national political ambitions and economic and cultural rights.

No one today can predict how events in Syria will evolve, nor the depth or extent of the preparedness of the Syrian people to topple Bashar al-As’ad yet it is certain the Syrian regime will not respond to calls for political reform for it is not in its character or interest of a single Arab dictatorship to respond to the people’s demands for freedom. The regime that represses its people and harasses its opponents does have a future or a way out of crisis and collapses by its own internal rot, the laws of its own design and by the advancement of the masses, sooner or later.

— Samir Hammouda, 1 April, 2011

5 thoughts on “Studies I: PCOT on Foreign Affairs (I)

  1. I am so happy that someone is finally taking on this initiative. We hear too much about Ennahda and now, Ettahrir. It’s about time that audiences (particularly Western ones) start familiarizing themselves with other parties and discourses. Thank you.

  2. This is brilliant – Google Translate just doesn’t cut it when it comes to Arabic! I’d love to read some English translations of their statements on the ongoing protests in Tunisia, attempts to demonise PCOT as radicals behind the violence, etc – do you know if any exist?

    • There are some communiques along those lines and some long pamphlets/articles dealing with their relations with the Islamists (the same is true of the other major leftist/social democratic secular parties); I will post translations of some of these shortly.

      • Thankyou Kal; that is a very important question – I understand some in PCOT split over it? The mainstream media has been representing ongoing uprising & police repression purely in terms of Islamists vs the state & liberals, ignoring the ongoing revolutionary struggle… I write on Tunisia for Green Left Weekly (http://www.greenleft.org.au) and we are desperate for content written by Tunisians about the ongoing struggle!

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