Lebanese Communist Party

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Lebanese Communist Party
Leader Khaled Hadadi
Founded 1924
Preceded by Syrian–Lebanese Communist Party
Lebanese People's Party
Headquarters Beirut
Youth wing Union of Lebanese Democratic Youth
Ideology Communism
Marxism–Leninism
Anti-Zionism
Political position Far-left
Religion Secular
National affiliation March 8 Alliance
International affiliation International Conference of Communist and Workers' Parties
Colors Red
Parliament of Lebanon
0 / 128
Website
http://lcparty.org/
http://jammoul.net
Politics of Lebanon
Political parties
Elections
Lebanese Communist Party
Participant in Lebanese civil war (1975-1990)
Active present
Groups Lebanese National Movement (LNM), Lebanese National Resistance Front (LNRF)
Leaders George Hawi, Elias Atallah
Headquarters Zarif (Beirut), Houla South Lebanon
Strength 2,000 fighters
Originated as 5,000 fighters
Allies Lebanese National Resistance Front, Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), Syrian Social National Party (SSNP), Communist Action Organization in Lebanon, Lebanese National Movement, Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), Progressive Socialist Party (PSP), Syrian Army, Hezbollah, Amal Movement
Opponents Lebanese Forces, Tigers Militia, Kataeb Party, Guardians of the Cedars, Israel Defense Forces (IDF), South Lebanon Army (SLA), Al-Murabitoun, Islamic Unification Movement, Syrian Army

The Lebanese Communist Party – LCP (Arabic: الـحـزب الشـيـوعـي اللبـنـانـي, transliterated: al-Ḥizb aš-Šuyūʿī al-Lubnānī) or Parti communiste libanais (PCL) in French, is a communist party in Lebanon. It was founded in 1924 by the Lebanese intellectual, writer and reporter Youssef Ibrahim Yazbek and Fou'ad al-Shmeli, a tobacco worker from Bikfaya.

Creation[edit]

The Lebanese Communist Party was officially founded on 24 October 1924, in the Lebanese town of Hadath, south of Beirut. The first meeting was made up of union workers, who formed independent unions for the first time in Lebanon (Previously, labor unions were controlled by the French). The meeting was also attended by scholars, academics, writers and journalists who were active in promoting the ideas of the French Revolution, and who were familiar with the writings of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels. The party was founded to cover the area held under the French mandate, which is now Syria and Lebanon. Initially, the party's name was "Lebanese People Party", in an attempt to evade the French ban on "Bolshevik" activities.

The party was declared illegal at first, but the ban was relaxed during World War II.[1] For about twenty years, the LCP organized communist political activities in both Lebanon and Syria, but in 1944 the party was split into the Lebanese Communist Party and the Syrian Communist Party.[1]

Post-independence activities[edit]

During the first two decades of Lebanon's independence, the LCP enjoyed little success. In 1943, the party participated in the legislative elections, but failed to win any seats in the Chamber of Deputies. The LCP ran for election again in 1947, but all of its candidates were defeated and the party was outlawed in 1948. During the 1950s, the party's inconsistent policies on Pan-Arabism and the Nasserite movement cost it support and eventually isolated it. The party was active against the government during the 1958 uprising. In 1965, the LCP decided to end its isolation and became a member of the Front for Progressive Parties and National Forces, which later evolved into the Lebanese National Movement (LNM) under Druze leftist leader Kamal Jumblatt. In the mid-1960s, the U.S. State Department estimated the party membership to be approximately 3000.[2]

The 1970s witnessed something of a resurgence of the LCP. In 1970, Kamal Jumblatt, as Minister of the Interior, legalized the party. This allowed many LCP leaders, including Secretary General Nicolas Shawi, to run for election in 1972. Although they polled several thousand votes, none of them succeeded in gaining a seat.

The LCP during the Civil War[edit]

During the early 1970s, the LCP established a well-trained militia, the Popular Guard, which participated actively in the fighting at the start of the Lebanese Civil War). The LCP was aligned with the mostly Muslim LNM-Palestinian coalition, even though its membership was mainly Christian (particularly Greek Orthodox and Armenian).[3]

Throughout the 1980s, the LCP generally declined in influence. In 1983, the Tripoli-based Sunni Islamic movement, Islamic Unification Movement (Tawhid), reportedly executed fifty Communists.[4] In 1987, together with the Druze Progressive Socialist Party, the LCP fought a week-long battle against the Shi'a militants of the Amal in West Beirut, a conflict that was stopped by Syrian troops.

Also in 1987, the LCP held its Fifth Party Congress and was about to oust George Hawi, its Greek Orthodox leader, in favor of Karim Mroue, a Shi'a, as Secretary General. However, Hawi remained in his post. Hawi, who had been a rising opponent of the party's complete dependence on the Soviet Union, was reportedly unpopular for his idealism and unwillingness to compromise his ideology.[1] Mroue was probably the most powerful member of the LCP and was on good terms with Shi'a groups in West Beirut. Nevertheless, between 1984 and 1987 many party leaders and members were assassinated, reportedly by Islamic fundamentalists.

Military organization[edit]

The LCP had its own military wing, the Popular Guard (PG; Arabic: Hurras al-Sha’aby; French: Garde Populaire), initially made up of just 600-700 poorly armed militiamen in 1975. By mid-1976, however, the Popular Guard’s ranks had swelled to some 5,000 men and women, this total comprising 2,000-2,500 full-time fighters and 2,500-3,000 irregulars, mostly drawn from its youth branch organization, the Union of Lebanese Democratic Youth, which was established in early 1970. The PG was trained by the Palestinian Fatah and was provided with Soviet-made small-arms, as well as armed jeeps and gun-trucks (Land Rover, Toyota Land Cruiser, GMC, GAZ-66) equipped with heavy machine guns, anti-aircraft autocannons and recoilless rifles supplied by the PLO, Syria, and the USSR.[5] The Party’s militia was initially headed by George Hawi (whose nom de guerre was Abu Anis), but in 1979 PG command was passed on to Elias Atallah, a Maronite. Although it was active mostly in West Beirut and Tripoli, the LCP/PG also kept underground cells at the Sidon, Tyre and Nabatiyeh districts of the Jabal Amel region of southern Lebanon.

After the Lebanese Civil war[edit]

The end of the Lebanese civil war was in sync with the collapse of the Soviet Union. Two back-to-back congresses saw the exit of Hawi, Mrouwweh and other prominent leaders of the party, which left it in a major crisis. The congresses witnessed the election of Farouq Dahrouj as the new secretary general of the party. Hawi returned to the party as head of its national council (formerly the central committee), but later abdicated in the 1998 8th congress, which saw the second election of Dahrouj as secretary general. The party is now led by Dr. Khaled Hadadi, who was elected in the 9th Congress in December 2003. Saadallah Mazraani, who was Vice General Secretary under Dahrouj, remained in the same position under Hadadi.

Electoral results[edit]

The party participated in the 2005 parliamentary elections in several regions but did not win any seats.[6] In South Lebanon, vice general secretary Saadallah Mazraani won 8,886 votes in the second district, and Anwar Yassin, a former detainee in Israel, received 18,244 votes in the first district.[7] Former general secretary Farouq Dahrouj obtained 10,688 votes in the Bekaa third district.[7]

In the 2009 legislative elections, the LCP ran independently with candidates in five districts[6] but failed to win any seats.[8] In a formal statement, the LCP commented that “the 2009 elections widened the gap already existing because of the sectarian system,”[9] and, while expressing dismay at its electoral showing, analyzed and attempted to justify the party's performance.[9]

Hawi assassination[edit]

On 21 June 2005, George Hawi, a former secretary general of the LCP, was killed in a car bombing in Beirut.[10] Hawi, a recent critic of Syria,[11] claimed a few days before his death that Rifaat al-Assad, uncle of Bashar al-Assad, Syria's current president, masterminded the 1977 assassination of Lebanese opposition leader Kamal Jumblatt.[12] Allies of Hawi accused pro-Syrian forces in the Lebanese-security apparatus for the assassination.[13] Emile Lahoud, then president of Lebanon, and the Syrian government denied this allegation.[11] Foreign governments, including the White House, strongly condemned the killing.[14]

The bombing occurred two days after Lebanon's 2005 elections ushered in an anti-Syrian majority in parliament[15] and less than one month after Samir Kassir, a left-wing Lebanese journalist and political figure, was assassinated in a bombing.[10]

Political organization[edit]

The Lebanese Communist Party is one of the few Lebanese parties that have affiliations throughout different sects and regions. It is present in most Lebanese districts, but its strength is greatest in South Lebanon. This structure gives the party a national presence, but at the same time weakens its representation in the local and central governmental bodies including municipalities and parliament. The party, as other traditional communist parties, operates through several popular organizations to recruit and spread its political message. These organizations include the Union of Lebanese Democratic Youth (youth organization), The Committee of Woman's Rights (Women's organization), The Popular Aid (Health organization) and The General Union of Workers and Employees in Lebanon (labor union).

The smallest organizational structure is a branch, usually found in a town or village. Several branches belong to a Regional Committee (usually made up of 5-10 branches), then every few regional committees belong to a Governorate (Mohafaza). The party has now an estimated membership of around 5000 members.[citation needed]

See also[edit]

Footnotes[edit]

  1. ^ a b c "Lebanese Communist Party". Country Studies. 2007. Retrieved 18 May 2008. 
  2. ^ Benjamin, Roger W.; Kautsky, John H.. Communism and Economic Development, in The American Political Science Review, Vol. 62, No. 1. (March 1968), p. 122.
  3. ^ "APPENDIX B -- Lebanon The Opposing Forces in the Lebanese Civil War". Library of Congress. 2008. Retrieved 18 May 2008. 
  4. ^ Hijaz, Ihsan A. (4 March 1987). "Communist party in Lebanon hurt". The New York Times. Retrieved 18 May 2008. 
  5. ^ Jean Dunord, Liban: Les milices rendent leurs armes, Raids Magazine (1991), p. 31.
  6. ^ a b Nash, Matt (2009-04-28). "Expectations low for Communist candidates". NOW Lebanon. Retrieved 8 August 2009. 
  7. ^ a b http://www.lebanonwire.com/prominent/elections2005/full_results.asp
  8. ^ Chambers, Richard (9 June 2009). "Lebanon’s 7 June Elections: The Results". International Foundation for Electoral Systems. Retrieved 8 August 2009. 
  9. ^ a b "June polls widened country’s sectarian gap – LCP". Daily Star. 6 August 2009. Retrieved 8 August 2009. 
  10. ^ a b Stack, Megan; Rania Abouzeid (22 June 2005). "Foe of Syria Assassinated in Beirut". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 5 July 2009. 
  11. ^ a b Kifner, John (21 June 2005). "A Second Critic of Syria Is Assassinated in Lebanon". The New York Times. Retrieved 27 August 2009. 
  12. ^ "George Hawi knew who killed Kamal Jumblatt". Ya Libnan. 22 June 2005. Retrieved 27 August 2009. 
  13. ^ "Beirut blast kills anti-Syrian politician". MSNBC. 21 June 2005. Retrieved 5 July 2009. 
  14. ^ Hatoum, Majdoline (22 June 2005). "Hawi assassination provokes fierce international condemnation". The Daily Star. Retrieved 23 August 2009. 
  15. ^ "Blast kills Lebanese politician". BBC. 21 June 2005. Retrieved 27 August 2009. 

References[edit]

  • Denise Ammoun, Histoire du Liban contemporain: Tome 2 1943-1990, Fayard, Paris 2005. ISBN 978-2-213-61521-9 (in French)
  • Edgar O'Ballance, Civil War in Lebanon, 1975-92, Palgrave Macmillan, 1998 ISBN 0-333-72975-7
  • Fawwaz Traboulsi, Identités et solidarités croisées dans les conflits du Liban contemporain; Chapitre 12: L'économie politique des milices: le phénomène mafieux, Thèse de Doctorat d'Histoire – 1993, Université de Paris VIII, 2007 (in French)
  • Jean Dunord, Liban: Les milices rendent leurs armes, RAIDS magazine n.º65, October 1991 issue. (in French)
  • Moustafa El-Assad, Civil Wars Volume 1: The Gun Trucks, Blue Steel books, Sidon 2008. ISBN 9953-0-1256-8
  • Rex Brynen, Sanctuary and Survival: the PLO in Lebanon, Boulder: Westview Press, 1990.
  • Robert Fisk, Pity the Nation: Lebanon at War, London: Oxford University Press, (3rd ed. 2001). ISBN 0-19-280130-9
  • Samer Kassis, 30 Years of Military Vehicles in Lebanon, Beirut: Elite Group, 2003.

External links[edit]