Communist Parties in the Middle East: 100 Years of History


One hundred years since the Russian Revolution, Communist parties have undergone great changes, in an evolution that has affected the entire Left and the social movements. Given that the impact of Communist parties and their evolution in the Middle East is a topic that has not been widely researched, Communist parties in the Middle East. 100 years of history aims to cover a century in the lives of these parties, from the moment the Communist ideology first reached the region in the early 20th century (brought by activists from minority groups) and the creation of the first parties and trades unions after the 1917 revolution, right up to the upheaval caused by the dissolution of the USSR and, more recently, the Arab Spring. The book has been designed to offer a unique, updated and comprehensive study of Communist parties in the Middle East, based on both a theoretical framework of analysis and substantial empirical research and archive documentation.

Several issues are examined in this work. When the Russian Revolution took place, the Middle Eastern region as a whole was under colonial control. This meant taking decisions related to the relationship between the class struggle and the national struggle. The composition of the communist parties in the Middle East is also analysed as is their role as the vanguard –understood in the broad sense of the word– in relation to the objectives of liberation, emancipation, revolution and system change or reform, and their connection to mass or popular movements. Furthermore, the volume looks back at the dependency or autonomy of communist parties during the Cold War and the tensions that this generated in them, as well as the search for individual constructions of communism that took into account cultural characteristics and the local context of the struggle. In this respect, one of the recurring themes in the work is the relationship between communist activism and the sectors that mobilized in the name of nationalism or political Islam. Finally, the chapters trace the history of the parties, including –for the first time in the literature– the post-Cold War period and continuing to the current situation, in which communist parties occupy a residual position in the political field, sharing space with other small groups from the real Left, new programmes adapted to neoliberal advancement in the region and the new mobilizations symbolized by the uprisings of 2010-2011.

The first section of the book presents the evolution of the CPs in Iran, Turkey, Iraq, Lebanon, Syria, Palestine and Israel, Egypt, South Yemen, Sudan, Algeria and Morocco. The second section explores some cross-cutting issues that have affected relations between the communist parties and other political sectors: political Islam and the New Left. Through the testimony of some leading figures, it presents the arguments around the question of gender in the Arab world and in leftist circles as well as an example of the evolution of a female leftist activist, some contradictions and the prominent debates from the most convulsive years to the present.

chapter 1|42 pages

Communist parties in the Middle East and North Africa

An overview
ByLaura Feliu, Ferran Izquierdo-Brichs, Francesc Serra

part Part I|2 pages

Communist parties: case studies

chapter 2|15 pages

Iran’s communist movement

Reform and revolution
ByYassamine Mather

chapter 3|14 pages

The Communist Party of Turkey

An instrument of ‘Soviet eastern policy’?
ByBülent Gökay

chapter 4|16 pages

The Iraqi Communist Party

ByJohan Franzén

chapter 5|19 pages

The Lebanese Communist Party

Continuity against all odds
ByRosa Velasco Muñoz

chapter 6|20 pages

The Syrian Communist Party

Patrimonialism and fractures
ByRosa Velasco Muñoz

chapter 7|23 pages

Class and nation

Arab and Jewish communists in Palestine
ByMusa Budeiri

chapter 8|16 pages

The communist movement in Egypt

ByBárbara Azaola-Piazza

chapter 9|16 pages

Communism and organizational symbiosis in South Yemen

The People’s Democratic Union, the National Liberation Front and the Yemeni Socialist Party
ByJohn Ishiyama

chapter 10|15 pages

The Sudan Communist Party

Bolshevize it, O God!
ByAbdullahi A. Ibrahim

chapter 11|17 pages

The communists in Algeria (1920–93)

ByPierre-Jean Le Foll-Luciani

chapter 12|23 pages

The four faces of Morocco’s communists

ByBernabé López García

part Part II|2 pages

Context, debates and cross-cutting issues

chapter 13|17 pages

Islamists and communists

A history of Arab convergenze parallele
ByLuz Gómez García

chapter 14|10 pages

The New Left in 1960s and 1970s Lebanon and 1917 as model and foil

ByLaure Guirguis

chapter 15|14 pages

From Marxism to anti-authoritarianism

Egypt’s New Left
ByLaura Galián

chapter 16|17 pages

Women and left in the Middle East: the voice of the protagonists

How feminist change occurs in Lebanon: an interview with Azza Chararah Baydoun
ByNatalia Ribas-Mateos