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سوريا: قلوب الشعوب… وسيوف الدول

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علي الأمين، كاتب لبناني
جريدة البلد، الاربعاء 23 كانون الثاني (يناير) 2013
التغيير نحو الديمقراطية في المجتمعات العربية وفي مقدمها سورية مسار واضح لا ريب فيه من دون الغرق في احلام وردية، اوفي ابتذال اليأس. هو مسار طويل ومؤلم ودموي احيانا لكنه منتج. ولا عودة الى الوراء، هذا ما تقوله الوقائع والتجارب مهما قيل في احوال دول الربيع العربي. ببساطة لقد هوت قضبان السجن. ذاك السجن الذي كان محصنا بمقولة “الامن ثمنه مصادرة الحرية والكرامة”، او”التحرير ضريبته تعميم الفساد”، ومقولة “الشعوب العربية لم تبلغ سنّ الرشد بعد كي تستحق النظام الديمقراطي”. تهاوى شعار”لا صوت يعلو فوق صوت المعركة” وغيرها من القيود المتعسفة التي وفرت سلاحا ماضيا لقمع المجتمع وتجويفه ومصادرته.
المنطقة العربية تسير في قطار تاريخي جديد لا فكاك منه. القطار انطلق والشعوب العربية فرضت نفسها سائقا طليعيا رغم كل محاولات نهج الاستبداد لإعادة انتاج نفسه باسم العلمانية او الامن او الدين. العرب، وفي مقدمهم السوريون، يغيرون مجرى التاريخ في المنطقة رغم كلّ السياسات الاقليمية والدولية المتطاحنة من خلال عظام السوريين. المنظومة السورية الرسمية تهاوت رغم بقاء النظام حتى الآن، وبقوة الخارج اولا واخيراً.
تمترس خصوم “الربيع العربي” في المنطقة العربية وخارجها، خلف الصور المسيئة الآتية من الثورة، هدفه توجيه رسالة مشفرة الى المجتمعات الغربية: الشعوب العربية لا يليق بها ان تنال حريتها، بل لا تستحقها لأنها شعوب مأسورة بثقافة الاستبداد ورفض الآخر والغائه.
النظام السوري اليوم لم يعد قلقا من مؤامرة اميركية. لم يعد يروج لها. إنّه “يقاتل الإرهاب والارهابيين”، هي الجملة السحرية المتداولة على لسان الممانعين وإعلامهم اكثر مما تتداولها الدوائر السياسية والاعلامية الاميركية والغربية. والممانعون تجاوزوا تحفظاتهم على هذا المصطلح وتلاقوا مع الاميركيين على محاربة جبهة النصرة في سورية.
وكما قال احد الناشطين في الثورة السورية، خلال وصفه ما يعتمد حيال سورية من منطق وسلوك: هي ليست مجرد ثورة… إنها أشبه بالتسونامي… ثورة وقعت في منطقة الزلازل الكبرى .. لم يستطع علماء الجولوجيا التكهن بها… حصدت آلاف الأرواح .. وقف العالم أمام مأساتها متفرجاً… لا بل محاصرا لها… ان ثورة كهذه يقتل فيها الحاكم اكثر من ستين ألفا من مواطنين أبرياء… وتدمر طائراته مدنا وقرى، هذا وحتى أقل منه بكثير… يُتَّخذ في كل دول العالم حجة للمعارضة للمطالبة بإسقاط الأنظمة والحكومات… إلا في سوريا… فمنذ عامين يتخذ النظام من هذه الأمور دليلاً على ضرورة بقائه..!!”.
هذا القتل ليس من ثمار الربيع العربي كما حاول البعض تنسيبه. هو من ثقافة نظام البعث والسلطة الامنية التي نمت وترعرعت في وعي فئات محدودة تنامت عبر نظام الاستبداد والاقصاء والتجهيل في المجتمع. ومحاولة تنسيبه إلى الثورة السورية ينطوي على استحمار كبير. إستحمار ينتسب إلى وسائل الاستعمار التي تحدث عنها المفكر الراحل علي شريعتي. فالنظام السوري لا يقايض شعبه الا بين وقف الدمار والموت، مقابل الانحناء له… كما حين يهدد بتدمير دمشق اسوة بحلب وحمص ودرعا وغيرها. هي مقايضة وسلوك يدرك النظام انها اشبه بصحوة الموت، تلك التي جعلت السوريين يعرفون، وهم يواجهون آلة الموت المتنقلة بين اجسادهم، ان ثورتهم كانت صائبة، وان الدمار والموت الذي يقدمونه على مذبح الثورة هو ضريبة متراكمة من ازمنة الصمت، وزمن اعطاء الفرص المتتالية لنظام لم يقابل هذه الفرص الا بمزيد من التكبر والاستكبار على الناس.
ليست المعارضة السورية، على اختلاف تشكيلاتها، سوى تعبير عن سياسة التفرّج الدولي، بل سياسة محاصرة الثورة على اعتبار ان النظام السوري سقط وغير قابل للحياة. الذي يجري في سورية اليوم هو ان الثورة خرجت من القمقم وليس هناك من هو قادر على قيادتها او التحكم بسلوكها، ولا المساومة على هدفها، لذلك هي عرضة للتنكيل العربي والدولي، واستمرارها بهذا الزخم دليل على إنها تسير في طريق خاتمتها الأجمل: إسقاط النظام على الاقل.

The Syrian Communist Leader:Riyad al-Turk

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Riyad al-Turk (born 1930 in Homs) is a prominent Syrian opposition leader, former political prisoner, and supporter of democracy, who has been called “the Old Man of Syrian opposition.”[1]He was secretary general of the radical Syrian Communist Party (Political Bureau) since its foundation in 1973 until 2005. In later years he has moved from a democratic communist towards a liberal democrat.
Overview
Al-Turk joined the Syrian Communist Party while a student. He was imprisoned for the first time in 1952 shortly after finishing law school for opposing the miltary regime that came to power in a coup. He was held for five months and tortured but never tried in court.[1]He later wrote articles for the party newspaper, Al-Nour, and became a leading party ideologue. He was imprisoned again in 1958 under Nasser for opposing the merger of Syria and Egypt in the United Arab Republic and held for sixteen months. Again he was tortured but not tired for any crime.[1]He had to take refuge in Lebanon in 1963 when the Ba’th Party came to power in Syria but returned when the left-wing Ba’thist regime of Salah Jadid took power in 1966.
Turk had for some time been leading a faction within the Communist Party that demanded a more positive view of Arab nationalism, in opposition to Secretary-General Khalid Bakdash, who ruled the party with an iron fist. In 1972, Bakdash decided to merge the party into the National Progressive Front, a coalition of organizations allied with the ruling Arab Baath Socialist Party. Along with supporters on the radical wing of the party, Turk formed the Syrian Communist Party (Political Bureau), consolidating a split that had been apparent since the late 1960s. The SCP-Political Bureau initially negotiated with the regime for terms of legalization and membership in the Front. However, it later took a strong opposition stance, especially from 1976 on after the Syrian intervention in favour of the Maronites right-wing government in the Lebanese Civil War, and also began to focus increasingly on pluralist democracy as the goal of its activity. This led to repression of the party, which was stepped up at the beginning of the 1980s when the Hafez al-Assad regime felt itself under increasing pressure from bothIslamists and the secular opposition. Al-Turk was arrested and imprisoned in 28 October 1980 and held under very difficult conditions for almost 18 years.[2]He spent most of this period in solitary confinement and suffering regular torture. Based on interviews with al-Turk journalist Robin Wright reports he was “locked way in a windowless underground cell, about the length of his body or the size of a small elevator compartment, at an intelligence headquarters.” Al-Turk was “never allowed out of his cell to excercize. Until the final months, he was not allowed a book, newspaper, mail or anything else to kep his mind occupied.” For the first thrirteen years of his imprisonment he was allowed no communication from, or information about, his friends and family, including his two young daughters. His “only activity was being allowed three times a day to go to a shared toilet.” He was never allowed to use it when other prisoners were their but did scrounge the toilet bin for discarded clothing as his own clothing was worn out. [2]One of his few diversions was collecting grains of dark cereal he found in the thin soup he was served in the evening and using the grains to create pictures in his cell.[3]He suffered considerable ill-health, including diabetes for which he was refused treatment. He was released on 30 May 1998.
After his release in 1998, al-Turk was initially not particularly active politically. In June 2000, however, Syrian dictator Hafiz al-Asad died and his son Bashar succeeded him. This was followed by an outburst of political debate and demands for democratic changes, known as the Damascus Spring, and al-Turk resumed a prominent role. His statement on al Jazeera television in August 2001 that “the dictator has died” was seen as a direct cause of renewed repression by an angered regime, and al-Turk himself was arrested some days lateron September 1, 2001, subjected to a trial widely seen as unfair before a state security court. In June 2002 he was sentenced to three years imprisonment for `attempting to change the constitution by illegal means.`[4] This led to international protests, especially given his poor health.
Al-Turk was released after serving fifteen months of his sentence, and resumed his political activities. In spring 2005 the Syrian Communist Party (Political Bureau) held a secret congress at which it decided to change its name to the Syrian Democratic People’s Party. At this congress, Turk stepped down as party secretary, but he remains an influential member of the organization. In the same year, he also emerged as a prominent name in the Damascus Declaration, a pro-democracy coalition of Syrian opposition activists and organizations.
References
1. ^ abcWright, Robin, Dreams and Shadows, the Future of the Middle East, Penguin Press, 2008, p.213
2. ^ abWright, Dreams and Shadows, 2008, p.214-5
3. ^ Wright, Dreams and Shadows, 2008, p.216
4. ^Wright, Dreams and Shadows, 2008, p.218

اليسار الفلسطيني والثورة السورية:

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عن موقع الحرية (السوري)
السؤال الأخلاقي
قد يستغرب البعض مواقف الأحزاب الشيوعية الرسمية العربية من الثورة السورية، وهي ثورة شعبية امتلكت كل الأسباب الذاتية والموضوعية لتندلع في وجه طاغية، تنادي بالحرية والكرامة والعدالة الاجتماعية. فعلاً قد نستغرب ذلك في وقت صدّعت فيه رؤوسنا هذه الأحزاب بالمفردات ذاتها في بياناتها وتنظيراتها. وقد يزيل شيئاً من هذا الاستغراب أخذَنا بعين الاعتبار مواقف الأحزاب الشيوعية السورية الرسمية من الثورة، كونها جزء مما تسمى الجبهة الوطنية التقدمية التي يقودها حزب البعث، وبالتالي جزء من آلة قمع الثورة.
لأوجّه مقالتي هذه في مسارها الصحيح، لست أتكلم عن اليسار العربي، لا أحزاباً شيوعية رسمية ولا يسارية ديمقراطية أو ثورية. بل عن أحزاب اليسار الفلسطيني تحديداً، وموقفها من الثورة السورية. تلك الأحزاب التي ملأت الدنيا قولاً (وللتاريخ: فعلاً) ثورياً تنادي بحقوق شعبها الفلسطيني في الحرية والتحرر وحتى بناء المجتمع الاشتراكي في دولة فلسطين الحرة كما تصرّح أنظمتها الداخلية الكريمة، وكي لا أتكلم في الفراغ، المقصود هنا كلاً من الجبهة الشعبية لتحرير فلسطين والجبهة الديمقراطية لتحرير فلسطين وحزب الشعب الفلسطيني، إضافة إلى فتات فصائلي هنا وهناك. لا تخرج هذه الأحزاب عن المدار الذي يدور حوله معظم اليسار الكلاسيكي العربي، بأحزابه الشيوعية الرسمية والهرمة.
من خلال بيانات التنظيمات الثلاثة ومواقعها الالكترونية، ومواقفها السياسية المعلنة، وغير المعلنة التي تنسل إلينا عبر (مثلاً) مواقف «شبيبتها» و«ختياريتها» في موقعَي فيسبوك وتويتر، نلاحظ وقوفاً فجاً غير مبرر مع النظام الدموي في سوريا. هؤلاء اليساريين الثملين بقضية فلسطين فأعميت عيونهم وعقولهم وقلوبهم عن ثورات أخرى، عن مصائب أخرى لا تقل في مآسيها. لست هنا أتكلم عن الفلسطينيين بالطبع، بل التنظيمات اليسارية الثلاثة وتحديداً أفرعها في الضفة وغزة ومتحزّبيها (إضافة إلى شيوعيين وقومجيين داخل الـ ٤٨)، والتي تطرح مواقفها في سياق الموقف الشيوعي الرسمي العام والمخجل من الثورة.
لكن كيف تبرر هذه التنظيمات هذا الانشقاق الصامت أفقياً وعامودياً في بنيتها التنظيمية والوطنية؟ مَن مِن هؤلاء الثلاثة ينكر الشرخ العميق والشاسع بين أفرعها في داخل الوطن، وبين أفرعها في سوريا، وتحديداً بين الشباب؟ كم خسرت التنظيمات الثلاثة من كواردها في سوريا، وتحديداً «الجبهة الشعبية» التي مثلت عند كثيرين أملاً في اليسار الفلسطيني (ما لم تمثله غيرها من التنظيمات) كما تمثل الآن خيبة في أخلاقية مواقفها الثورية والإنسانية ما يتناقض مع تاريخها النضالي؟ كم ضُربت هذه التنظيمات في مصداقيتها إن تحكي الآن عن الثورات، عن الشعوب، عن الحرية والحريات، وعن الوعي السياسي والتاريخي وعن المراهقة اليساروية والقومجية، والأهم حين تحكي عن السوريين والفلسطينيين الذين يُقتلون باسم الممانعة وبمشاركة تنظيرية «ستالينية»؟ هذه التنظيمات الثلاثة التي، كغيرها من أحزاب شيوعية شائخة، ما تزال معتقدة بأن موسكو شيوعية، والأنكى أن لا يحرّضها «وعيها السياسي والتاريخي» على التفكير بمستوى أعمق من: أرى ما تصرّح به أميركا عبر الإعلام لأبني موقفاً ثورياً شرساً يناقضه، وما يؤكد صحة موقفي اليساري الشرس تبعيته المسبقة (قد تعودوا على ذلك) لموسكو وبيكين.
أي خيبة يلحقها اليسار الفلسطيني بشباب أراده مخلّصاً من المصيبة المزدوجة «فتح-حماس»، وفصائله الثلاثة الرئيسية لا تزيد عنهما وعياً ولا تقل عنهما في حاجتها إلى إعادة تأهيل في إنسانيتها وأخلاقيتها؟ لا حاجة لنا بتنظيمات تكتفي بشعارات وطنية وقومية غريزية تستسهل أن تبني مواقف ستُحاسب عليها تاريخياً، لا حاجة لنا بتنظيمات تسيئ لذكرى ثورتنا الفلسطينية.
هذه التنظيمات الثلاثة ترتكب ما لن يسامحها عليه التاريخ في شق الموقف الفلسطيني (يسارياً تحديداً) تجاه الثورة السورية. أي مبرر أخلاقي ستحكيه للشباب المتمسكين بالفكرة الرومانسية لليسار الفلسطيني وتاريخه؟ أي مبررات خرقاء ستواجه قيادات هذه الأحزاب بها كوادرها لاحقاً؟ الجبهتان الشعبية والديمقراطية وحزب الشعب، أي مبرر لهم فلسطينياً وعربياً إن كانت لهم مواقف سياسية وتاريخية تعوزها الأخلاق والوعي؟ كنا نقول أن ما تختلف عليه فتح وحماس لا يشكل فرقاً لدينا، أي أنهم يختلفون فيما بينهم بما يتفقون به لدينا. التنظيمات الثلاثة الآن، فليخبرونا نحن الشباب الذي مثلوا لديه يوماً أملاً فلسطينياً وعربياً، أين يختلفون أخلاقياً عن فتح وحماس؟ فليبرروا لنا «يساريتهم».
هذه الثلاثة، وهي تحمل عبء مفردَتي «اليسار» و«الفلسطيني»، لا نطلب منها غير موقف سياسي أخلاقي إنساني وطني قومي على الورق، فقط موقف يحفظ لهم تاريخهم وحاضرهم ومستقبلهم، لا أكثر ولا أقل، أشدد: لا أكثر.
للإشارة فقط:
لم أذكر الجبهة الديمقراطية للسلام والمساواة (أو الحزب الشيوعي الإسرائيلي) وفيها الكثير من فلسطينيي الداخل، لأن حاجتها للموقف الأخلاقي سبقت اندلاع الثورة السورية وامتلأت هذه الحاجة بكثير من مواقفها من القضية الفلسطينية، لكن مع الثورة مؤخراً، ما عادت للجبهة «أخلاقيات» تُنسب مواقفها إليها، تدنت بحيث استحال اقتفاء أثرها حتى.

For the sake of the Lebanese-Syrian future

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Following inter-Lebanese and Lebanese-Syrian dialogues, a number of Lebanese intellectuals and activists issued this document on the future they hope to see in Lebanon and Syria in light of the Syrian uprising and its goals. The document was also endorsed and signed by Syrian intellectuals and activists.
Hereunder is the document and the names of the signatories:

While it portends of a new future, the Syrian uprising is linked to questions and concerns pertaining to Syrian-Lebanese relations and to a vision we all yearn for and seek to achieve. The uprising commends our respect for the sacrifices offered by its sons and deserves all the support with which we can provide it. It promises to inaugurate an era in which human freedom and dignity replace violence and tyranny, one which we can reconsider all our relations and the issues pertaining to them with the spirit of free individuals and groups. It goes without saying that the intertwined affairs of the two countries and their imbricate histories and interests make this an even more pressing issue, knowing that it has already been addressed under different circumstances by the “Beirut-Damascus announcement – the Damascus-Beirut announcement.” Yet the complications characterizing these relations urgently call for renewing these efforts, especially since we are on the threshold of an era of transition, the early signs of which have been heralded by the uprising.
After all, the matter is about far more than solidarity between the Syrian and Lebanese peoples. The aim, naturally, is not to have one Lebanese point of view achieve victory over another. As far as Lebanon is concerned, this is about the long-term and thorough vision brought about by the Syrian uprising to those Lebanese who wish to have a better and more free future. With regard to Syria, this is about Syria’s vision of its own self and its future. Suffice it to say that the two countries have been ruled by the same regime for three decades. In Syria, this regime was direct; whereas it was indirect in Lebanon, where it commissioned the sectarian regime and exploited its poisoned returns.
Our aim drives us to propose what we perceive as general headlines for positive and peaceful relations between our two countries:
The Syrian uprising is a national uprising that is based, in great part, on the Syrian entity and the Syrian social and political environment following a long period of neglect and exploitation in order to secure the ruling regime’s stability on the domestic and foreign levels. This does not inevitably mean that Syria should isolate itself from its Arab and Levant environment (something that cannot be done), but rather that a new era in Syrian patriotism may well start soon and have repercussions in and on Lebanon. Syria will be busy for years to come with rebuilding what the current regime has ruined or what it may intentionally ruin when it falls apart. This means that we will have a different landscape in the Levant, and especially a certain dose of negative pressure or void in Lebanon, which had been filled by a more or less blatant Syrian presence. This goes without mentioning an even more painful and dangerous possibility, namely that the events in Syria may explode into domestic conflicts and regional/international interferences that cannot but exert a strong effect on Lebanon.
Accordingly, we anticipate all of this by showing an interest in Syrian affairs and standing by the Syrian people’s side in its struggle for a democratic and independent Syria. In short, our support for the Syrians’ liberation struggle is proportional to our support for an independent and unified Lebanon.
– The Syria of the future, which is expressed by the Syrian people’s uprising, does not perceive Lebanon as “torn part”, “weak sided” or a “bartering chip” used in regional and international struggles, or as an object of “tutelage” or subservience. The Lebanon of the future to which we all look forward does not look at Syria with superiority or racism, or with any kind of aggressiveness and fear.
– Genuinely “special” relations between Lebanon and Syria are, in reality, what normal, equal and balanced relations should be like between two states living in a common cultural space and sharing an intertwined economic life and deep-ranging social ties. These ties were harmed only by the same “tutelage” regime that imposed a dictatorship on Syria and hegemony over Lebanon.

– Syria’s definitive acknowledgement of Lebanon’s independence and the establishment of diplomatic relations may have been “forcibly obtained” against the Baath regime’s will. However, we believe that the consecration of this acknowledgement will be based on the Syrian people’s total conviction. In order to dissipate any illusion or misunderstanding, the two states will have to undertake a joint mission, i.e. the final demarcation of the border based on a joint will so as to remove all ambiguities. Unambiguous borders actually allow for the reassuring practice of mutual openness between the two sides and put an end to the policy of suspicion and caution.
Political and economic relations between a democratic Syria and Lebanon will not be easy given the various disparities in the two countries’ development. However, they will abide by a reasonable framework, as is the case with the problems we see between other democratic states. In contrast, the permanent tension between Syria and Lebanon stemmed from their contradictory systems of power and the major discrepancies in their view of the world.
– We believe that the establishment of a national state ruled by a democratic regime and the prevalence of the law is a Syrian-Lebanese ambition. The question in Syria is how to get rid of despotism without sinking into sectarianism; whereas in Lebanon, the question is the exact opposite. In both cases, the real question is how to build a developed democratic state. Of course, democracy is hardly fathomable without freedom of expression and of the media, which we are keen to promote in both countries away from intimidation or blackmail.
– Achieving the Syrian people’s ambitions to change and establish the state of freedom and justice and achieving the Lebanese people’s ambitions to establish a sovereign and independent state fuel the hope in the emergence of an Arab Levant where citizenship prospers, a place where no community dominates and no minority is wronged, where there is no persecution and discrimination by one national group against another … Such a pluralistic, culture-laden and resources-rich Levant would be capable of meeting the world on its own and rising up to the challenges of globalization, of joining in modernism and achieving development, prosperity and peace.

– We perceive a democratic Syria and a free Lebanon as a natural support for the Palestinian people’s ambitions to establish their own independent state with Jerusalem as its capital. This would also provide support for the causes of justice all over the world. If the Syrians and the Lebanese enjoy the freedom of self-determination, this would be a strong blow to Israel’s expansionist and arrogant policies, regarding which the world has remained silent partly because of the rotten state of the Arab world and the absence of a positive political model around Israel.

– In a display of solidarity, the two countries support their respective demands to recover their occupied territories the way their respective peoples deem fit.
– Taking relations between the two countries to the maximum based on democracy and joint interests and characteristics does not contravene with their respective acknowledgement to follow the economic system approved by their respective peoples. Nevertheless, we believe that neither the policy of open doors without any constraints nor that of closed doors with no way in are appropriate for sustainable economic development and for the special care that should be given to the most deprived classes and the poorest regions in the two countries.

– We believe that every act of racism against a Syrian worker in Lebanon is a crime against Lebanon and the Lebanese people before even being a crime against Syria and the Syrian people. Such a crime should be denounced and its perpetrators held legally accountable. In addition, it is necessary to draft modern laws regulating the movement and work and guarantees inherent to this aspect of relations. We are confident that a democratic Syria will be more mindful of its citizens’ dignity and of providing them with social and legal protection both in Syria and abroad.
– In our opinion, bilateral relations will not be restored to their former warmth as we want them to be without liberating the remaining Lebanese detainees in Syrian prisons.

On this occasion, it is necessary to warn against extremely harmful Lebanese positions that have recently been expressed and that ignore the Syrian uprising, labeling it as a passing or distant event. By handing over displaced Syrians to the Syrian regime’s security services, some of those who expressed such stances committed a blatant crime and clearly challenged human laws, customs and rights.
What was said and done by these people is far more than shortsightedness regarding the uprising; rather, it denotes that they view the future of our two countries as an extension of a vicious past shaped by the whims of hegemony and the emotions resulting from helpless fear. This goes without mentioning the unethical voices, which supported the Syrian regime one way or another by claiming that it is part of the “rejectionism” and “resistance” line or by citing fears regarding minorities. In reality, the issue of minorities and their future in the Levant is far greater than the frivolous manner with which some parties are addressing it. This holds true knowing that those calling for “an alliance of minorities” in the two countries offer nothing but enmity toward the religious majority in the region and may bring about a “majority alliance,” which may then carry the seeds of sectarian tyranny.
The Syrian uprising is writing the history of our two countries and peoples today. There is no justification for being absent, noncommittal or biased at this junction of our lives and the lives of those of future generations.
The Syrians’ freedom does not resolve the Lebanese people’s problems, but their enslavement is an additional source of complication and rottenness for Lebanon’s problems.
Lebanese signatories
Ahmad Ali al-Zein, Edmond Rabbat, Antoine Haddad, Imane Hmeidan, Bernard Khoury, Bashar Haidar, Bashir Hilal, Paul Shawul, Tamam Mroue, Jad Gharib, Jad Yatim, Jabbour Doueihy, Hazem al-Amin, Hazem Saghiyeh, Hussam Itani, Hassane al-Zein, Hassan Daoud, Hassan Mneimneh (Washington), Hanin Ghaddar, Dalal al-Bizri, Diana Moqalled, Rouba Kabbara, Rana Eid, Rayan Majed, Rim al-Jundi, Ziad Majed, Saad Kiwan, Saoud al-Mawla, Sanaa al-Jak, Souheil al-Qash, Shadha Charafeddine, Sabah Zouein, Talal Khoury, Tony Shakar, Abdo Wazen, Akl al-Awit, Ali al-Amin, Omar Harqous, Fadi Toufeily, Karim Mroue, Loqman Slim, Malek Mroue, Marlene Nasr, Moahmmad Abu Samra, Mohammad Soueid, Marwan Abi Samra, Mona Fayyad, Mirvat Abu Khalil, May Abi Samra, Michel Hajji-Georgiou, Nadia al-Sheikh, Najwa Barakat, Nadim Shehadeh, Nadim Machlawi, Hani Fahas, Hoda Barakat, Wissam Saade, Yahya Jaber, Youssef Bazzi, Samir Frangieh, Minah Al-Solh, Hareth Sleiman, Ayman Mhanna.
Syrian signatories
Osama Mohammad, Akram Katrib, Amira Abu al-Hesen, Imane Chaker, Badrkhan Ali, Borhan Ghalioun, Basma Qadmani, Bakr Sadqi, Hazem Nahar, Hussam al-Qatlabi, Hussein al-Sheikh, Khaled Hajj Bakri, Khalaf Ali al-Khalaf, Razan Zeitouna, Rustom Mahmoud, Samar Yazbeck, Sadek Jala al-Adhem, Saleh Diab, Sobhi Hadidi, Aref Jabo, Abdel Baset Sida, Ali Jazo, Ali Kanaan, Ammar Qorbi, Omar Koush, Ghalia Qabbani, Farouk Mardam Bey, Faraj Birqdar, Fahed al-Masri, Louai Hussein, Mohammad al-Hajj Saleh, Mohammad al-Abdullah, Mohammad Darious, Mohammad Ma’moun al-Homsi, Najib Georges Awad, Wahib Merhi, Yassin al-Hajj Saleh.

Democratic Left Movement (Lebanon)

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The Democratic Left Movement (DLM, ‎ Harakat Al-Yassar Al-Dimuqratiy, Arabic acronym HYD) is a leftist political party with seats in the Lebanese Parliament. It was founded in September 2004 by left-wing and center-left intellectuals and activists some of whom had previously split from the Lebanese Communist Party (LCP) while some were student activists from the “Independent Leftist Groups”. The DLM affirms a European-style social democracy—but is open to all forms of leftism—and encourages the development of a secular state. The party operates under a decentralized framework that emphasizes diversity of thought. It participated in the 2005 Cedar Revolution, a wave of demonstrations against the Syrian occupation of Lebanon, and calls for correcting imbalanced relations with Syria.
The DLM won its first parliamentary seat in Lebanon’s 2005 elections representing the Tripoli district. On June 2, 2005, amid election rounds, Samir Kassir, a founder of the movement, was assassinated in a car bombing. Less than one month later, George Hawi, a former secretary general of the Lebanese Communist Party and an ally of the DLM, was killed in a similar car bombing in Beirut. In the 2009 elections, the party again won a single seat, instead representing the West Bekaa district. It is a member of the March 14 Alliance parliamentary coalition.
History
Background and foundation
During the late 1990s, there was a growing number of intellectuals (Samir Kassir, Ziad Majed, Elias Khoury) and a network of independent student groups (“Independent Leftist Groups”) who advocated Democracy, Individual Liberty, Secularism and Center-Left economic policies in Lebanon. On the other hand, a growing number Lebanese Communist Party (LCP) members were dissatisfied with the status of their party: the rise of Islamic Fundamentalism, the fall of the Soviet Union, and the failure of the LCP to assume a more democratic socialist platform ushered in an era of political decline for the party. This, coupled with perceived Syrian domination of its leadership, led to increasing frustration among rank-and-file communists against the upper echelons of the party.[1]
On September 13, 2000, a group calling itself “the reform and democracy forces in the Lebanese Communist Party” wrote an open letter demanding the resignation of party leadership. Led by Elias Atallah,[n 1] the dissidents accused LCP leaders of subservience to Syria and called for full democratization of the party and abandonment of the Stalinist line. Atallah was expelled from the party on September 26 of that year.[1]
These activists who split from the LCP along with the leftist student groups and the intellectuals with no prior affiliation to the LCP, formed the Democratic Left Movement.[2][3] An initial “temporary preparatory committee” for the movement emerged, which issued statements critical of Syrian intervention in Lebanon and called for the birth of a new left.[4] In September 2004, the Democratic Left Movement was officially established.[2] On October 17, at a ceremony commemorating its foundation attended by figures across the political spectrum,[5] Elias Atallah declared that the movement was founded on three principles: “[First], we are preachers of real social and cultural change on the bases of democracy, national independence and reconciliation with the Arab nation and Arab nationalism. Second we are preachers of cultural and ideological renaissance for the sake of secularism and political and religious reforms in the Arab east… Thirdly we believe in fighting for freedom and against tyranny and oppression.”[5]
Shortly after foundation, the DLM, Qornet Shehwan Gathering, Democratic Renewal, and Democratic Gathering formed a “multi-party opposition” to oppose the constitutional amendment that extended the presidential term of Emile Lahoud.[6] The informal coalition, which sought to defend the constitution and republic, appealed for free elections based on an equitable electoral law, curtailing corruption, fostering an independent judiciary, and reforming public administration. It was divided on the Syrian military presence in the country and on the use of arms to resolve the Shebaa farms dispute.[6] Later, in December 2004 and again in February 2005, the movement was among an agglomeration of opposition parties to gather at Beirut’s Bristol Hotel and demand a “total withdrawal” of Syrian troops.[7][8]
Independence Intifada
The DLM actively participated in the 2005 Independence Intifada(Cedar Revolution),[9] a so-called colour revolution in which hundreds of thousands rallied against the Syrian occupation of Lebanon and its supporters in the Lebanese government.[10] As the only leftist, nonsectarian element in the demonstrations, the DLM proved important for the opposition’s public relations.[11] Following the resignation of pro-Syrian Prime Minister Omar Karami in a wave of demonstrations, DLM leader Elias Atallah is quoted as saying, “Today the government fell. Tomorrow, it’s the one huddled in Anjar,” in reference to the Syrian chief of intelligence based in that city.[12] The New York Times credited Samir Kassir, a founder of the movement, with orchestrating the protests.[13] On March 14, 2005, Atallah addressed the demonstrators, articulating the need for a free, sovereign, and united Lebanon.[14] The DLM called on the protesters to press on to Baabda Palace, residence of the president, hoping to use the momentum to compel Emile Lahoud to resign. However, resistance by Maronite Patriarch Nasrallah Sfeir prevented this, resulting in a temporary fallout between the DLM and opposition.[11]
The movement remains critical of perceived Syrian interference in Lebanon, citing its participation in the March 14 Alliance parliamentary bloc as “defending Lebanese independence against the Syrian regime’s attacks and against Hezbollah and its allies’ attempts to impose their views and choices”.[15] It lists “attaining full independence of the country” as a political goal.[16]

This poster commemorates Samir Kassir and reads “Martyr of the Independence Uprising; Democratic Left.”
Kassir and Hawi assassinations
On June 2, 2005, Samir Kassir, a founder and leader of the movement, a prominent Lebanese journalist, and an outspoken critic of Syria[17] was assassinated in a car bombing.[18] DLM activists marched to the presidential palace in the Beirut suburb of Baabda to lay a wreath representing guilt for Kassir’s death. Elias Atallah, head of the DLM, explained that the wreath would “place the blame at the head of the joint Lebanese-Syrian security regime”.[17] Emile Lahoud, then president, condemned the killing and told reporters, “My conscience is clear”.[17] After Kassir’s death, membership in the DLM surged to a few thousand.[11]
Less than one month later, on June 21, 2005, George Hawi, a former secretary general of the LCP, was killed in a similar car bombing in Beirut.[19] Hawi, an outspoken critic of Syria in recent years, actively campaigned for DLM leader Elias Atallah’s candidacy in Lebanon’s 2005 Elections.[20] Atallah and other allies of Hawi blamed the bombing on pro-Syrian forces in the Lebanese-security apparatus.[21] In an interview with NOW Lebanon, former DLM Vice President Ziad Majed explained, “Georges Hawi … was trying to bring the communist party, or at least part of it, to join efforts with us [the DLM].”[15]
In Al-Mustaqbal newspaper, Elias Atallah called for broadening the planned inquiries into Rakfik Harri’s assassination to include the Kassir and Hawi bombings. He demanded Lahoud’s resignation, saying the president was “incapable of protecting leadership figures in Lebanon.”[22]
Structure and composition
The DLM operates under a decentralized framework in which internal movements are encouraged and represented in a national body.[23] The party’s constituency elects a National Assembly, the principal decision-making body, through proportional representation, where every internal movement forms a list. Composed of 51 to 101 members, determined proportionately by the size of the constituency, it maintains political priorities, alliances, and rhetoric, and elects an Executive Committee of 9 to 15 members for daily organizational activities. Other organizational bodies include the Legal Committee and Financial Committee, and internal elections occur every three years.[23]
In October 2004, a 77-member constituent assembly elected a 15-member Executive Committee in the movement’s first session of internal elections. Those elected included Elias Atallah as General Secretary[15] (and leader),[24] Nadim Abdel Samad as president, and Hikmat Eid, Anju Rihan, Ziad Majed and Ziad Saab as members.[5] In April 2007, another internal election occurred.[16] Two lists competed, one supported by Atallah and representing the leadership’s rhetoric and the other an all-youth movement named Keep Left.[15] While Atallah was reelected,[24] Keep Left attained 30% of votes in Lebanon and 58% of votes abroad in an online poll, enabling the entire list to be elected.[15] Ziad Majed, previously vice president of the DLM, and Elias Khoury, a prominent and founding member, chose not to participate for personal and political reasons.[15]
Headquartered in the Lebanese capital, Beirut, branches are permitted in any region of Lebanon or abroad. Provincial and district associations are largely autonomous.[23] Youth members comprise a substantial portion of the movement; Elias Atallah stated that half of the party’s members was 26 or younger.[25]
The General Assembly, which was set for 2010, took place in December 2011, and saw the emergence of a new leadership. Walid Fakhreddin was elected as the new Secretary General and the Executive Bureau was formed mainly from a new generation of leaders. However, this General Assembly was boycotted by many members who refused to have an election only assembly and were insisting on having a General Assembly that discusses the direction the movement should take. Some of the members who boycotted formed a current within the movement, called the Democratic Current in the Democratic Left Movement. It is to be noted that the bylaws of the Democratic Left Movement allows for internal currents and factions to operate freely.
Political stances
Ideology
The DLM backs a European-style social democracy to promote equality without hampering personal liberty or economic productivity.[2] In an interview with NOW Lebanon, DLM Former Vice President Ziad Majed classified the movement as center-left economically.[15] However, he went on to say that the party adopted a decentralized model when founded to enable the coexistence of divergent views in which internal movements are encouraged.[15] Its political manifesto identifies the movement as “beyond the requirement of singularity of thought”[n 2] and open to leftists of all denominations.[26] This emphasis on pluralism distinguishes the DLM from other leftist groups in Lebanon.[11]
“ Marxists, socialists, social democrats, all believe in the same basic program – social justice, secularism, a non-police state … democracy. ”
—Ziad Majed, in an interview with The Daily Star[11]

Domestic policy
The DLM is one of a few parties to propose secularization of the Lebanese state.[2] This includes abolishing sectarian appropriation of public jobs,[16] replacing the confessional parliamentary system with a representative system,[2][16] and permitting the execution of civil marriage on Lebanese soil.[27] The Economist magazine described the party as the “most avowedly secular component” of the March 14 Alliance.[28]
The DLM appeals for administrative reform in the public sector through a decentralization, modernization, and mechanization plan.[16] It defends human rights and calls for the respect of public freedoms and rule of law. Listed within its platform is support for the marginalized and the abandonment of divisive particularism. The movement supports prohibiting the discrimination of the disabled.[16]
Foreign policy
On foreign policy, the DLM platform is more uniform.[11] The party calls for a diverse, unified, and democratic Arab society. It opposes foreign interference in Lebanese politics and supports correcting imbalanced relations with Syria.[16] In the Shebba farms dispute, the movement advocates resolving the identity of the territory through diplomacy. If the farms are determined Lebanese, the cabinet should authorize their “liberation” either diplomatically or militarily but through state institutions alone[24] to allow the state to fulfill its role there.[16] On the broader Arab-Israeli Conflict, the DLM appeals for the creation of a regional defense strategy which protects Lebanese sovereignty from Israeli aggression while promoting the interests of the region.[16] It opposes American intervention in Iraq and elsewhere while also rejecting authoritarian regimes like the Baath. The party advocates democracy in Syria and associates with its democratic opposition, particularly the Syrian Democratic People’s Party.[11]
Electoral results
In the legislative elections of May and June 2005, the DLM won one seat[29] to become the first leftist political party in the Lebanese Parliament.[24] Holding the Maronite seat[n 3] of Tripoli, Elias Atallah represented the district as part of the March 14 Alliance,[24] a pro-Western political coalition and parliamentary majority.[30] Atallah received 89,890 votes to defeat rival Fayez Wajih Karam by 14,482 votes.[31]
In the 2009 elections, Atallah could not seek reelection because March 14 selected Samer Saadeh, a Kataeb Party candidate, to run on the coalition’s list in the Tripoli district.[32] Meanwhile, Amin Wehbi, another DLM candidate,[33] won a Shiite parliamentary seat in West Bekaa on the March 14 coalition’s list.[34] Accruing 34,424 votes, 53% of ballots cast, Wehbi unseated incumbent Nasser Nasrallah of the Amal Movement, who obtained 25,457 votes.[35]
The influence of the DLM, however, stems not from its limited electoral successes but from “its articulation of anti-Syrian positions from a left[ist] perspective.”[36]
Notes
1. ^ Atallah helped lead the LCP in the 18-year resistance against Israeli forces in Lebanon. See South Lebanon conflict (1982–2000)
2. ^ Arabic: تتجاوز وحدانية الفكر‎
3. ^ Each religious community in Lebanon has an allotted number of seats in the Parliament. They do not represent only their co-religionists, however; all candidates in a particular constituency, regardless of religious affiliation, must receive a plurality of the total vote, which includes followers of all confessions, and represent them equally. See Confessionalism (politics)
References
1. ^ a b Nassif, Daniel (2000-11). “Dissidents in Communist Party Revolt against Damascus”. Middle East Intelligence Bulletin 2 (10). Archived from the original on 2008-06-04. http://web.archive.org/web/20080604074746/http://www.meib.org/articles/0011_l3.htm. Retrieved 2009-07-05.
2. ^ a b c d e Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Arab Political Systems: Baseline Information and Reforms – Lebanon, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, http://www.carnegieendowment.org/files/Lebanon_APS.doc, retrieved 2009-07-04
3. ^ Harding, Jeremy (2006-11-16). “Jeremy Harding goes to Beirut to meet the novelist Elias Khoury”. London Review of Books (London: London Review Bookshop) 28 (22): 501. ISSN 0260-9592. http://www.lrb.co.uk/v28/n22/hard01_.html. Retrieved 2009-08-05.
4. ^ “temporary preparatory committee” of the Movement for a Democratic Left (2004-02-04). “Movement for a Democratic Left”. Movement for a Democratic Left. Beirut: Daily Star. http://web.archive.org/web/20080727154632/http://www.meib.org/documentfile/040204.htm. Retrieved 2009-07-05.
5. ^ a b c “Officially launched DLM rejects current state of Syrian-Lebanese relations”. lebanonwire.com. 2004-10-18. http://www.lebanonwire.com/0410/04101806LW.asp. Retrieved 2009-07-21.
6. ^ a b “New front boosts opposition to Syria in Lebanon”. Lebanonwire.com. 2004-10-16. http://www.lebanonwire.com/0410/04101608LW.asp. Retrieved 2009-08-04.
7. ^ Ottaway, Marina; Choucair-Vizoso Julia (2008). “Lebanon: The Challenge of Reform in a Weak State”. Beyond the Façade: Political Reform in the Arab World. Washington, D.C.: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. pp. 120. ISBN 978-0-87003-239-4. http://books.google.com/?id=yAdmjiAuTvgC&dq=Beyond+the+Fa%C3%A7ade:+Political+Reform+in+the+Arab+World&printsec=frontcover&q=. Retrieved 2009-08-05.
8. ^ Rabil, Robert (2005-02-18). “Syria and the Polarization of Lebanese Politics”. The Washington Institute for Near East Policy. http://www.washingtoninstitute.org/templateC05.php?CID=2260. Retrieved 2009-07-05.
9. ^ Sakr, Naomi (2007-04-03). “Idioms of Contention: Star Academy in Lebanon and Kuwait”. Arab Media and Political Renewal: Community, Legitimacy and Public Life. Library of Modern Middle East Studies Series. London: I. B. Tauris. pp. 51. ISBN 978-1-84511-327-8. http://books.google.com/?id=3Ld4bMpS6ZEC&pg=PR7&dq=%22Sakr%22+%22Arab+media+and+political+renewal:+community,+legitimacy+…%22+&q=. Retrieved 2009-08-05.
10. ^ MacFarquer, Neil (2005-03-14). “Hundreds of Thousands Jam Beirut in Rally Against Syria”. The New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2005/03/14/international/middleeast/14cnd-beir.html?_r=1&hp&ex=1110862800&en=87531eefaf13446e&ei=5094&partner=homepage. Retrieved 2009-07-14.
11. ^ a b c d e f g Quilty, Jim (2005-07-19). “The changing face of the Lebanese Left: Democratic Left Movement Vice President Ziad Majed on Lebanon’s smallest high-profile party”. Daily Star (Middle East Transparent). http://www.metransparent.com/old/texts/ziad_majed_interview.htm. Retrieved 2009-11-08.
12. ^ Saida, Lena (2005-03-01). “Jubilation in Beirut after pro-Syrian government resigns”. The Independent. http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/jubilation-in-beirut-after-prosyrian-government-resigns-485288.html. Retrieved 2009-07-13.
13. ^ Fattah, Hassan (2005-06-05). “A Lebanese Critic of Syria Is Mourned”. The New York Times. http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9E04E2DE1538F936A35755C0A9639C8B63. Retrieved 2009-07-05.
14. ^ “Lebanese TV broadcasts opposition speeches at Beirut rally.”. Asia Africa Intelligence Wire (BBC Monitoring). 2005-03-14. http://www.accessmylibrary.com/coms2/summary_0286-19106223_ITM. Retrieved 2009-11-08.
15. ^ a b c d e f g h Hankir, Zahra (2008-01-01). Talking To: Ziad Majed (Now Lebanon). (Now Lebanon). http://www.nowlebanon.com/NewsArticleDetails.aspx?ID=29714. Retrieved 2009-07-05.
16. ^ a b c d e f g h i UNDP (2007-12-15). “Arab Parliaments: Arab Political Parties Database: Lebanon”. Arab parliaments. http://www.arabparliaments.org/countries/bycountry.asp?pid=9&cid=9. Retrieved 2009-07-05.
17. ^ a b c Stack, Megan; Rania Abouzeid (2005-06-04). “Lebanese Pay Tribute to Slain Anti-Syria Writer”. Los Angeles Times. http://articles.latimes.com/2005/jun/04/world/fg-lebanon4?. Retrieved 2009-07-05.
18. ^ The Daily Star (2009-06-17). “Performing arts festival reflects on Samir Kassir’s life and work”. The Daily Star. http://www.dailystar.com.lb/article.asp?edition_id=10&categ_id=4&article_id=103107. Retrieved 2009-07-05.
19. ^ Stack, Megan; Rania Abouzeid (2005-06-22). “Foe of Syria Assassinated in Beirut”. Los Angeles Times. http://articles.latimes.com/2005/jun/22/world/fg-hawi22. Retrieved 2009-07-05.
20. ^ CNN.com (2005-06-21). “Bomb kills anti-Syria politician”. http://edition.cnn.com/2005/WORLD/meast/06/21/lebanon.blast/index.html. Retrieved 2009-07-05.
21. ^ The Associated Press; Reuters (2005-06-21). “Beirut blast kills anti-Syrian politician”. MSNBC. http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/8296419/. Retrieved 2009-07-05.
22. ^ “Lebanese press highlights 23 Jun 05.”. Asia Africa Intelligence Wire (BBC Monitoring). 2005-06-24. http://www.accessmylibrary.com/article-1G1-134552321/lebanese-press-highlights-23.html. Retrieved 2009-11-08.
23. ^ a b c “Rules of Procedure of the Democratic Left Movement in Lebanon” (in Arabic). Democratic Left Movement. http://alyassar.org/ar/content/view/11/5/. Retrieved 2009-08-06.
24. ^ a b c d e El Cheikh, Christine (2009-06-26). “Talking To: Democratic Left Movement leader Elias Atallah”. NOW Lebanon. http://www.nowlebanon.com/NewsArticleDetails.aspx?ID=100661. Retrieved 2009-07-04.
25. ^ Razzouk, Nayla (2005-04-12). “Lebanon’s youths fuel “uprising for independence””. Lebanonwire.com. http://www.lebanonwire.com/0504/05041201AFP.asp. Retrieved 2009-08-06.
26. ^ “The draft political document of the Democratic Left Movement” (in Arabic). Democratic Left Movement. http://alyassar.org/ar/content/view/10/5/. Retrieved 2009-07-25.
27. ^ “Lebanese say pretend “I do’s” in Valentine civil weddings”. NOW Lebanon. 2009-02-14. http://www.nowlebanon.com/NewsArticleDetails.aspx?ID=79892. Retrieved 2009-07-09.
28. ^ “Lebanon’s government: So who’s running the show?”. The Economist (Beirut). 2006-06-27. http://www.economist.com/world/middleeast-africa/displaystory.cfm?story_id=E1_SNPTTSN. Retrieved 2009-11-09.
29. ^ Research Directorate of the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (2007). “Issue Papers, Extended Responses and Country Fact Sheets__ Country Fact Sheet LEBANON November 2007” (Governmental). Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada. http://www2.irb-cisr.gc.ca/en/research/ndp/ref/index_e.htm?docid=366&cid=0&sec=CH03. Retrieved 2009-07-05.
30. ^ Nerguizian, Aram; Schbley (2009-06-10). “Lebanon vote tilts to the West”. Washington Times. http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2009/jun/10/lebanon-vote-tilts-to-the-west/print/. Retrieved 2009-07-23.
31. ^ “Electoral lists – North Lebanon Region”. The Daily Star. 2005-06-19. http://www.dailystar.com.lb/elections05/north_lebanon.htm. Retrieved 2009-08-04.[dead link]
32. ^ elections.naharnet.com (2009-05-07). “North’s Electoral List Undergoes Changes”. Archived from the original on 2009-06-06. http://web.archive.org/web/20090606063811/http://elections.naharnet.com/news/360. Retrieved 2009-06-25.
33. ^ “Democratic Left nominates Amin Wehbe for seat in West Bekaa-Rachaya”. NOW Lebanon. 2009-04-08. http://www.nowlebanon.com/NewsArticleDetails.aspx?ID=88079. Retrieved 2009-06-17.
34. ^ “Parliament”. Now Lebanon. 2009-06-08. http://www.nowlebanon.com/NewsArticleDetails.aspx?ID=97404&MID=115&PID=2. Retrieved 2009-06-15.
35. ^ Chambers, Richard (2009-06-09), Lebanon’s 7 June _Elections: The Results, International Foundation for Electoral Systems, http://www.ifes.org/files/IFES_LebanonReview060709Results.pdf, retrieved 2009-07-05
36. ^ Jones, Jeremy (2007-01-15). “Syria and Lebanon: Party Problems”. Negotiating Change: The New Politics of the Middle East. Library of Modern Middle East Studies Series. London: I. B. Tauris. pp. 112. ISBN 978-1-84511-270-7. http://books.google.com/?id=CDp9lDhHE0kC&pg=PA91&lpg=PA91&dq=Negotiating+Change:+The+New+Politics+of+the+Middle+East+London&q=. Retrieved 2009-08-05.

The leftist Thinker: Samir Kassir

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Samir Kassir (5 May 1960 – 2 June 2005) was a Lebanese professor of history at Saint-Joseph University and journalist.[1]
Early life
Samir Kassir was born to a Palestinian father and a Syrian mother on 5 May 1960.[2]
Education
Kassir received his degree in philosophy and political philosophy in 1984. He gained a DEA (roughly equivalent to a Master’s degree in the British university system) in philosophy and political philosophy from the Université de Paris I in the same year. He obtained his PhD in modern and contemporary history from the Université de Paris IV in 1990, with a thesis on the Lebanese Civil War.[2]
Journalism
Samir Kassir’s journalistic career began when he was a seventeen-year-old secondary school student at the Lycée Français de Beyrouth, with unsigned contributions to the Lebanese Communist Party newspaper Al-Nidā’. The same year, he began contributing to the French-language daily L’Orient-Le Jour. From 1981 to 2000, he contributed to the French international political review Le Monde Diplomatique. In 1982 and 1983 he edited the newsletter Le Liban en Lutte (Struggling Lebanon), which was dedicated to the Lebanese resistance against the Israeli occupation. From 1984 to 1985 he edited the weekly Al-Yawm as-Sābi`, and from 1986 to 2004 he was a member of the editorial board of the Revue des Etudes Palestiniennes, the French-language journal of the Institute for Palestine Studies. From 1988 to 1989 he contributed to the London-based pan-Arab daily Al-Hayat.
In 1995 he founded a new monthly political and cultural review, L’Orient L’Express, which he edited until it ceased publication in 1998, from lack of interest and pressure from the advertising industry. From that year on he was a professor at the “Institut des sciences politiques de l’Université Saint-Joseph” in Beirut. It was also in 1998 that Kassir became an editorial writer for the daily Al-Nahar newspaper. He became widely known for his popular weekly column in which he wrote strong articles against the pro-Syrian regime. He also made frequent appearances on several television stations as a political analyst on news programs.
Assassination
Kassir was assassinated using a car bomb in Beirut on 2 June 2005. The investigation into his assassination has been still underway, but no one has been indicted yet. Since he had been constantly receiving threats from Lebanese and Syrian Intelligence Officers, there is widespread speculation in Lebanon that the perpetrators were the Lebanese-Syrian security apparatus or remnants of this force (as Syria has claimed that all its intelligence officers were out of Lebanon; in addition, the head of the Lebanese security forces had resigned). The Syrian government has denied these charges.[3]
There was widespread condemnation for the killing and many prominent opposition figures blaming the blast on the Lebanese and Syrian regimes. Among them were Hariri’s son, Saad Hariri, who said “the blood-stained hands that assassinated Rafiq Hariri are the same ones that assassinated Samir Kassir.” Moreover, Elias Atallah, Secretary General of the Democratic Left Movement, urged his allies to the presidential palace and remove president Lahoud. However, the calls remained unanswered. Years later, March 14 allies admitted that had Lahoud been removed, Lebanon would have been spared the later political assassinations.
Kassir was among the first victims in the growing list of political assassinations that occurred in Lebanon from 2004 to 2008. These began with the attempted assassination of Marwan Hamadeh and followed with the killing of Rafīq Harīrī in 2005. After Kassir, George Hawi, the former head of the Lebanese Communist Party was targeted by another car-bomb; this was followed by failed assassination attempts at former Interior Minister and former Syrian ally Elias Murr and popular LBCI TV anchorwoman and journalist May Chidiac who survived, but lost an arm and leg. On 12 December 2005, Samir Kassir’s colleague, An-Nahar chief editor, and top anti-Syria legislator Gebran Tueni, was killed by a car bomb. Pierre Amine Gemayel, the former Minister of Industry, was another victim in the series of assassinations. MP Walid Eido from the Hariri-led Future movement was killed near the Military Bath of Beirut on 13 June 2007. Shortly afterwards, MP Antoine Ghanem of the Lebanese Phalanges Party (aka Kataeb Party), was killed in another car bomb on 19 September 2007 in the Sin al-Fil suburb of Beirut. Then, second-in-command of the Lebanese Armed Forces, General François al-Hajj was killed in the military-secured suburb of Baabda on 12 December 2007. One month later, security chief and top Lebanese investigator into the International Tribunal for the Hariri assassination was killed in January 2008. Many have blamed Syria for all the recent assassinations of its opponents.
Views
A prominent left-wing activist, Kassir was a strong advocate of freedom for the Palestinians, democracy in Lebanon and Syria and a vocal critic of the Syrian presence in Lebanon. He was a keen advocate of secular democracy in the Middle East.
” … What [Arab-American] reconciliation needs, if the United States were really willing to reach such reconciliation, is first [America’s] revision of its understanding of Arab democracy, which has been restricted until now, to the American convention that mandates Arabs give up their pan-Arab ties… and the issues that steer their feelings most, on top of them the Palestinian issue …”[2]
Known for his unrelenting courage, Kassir was unafraid of expressing trenchant opinions.[4] He continuously spoke for the rights of the Palestinians. He recognised courage and determination in others and took under his wing leading young pro-democracy and human rights activists such as Wissam Tarif, with whom Kassir developed a warm and close friendship. It was his non-compromising views on the Ba’ath regime that many believe led to his assassination.
He maintained a keen and sympathetic interest in Syria despite his criticism of its involvement in Lebanon, and was on close terms with many Syrian intellectuals, including those involved in the Damascus Spring. He was a founding member of the Democratic Left Movement, which won a seat in the Lebanese parliamentary elections of 2005. Kassir and the party he helped establish were both very influential in triggering the popular upheavals following Prime Minister Rafik Hariri’s killing.
Works
Kassir’s books, in French and Arabic, include a history of Beirut and a study of the Lebanese Civil War. He also co-authored a book about the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and Palestinian-French relations. His last book in Arabic concerned with the “Damascus Spring” and the consequences for Lebanon of Syrian political developments; Syrian dissident film-maker Omar Amiralay penned its introduction. Before his assassination, he was working on another book about the “Beirut Spring” that aimed to discuss the recent momentous developments in Lebanon, that was supposed to be published by Actes Sud. In February 2006, a book was published with the same title, by Actes Sud, but contained translations of Arabic articles written mainly after Hariri’s assassination.
• Itinéraires de Paris à Jérusalem. La France et le conflit israélo-arabe, 2 volumes, Paris, Revue des études palestiniennes, 1992 et 1993 (with Farouk Mardam-Bey).
• La guerre du Liban; De la dissension nationale au conflit régional (1975-1982), Paris, Karthala/Cermoc, 1994.
• Histoire de Beyrouth, Paris, Fayard, 2003. ISBN 2-213-02980-6
• `Askar `ala mén? Lubnan al-jumhúriyya al-mafqúda, Beirut, Dár al-Nahár, 2004. (Soldiers against whom? Lebanon, the lost republic).
• Dímúqrátiyyat súria wastiqlál lubnan; al-ba`th `an rabí` dimashq, Beirut, Dár al-Nahár, 2004. (Syrian democracy and Lebanese independence: in search of the Damascus Spring).
• Considerations sur le malheur arabe, Paris, Actes Sud, 2004. Translated and published by, Dár al-Nahár, in November 2005.
• Liban: Un printemps inachevé, Actes Sud, 2006. Translated from Arabic by Hoda Saliby.
• L’infelicità araba , Giulio Einaudi editore s.p.a. Torino 2006.
• Primavere per una Siria Democratica e un Libano Independente, Mesogea by GEm s.r.l. 2006.
• Das Arabische unglück, Schiler 2006
• De la desgracia de ser árabe, Almuzara 2006
• Being Arab, Verso, London 2006
• Den arabiska olyckan, Ruin, Stockholm 2006
• At være araber, Informations Forlag, Købehavn 2009
• Arap Talihsizliği, İletişim Yayınları, İstanbul 2011
Personal life
Samir Kassir held both Lebanese and French nationality. He was a Christian Orthodox married to Giselle Khoury, a talk-show host on Al-Arabiya television. He is survived by two daughters, Mayssa and Liana, from a previous marriage.
Legacy
His wife, Giselle Khoury, and a group of Kassir’s friends, students and colleagues from l’Orient Express, including writer Elias Khoury, created the Samir Kassir Foundation. One of the foundation’s objectives would be translating his works into English, Italian, and Norwegian. A special edition of l’Orient Express was published in November 2005 to celebrate its tenth anniversary under the title “The Unfinished Spring” and was dedicated in memory of Kassir. This project was initially Kassir’s idea who was working on it before he was assassinated. A square in downtown Beirut, behind the Annahar building, was named in Kassir’s honor. The Samir Kassir Foundation erected a bronze statue of the journalist there on 2 June 2006, exactly a year after his assassination.
References
1. ^ al-Ahram 19–25 August 2004 Issue No. 704 The not so sick man of Europe By Rasha Salti
2. ^ a b c Kassir.net
3. ^ Independent 3 June 2005 Syria’s troops have gone. So who killed Samir, Lebanon’s fearless by Robert Fisk
4. ^ al-Ahram A journalist apart Kenneth Brown remembers Lebanese writer and journalist Samir Kassir
Notes
• Journalist’s murder rattles Beirut, Christian Science Monitor, June 3, 2005
• Death in Beirut, New York Sun, June 3, 2005
• Hundreds mourn Beirut journalist, BBC News, June 3, 2005
• Adam Shatz – The principle of hope: Samir Kassir 1960-2005, The Nation, July 4, 2005
• Anti-Syria journalist killed by car bomb, Ramsay Short – Daily Telegraph, June 3, 2005
• Petition Urges Justice for Samir Kassir, iFEX, July 5, 2005.
• Revue des Etudes Palestiniennes, no. 97, Autumn 2005.
External links
• Samir Kassir’s articles (Arabic)
• Samir Kasir Prize for the freedom of the press (In French)
• Connecting the dots in Lebanon

The Communist Leader George Hawi

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George Hawi (ALA-LC: Jūrj Ḥāwī; 1938 – 21 June 2005) was a Lebanese politician and former secretary general of the Lebanese Communist Party (LCP). An outspoken critic of Syrian interference in Lebanese affairs, he was killed in 2005 by a bomb placed under the passenger seat of his Mercedes. [1]
Background
George Hawi was born in the village of Bteghrine in Lebanon 1938 to a Greek Orthodox family. Although born into a Christian family, Hawi was a professed atheist.[2]
He became active in student politics in his early years at university, participating in numerous strikes and demonstrations and in several popular movements. He joined the LCP in 1955 and became one of the main leaders of its Student League by the end of the decade.
In 1964 he was imprisoned for his involvement in a strike against Lebanon’s state-controlled tobacco manufacturer. In 1969 he was again in prison for participation in a demonstration on April 23 in support of the Palestinian cause, and again in 1970 for his part in attacking an army detachment.
Hawi was briefly expelled from the LCP in 1967 for calling for more independence from the policies of the Soviet Union. He rejoined the Party and was elected secretary general in 1979 — a position he kept until 1993.
During the Lebanese Civil War Hawi, who used the kunya-style nom de guerre “Abu Anis”, established the Popular Guard, the LCP militia, which was aligned with the Lebanese National Movement (LNM) of Druze leader Kamal Jumblatt in its opposition to the Maronite-dominated government and Christian-backed militias. The LCP was also active in the guerrilla warfare against Israel and its proxy militia, the South Lebanon Army (SLA), in southern Lebanon, after the Israeli invasion in 1982. During the invasion he created the Lebanese National Resistance front together with Muhsin Ibrahim. LNRF was commanded by Elias Atallah. At later stages of the war, the LCP under Hawi allied with Syria, which had entered Lebanon in 1976, but was to stay in the country for nearly 30 years.
He became a critic of the influence of Damascus in Lebanon late in his life, after having left the LCP in 2000. In 2004, he supported the foundation of the leftist Democratic Left Movement (DLM), that was against the Syrian presence in Lebanon and participated in the Independence Uprising of 2005. Murdered journalist Samir Kassir was a prominent member and co-founder of this group.
Assassination
George Hawi was assassinated when a bomb planted in his car was detonated by remote control, as he traveled through Beirut’s Wata Musaitbi neighborhood. Several sources including the March 14 Alliance and members of the Western media immediately blamed Syria for his killing and for the other explosions in the capital though a definitive culprit has yet to be found.
In August 2011, the Special Tribunal for Lebanon informed members of Hawi’s family that they had found a link between his murder and that of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafic Hariri.[3] The STL had previously issued indictments against members of Hezbollah for the Hariri killing.
References
1. ^ Daily Telegraph, 22 June 2005 [1]
2. ^ “What united them was opposition to a supposedly corrupt and pro-western administration, unfairly dominated by factions of Lebanon’s Maronite Christian community. Notwithstanding his own professed atheism, Hawi, Greek Orthodox by birth, was valued as an iconic Christian figure within a coalition often painted as sectarian Muslim.” Lawrence Joffe, ‘Obituary: George Hawi: Lebanese communist leader who espoused Muslim-Christian dialogue’, The Guardian (London) 22 June 2005, Pg. 29.
3. ^ “STL Delegation informs Hawi’s family of link to Hariri killing”. Daily Star. 13 August 2011. http://www.dailystar.com.lb/News/Politics/2011/Aug-13/STL-delegation-informs-Hawis-family-of-link-to-Hariri-killing.ashx#ixzz1UumoAYSI. Retrieved 13 August 2011.

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