Lebanese Communist Party: Wikis

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Lebanese Communist Party
الـحـزب الشـيـوعـي اللبـنـانـي
al-hizbu-sh-shuyu‘ī-l-lubnānī
Founded 1924[1]
Ideology Communism,
Marxism-Leninism
Religion Officially Secular
Nationality Lebanese
Website
Official website
Lebanon

This article is part of the series:
Politics and government of
Lebanon



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The Lebanese Communist Party (LCP; Arabic: الـحـزب الشـيـوعـي اللبـنـانـي Hizbu-sh-shuy‘uī-l-lubnānī) is a communist political party in Lebanon, founded in 1924 by the Lebanese intellectual, writer and reporter Youssef Ibrahim Yazbek, and Fou'ad al-shmeli a tobacco worker from Bikfaya.

Contents

History

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Creation

The Lebanese Communist Party was officially founded on October 24, 1924, in the Lebanese town of Hadath south of Beirut. The first meeting held a boast of union workers who formed real unions for the first time in Lebanon, unlike the ones dictated by the French mandate. The meeting was also attended by scholars, academics, writers and journalists, who were active in promoting the ideas of the French Revolution, and were familiar with the writings of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels. The party was then founded to cover the area held under the French mandate, what 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 when the French ruled Lebanon 1939, 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

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 again ran for election in 1947, but all of its candidates were defeated; in 1948 the party was outlawed. 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 on the anti-government side during the 1958 uprising. Surviving underground, the LCP in 1965 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 Nicola Shawi, to run for election in 1972. Although they polled several thousand votes, none of them succeeded in gaining a seat. But the LCP's importance grew with the start of civil disturbances in the mid-1970s.

The LCP during the Civil War

During the early 1970s, the LCP established a well-trained militia, the Popular Guard, which participated actively in the fighting of 1975 and 1976 at the start of the Lebanese Civil War (1975-1990). The LCP was aligned with the mostly-Muslim LNM-Palestinian coalition, despite its mainly Christian membership, particularly Greek Orthodox and Armenian).[3]

Throughout the 1980s, the LCP generally declined in influence. In 1983, the Tripoli-based Sunni Islamist movement Islamic Unification Movement (Tawhid), reportedly executed fifty Communists.[4] In 1987, in union with the Druze Progressive Socialist Party, the LCP fought a week-long battle with the Shi'a militants of the Amal in West Beirut, a conflict that was finally 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. Syrian pressure, however, kept Hawi in his position. Hawi, who had been a close ally of Damascus, was reportedly unpopular for his lavish life-style and for spending more time in Syria than in Lebanon.[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.

After the Lebanese Civil war

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, leaving 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 also saw the second election of Dahrouj as secretary general. The party is now lead by Dr. Khaled Hadadi, elected in the 9th Congress in December 2003. Saadallah Mazraani who was Vice General Secretary under Dahrouj remained in the same position with Hadadi.

Electoral Results

The party participated in the 2005 parliamentary elections in several regions but did not capture a seat.[5] In South Lebanon, its Vice General Secretary Saadallah Mazraani accrued 8886 votes in the second district, and Anwar Yassin, a former detainee in Israel received 18244 votes in the first district.[6] Former General Secretary Farouq Dahrouj obtained 10688 votes in the Bekaa third district.[6]

In the 2009 legislative elections, the LCP ran independently with candidates in five districts[5] and failed to win any seats.[7] In a formally issued statement, the LCP commented “the 2009 elections widened the gap already existing because of the sectarian system,”[8] and, while expressing dismay towards its dismal electoral showing, analyzed and attempted to justify its performance.[8]

Hawi assassination

On June 21, 2005, George Hawi, a former secretary general of the LCP, was killed in a car bombing in Beirut.[9] Hawi, a recent critic of Syria,[10] 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.[11] Allies of Hawi accused pro-Syrian forces in the Lebanese-security apparatus for the assassination.[12] Emile Lahoud, then president of Lebanon, and the Syrian government denied this allegation.[10] Foreign governments, including the White House, strongly condemned the killing.[13]

The bombing occurred two days after Lebanon's 2005 elections ushered in an anti-Syrian majority in parliament[14] and less than one month after Samir Kassir, a left-wing Lebanese journalist and political figure, was assassinated in a similar bombing.[9]

Organization

The Lebanese Communist Party is one of the few Lebanese parties that have affiliation throughout different sects and regions. It is spread in most of the Lebanese districts, although its strength is greatest in the 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. Those organizations include Union of Lebanese Democratic Youth (youth organization), The Committee of Woman's Rights (Women 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.

References

  1. ^ a b c d "Lebanese Communist Party". countrystudies. 2007. http://countrystudies.us/lebanon/97.htm. Retrieved 2008-05-18.  
  2. ^ Benjamin, Roger W.; Kautsky, John H.. Communism and Economic Development, in The American Political Science Review, Vol. 62, No. 1. (Mar., 1968), pp. 122.
  3. ^ "APPENDIX B -- Lebanon The Opposing Forces in the Lebanese Civil War". Library of Congress. 2008. http://lcweb2.loc.gov/frd/cs/lebanon/lb_appnb.html. Retrieved 2008-05-18.  
  4. ^ "COMMUNIST PARTY IN LEBANON HURT". The New York Times. March 4, 1987. http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9B0DEED7113BF937A35750C0A961948260. Retrieved 2008-05-18.  
  5. ^ a b Nash, Matt (2009-04-28). "Expectations low for Communist candidates". NOW Lebanon. http://nowlebanon.com/NewsArticleDetails.aspx?ID=90896. Retrieved 2009-08-08.  
  6. ^ a b http://www.lebanonwire.com/prominent/elections2005/full_results.asp
  7. ^ 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 2009-08-08  
  8. ^ a b "June polls widened country’s sectarian gap – LCP". Daily Star. 2009-08-06. http://www.dailystar.com.lb/article.asp?edition_id=1&categ_id=1&article_id=105007. Retrieved 2009-08-08.  
  9. ^ a b 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.  
  10. ^ a b Kifner, John (2005-06-21). "A Second Critic of Syria Is Assassinated in Lebanon". The New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2005/06/21/international/middleeast/21cnd-beirut.html?pagewanted=1&_r=1. Retrieved 2009-08-27.  
  11. ^ "George Hawi knew who killed Kamal Jumblatt". Ya Libnan. 2005-06-22. http://yalibnan.com/site/archives/2005/06/george_hawi_kne.php. Retrieved 2009-08-27.  
  12. ^ 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.  
  13. ^ Hatoum, Majdoline (2005-06-22). "Hawi assassination provokes fierce international condemnation". The Daily Star. http://www.dailystar.com.lb/article.asp?edition_id=1&categ_id=2&article_id=16140. Retrieved 2009-08-23.  
  14. ^ "Blast kills Lebanese politician". BBC. 2005-06-21. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/4113898.stm. Retrieved 2009-08-27.  

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