november '07 - february '08



Is it the naissance of a new Arab Third Worldism?


by Nicolas Dot Pouillard


Why this text?

Islamism, radical left- wing movements and Arab nationalisms seemed to be opposed each other for a long time in the Arab World. So, from an historical point of view the centrality of both the national issue and the liberation problems created some passages hidden in those three currents. Today these “political agreements” are actual as whenever happened. In Lebanon, Egypt and Palestine there are some not very definite alliances among  Islamic- nationalist, Marxist and nationalist  movements after the beginning of the 1990’ s. So, the Middle- Easter political field seems to be in a full political recomposition.


Islamisms, radical left- wing movements and Arab nationalisms seemed to be opposed each other for a long time. But some alliances have been signed between them, deeply recomposing the political field of Palestine, Lebanon and Egypt.

The debates about the religious and the political element are often based on subjective ideological and cultural perceptions. The comprehension of the Islamic problem in France is largely dominated by a series of very abstract paradigms. They do not allow a concrete and factual analyses of the political field in Middle- East. An arbitrary dichotomy is “laic”/ “religious”, “moderated Islam”/ “extremist Islam”, “progressive”/ “reactionary”. 

So, some typologies have been created, corresponding to an imagined reality of the political field: the politics such as we would like it to be, not how it is really. The Middle- Easter political situation appears distorted by historical simplifications, that would create an irremediable line of separation among Islamisms that are equal the one to the other, from Al- Quaida to the Lebanese Hezbollah, and laics naturally attentive to the rights of both men and women. These categorisations now appear partially false: in Palestine, the “laic” Fatah is the author of one of the most reactionary laws about women rights, limiting at six months the penitentiary punishment for a crime of honour. Often we believe the “laic” is “progressive”. In this way, we will imagine the laics persecuted by the Muslim fundamentalists. In some cases it is true, but in others it is false. So, we have to comprehend how the Lebanese Communist Party makes alliances with Hezbollah, or how the Marxist Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (FPLP) often works with Hamas or with the Islamic Jihad. We must wonder about this new political realities.

There is always a tendency of simplification of the debate, along some strong ideological lines, which consider the Islamic political actors as fixed categories, not able to transform themselves from a political and ideological point of view. The Islamic movement is twenty- four years in the Middle- East. If we imagine it as an unified homogeny without differences into it, it is like thinking that the left covers a very large field from the old Baader fraction to Tony Blair, or like thinking that the right is homogeneous, containing both the German Christian democracy and the Italian neo- fascists. There is a history of the right, and a history of the left. So, there is a story of Islamisms, a plural political field. The example of the political recompositions in the Arab Middle- East, and the production of a political nationalist Islamism that today is open on the left and of Arab nationalist movements, creates some theoretic and political issues.


A new model of political alliance in Palestine and elsewhere

The first municipal elections in Cisjordan after 1976, on December 23 2004, have been an issue about which wonder: will Hamas win on Fatah? Which was the particular strength of Islamists, nationalist movement and  left at the moment of the poll? There was not a unique answer: the municipal elections were not the object of a precise organisation of the political scene. On the contrary, some lines were discomposed, and some tendencies have been confirmed. Rather than indefectible oppositions between limited fields- Fatah, Hamas, FPLP, FDLP, PPP [1]-, in local contexts some not very definite and trend alliances have been made. In Bnei Zayyaid, such as in Bethlehem, an alliance among the FPLP and Hamas permitted to contest to Fatah the first position in the municipal Council. In Ramallah, one year later, a woman member of the FPLP was elected at the head of the Council. The three votes of Hamas were added to the six of the FPLP, that put in minority the six municipal councillors of Fatah.

These new alliances were designed also in the military operations: after 2001 the armed branches of FPLP- the Abou Ali Mustapha Brigades- operated regularly in the Gaza Band, near to the Ezze- dine al- Quassem Brigades- the armed branch of Hamas- and to al- Quds Brigades- the ones of the Islamic Jihad. In the end, some dissident elements of Fatah, organized in the galaxy of the Popular Committees of the resistance (PCR), got more and more near to Hamas direction in Gaza. This, after its victory in the legislative elections on January 2006, named one of the principal activists of PCR, Jamal Samhadana [2], old Fatah militant, to the head of the new  Palestinian security services formed by Hamas government: so, now it deals to be a counterweight, mostly in Gaza Band, for the security forces in the hands of Mohammad Dahlan, master of Fatah. Samhadana symbolises this part of Fatah which got further and further from the direction of the Party, and which confirms its progressive explosion, made faster by the death of Yasser Arafat on November 11 2004. So, the symbolic aura still permitted to assure a little of internal unity. In this way Saed Siyyam, the new Palestinian minister of internal politics, member of Hamas, chose an old member of Fatah, that is a political element coming from Palestinian nationalism, and not from the same Islamic movement, to guide security services which had no aim… than being in concurrency on the field of the armed dominion of the preventive Security, attached to the direction of Fatah.

The conflicts Fatah- Hamas of the last years correspond to a political- strategic disagreement, to a difference about the position to adopt opposite to Israel and the international community, not to a secularist- religious debate. And when the two hegemonic Parties  Fatah- Hamas favoured a latent civil war because of their fratricide fight, the FPLP and the Movement of the Islamic Jihad (MJIP), that is a left- wing organisation and an Islamic one, intermediated. If FPLP today is still today very critical toward Hamas, it is because Hamas is closed in an armed opposition with Fatah, that makes harder the Palestinian national unity, and that risks to make the Palestinian territories fall in the security chaos. In this case too, the FPLP shares this position with the Islamic Jihad, with which he could manifest along Gaza streets in occasion of the events of June 2007.

Palestinian political cartography is not an exception: the Arab political theatre seems to be in recomposition, and traditional limits, mostly the one of a religious field opposite to a laic one, was more and more softened in the region. Political Islam lived a phase, now accelerated, of nationalisation and regionalisation, while those parts came out from the left and the Arab Baathist or Nasserian nationalism, lost a political model and a strategic partner, they are living a structural and militant crisis. They tend step by step to redefine their ideological and practical models, and they are obliged to make more complex their net of alliances and now they prefer Islamist partners. After 2000 a phase of political recomposition was opened in the Arab world, with different rhythms and times among countries and spaces, with characteristics similar to the past, new problems and new fractures.

This political recomposition is based on the national Arab issue and on the democratic one: in a political context marked by the Palestinian Intifada of September 2000, by the American attack on Iraq in 2003, but also by the “thirty- three days war” among Hezbollah and Israel, the national issue returns in the Arab world and determines the model of action and contestation, the forms of the political recomposition and the different ways of tactical alliance among the groups opposed to the American plan of a “Big Middle- East”. The democratic issue is added: because  Arab political system suffers because of a model founded on political authoritarianism and nepotism, and where the majority, from Egypt to Jordan passing through Saudi Arabia and the principal oil- monarchies of the Golf, find themselves organically linked to the different American and European interests in the region. The contestation against Israeli and American politics often passes through a denounce of the internal political systems: in Egypt, all along the years from 2000 to 2006, the same political masters and the same structures of mobilisation passed one by one from the mobilization for Palestinians and Iraqis to the one for the democratisation of the regime.

The Arab national issue and the democratic one traces a series of transversal approaches between the Arab space historically focalised on Palestine and the internal national space: after 2000 a constructive cooperation between the pan- Arab dimension of the politics and its national internal expression, a higher transversal approach between the Arab national issue and the democratic one, favoured a series of political mutations which end in a series of tactic and/or strategic alliances among the radical left, the old sectors of the Baathist and Nasserian nationalism, and, in the end, Islamic nationalist groups. This interaction among different spaces- national, regional, global- such as this transversal discourses among factions opposed to each other in the past, makes possible to redefine the Arab nationalism, a slow and progressive political recomposition that starts to reorganize the political situation, and it  breaks with the limits of the XX century.


From “political agreement” to the unitary dynamics

Today the pro- Marxist left, the Arab nationalisms of different tendencies, and finally the central factions of political Islam seem to collaborate very strictly. In the past it was not so: in the years the different kinds of Arab nationalism differed from the factions coming from Muslim Brothers because of their repressive politics, both in Nasser’s Egypt and in Hafez el- Assad’ s Syria. The political Islam, in his strong phase of 1980’s, after Iranian revolution in 1979, was characterised by direct repressive politics against left- wing groups, when they enchained its development and entered in important sectors in the world of university, politics, syndicates, associations: in Lebanon, the Hezbollah hit physically, all along the 1980’s, the militants of the Lebanese Communist Party, when it deals with having the majority in the resistance in the south of Lebanon. Two of its best intellectuals, Mahdi Amil and Hussein Mroue, were assassinated by two militants near to the Islamic movement.

In Palestine, the groups growing in the galaxy of the Muslim brothers, which were going to give life to the Movement of the Islamic resistance (Hamas) in 1986, hit in the same way the militants of the FPLP and of the PPP. The doctor Rabah Mahna, who is today the negotiator of the political Bureau of  the FPLP in the inter- Palestinian discussions, and who is regularly engaged in finding agreements rather with Hamas than with the Islamic Jihad, was for example the victim of a tentative of murdering by some militants of Hamas in 1986. But the vision that he has of the Islamic movement is determined by the actual political reality and not by the one of the past: talking about Hamas, he underlines the points of progress and stagnation, they both combines each other according with the political situation: “We had a certain progress in Hamas. After 1988, it transformed itself step by step from an organisation like Muslim brothers in a movement of Islamic national liberation. Then we led Hamas to take part in the OLP, of being a movement of national liberation in the OLP. But its last not- recognition of the OLP was a suspect for us (…) We will not put under pressure Hamas, and we accept it as a current of the resistance, and secondly as an elected government. But we do not want Hamas to be closed in a closed ideological vision like Muslim brothers: for this the global and Arab political forces which sustain Palestinian cause but that do not agree with the full of Hamas political program or with a part of it, they have to help us to make it coming out of a closed vision and continue their evolution. If we isolate them, they risk to return back, to return to an fundamentalist movement, like before 1988 [4].”

If in the past there were conflicts, the different ways of opposition between nationalists, Islamists and radical left can historically be relative to a series of discursive and ideological                     dynamical passages of militant circulation among these three fundamental political sectors of the Arab world: the sociologist Maxime Rodinson remembered that between the Arab nationalism, Islam and Marxism existed  a meeting, which favoured the circulation of ideas and practices: “the necessary doctrinal incompatibility of ideologies ceded to different ways of conciliation when the considerations about international strategies led to a will of friendship between the two movements (communists and Muslims). There is a debt toward communist ideology from Muslims when we look at the origin of their ideas, also out of this friendly attitude. […] When we go further, there normally is a reinterpretation of Muslim notions, ideas, symbols like equivalents of current communist ideas and notions. The operation is often made by communists that want to led to an alliance. When the engagement of reinterpretation is particularly forced, we arrive to what we defined political agreement. Maybe the expression can be generalised to signify a systematic group of reinterpretations [5].”

What Olivier Carré named “median sectors” between religion and nationalism [6] can be noticed all along the century both in the naissance and in the development of these three currents. The generation of the founders of the Palestinian national movement and of Fatah- Yasser Arafat, Khalil al Wazir, Salah Khalaf-, was very near to the Muslim brothers, all along the 1950’s and the 1960’s. The same Nasserism is not outside, in the first years after the revolution of 1952, from a complex relationship with the political Islam. We can add to these personal paths a reutilisation and a systematic reinterpretation of the different kinds of religious or political discourses by a group of movements, a permanent circulation  of the semantic and conceptual classes. For instance, a little after the revolution of 1958 and the power of Abdel Karim Kassem, the Iraqi Communist Party (ICP) did not exited to refer to the doctrinal fundaments of Schism. The revolutionary perspective was associated, in the discourses of the ICP, to the millenarian and messianic fundaments of Schism, while the heads of the Party strongly played on the nearness of the terms shii’a (Schist) and shouyou ‘i (communist in Arabic). About the term “socialist” (ishtârakii), it was largely used and transformed by some heads and ideologues of the Muslim brothers like Sayyid Qoutb or Muhammad al- Ghazali, in the perspective of an “Islamic socialism”.

So, we are assisting from about a half of a century to a dynamic and continue circulation of a political vocabulary. This says what the same ideology suffers some complexes processes of passage, rent and reinterpretations, always moving when they are put in the praxis of the political dimension. The temporality of the nationalism of the countries of the third- world is actually a political differenced temporality, where past, cultural traditions and ideological heritages show the constituting principals in the national consciousness: the anti- colonial nationalism is a hybrid space, in interaction with the elements of the political modernity, but at the same time criticizing them through the recuperation, the recycle and the reinvestment of elements taken from the past. The “political agreements” between Islam and nationalism corresponded to a political and ideological actualisation of Islam, which was at the moment  rather a survived element of the past than a living and practical inherited cultural element in interaction and in permanent union with the political present, also when it was essentially laic. The anti- colonial nationalism, historically funded on a series of political agreements, is not the contrary of modernity, but its reprise and its modification in the particular context of a space which feels itself dominated both politically and culturally.

The decade of 1980’s is essentially marked by the growing and the spectacular passage of Marxists militants, often Maoists, or Arab nationalists, toward political Islamism. It is very evident in Lebanon, where, when the OLP is more and more led to left the Country of Cedars, and where the “Palestinian- progressive [7]” axle disappeared under the strokes of internal divisions and Syrian pressures, some young heads entered in Hezbollah, born among 1982 and 1985. It dealt about the majority of fighters of the Student brigade, the Katiba Tullabiya, a military body linked to the Palestinian movement Fatah, which was engaging itself more and more in the Islamic military resistance of the “Party of God”, or in other Islamic structures, under the effect of the Iranian revolution.

The experience of this left- wing tendency of Fatah which was born at the beginning of the 1970’s, is very interesting: much before the Iranian revolution, some young Palestinian and Lebanese militants searched to articulate Islam, nationalism and Arab Marxism, this proves that the relationship among these three elements was already said. Saoud al Mawla, now professor of philosophy at the Lebanese University of Beirut, old member of the left- wing tendency of the Fatah, passed to Hezbollah in the 1980’s. Then he left it. He explains: “In the 1970’s, we started to deal about the struggles of Muslim peoples. It was a mix of Arab nationalism and Islam, or better of Arab- Islamic communism, of Arab- Islamic Marxism. We chose to do as the Soviet Muslim communists of the 1920’s: Sultan Ghaliev. And we started to study Islam. From that point on we started to apply Maoist principles: you have to know the ideas of people, to be interested in the people, to what he thinks… You have to know people’s traditions. And we started to be interested in popular traditions, in popular ideas, in everything which constituted people’s life. And Islam shown itself as the fundament of this society, it was able to mobilize it. And it was in a militant practical sense, to take and reuse some factors which could mobilize people in the struggle. In this way we approached to Islam: starting from Maoism, from a theoretical point of view, starting from daily experience (...) For that, when Iranian revolution arrived we were already here. And it was not based on ideological or religious elements. That is, we saw in Islam a force of civilisation of politics, a civilising current, which can unite Christians, Marxists and Muslims, like a reflection, an answer, a path of struggle against imperialism, to give a path of struggle, to renew our approaches, our ideas, our political practices [8]”. If in the 1970’s we find a theoretical and political reflections  of some militants about the articulation of Marxism, Islam and nationalism, the decade of the 1980’s, marked by political regional and ideological effects of the Iranian revolution, and by the hegemony of the political Islam, does not give space to these elaborations anymore.

At the occurrence, the 1990’s broke and the mute system which had sawn the alliance between the political agreement and the violent opposition was more and more transformed in a unitary dynamic, where the political agreement is reached through a process of tactical alliances among different currents. Actually, with the war of the Golf, the tentative to put rules in the Israeli- Palestinian conflict throughout the Madrid Conference and the International Agreements of Oslo in 1993, with the end of the bipolarisation East- West and the reunification of Yemen, a world ends. The revolutionary and nationalist phraseology has not a good life, both Islamist or Marxist; it is no more stranger in the progressive abandon of the messianic and third- worldist discussion by Teheran regime, under the pressure of the new President Rafsandjani.

The political situation is changed. It deals with defining in what there was a triple fail: political Islam, Arab nationalism, left. Anyway, the Arab political field is being reconstructing itself from the pieces of the big utopias and of the multiple mythology of the ending century. Dynamics are no more unilateral: if, in the 1980’s, they took political and social delusions of the Arab world, after 1991 we assist to a bigger interaction and to larger transversal movements of political dynamics: now left, nationalism and Islamism are in a complete process of ideological and programmatic re- elaboration, with crossing of issues and they are in front of a feeling of fail and impasse of the Arab world.

Firstly, we can see it in Palestine: a little after the Oslo agreements, in October 1993, an “Alliance of Palestinian forces” was constituted, composed by elements which had broken with Fatah, but mostly by the Marxist FPLP and by Hamas [9]. Some progressive contexts of discussion are created among nationalists, Marxists and Islamists: the Al- Quads foundation, with an Islamist leadership, and mostly, the Nationalist and Islamic Conference , launched in 1994 by Khair ad- Din Hassib’s Centre of studies for Arab unity (CSAU), in Beirut, which reunites every four years, destined to find political and tactical points of agreement, and to redefine links, also from an ideological point of view in the left, nationalism and Islamism. CSAU also organised, in march 2006, in Beirut, a General Arab Conference to sustain the resistance, where the principal direction of nationalist, Marxist and Islamist (the Hamas and the Hezbollah) organisations was strongly represented.


National issue and democratic issue

After 2000, the rhythms of the political recompositions among nationalism, radical left and Islamic nationalism became faster: under the hit of the Second Intifada and the American intervention in Iraq, the tactical convergences among were stronger. They mostly are about the national issue and about “occupations”, from Palestine to Iraq passing through Lebanon, but also about the united denunciation of American and Israeli politics.

So, the alliance is signed in a practical field, and not in a theoretic one: at the time of the “Thirty- three days war” between Lebanon and Israel, in July and August 2006, the Lebanese Communist Party (LCP) reactivated some of its armed groups in the south of Lebanon and in the area of Baallbeck, and fought near to the Hezbollah. In some villages, like in Jamaliyeh, where three of its militants are dead after the attack of a repelled  Israeli commando, it was the one which could take the military and political initiative, even if the Hezbollah is the official political, military and symbolic head of the war. A Front of the resistance was created, being constituted essentially by the Hezbollah and the nationalist left, from the LCP to People’s movement guided by Najah Wakim [10], passing through the Third force of the old First Minister Sélim Hoss: funded on the principal of the right to resistance and defending the principal requests coming from the Hezbollah, that is the liberation of the Lebanese prisoners in Israel and Israel coming back from the Lebanese territories of Chebaa and of Kfar Chouba, this Front’s common characteristics are the national issue and the position towards Israel: this was not, for instance, a pro- Syria front- also because the Communist Party has a long tradition of struggle against Syrian authority and its presence in Lebanon.

But the tactical agreement about the national issue does not let to talk firstly about the “political recomposition”. So, we have to know if the tactical agreement can be transformed in a strategic agreement and if it can comprehend a vision of a future society, State, economical politics. Here the transformation of the Arabic scene seems to be deeper: from 2000 to 2006, the series of political agreements between left, nationalists and Islamists was more and more enlarged to some issues, that is a new situations respect to the alliances of the 1980’s and of the 1990’s.

Actually, the national issue let to make a series of conceptual, practical and political passages from field to the other: in Egypt, the denunciation of American and Israeli politics hidden a latent but explicit critique to the regime of the President Moubarak. Slowly, the situation of the mobilisations about Palestine and Iraq made a series of transversal movements bear, leading to the democratic issue: some campaigns of denunciation of the extraordinary law of 1982 in the elections of the syndicate in November 2006, which saw Muslim brothers, the radical left of the group Kefaya and the Nasserians of the movement al- Karamah ally to each other to contest the majority of the list coming from the Party managing the power, the Democratic National Party, passing throughout the campaigns to sustain the protesting movement of the Egyptian judges, who had denounced the electoral fraud in May 2006. The theatre of the action and of the alliance passed slowly from the national issue to the democratic one.

In Lebanon, the People’s Movement, the Nasserian popular organisation, Sunni, whose head, Oussama Saad, is a depute of Saïda, the Arab popular congress of kamal Chatila, a Nasserian organisation, are the centres of the protesting movement  started by the Hezbollah and the Free Patriotic Current of the General Aoun in December 2006, a movement finding his voice in the left- wing movement al- Akhbar: the mobilisation of the opposition still touches the national issue and the “arms of the resistance”. The common traits among the factions which compose the opposition against Fouad Siniora’ s executive touch rather the reform of the electoral law and of the confessional system, then a State economic politics of the regulator kind, or Keynesian, without doubting about the mechanisms of the market: options which are not the ones of the actual parliamentary majority, marked by ultra- liberalism [11]. A new example is the paper al- Akhbar, left- wing daily paper near to Hezbollah, whose first number appeared in August 2006, and which actually searches to create theoretical and political bridges among left, nationalism and Islamism. The LCP, that year by year created a kind of alliance with Hezbollah, sustains the opposition about the fall of Siniora’ s governments, considered as pro- American. Anyway, it does not hide that its alliance with Hezbollah and the other parties of the oppositions is a critical support: for the LCP, Hezbollah programme is not radical enough, both on the political and economic field, to transform the Lebanese system, based on political confessionalism. Ready to make a unitary front, it does not hide his critics to Hezbollah, but in a different way than in the 1980’s: now, it deals about defining an independent left- wing politics ready for a complementary relationship and an exchange with the Islamic Shiite movement.

Today, the national issue is in extension: while in the 1990’s the alliances among left, nationalists and Islamists was based on fixing a common enemy, Israel, the long- lasted collaboration among these currents ends in a widening of the field of the political action that goes from the national issue to the democratic one, and from the democratic issue to the one of the State, of institutions and of the social form to adopt. The “political agreement” and the mediations among the organisations and the currents were more and more transformed in a dynamic of unitary action, that, if it is very little theorised and conceptually thought, takes a sure space in the daily political practice.

This political recomposition is not independent from the political dynamics of the world, with an alterworldist movement put in the political panorama, but also with the appearance of a left- wing nationalist pole in Latin America, symbolised by Hugo Chavez and Evo Morales. An Islamic- nationalist movement like Hezbollah thinks its net of alliances on a third- worldist model: Hassan Nasrallah does not end with referring to the Venezuelan president, and his organisation invited, with the Lebanese Communist Party, about 400 people delegated from the worldwide left and from the alterworldist movement in Beirut, from November 16 to 20 2006, in a Conference of solidarity with the resistance, whose final act stated three strategic points: the national issue and the struggles against occupations, the defence of the democratic rights and the protection of the social rights [12].

These dynamics of political recomposition today are not rightly considered: the Lebanese issue is thought only in the Iranian and Syrian prism, not considering the internal dynamics of the Lebanese political society. Hezbollah adopts a third- worldist speech, based on the opposition north- south and Mustakbar (arrogant) [13]/ musta’adafin (dominated), some heads of the Muslim brothers cannot decide between their alliances with the left and their defence of the market economy. Like Olivier Roy wrote, “the play of alliances  (of Islamists) goes towards two possible directions: firstly, a coalition based on moral values, and, secondly, an alliance based on left- wing valours (anti- Americanism, alterworldism, rights of minorities), where the line of differentiation will be the issue of women [14].”

Today the same issue of women is subjected to a debate: in Lebanon like in Palestine, feminist associations born in the left have no more problems to organize campaigns with the associations of Islamist women, mostly about the right of work and the denunciation of violence against women. For Islah Jad, a Palestinian feminist militant and a searcher of the movement of women in Palestine, it does not deal with opposing laic women to Islamist ones, but with developing a secular and radical feminist speech talking and working together with the heads of the Islamic movement: “Islamists admitted that women were persecuted and that they were victims of the social oppression, they put the responsibility of that on tradition and not on religion, we can make them evaluate. According to them Islam asks that women organise themselves to free their country, that they have to be educated, organised and politicised, active to develop their society. The paradox is that there is the 27% of women in the organisation of the Islamic party and the 15% in the “politburo”, more than in the OLP (…) As I said, the fact that Islamist women do not search to construct their speeches on religious texts gives a possibility to laic women of influencing the vision and the speeches of Islamists, of avoiding blocks. We cannot demand our rights isolating them from the political context. It is a very important step to establish a relation of confidence between laic tendencies and Islamist ones. The fact that Islamists accept to say that women are oppressed opens some perspectives about the decisions to make society evaluate. There will always be ideological and political conflicts, and we wish it. We will never totally agree, but, according to me, laic women can weight in the ideological debate with Islamist ones [15].”

This practical interaction between Arab left, nationalism and Islamism, if it is new and now accepted by syndicates, associations, and also in the electoral and in the military field, we are still at the beginning. Some agreement points about the national question, the democracy and the defence of the social rights do not still constitute a very lightened and stable body to know to which point this alliance can arrive. So, there is a gap between practice and theory: the political agreements have been deepened, but there is not, in the intellectual and theoretical field, a definition and an elaboration of a common language. The alliances remain mostly in the practical field, and there is a lack of theoretical lines and of a process of homogenisation. Another time, Lebanon is like an exception. In the last period there is still a disjunction among the national spaces: the strongest alliance between the left, the nationalists and the Islamists is today in Lebanon, in the tentative of defining what the left and Hezbollah call: a “society of resistance” and a  “State of resistance”. In Palestine, the alliances between the FPLP and Hamas, for instance, are far from such a deepening, because there is not any confidence between the two organisations. In this case, the agreement FPLP/ Islamic Jihad is totally established. In Egypt there is a diffidence among the Muslim brothers and the left- wing current. The issue of the political recomposition and of the new alliances working in the Arab world is far from being secondary: actually it reorganizes the face of the Pan Arab nationalism, and could finally represent an important strategic bet for the actual regimes, but also for USA and for European powers. The opening of the Islamic- nationalist movement on its left could actually open a very important strategic and international chance for the new mutating Pan Arab nationalism: it could end in an international recreation of a new third- worldist and nationalist pole, as said in the red manifestos attached in the streets of Beirut after September 2006, which saw together the three portraits of Nasser, Nasrallah and Chavez. It does not deal with a left- wing Islamism, it does not exist. But it is about comprehending that the development of an Islamism open on its left and its national dimensions change the political theatre, and long processes of political, strategic and ideological recomposition start. The last twenty years saw the political referents of Islamism augmenting, with a de- territorialized fundamentalist Islamism on the model of Al- Quaida model, the submission of a Islamic neo- fundamentalism to the laws of market, the apparition of a Turkish governmental Islamism nearer to the consensual model of the Christian democracy of the 1950’s than to the one of an Islam considered as a model of State. Even if it is at the beginning but in huge development, the naissance of an Islamist pole open on its left rather than on its nationalist and Arab dimensions is a political phenomenon able to recompose in a lasting way the political scene of the Middle- East.




[1] Fatah, National Movement of Liberation of Palestine, is the historical organisation of the Palestinian nationalism. The FPLP (Popular Front of the Liberation of Palestine), and the FDLP (Democratic Front of the Liberation of Palestine), are the two principal organisations of the extreme left. Hamas (Movement of the Islamic resistance) is the fist Islamist organisation, if we talk about militant forces. In the end, the PPP (Palestinian Popular Party) is the old Communist Party.

[2] Then Jamal Samhadana has been executed in an operation under the protection of Israel in June 2006.

[3] Some Lebanese sources accuse directly the Hezbollah. But today some masters of the Communist Party remain the doubt subsisting, and they do not exclude the thesis of a murder led on Fundamentalist Sunnites groups.

[4] Rabah Mhana, member of the political office of the FPLP, interview with the author, Paris May 2 2006.

[5] Maxime RODINSON, “Rapport entre islam et communisme”, Marxisme et monde musulman, Seuil, 1972, pp.167-168

[6] About that, cf. Olivier CARRE, “L’ Utopie islamique dans l’orient arabe”, Presse de la Fondation nationale des sciences politiques, 1994.

[7] The line that we called « Palestinian- progressive » is constituted by some organisations of the Lebanese left (Progressive Socialist Party, Organisation of communist action in Lebanon), and some Palestinian forces in Lebanon (Fatah, FPLP, FDLP). In the 1970’s, it was opposed more than the others, in the theatre of the civil war, against the Christian armed branch, the Lebanese Phalanges.

[8] Saoud al Mawla, interview with the author, Quoreitem, Beirut, March 27 2007.

[9] These organisations are united on the principle of the unconditioned refuse of the Provisory Agreements of Oslo, signed in 1993 by the leader of the OLP, Yasser Arafat.

[10] The Movement of the People is a left- wing Arab nationalist organisation. Its leader, Najah Wakim, old Nasserian deputy of Beirut, is a national political figure, very known for his campaigns against corruption.

[11] The point of view of the opposition against the reform of the Lebanese system on a model of “strong and just” State can be comprehended throughout two key- documents: firstly, the Mutual Understanding Document between the Hezbollah and the Free Patriotic Current on February 6 2006, and, secondly, the common document produced by the Lebanese Communist Party and the Free Patriotic Current: How to resolve the political crisis in Lebanon? The common points between the Communist Lebanese Party (PCL) and the Free Patriotic Current (CPL), December 7 2006.

[12] The opening sitting of the Conference, on November 16 2006, in the palace of the UNESCO in Beirut, has been the symbol of the progressive convergence among the global left and the alter-worldist and Islamic- nationalist movement: among the opening relaters there was Mohammad Salim, member of the Indian Parliament and of the Indian Communist Party, Gilberto Lopez, of the Mexican Democratic Revolution Party, Victor Nzuzi, farmer and leader of a Congolese syndicate, Georges Ishaak, head  of Kifaya and militant of the Egyptian  left, Khaled Hadade, General Secretary of the Lebanese Communist Party, and finally Naim al- Quassem, Added General Secretary and number two of the Lebanese Hezbollah.

[13] The opposition Arrogant/ Oppressed recalls directly the Iranian revolution of 1979, but also the Shiite doctrinaire principle. In the political vocabulary of the first period of the 1979 revolution, the couple Arrogant/ Oppressed signified the opposition between poor and rich, but also between the colonised south and the “imperialistic” north. This categorisation was adopted by the Mullahs near to Khomeini and by left- wing and nationalist groups.

[14] Olivier Roy, “Le passage à l’ouest de l’ Islamisme: rupture et continuité”, Islamismes d’occident. Etat de lieux et perspectives , under the direction of Samir Amghar, Lignes de repares, 2006.

[15] Islah Jad, inteview with Monique Etienne, Pour la Palestine magazine, March 2005.




Nicolas Dot Pouillard

Searcher of doctorate in political studies at the EHESS (Paris) and at the Lebanese University (Beirut).


Taken from the site