Workers Party (Tunisia): “About the Second Wave of Revolutionary Processes in the Arab World.”

At the end of 2018 some Arab countries experienced the outbreak of popular uprisings which formed what is now called the “second revolutionary wave”, which followed the first wave that broke out in late 2010 in Tunisia and spread to other countries. The second wave began in October 2018 in Algeria after the ruling party (FLN) revealed its intention to run President Abdelaziz Bouteflika for a fifth term despite his disability and incapacity to govern. After a few months of respite, the movement resumed again and continued from February 22, 2019 and spread to all the major cities of the country.

This was followed in October 2019 by insurrectionary movements in Lebanon and Iraq against the deterioration of the living conditions of the populations and especially against the religious sectarianism imposed by the former colonizers and which continues to taint all aspects of life including the political power structure. The outbreak of the popular uprising in Sudan against impoverishment, the marginalization of the popular masses, but above all against the tyranny of dictator Omar Al Bashir and his regime, would crown this new revolutionary cycle.

Even if the two waves have many similarities in terms of direct or root causes as well as results, the differences between them are significant. They concern the paths followed, the destinies and the social and political forces involved in one and the other wave. That is why special attention must be paid to these different aspects in order to derive maximum benefit from them, both to improve the processes under way and to gain experience for the battles to come, both in the Arab world and everywhere else.

  1. The second wave is a wave of popular revolutions.

Ina the country of a million and a half martyrs (during the revolution for liberation from French colonialism), Algeria, a country with immense natural resources, notably oil and gas, a popular movement broke out in October 2018 and rapidly developed to mobilize millions of people in the capital and in all the major urban centers. This time, the movement was not motivated by social reasons as was the case in 1988 during the “revolt for bread” that the military regime had stifled in blood. This time the demand was political: to reject Bouteflika’s candidacy for a fifth presidential term. The masses thus touched on one of the taboos of public life in the Arab countries, that the people have no right to speak out even if the situation is “tragic”, as in the case of Algeria where a corrupt military bureaucracy monopolizes decision-making power, while hiding behind an invalid “civilian president”, thus forming a mafia that holds the reins of power.

Bouteflika and his regime, surprised by the movement, tried to divert it through demagoguery by claiming that he is listening to his people and would give up power after six months, after a general national dialogue on the transition. But the determination of the Algerians was such that they imposed on Bouteflika not only the withdrawal of his candidacy, but his immediate resignation, the cancellation of the announced date for the elections and his last appointments to the State apparatus. Then the movement, which was able to bring along large popular masses, was able to develop its demands and slogans centered on political freedom, the fight for a civil and democratic State, the neutrality of the military establishment, the fight against corruption and for the redistribution of wealth. Students, lawyers, doctors, the unemployed and women actively participated in the movement, and trade unionists took the opportunity to open the files on corruption within the union federation (UGTA – General Union of Algerian Workers), whose leaders have always been in the pay of the government in office.

The movement took the form of weekly demonstrations: on Tuesday by the students (and at one point with the participation of lawyers, doctors, etc.) and on Friday (part of the weekend) by the popular masses. Although participation in the movement decreased after the organization of presidential elections in early December 2019, which were won by Abdelmadjid Tebbounne, supported by the army, the country’s most powerful institution, the movement, after the active and widespread boycott of the elections, remains committed to its slogans and demands, including the rejection of the symbols of the old regime.

In December 2018, following the disappearance of bread from the market, the Sudanese in the capital, Khartoum, went out to protest, but the military regime cracked down on them. This was the trigger for a process of popular protest, which took hold of the demands of the masses and transformed the demand for bread into a demand for freedom, then to the more radical one: the departure of the regime in power, explaining that there would be neither bread nor freedom under this regime, but only on its ruins.

Besides, the Sudanese people have a long history of fighting against the regime of Omar Hassan al-Bashir. He is a soldier who came to power in 1988 through a coup, as well as a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, which is all that is necessary in the Arab world to establish dictatorial power. For three decades, the country experienced partition (the secession of the south), ethnic, racial and sectarian civil wars, tyranny, corruption, terrorism and impoverishment. The people have opposed this with struggles and uprisings that ended in fire and blood. December 2018 was a historic period, a period of no return, in which the people, with bare hands, gave up a still unknown number of martyrs for the overthrow of the dictator. The insurgent masses created the structures necessary to organize the struggle and take advantage of the ever-increasing forces that joined it. To this day, the people are still a main actor on the Sudanese political scene, despite the maneuvers of the counter-revolution represented by the Islamists and the military and their tireless work to abort the revolution and its achievements.

Before the end of October 2019, massive protest movements broke out in Lebanon and Iraq, protests against the unpopular measures in the budgets for the new year, 2020. In Lebanon, these demonstrations were called “WhatsApp demonstrations” because the first demand was the cancellation of the new taxes on communication services. This arbitrary fiscal measure taken by the Lebanese government was only the trigger for massive and unprecedented popular demonstrations. Indeed, this country is governed by fragile balances between religious sects which were the origin of a devastating civil war between 1975 and 1991. This only ended with Taif Agreement, signed under the auspices of Saudi Arabia among the belligerent parties and establishing a division of power among the main religious denominations. Thus, the three main posts are distributed as follows: the President was to be a Maronite Christian, the Prime Minister a Sunni Muslim, and the Speaker of Parliament a Shiite Muslim. Indeed, the forces that dominate the political scene are parties based on religious sectarianism led by traditionally influential families. Also, even the resistance to the Zionist occupation is marked by this problem, since its main component is the Shiite party “Hezbollah”. Previously, it was the Communist Party that formed the backbone of this resistance. At the time of this writing, the movement still retains its zeal despite the fall of the government of Hariri, one of the largest barons of economic and financial corruption, and despite the formation of a new government on the same basis of religious sectarianism, although it claims to be independent.

The uprising of the Lebanese people has succeeded in going beyond this sectarianism and has embraced all the social and political demands of the popular masses; it rejected the class choices of the government in office and the sectarian structure of this power and the party system. Thus it laid the bases of the struggle for a civil and secular state.

This represents the same demands raised by the Iraqi uprising, which broke out at the same period and in a similar context. It has been subjected to the repression, terrorism and assassinations that have left hundreds of dead and thousands wounded, committed by the police and regular army, and by militias affiliated with the parties in office called the “Hachd al-Chaabi” (units of popular mobilization), which often intervened as if they were regular forces. However, the Iraqi uprising maintains its momentum in Baghdad and in the other most important cities, even in Basra, bastion of the dominant religious political forces, the Shiites, who constitute the majority of the population, the majority in Parliament and monopolize the position of Speaker of Parliament.

The different cases mentioned are models of revolutionary processes that have common characteristics but also particularities that distinguish each experience and each country. These models find their root causes in the material reality experienced by the working and impoverished masses, who suffer not only from poverty and destitution, including in two oil countries (Iraq and Algeria), but also from repressive and corrupt regimes. These built their thrones on exclusion, marginalization, authoritarianism, religious sectarianism and the use of religion in the exercise of their power, and dependence on global monopoly capital and its institutions of pillage (the World Bank, International Monetary Fund, European Union, etc.). All of these causes, which have reached their peak, were only waiting for a trigger to create this new wave of popular movements, which have broken out over several months and which continue today despite the repression, the conspiracy and the immaturity of the subjective factors.

2- The particularities of the second revolutionary wave

The first wave ended in the failure or ebb of most of the revolutions due to the absence of revolutionary leadership at the head of these processes. They began peacefully, taking advantage of the decay in the economic, social, political and cultural situation experienced by the poor, the workers and the popular classes in all the Arab countries. This region is truly a typical case of the contradictions of the world capitalist system through a clear paradox: it has a significant share of the world’s wealth, particularly in oil, gas, agricultural potential, etc., and at the same time, the living standards of the Arab peoples are the worst when it comes to indicators of growth and development. Indeed most of the political regimes in power are hereditary, corrupt, and despotic monarchies dependent on the imperialist powers. Their economies are based on profit in oil, which is also the main pillar of corruption; meanwhile the masses live in misery, poverty and illiteracy, against a background of religious sectarianism and ethnic rivalries. The first revolutionary wave found its objective material basis in the living conditions of the peoples, classes and popular strata, but the subjective element stood out for its weakness, and even its absence. This is true in many cases, as in Libya, where the parties and all forms of organization had been banned since Gaddafi came to power in 1969. The greatest weakness was the role played by the working class and the poor peasants, as well by their weak presence on the ground, as well as by the weakness of their union organizations, which were either totally absent or in collusion with the leaders and the reactionary classes. The revolutionary and progressive forces suffer from a terrible weakness in most of these countries, due mainly to the fact that they were repressed or prohibited before these uprisings. Often their role was limited to supporting these struggles without being able to influence or lead them.

This factor played a decisive role in the failure of these movements, whether by the ability of the regimes to retake the initiative and control the situation (as in Morocco, Mauritania, Bahrain, etc.), or by their takeover by the reactionary movements of political Islam (especially the Muslim Brotherhood), which tried to dominate the movements of the masses because of their human and in particular material abilities compared to those of the progressive forces. The situations in which the Muslim Brotherhood took part in the movement degenerated either into civil wars (as in Libya, Syria and Yemen), or it allowed them to come to power as in Egypt or Tunisia. In Egypt, their victory in the elections opened the door for them to initiate a new religious dictatorship against which the masses very quickly rose up. But it was the army that took advantage of it to regain power through a coup d’état under democratic garb. As for the Tunisian case, and although the Muslim Brotherhood won various successive elections organized since 2011, the presence of the revolutionary and progressive forces and of an active trade union and civil movement meant that the revolutionary process was able to continue with moments of ebb and flow. It was even able to gain some victories relating to the substantial change in the nature of the power enshrined in the New Constitution approved by the Constituent Assembly, and to establish public freedoms, which remain threatened, despite everything,. Hence the need to continue the mobilization and accumulation of political, social and civil society forces to bring about a change in the balance of forces and demand the realization of the objectives of the 2011 revolution.

Thus, the first wave ended with the intervention of the regimes in power and regional and international forces, which transformed the uprisings into reactionary civil wars. These supported the terrorist and obscurantist forces and dismantled the fabric of the societies that have engaged in religious sectarian conflicts (Yemen) or in proxy wars for the benefit of the reactionary, imperialist and Zionist regional forces (Libya and Syria). They also helped to take back the gains of the revolution by a despotic, puppet regime that normalized relations with the Zionist state, namely the Egyptian regime.

The first wave failed, and the conditions of the masses became worse than they were, and it cost the people dearly, because the regimes took advantage of this failure to further stigmatize the ideas of revolution, change, democracy, freedom, etc. which, according to their propaganda, have only given rise to terrorism and civil wars. Therefore, it was not easy for a new revolutionary wave to begin. But the material conditions of the masses continued to deteriorate and the objective reasons for the revolution continued to develop. This explains the trigger of a new wave at the end of 2018 in four countries, which have taken specific paths, marked with success. and setbacks. The latter arise in particular from the subjective element and the absence of revolutionary leadership, a necessary condition for the success of revolutions.

We will now begin to analyze each of these models to make clear their strengths and weaknesses.

2-1. The Sudanese Revolution: its trajectory, motive forces and prospects

The path of the Sudanese revolution is similar to that of the Tunisian revolution if we consider the ascending progression of demands, going from partial to global, and from social to political which squarely posed the question of power by chanting the slogan “the people want to overthrow the regime.” On December 18, 2018 the people only demanded bread for the students of Khartoum and its inhabitants; despite its legitimacy, this demand was savagely repressed. The regime knew that “the cauldron was boiling”. After only a few days, the streets of Khartoum and the country’s largest cities were crowded with angry masses who raised the bar with their burning demands related to jobs, prices and better services. When the repression intensified, the slogan became simply the overthrow of the regime that had been stifling the country for three decades. The Sudanese people have demonstrated a remarkable capacity for dedication, sacrifice and resistance to the military dictatorship of the Muslim Brotherhood.

The revolutionary forces played, in a certain sense, an important and active role, during the outbreak and development of the revolution. From the start the revolutionary forces, formed in the heat of struggle and action after Omar Al Bashir came to power in 1989, joined the movement. The Sudanese Communist Party played an active role in the people’s struggle and in the unification of these progressive political, social and civil forces. The party created and contributed to the creation of various organizations. With the parties of the left, the Nasserist and Baathist nationalist parties, it founded the National Consensus Forces (made up of 10 organizations). These are parties which came together on the basis of the common struggle for revolutionary change, and for the unification of forces against the fascist military junta since 2010. The Forces of Freedom and Change united the most important left and liberal opposition forces for the common struggle for democracy and a civil state. This coalition includes the Sudan Call (12 parties) / the Consensus Forces (10 parties) / the Unitary Coalition (7 centrist parties) / and the Civil Coalition. After the overthrow of Al-Bashir, the Centrist Current and the Republican Party joined the movement.

In addition to these political fronts, the Communist Party actively contributed to the creation of the Association of Sudanese Professionals, which is a broad coalition of unions and professional organizations (lawyers, doctors, students, academics, etc.). Thus, the (political and trade union) branches are playing an important role in the whole revolutionary process, and the Forces of the Declaration for Freedom and Change (FDFC) were the political leaders on the ground of the Sudanese revolution. They provided the protesters with slogans, plans of action and programs of response. The masses came out at their request and under their direction, and they organized sit-ins, strikes, civil disobedience; even the general political strike was under their guidance. The Sudanese revolution was not limited to these organizations, but it also used as organs of alternative power the “resistance committees”, created since 2013 in the midst of the struggle against the regime. They returned to action in early 2019, in particular in Khartoum and Omdurman. These committees mainly consist of young active people united in a sort of horizontal organization whose final objective was to overthrow Al-Bashir.

These committees have taken charge of tasks of neighborhood security, and those dealing with police repression. In addition, the resistance committees played an important role in the month-long sit-in outside the headquarters of the General Staff with the “Kendakat”, a space for the gathering of women, to activate their role. This is important and vital in a society dominated by tradition (Kendakat means in Sudanese Free and Powerful Woman). These combined conditions enabled the Sudanese people to overthrow the tyrant, but not without the ultimate and decisive intervention of the military. This intervention somehow reflected the inability of the revolutionary forces to completely change the balance of forces in their favor. The revolutionary movement maintained a peaceful character, and this attitude is understandable in a country plagued with civil wars and racial and ethnic pluralism, in which armed groups abound, in addition to its military regime. The orientation of the masses towards the military establishment was due to the power of this institution, which sums up the whole history of contemporary Sudan, which is nothing but the history of successive military coups (including that of 1964, in which the Communist Party took part.)

The revolution succeeded in convincing many officers and soldiers to rally to the people, but the army leadership remained loyal to Al Bashir. Then when it was convinced by the determination of the street, it dropped him, paving the way for a new process that was no less complicated, especially in terms of the organization of power that the army wanted to monopolize. But the determination of the people imposed the exercise of power within the framework of a sovereign council composed equally of representatives of the army and the civilian forces, while the presidency would rotate between the two bodies. Subsequently, a legislative council would be established to draw up a new constitution. It would be made up of representatives appointed by the different forces participating in the revolution. The progressive forces opted for this solution (and not for general elections) because, according to them, the conditions were still not right for a free and democratic electoral process. Indeed, general elections could allow traditionalist and even reactionary forces to advance, given the state of consciousness of the overwhelming majority of the people, a large part of whom suffer from illiteracy and subjection to tribalism, etc. Similarly, the political struggle is still raging today between the forces of the revolution and those of the counter-revolution, including the leadership of the army. Certainly, the Sudanese people have won important achievements such as political freedom, and the beginning of the dismantling of the apparatus and organs of repression of the overthrown regime (militias, paramilitary organizations, unions and organizations, parallel agencies, etc.), as well as the cease-fire in areas of tension (Darfur, etc.) with the aim of reaching comprehensive and just peace agreements. However, the real battlefield today remains the economic and social front. Added to this are the regional and international relations of Sudan, which include attempts to normalize relations with the Zionist enemy, the realignment of the old regime behind the Qatari / Turkish / NATO axis, and its involvement in the war in Yemen and the sending of thousands of soldiers under the Saudi / Emirate order.

The decisive element in the Sudanese situation is the continued imbalance in the relation of forces between the social classes which, despite a certain improvement for the popular classes, continues to tilt in favor of the ruling classes and the army, which shares power with the civilian forces and which continues to put pressure on them. Great efforts remain to be made by the Sudanese people so that they return to the struggle once and for all and not be satisfied with the gains made that are constantly threatened. In particular, it must continue its struggle to break ties with imperialism and the reactionary forces (the Gulf States) and definitively stop attempts to normalize relations with the Zionist enemy.

Despite the importance of the Sudanese revolutionary process, and the creativity of its progressive forces, including the Communist Party, whose political approaches to the challenges of the revolution have remained correct overall, they still need to undertake the hard work of propaganda and organization within the working class and peasantry, the only guarantee to preserve the gains of the revolution and to sweep away the counter-revolutionary forces. The latter continue to play a leading role on the social and political scene (mainly the army leadership and certain traditional bourgeois forces), or they are hiding temporarily because they were overthrown by the revolution, essentially the Muslim Brotherhood against whom the people rebelled.

2-2 The Lebanese and Iraqi processes: the particularity of their demands and the radicalization of their practice

The particularity of the revolutionary processes in Lebanon and Iraq lies in the question of democracy. In these two countries, power based on many religious sects and tribalism is a fundamental characteristic, due to the reactionary policies adopted by the dominant system. Parasitic classes proliferate, profiting from the resources of the multi-religious state. Paradoxically, the mode of production is distorted, as nowhere else in other countries of the Arab world. This mode of production, which seems modern compared to feudalism, continues to maintain a particularly reactionary superstructure whose fundamental principles are solidarity within the family and the tribe, and the importance of the patriarchy, the ethnic and religious origins. These are the foundations of feudalism with which these two societies have not yet broken.

This duality of religious affiliations (Sunni / Shiite) continues to be a dominant character of all Arab societies. Especially since ethnicity has become a trump card that systematically interferes in the class struggle, in regional or international political struggles. Saudi Arabia, the leader of the Sunni world, and Iran, the leader of the Shiites, constantly intervene everywhere, and plot using the religious trump card, etc.

Lebanon and Iraq are considered “multi-ethnic” countries, and they are often the scene of internal wars in which the Sunnis are supported by Saudi Arabia, and the Shiites are supported Iran, while the popular masses are abandoned to misery at all levels.

We must recognize that revolutionary struggles have always existed since the beginning of the last century. The so-called “communist” parties played a decisive role in the national struggles, among others, as well as in the trade union and democratic struggles. They are today a main actor in the popular movements. The Lebanese Communist Party has a glorious and long history in the national struggle, and despite the recession of the 1990s, it has always been at the head of the protests that began in Lebanon in October 2019. The party and its organizations had an active role on the ground, and even had influence on the movement which allowed it to transform partial social demands into political demands, denouncing the ethnic and class character of those who hold power. The masses who gathered in the streets were no longer content to demand the fall of the government in office, but they demanded the end of the reactionary religious sectarian system that had taken over the state apparatus since the “Taif agreement” signed in Saudi Arabia in 1990, which ended the civil war. This agreement created a concept of governance that made it possible to guarantee the interests of an oligarchy based on the family and ethnicity, and which enshrined the domination of the local classes; it even transformed the country into a zone of conflicts among the forces of the region. The Lebanese revolutionary process was characterized by the taking over of public places and the targeting of symbols of power such as the presidential palace, the government, the parliament and the big banks. One slogan prevailed in the whole popular movement: “Down with the government of the banks”. This followed the decision of the central bank not to pay wages and to only pay a small sum to the employees, an amount to be determined by the director of the bank and his management; they were the target of popular anger, sometimes even more than the symbols of the government.

The movements in Lebanon as well as in Iraq were able to overcome ethnic barriers; they were able to bring together large populations belonging to all ethnicities and religions, from different cities and various sectors. The insurgents in both countries focused their efforts on the organic link between the class system and the system of ethnic governance on the one hand, and the misery of the great popular masses on the other. Thus, the slogan “the people want to overthrow the regime”, which was a central slogan, did not mean only the government in office, but the entire ruling economic, social and cultural system, a system that condemned these two countries to remain at the mercy of corruption, despotism and tribal councils. The movements of the countries succeeded in overthrowing their successive governments, but a deep political crisis remains in the two states. In Iraq the reactionary ruling classes could not agree on establishing a government. In Lebanon the demonstrators, despite a massive police presence, were able to prevent a majority in the parliament by preventing the entrance of deputies. Parliament had to elect a government without a quorum, which was considered outrageous and indicative of a deep political crisis. The demonstrators did not stop their protests against the measures taken by the government on the order of the IMF. The popular masses in the streets are demanding the overthrow of the new government and the appointment of another government from the popular movement. That government would be called upon to completely overhaul the system of governance, including the dissolution of parties based on tribalism, and to prepare democratic elections which would enshrine citizenship and which would break completely with the old system. It seems that in Iraq as well the forces of the left which joined the popular masses from the start and which work to organize them, are posing the same demands as in Lebanon.

It is entirely correct to recognize that the forces of the left in Iraq are not united, and that the “Communist Party” itself has not been faithful to its glorious past. In 2003, it supported the invasion of Iraq by U.S. imperialism; after the fall of Saddam Hussein, its secretary general was even part of the government called the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) created by Bremer; it also participated in the whole process that gave rise to the current situation. The Communist Party has lost popularity, its impact is less important, some currents have left it, etc. These currents are taking part in the mass movement, trying to leave their mark, especially in the fight against religious sectarianism and tribalism. In this movement, organizational structures have emerged, as in Lebanon; however they remain shaky. In both cases, the progressives are learning lessons from the Tunisian and Sudanese experiences. In Lebanon, a “grouping of professionals” has been created (under the influence of the experience of the Sudan) to unify the trade union and social forces which have been weak and limited from the start, and which suffer from the domination of religious sectarianism. In Iraq, sectoral and regional coalitions and alliances have been formed to support the trade union movement, which in fact has a leading role in the movement.

The militant impact remains weak, however, despite the role played by the Lebanese Communist Party, the left circles with various factions, and especially that played by the intellectuals and artists. As for Iraq, on a subjective level, and despite the importance of the movement, the Communist Party and the left currents could be easily infiltrated by local or regional forces which have influence, in order to make use of the party in the struggle against Iran by targeting their agents, now in power.

It must be recognized that the revolutionary processes in Lebanon as well as in Iraq differ from the Sudanese prototype. They are gaining momentum, they are continuing, and are in the process of achieving gains by strengthening the secular and progressive current, and also by courageously confronting religious sectarianism, something which, a month ago, seemed impossible. Now, demanding a democratic and secular state has become a popular slogan. Being able to keep the popular movement peaceful is in itself very important, in a regional governed by the chaos produced by arms, and by the violence of regional and international interventions (such as in Syria). The popular masses have not forgotten the need to free the Lebanese territories invaded by the Zionist entity, the expulsion of the U.S. invaders and the withdrawal of their bases from Iraq; they have also not forgotten their rejection of Saudi and Iranian interventions. The political situation in the region is very fragile, and the revolutionary forces must redouble their efforts to achieve their objectives. One of the most important tasks is the emergence of a revolutionary vanguard from within the popular movement. It is imperative that the revolutionary forces in the region, and also at the international level, take up their responsibility in the face of what is happening in order to rectify the situation and protect the revolutionary processes.

2-3 The Algerian model: strengths and weaknesses

From the start, the Algerian movement was fundamentally political. The popular masses demonstrated against a fifth term for President Bouteflika, who wanted to renew his candidacy for the presidency. This candidacy which would have undoubtedly led him to return as head of state in view of the stranglehold on the State apparatus since 1962, the date of its independence. The rulers until the 1980s were prominent names in the army. But since the “democratization” of Algeria in the early 1990s, civilians have headed the executive, civilians manipulated by the will of the military. Bouteflika was one of them. Having become old and half-paralyzed, he remained president for two decades. The Algerians in the various regions of the country took to the streets, which created a great unease in the government. Even the intensity of the repression did not quell these millions of people who protested, and the army, as the real decision maker in the country, proclaimed themselves responsible for the security of the demonstrators. The mass movement was able to succeeded in not only forcing Bouteflika to withdraw his candidacy, but also to resign before the end of his term. He had to resign without even waiting for the organization of national coalition, which was to result in the amendment of the constitution to limit the president to two consecutive terms. Following the resignation of Bouteflika, a historic moment for the country, the popular masses continued the struggle for the implementation of fundamental reforms in the system of governance, and also into questioning the economic and social choices that exist. The movement was able to mobilize very important sectors, and the slogans that were chanted had a deeply political and progressive content. What characterized the mass movement in Algeria was the rejection of parties. It did not want the participation or support of parties, and there were even attacks on certain leaders of political parties. The presence of Islamist forces (either pro-government or in the opposition) was almost non-existent at the start of the movement. The Algerian movement had a horizontal organization through the fundamental sectors which took part in it such as students, lawyers, judges, doctors, etc. After that, the popular masses organized the Friday actions, in which a very large number of people took part, including those who go to the mosque regularly. At the same time, the students, and to a lesser extent the elite sectors, continued to organize the Tuesday actions, demonstrations that began in universities, the courts, the places from which union activists left, etc. Until not long ago, these movements were able to preserve their breadth despite differences among the participants; they were also able to maintain the clarity of their slogans, which revolved around putting an end to the system of governance and the establishment of a civil and democratic state. The question about the protest movement was: who was in the leadership? We assume that certain forces behind the movement reflected a struggle of clans that existed within the ruling classes. This is perhaps the most important weak point which undermined the left movement, whose unity was already very fragile. The left movement, organized in different factions (Trotskyist, Social-Democratic, etc.) is itself weak and disorganized. Just think of the woman leader of the (Trotskyist) labor party, who rotted for almost a year in prison as part of the fight against the corruption of the Bouteflika clique. She was found innocent and released after being sentenced to 15 years in prison in the lower court.

The Algerian movement, despite the legitimacy of its demands and its ability to mobilize a large segment of the population, was a movement without a vanguard and without a clear program. These were weaknesses which have been well exploited by the reactionary forces in order to divert the movement from its initial aim, which is the struggle for progress and democracy.

3- Where is the revolutionary process in the Arab countries going?

The Arab world is not the worst regions in term of the situation of the people, nor in terms of its reactionary political systems, even less in regard to imperialist domination. But it seems that the Arab world is the worst region in terms of the weakness of the revolutionary and communist forces. Outside of Tunisia and Morocco, where there are revolutionary Marxist-Leninist parties, parties of combat, most of the parties in the other countries of the region that were formerly communist have disappeared or have allied themselves with the ruling system as did the former communist parties of Tunisia and Morocco. Other parties continue to be active by adopting points of view in agreement with the interests of the popular masses, as in Lebanon; despite its decrease in followers, it continues to hold radical positions. We can say the same thing about the Sudanese Communist Party, which despite monumental errors (support for the coup of 1963 and that of 1983, etc.), it has always stood on the side of the popular masses, and we consider it to be a fighting party, especially since the rise to power of dictator Omar Al Bashir in 1989. It has since known how to preserve the flames of resistance by playing a central and glorious role in the revolution. We can say without hesitation that the Lebanese and Sudanese parties have played an essential role in the revolutionary processes in these two countries. The fact remains that the weakness of these parties and of the revolutionary fronts show the absence of Marxist-Leninist organizations which would not have hesitated to push the revolutionary process to the end, and to mobilize all the political and logistical resources.

These revolutions are a ray of hope in a rather dismal Arab world. Just as the Tunisian revolution gave the signal to other revolutions in some of the neighboring Arab countries, the Sudanese revolution is the signal for a second wave, more radical, more careful, with a clearer vision. These are revolutionary processes in which the Islamists did not take part, processes which targeted the ruling systems of governance in Sudan, Lebanon and Iraq (religious parties in power). These revolutions have a democratic aim, totally opposed to the ethnic and religious sectarian system. These are revolutions in which progressive and revolutionary forces have participated in varying degrees. These are revolutions in which women have been particularly active in a cultural and civilizational environment that continues to exclude women from the public sphere.

Despite the difference between the two revolutionary waves, the most important common point is the weakness, if not the absence, of the revolutionary vanguard, to the advantage of the disorganized forces of civil society for the most part. These have a limited view, not looking for fundamental reforms such as the overthrow of the relations of production based on exploitation, and not seeking to change the political system.

In the midst of these two revolutionary waves, the Palestinian revolution still continues to shine, despite its great weaknesses.

Ali Jellouli

Workers’ Party of Tunisia

Categories: Tunisia

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