Socialists of Middle East: Interview with the Lebanese Communist Party

BURCU KARAKAYA

Beirut, 26 March 2017

The Lebanese Communist Party is going to celebrate its 93rd year in one of the most multicultural, multi-ethnic and multi-religious countries in the Middle East. While the political scene in the country is being dominated and determined by various regional actors, the party also struggles to overcome the ethnic and religious boundaries that surround it. What follows is a long and honest interview [1] with Habib Fares, member of the Central Committee-International Relations, at their party headquarters located in the heart of Beirut, Hamra. From their position in the Syrian War to Hezbollah and the current political developments in the country, Habib Fares gives us a very detailed account.

Can we start from the party’s foundation? We know mostly about the party’s relationship with Kamal Jumblatt [2] since it was widely discussed but we would also like to refresh our knowledge regarding the party’s history.

We celebrate this year our 93rd anniversary. 93 years. It is actually, if not the oldest party in modern times, it would be one of the first political parties in the country, and as you know Lebanon and Syria were together then. When it was first established it was the Lebanese-Syrian Communist Party. Now, it is a communist party, the name says it all. When it was established, it was the people’s party and originally it was established by trade unionists from different sectors. Trade unionists who were influenced by the October Revolution on one hand. And because of French colonialism, there was some influence by the communists and socialists in France, so this was a combination.

At this point may I ask about the party’s relationship with The Comintern?

Yes, we were members of the Comintern. It is a Marxist Leninist party. We were members of the Comintern, we had our name in all the international umbrellas, international women’s organizations, the international trade union movement, the international youth movement. Of course in those days, it was being sponsored by the socialist countries, the Soviet Union. I mean still in existence but it is not as influential as before. Would you like to get me back to a little history of our party? You mentioned our relationship with the Socialist Party led by Kamal Jumblatt and now led by his son Walid Jumblatt. By the way Kamal Jumblatt’s socialist party and Walid Jumblatt’s socialist parties are different. Different leaderships. Kamal Jumblatt is not like Walid Jumblatt. And our relationship with those two different leaders is different. At one stage Kamal Jumblatt, although he was part of the regime in Lebanon, he was more progressive and is responsible for many reforms in the regime and also shows support to the working class through some courses. But the party’s legitimacy came when Kamal was minister of interior. Besides this relationship, in 1958 he played a role in the uprising in Lebanon and you know they called it the revolution. It was a revolution against the other part of the regime on international and Arabic local issues. At that time there were divisions in the whole regime, there were sort of regional forces where one head was Saudi Arabia and the other was Nasser in Egypt. And there were political parties that wanted political struggle and our government in Lebanon was following the imperialist line. The pro-imperialist, pro-American, pro-Saudi government at that time was trying to draw Lebanon into those agreements like the Baghdad Agreements and they were involved against that. Kamal Jumblatt was the leader in Lebanon of this revolt, it was actually a military revolt and our party was also a part of it. Since then, our relationship with Kamal Jumblatt further developed during the civil war which took place in 1975 and you know it was over at the end of 1980s and of course Kamal Jumblatt was the head of the patriotic front and we were an active part of this broad left-wing pro-Palestinian umbrella and we fought the civil war together, with the Palestinians, with the PLO, against the that act that started against PLO. So it had multiple ends and we stood together with Kamal Jumblatt. And of course he paid the highest price, he was assassinated in 1977, two years after the civil war started.

Walid Jumblatt took over the party. The socialist’s party’s main base is a sort of sector. It ıs founded as religion-based among the Druze minority but Kamal Jumblatt was wider than his sect. Actually he was wider than Lebanon. He was a real part of the Arab national liberation movement. Of course his main base in the area is the Druze because they historically support his family and when he died, Walid took over. The party was still there, the socialist party. And the direction of the Walid Jumblatt where… He is very much a demagogue, Walid Jumblatt you cannot tell where he aims today politically. Like he is a main part, the main player of the regime. Verbally he supported the Palestinian question — like all of them they talk pro-Palestinian, pro-Liberation, and pro-progress – but practically he is part of the sectarian-religious regime, sectarian religious allies with the bourgeoisie within this country. He is a part of that. Jumblatt the father was part of it but he was a rebel. Even when he was in it, he was reformist, in the parliament, in the street, publicly, in the media, in his policies and the political party, too fell on this line. Now, of course there are some forces within the party that are progressive but they are sort of ruled by some narrow sectarian rule, they cannot do much about the party but they are not influential, the influence is really for the sectarian and religious forces and Walid Jumblatt is narrow about this issue. He left the patriotic front after his father died and he went to that line. Now, we are still in the party, cooperate with some elements in the socialist party, particularly elements in their youth organization but we do not have much to do with Walid and we are not responsible for that. Walid Jumblatt does not want to know about the left, he went to the right. Now we can say a lot about our relationship with them but I guess we have limited time.

So, about the Jumblatt assassination, there are some articles from your party saying that they were assassinated by the Assad regime.

Well, I cannot remember who said it because everybody said it at the time in the headlines. We had a daily paper then and we had a weekly magazine and monthly magazine also. Quite frankly at that time, all the headlines of our media had it. Anyway, at that time there was a clash between us as a patriotic, national movement, together with the PLO from one side and at that time the Syrians sided with the right wing in Lebanon. At that time all our media says that Syria assassinated him but it is not the issue now.

Yes, I was about to ask…

Because it is not the issue, everybody in Lebanon knew that at that time but it is not the political issue to open especially in the current situation in Syria. So, yes, I can confirm that our party said the Syrians assassinated him but I would not advise it especially in Turkey, because right now it is a complicated issue, because when you mix Jumblatt and the Syrian assassination maybe the right wing media in Turkey can use that, just to further their attacks. Yes, we are critical of the Syrian position but right now we do not see the benefit of opening that front. You killed Jumblatt, you killed others of course, some of those killed were our comrades, but it is not the issue.

So, how do you evaluate your relationship right now towards the Syrian war and Assad?

This is a very hard question. We as a party, we are an anti-imperialist, anti-Zionist party. And we know the main threat to the Arab people in the future, against progress in the area, is the Americans and Israelis and pro-American and pro-Israelis including in our country. When it comes to the regime in Syria, long before the revolt in Syria, we criticized the regime; we are not supporting the oppressive regime, we are not fans of some reforms, neo liberalism reforms of Assad, we are not fans of that. However, right from the beginning we thought that a change in Syria is the responsibility of the progressive people of Syria and we didn’t support any militarization of the struggle. That was our position from the beginning. We are critical of the oppressive methods that are used against the demonstrators but also at the same time we didn’t think that changes should be militarized. You know the rest of the story, you know the interference of the international-reactionary forces the including your government and the Arab reactionary regimes supported by the Israelis and the West in general. Now we believe that this situation in Syria especially now is not just about reform in Syria, a change of regime in Syria in favor of the progressive people and the progressive movement of Syria. We think that it is a part of general plan for the region to further divide countries and peoples and create struggles on the basis of ethnic and sectarian issues. Right now, we call our broad political position, right now we are calling for the end of military struggle, for all the people to sit down at the table and to negotiate for the unity of Syria, for a change towards an anti-imperialist and anti-Zionist government. We are not for just any government, we can also see the direction, you know the neo liberalist elements within the opposition in Syria. We want Syria to be united, anti-Zionist, anti-imperialist, we will call for freedom and progress reform in Syria. This is our position right now. Now, the trick is to say you are with the Assad regime or against, it is a very tricky question. It is a, you are probably facing the same situation. We know the aims of these forces within Syria, Iraq and even in Turkey, and tomorrow maybe Lebanon, and Palestine, is to undermine the Palestinian question, to create instead of the Arab-Israeli struggle to create Arab-Arab struggle or religious sects, Shia against Sunnis, Kurds against Turks, on an ethnic or religious basis. We totally oppose that, we think that they are sort of new sides to be part of the arrangement being planned not only for this country, for this region. And you are in Turkey that is not far away?

Well, actually my government both implicitly and explicitly supports some reactionary forces in Syria.

This is very well-known by our party, by our people. Lebanese people are very politicized people. We are following what is going on in Turkey, we know the oppressive methods being used by Erdogan especially; he is going towards dictatorship actually, towards presidency, control of the country. Of course he is a major player in the aggression against the people of Syria and Iraq, no doubt.

So in the current Syrian situation, what is your point of view about the existence of the Kurdish forces?

Look, in principle our party, the Communist Party of Lebanon, is a pro-Kurdish party. Historically we support the cause of the Kurdish people and we believe they have major rights being denied over decades if not centuries by different regimes, starting from Turkey, to Iran, to Iraq and to Syria wherever they are. Now, these rights, they are similar to the rights of the Palestinian people. In our view they are political, economic, social, cultural rights, no doubt. But right now, I think historically like the Arab national liberation movement, the Kurdish national liberation movement, historically was not only defeated many times, but also they paid some price for their leadership policies. Especially when they listened the promises of the colonialist and imperialist forces. You know the history, you know more than I, the Kurds being promised a state just before the end of the first world war, they were promised their own state and they sort of accepted and… Now of course with this battle in the region, the imperialist and reactionary forces, they try to give them the carrot to involve them in a cause which is against their own cause. Now, in general I would like to see the Kurdish people united in the Kurdish liberation movement, united with the national Arab liberation movement, including in each country of the Arab world. Within this framework, we believe that the Kurds have their own rights. For in Syria as a party we are for their rights, for their legitimate rights, within a sovereign and united Syria. We don’t support any divisions in Syria on ethnic or religious basis. And in Iraq, too. They should play that role and to fight on two fronts against imperialism and Zionism and against dictatorship. Now we support in principle the Kurdish people’s rights including what you call it, including autonomy. The leadership of the Kurdish people is responsible and they should be really careful to know who their ally is and who their enemy is. We support their autonomy right but not independent states. Not independent states, right now, at this stage. This stage, the future will show what the Syrian Kurdish people decide, what belongs to them, what the Iraqi Kurds decide, what belongs to them. And we want them to have their own voice in the government in Syria and to play their part as the Syrian people.

Similarly, how do you evaluate the position of Iran in the Syrian war?

It is as tricky as the first question. Now, objectively our party believes that any anti-imperialist, Zionist forces would weaken these forces, objectively our allies. Nevertheless, we have to see the interest of each government in our region and take that into consideration. We are against any attack by the Americans or Israelis against Iran. We are for their independence, for their progress, for their rights. But we, at the same time, we like to be on the level of mutual respect between our people and the Iranian people. Now, towards the Palestinian issues we see their support of our people against the Israelis, it is a very progressive side and move. But we also see some elements that we are cautious about when it comes to a big part of the struggle based on religion issues. This is also a future threat to our people, to the Iranian people, to the people in the region.

So considering these, how do you evaluate the current policies of Hezbollah, the Lebanese Hezbollah?

Well, a very hard question. Look, Hezbollah, their policies and their existence is as a result of Israeli oppression. That is a fact. Hezbollah is not a group of terrorist people. Hezbollah represent a wide section of the Lebanese people. They represent them, truly represent them. They are those people. They are within the people. The resistance of Hezbollah did not come from Iran, alright Iran supported the Hezbollah. But Hezbollah is Lebanese people, our people. Now, on the issue of anti-Israeli issues we are together with Hezbollah. However we have differences with Hezbollah when it comes to their position about the political regime, about political issues in the country, social changes. We have the slogan and the policy that liberty does not just belong to the land, it also belongs to the people. They cannot liberate just the land if you do not liberate the people that live on that land. Now, as a matter of fact this is one of the issues we had at our congress, our 11th congress early in this year in late April. And we discussed these issues and we came to this conclusion that with Hezbollah or any other forces, we work together on the struggle against the Israelis but also we want them to part of the movement to change this regime.

However the problem is maybe you know, Hezbollah is a part of the regime. On one hand they fight the Israelis, they need to fight the Israelis, on the other hand they are part of a government, which in our view this government represents the bourgeoisie. Many forces in the government are pro-American and even pro-Israeli. They have different behaviors on different issues, but they are not part of the struggle that we are in, democratic changes in this country. On the political front neither on the social issues. We are socialists, they are not. They talk about anti-corruption. We want them to fight more within the government against corruption. We are fighting these issues in the streets. Probably if you followed in a few weeks we will have activities in Beirut, right now we have a demonstration in Tripoli. We are fighting on two lines, one political and the other social and economic. Now Hezbollah is not part of this struggle. They have some policies which are better than some other political forces. For instance, on the electoral system, which we are calling for a change in this system, I will talk later about those fronts but on this they are closer to our position than others but not as close as rejecting their ideological background and position. We are a secular party, they are not. So when it comes to the secular changes in the reforms in the regime, they are not going to stand by us. Now, as I said, if tomorrow there is an attack on Lebanon, an Israeli attack, we are hand in hand with them, we are fighting together. But we are not fighting against them one hundred percent but we are fighting against their block. They are part of a block within this government and within this regime. So our fight for reforms, politically or socially, it is directed against them whether we like it or not. We call upon them, come to the street, fight with us. Of course if they do not want, they are responsible. But we crossed with them on many issues on many policies but we are the opposite on others and that is how we deal with the all other different political forces in this country. There are many other policies in which we find ourselves in with them, we side with them on some points just as I mentioned in the example of Jumblatt’s party. The other day they just supported our demonstration, their youth, we do not keep them out. We work together but against their policies, their party’s policies, and their leadership policies.

So I would also like to ask, you know there are some rumors about Hezbollah making money from the African diamond trade…

Now I hear the news like you do. Only a couple of days ago or yesterday I heard that one businessman was stalked in Morocco and kidnapped actually to the United States because of supporting Hezbollah. Now there are sources saying he is not supporter, some of his family, I saw him last month on the television, are saying that his mistake is that he is sort of in a business struggle with some Zionist element or something like that…

What about the thesis that Hezbollah is now creating its own bourgeoisie by using the money coming from Africa?

Its own bourgeoisie? I would not say that, I would say that Hezbollah has got their own economic cycle within Lebanon, within the community they are influencing. Namely their Shiite base, they have their own economic cycle, like they have their own hospitals, they employ people, they have their own schools, and it is like that fellow in the United States, I mean the activity within the community. But I say bourgeoisie is a bourgeoisie. I am sure that there are people within Hezbollah that are part of the Lebanese bourgeoisie, probably own banks or invest in all sort of different fields. They are not representative of the workers, or the peasants or any exploited class. Hezbollah does not believe in the class struggle, they believe in the second life. They focus on a different point, it is not in their interest I believe. But we, we work on a joint basis, with our people. We are fighting on the same field, in suburbs and the people that they address are the ones we address and we tell the same people, you are struggling against Israel, we are together on that. We have to struggle against the other enemy who is the bourgeoisie who exploit all of us. You know it, I mean, every organization in the world invest to finance their party. And but the focus on Hezbollah and finance is a very… it is very pathetic actually. Where all of them finance Daesh and other terrorist forces, I mean they all finance them. Now, why are they talking about Hezbollah on this issue, it is not because they… It is not innocent, it is a part of a struggle that Hezbollah is a terrorist organization. We do not believe in that, Hezbollah invests in Africa or elsewhere, ok, get finances from Iran but what about Saudi Arabia and Qatar and the others who support Daesh and other organizations. Now I am not supporting the policies of Hezbollah, I am not defending Hezbollah but what I am saying is in this struggle all elements are used in the battle, including this element: finance. It is not just about Hezbollah, they are about undermining the anti-Zionist, anti-imperialist forces because if they want that, the American or the reactionary forces, they want to eliminate that and if they are serious about it, they would do it with other terrorists, the real terrorist organizations.

How do you evaluate Russia’s position in general?

Look, quite frankly, Russia is not the Soviet Union for us, it is a capitalist regime and where the Communist Party of Russia is our fraternal party struggling against the Russian government. So it is not a socialist regime of course. If it is not a socialist regime what is it? Capitalist. Now, when we talk about imperialism, again this is tricky. Why? Because, now we as communists oppose the single hand domination internationally. We oppose that. For Russia to be part of multiple great forces in the world, we think this is plus, this is progress. In that sense, of course we want Russia to be stronger, to be able to say stop to major imperialist countries. We do not believe that they are socialists, but believe that such balance of power internationally would be of benefit for the struggles of the workers on the whole. We don’t want the world to be run by the United States of America. In that sense, we see any forces, including Iran, if they are fully independent and strong, it is a joy, the orchestra of domination instead of one source, one domination, and it is progress. We hear some people, a lot people, some of our supporters we hear them talking about Russia like they are talking about the Soviet Union, especially when it comes to their position in Syria for instance. Now, Russia is a country, being run by capitalism, capitalist classes, Russia has got its own interest, Russia is not a free society. They have their own interests in the region. Now, if they come across with the progressive movement here or there, of course. And I think when it comes to Syria, their role in Syria, we see that this will shift the balance in Syria towards a better solution than just leaving in Syria fully divided in the hands of pro-American, pro-Zionist forces. So I am not, say, with this line or that line.

I am now closing the topic about the international atmosphere but before asking my question I would like to give an example which is very similar in Turkey and Lebanon. You know we had the Gezi Park protests in 2013, it was a massive protest in Istanbul and spread to many cities of Turkey. So after these protests, all the leftist movements had internal discussions among themselves about like whether this movement was a middle class movement, whether this was the movement of the precariat or some other new forces. What I want to ask is, after protests in Lebanon, did you have a similar discussion and how do you evaluate the development of the working class in Lebanon?

Even before these latest protests, it is an issue always discussed within our party and amongst the leftist and progressive people, generally speaking. Well, ideologically or the reality is there are a lot of changes that have taken place long before the collapse of the Soviet Union and the nature of the working class and the changes within the working class. Where there is progress, in the forces of production and we all, all the communist movements long before the collapse of the Soviet Union, were discussing this issue and how we develop Marxism Leninism and how we come to conclusions on how to deal with the struggles. Now, of course we don’t talk much about the proletariat as has been talked about in classical Marxist Leninist writings. Now we are talking about the people who sell their arm working… Where you consider, I mean, this as classical is if you work using your muscles, it is no longer an issue. Working or the means of production is one thing, and working and being exploited by the boss is another thing. Now, on that level I consider if that is the question you asked me about the nature of the struggle, anybody who does not exploit others are within and/or with the working class. So you do not have to be in a factory to be a worker. Now our struggle these days, similar to your struggle, the best achievement we have in our struggle are the people, the majority of the people who took to the streets are not the workers in that sense. They are working, they are teachers, they are public workers, they are employed in banks, in private and public institutions and they are using the pen and the paper. And they have their voice so we cannot any longer talk about only some, you know, this still really exists, some sections within the communist movement in every country you find that sectarian mentality. Who still talks about the proletariat as we are in 1905 or 1917, it is no longer. We appreciate what the movement did in Turkey and all these things as much as we appreciate what we are doing here. Our citizens a major role, youth, employed… all of them are the forces of change, it is not just the proletariat.

Now, I would like to ask a little about the party’s current strategy. Do you have a particular focus right now and could you please tell us more about it.

Of course, I will start with the slogan of our last congress. We call for a democratic, secular, and resistant state. That is the name. We want to defeat this religious regime. And we want real democracy in Lebanon. So this is our major slogan for the coming term. We are not calling for socialism tomorrow but we are working towards socialism and this will go in stages. First let’s have a real, democratic state in this country. Democratic. Now they say that Lebanon is a democracy, a real democracy. But if we talk about full terms, there is no democracy. Democracy for the rich, not for the people. And in all senses, starting from the electoral system, towards unemployment, towards any sector. Democracy talk. When you challenge them and when they feel the threat, they send you the military or they send you some of their supporters to hit you in the street. That is what is happening in here, in the middle of Beirut. Our policy right now is on these two lines. We are focusing on the real electoral state and that is one side on the political. On the social, economic issues we fight for better wages and for ending corruption, for employment, for the youth and we are… Actually just two fronts and you cannot divide them. So when we go to the street for electoral action you see slogans against corruption, you see slogans for a better wage and a real increase in wages. Now we have a real problem that for the last 12 years we did not have a budget. And for the last 12 years, all the public sectors in the country especially the teachers, they did not get any wage increase while banks are making billions of dollars yearly, they all have sort of concessions given to them. We are fighting for them and their rights. Their wage is not enough. Prices are up, wages down. This is a major battle that we are fighting and leading actually. Our new general secretary he was the head of this movement when hundreds of tens of thousands of the people… took the head of this movement, our general secretary. We are also fighting for the political reforms within the regime, especially the electoral system. We had in Lebanon electoral systems changed since independence and it changed many times. They changed it to suit the ruling class. They changed borders, numbers… to suit the ruling class, the same people, the same parties since independence and still now they are ruling the country. Now we have a parliament that twice extended its term and we are supposed to have elections this June and not a new electoral system. We are in this fight where people vote outside of religious borders, for a real system representing the voice of people. Because it is not just our party, other forces will have voice in the parliament. Can you believe that there are some groups or political parties in Lebanon they would not win one percent of the vote, yet they have MPs in the parliament. We probably have five to ten percent, probably more than ten percent nationally, we do not have one person in the parliament. Now we fight in this battle and we are really forcing all of them to a crisis. Now they are in a crisis, Lebanon is in a crisis, they could not decide on what electoral system they would have, because they are fighting for each ruling party fighting for how much they get out of such a proposed electoral system. That is why they are in such an electoral crisis because on this basis they cannot reach even that. They are fighting each other, arguing and fighting for an electoral system. So this is what we have, it is not only to have the votes of all people in the parliament, it is also to break religion’s barriers between the people and to break that sectarian culture that is being developed amongst the people and within their own parties. So, the two fronts are indeed one and we are fighting in these two battle. Social reforms and political reforms. And we hope in that we will get some, every day we see that support for our slogans is growing and growing. We had just after the party congress, within one week of the party congress, we had the municipal elections in Lebanon and we fought a good battle with other organizations. So, with other progressive elements and independents we faced many major parties in many municipalities, we won seats and we got probably 30-55 percent in some areas and up to 40 percent in some villages, it was a big achievement and we are seeing the continuation of this. But I wish you were here last weekend. Last weekend there was two major demonstrations in Beirut along these lines. Anti-capitalist and anti-political-sectarian.

You organized the demonstrations?

No. We are playing a major role. We have one demonstration… We started. The first demonstration we were under the communist party of Lebanon flag. We called for it and started it. But then we saw support from outside of the party. They joined us, not as political organizations, but individuals. From all variety of political organizations, including some reactionary political parties. Some of their supporters joined us. No we started on this front, a couple of demonstrations conspirative, and then others joined and others started calling us to work together. We called them to work together and then last weekend… There was one in front of the central bank called by the communist party, the other one was wider at Saraya Palace, in the middle of the arena. Now the one that we had, Saturday, it was directed against the banks. It started from the central banks, moved to other banks. So what is the essence of this? We are against the ruling class. The other one was general, we are trying to not just bring people with us but also to create a sense of class struggle at the expense of general political respect. There are reactionary elements, parts of this government, they are trying to jump over the way, trying to take the slogans. They cannot go in front of the banks because they are part owners of the banks. They cannot say we are part of this movement. Some political parties who are part of the bourgeoisie want to steal the movement, we are trying to stop them by directing together against the capitalist class on one hand and against the government on the other.

Is participation in these two different demonstrations equal?

Well, Sunday was bigger. The one for reformism in general, anti-corruption, new electoral system, this one was wider. Each organization interprets differently or wants different things. Our strategy is to first bring the people to the street, even their own people and then slowly bring them out and let them join the real struggle which is the class struggle.

What is the biggest challenge right now for the party?

For us right now the biggest challenge is to win at least the new electoral system, some changes. We cannot hope that they will respond to all our demands but any gain on this front would accelerate our movement and also to adopt public sector reforms, for wage increases, in the parliament. If we achieve here or there it would accelerate our struggle. And it would be a victory. But the struggles are not going to stop there. This is not the end of our struggle. Of course winning this challenge, the challenge of uniting and we are hoping to bring to the street the widest, united public movement, that is what we are aiming for, to have that real change in the regime. If we win these battles on the road, even on Election Day, we are going to use Election Day as a tool towards that strategic aim to have a wide range of public movement that can really make a change within the system.

What about your youth, the work of the party’s youth?

You might get surprised that the youth organization in our party are at the front of our movement. These demonstrations on Saturday, it was called up by our youth sector in the party. They proposed the demonstration to the party at the party bureau and told them ok, not the other way around. That is how influential our youth organization is and you might get surprised if I tell you that we have a really young committee. The age range of our party members in the central committee is very young, you might find Ahmad and myself as one of the oldest. We have a good youth organization and this youth organization played a major role in our eleventh congress last April. We are learning from our youth and also use social media. We widely use it. Our youth sector two days before the demonstration rang the general secretary of the party and said, we are doing this and got the response “go ahead”. They have autonomy. Of course they are not organizationally independent but they are not controlled. So they have the green light from the party.

Do you have a message for the Turkish people?

For the Turkish people we stand by the Turkish people. We don’t support Erdogan’s measures to further control the country. We of course do not support the tyranny, the dictatorship of Erdogan. As we do not support any fascist in any other country. And we see Erdogan’s measures, we see the internal policies of Erdogan’s are the complement of his external policies. He is doing it wrong outside of the country and he is doing it wrong within Turkey as well. These two elements are together, they go together, and they are not separated. You support terrorism outside? You only get attacks against your own people inside. So we consider this, the whole drive for the presidential system and the referendum… Yes or No. If I was in Turkey I would vote “No.” This is our party policy.

[1] The grammar mistakes and incomplete sentences are deliberately left unedited in the interview.
[2] Kamal Jumblatt who died at the age of 59 was a key political figure in Lebanon. He was the founder the Progressive Socialist Party (PSP) and called the first convention of the Arab Socialist Parties in the name of the PSP in 1951.He was seen as the leader of the Leftist- Palestinian alliance and was oppose to the interference of the Assad government in the Lebanese Civil War. He was killed in 1977.

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