Palestine in a war where masks have fallen

At the same time as they dealt the Palestinian movement very hard blows, the latest Israeli aggression in Lebanon and the events that took place in that country during this period, brought down the masks of many of the forces linked to the Palestinian and Lebanese peoples’ movement, making the reality more tangible for everyone to see.

Revolutionaries in the region should be aware of these realities and learn from the rich experiences of the events in Lebanon; this is an important step forward that they have to take in order to advance the anti-imperialist struggle in the region and neutralize the imperialist plots.

In this booklet, we have tried to provide the Iranian fighting forces with the most important points of the Lebanon experiences. Let us hope that by using these experiences, the fighters of our country will continue their relentless struggle against imperialism and its watchdogs with greater awareness and vigilance.

With faith in the victory of our path
Fedayeen Guerrillas of the Iranian People
Oct-Nov. 82

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For the FEDAYEEN GUERRILLAS OF THE IRANIAN PEOPLE, it is no longer necessary to prove how their struggle in Iran is related to the struggle of the Palestinian people in the Middle East. In fact, the struggle of the Palestinian people is no longer an issue that concerns only the Palestinians supported by the other peoples of the Middle East in an internationalist solidarity. This struggle is the struggle of all the peoples of the region, and the political conditions and material relations have created a situation where any fighting organization in the Middle East must analyze the problem of Palestine as a problem that concerns it and have a clear position on it. Especially today, when the PLO leadership has shamefully and cowardly fled before imperialism and its watchdogs, with its head down — leaving the Palestinian people and the Lebanese revolutionaries alone at the mercy of the executioners — the sense of responsibility of the revolutionary organizations of the peoples of the Middle East towards the Palestinian people and their revolution, takes on a double importance. If the Revolution in the Middle East proves to be capable of drawing lessons from the events of the last three months in Lebanon, and of using them in theory and practice, one can dare to claim that this apparent defeat was a great victory for the Revolution on the scale of the region, and the blood shed on the soil of Lebanon can make the tree of the Revolution in the Middle East bear fruit more than any other blood shed in this region. We must analyze this experience decisively without any consideration for any force and not let our emotional attachments to any individual or organization prevent us from taking all elements into consideration in our analysis.

What events have we witnessed in Lebanon during the last three months? What happened during this period was the result of preparations that imperialism had been planning for years. When, officially and with the agreement of imperialism, the green light was given to the PLO leadership to establish its « Military Headquarters » in Lebanon, the first act of a play was played out, the last act of which was to be the granting of an official permit to this same leadership to set up a « Political Headquarters » in Tunis.

The PLO gained the trust of the Palestinian people by heroically starting the armed struggle, and when imperialism realized that its existence was undeniable, it tried to strengthen the positions of the conciliators in the leadership of this organization, and especially by means of the support of the Arab puppet regimes, made the various members of this leadership dependent on itself through various means. And these members, who had become dependent, were deceitfully pretending to use the contradictions between the Arab countries and the imperialist countries for the benefit of the Palestinian Revolution, whereas the reality was different. In fact, they were hitching the Palestinian Revolution to the chariot of imperialism on the one hand and to the chariot of revisionism on the other, and it was during the last two or three months that the whole truth was clearly exposed to everyone.

Under what conditions did Israel bring its forces into Lebanon? Under such conditions that it was sure to find the PLO leadership demanding peace. Under the conditions prevailing in Israel today, at the height of world inflation, in the midst of a deep economic crisis and the exposure of the internal cracks in its society, Israel would never have undertaken such an aggression, if there had been even the slightest probability that the PLO, under special conditions, would organize the resistance of the Palestinian and Lebanese peoples against its military aggression. In fact Israel is incapable of resisting a popular guerrilla war. All objective signs show that the Palestinian and Lebanese peoples were ready for such a war and that the PLO had in its possession the necessary weapons and equipment to organize this war which, if it had been fought, would have broken Israel in two in the region within a not too long, if not very short, period and would have dealt a major blow to imperialism’s domination of the Middle East. But Israel, that watchdog of imperialism, knew the PLO leadership better than the Palestinian people themselves, which is why its forces entered Lebanon under very favorable conditions and it became clear very early on that the main objective of this aggression was not the PLO leadership and its « docile guerrillas » but the revolutionary Palestinian and Lebanese peoples. It was to save this leadership that the « Multinational Forces », that is, the soldiers of the imperialist countries: the United States, France and Italy, entered Beirut. The existence of these leaders was necessary for the following acts of the play. They had to leave « honorably » Lebanon so that their « prestige » would not be tainted, shouting « the struggle continues » with this demagogic pretext: we wanted to avoid « the destruction of West Beirut » and the « massacre of the civilians », while they were sure (and not only them but also all those who had a little knowledge of the situation) that after their departure not only West Beirut would be destroyed but the civilians would be massacred. Of course, it can be said that given the situation in which the PLO leadership and the guerrillas who depended on it in West Beirut found themselves, they really had no other way out than to leave Lebanon, and that their resistance would have been nothing more than a suicide, the psychological outcome of which would have been uncertain. If the PLO leadership and the guerrillas under its command had resisted in West Beirut, their defeat and annihilation would have been certain. But who had put them in such a desperate situation? Why is it that this leadership, which four months before Israel’s aggression in Lebanon, disseminated precise information about Israel’s decision to carry out this aggression, and which was completely sure of it, only spoke seriously about resistance when Israel had even occupied a large part of Beirut? Yes, under these conditions it was impossible for the resistance to succeed in West Beirut. But in Lebanon, it was and still is possible to resist perfectly against the Israeli aggression. The situation in which the PLO found itself in West Beirut was the logical result of the conciliatory policy pursued by its leadership towards all the reactionary forces in the region and the world. If in the worst moments of the massacre of the Palestinian and Lebanese peoples by the Israeli army and the Lebanese reactionaries and in the total silence of all the Arab countries, Yasser Arafat calls King Khaled « the friend of the Palestinian people », the one who « will finally sacrifice his life for this people » and asks the French government to send its forces to Lebanon, all this is the logical result of the method that this organization had chosen to employ in recent years. But in Beirut, all the masks came off revealing the faces of the deceivers. This is a large part of the gains of the events in Lebanon for the Revolution in the region. The PLO leaders legitimize the presence of the forces of the imperialist countries in Lebanon and call the most mercenary enemies of the Middle Eastern peoples friends of the Palestinian people. They flee the battlefield in Lebanon, leave the peoples alone at the mercy of bloodthirsty enemies, only to be received as the rulers of a country by the heads of Arab states, those mercenary hacks of imperialism, in Fez, Morocco, or by the « Great Pope » in Rome. What are the lessons that the Revolution should learn from these events? What should the PLO do with these treacherous and conciliatory leaders if it wants to be part of the Revolution of Palestine and the Middle East?

We, the Iranian revolutionaries, have been acquainted enough during our revolution with the deceitfulness of these kinds of leaders and we have seen how, as soon as the new regime came to power, they began to disguise its ugly face in order to deceive the peoples of Iran. The Palestinian people, the PLO cadres and all the revolutionaries in the region in general, must take advantage of the opportunity that has arisen to drive these conciliatory leaders out of their ranks and not allow them to raise their arms demagogically as a sign of victory with the white flag in their hands. Today they are making all kinds of speeches. Sometimes they talk about direct negotiations with the United States about the « Right to autonomy for the Palestinian people », sometimes about continuing the struggle in the « political form » and sometimes even about continuing the « armed struggle ». But all this is nothing but demagogy and the course of events has shown that they have no intention of fighting. If they had wanted to lead the struggle against Israel, there was no better opportunity than this one where they had in their hands the Palestinian and Lebanese peoples armed and ready to fight, where Israel was present on the Lebanese territory as a foreign invader, something that even the American masters and commanders condemned, fearing the opinion of the peoples of the world. In any case, the opportunity that was offered to denounce and expel these leaders from the ranks of the Revolution in the Middle East is a lesson that, if understood and analyzed in all its dimensions by the revolutionaries in the region and taken into account in their practice of struggle and propaganda, will remedy to a large extent the defeat temporarily suffered by the Revolution in Lebanon.

These events presented another achievement: it turned out that the hopes that the conciliators had pinned on the anti-people forces and the imperialist dependent states in the region were in vain. The Syrian army, which had previously repeatedly shown its audacity in repressing the Palestinian and Lebanese peoples, quickly retracted its position in the face of this aggression and waited impatiently for the day when the imperialists would indicate the exact date of its return to Syria and announce the end of its mission. The humiliation of this army, equipped with the most modern weapons in the world, in front of the Israeli army, clearly shows the meaning of dependence in the political arena and shows what kind of combat a dependent force and army is trained and organized for. Before these events, some people still thought that if it was necessary, the Syrian army would defend the Lebanese and Palestinian peoples against Israeli aggression. But this experience has shown that such hopes are vain. The Revolution must understand this lesson and draw the necessary conclusions before it fades from the memory of the masses. The situation in other countries was no different: Gaddafi, who in terms of demagoguery and pretending to be revolutionary has been surpassing all other Arab leaders by a head for years, and who only a few months ago had decided and announced with much propaganda that he intended to create a joint army with the Islamic Republic regime to save « Quds »1, did nothing but advise Arafat to commit suicide and regret the « geographical distance ». After much unfounded propaganda about sending forces to Lebanon and fighting Israeli aggression, the « Islamic » regime of Iran, which had still raised hopes among some Palestinian and Lebanese simplists, suddenly remembered that « message of the Imam » which said « Do not be deceived » — and dispensed with saving the Palestinian and Lebanese peoples. It seems that their Imam had heard voices (from where?) indicating that « the way to QODS passes through KERBELA » and they vilely announced that all these massacres and repressions in Lebanon had been prepared to counter the Islamic Revolution in Iran and for the « saving of Saddam ». But the course of events in practice is so clear that there is no room left for demagogy. Here are some more achievements of these events and we think that the revolutionaries in the region must explain them to the masses with all their practical consequences and take them into account in their strategy and tactics. It is necessary to help the Palestinian Revolution to cleanse its ranks of the conciliators, those who depend on the policies of the imperialist dependent states in the region and the henchmen of revisionism. Today is a historic opportunity to accomplish this task.

The Israeli army entered Lebanon under conditions where neither the Lebanese nor the Syrian army was capable of controlling the situation in that country. The first pretexts put forward by Israel to justify this aggression were so childish and idiotic that it abandoned them itself during the fighting. One thing was certain: the Israeli army was not only attacking Lebanon to break the PLO. It soon became clear that the attack was aimed primarily at the democratic movement of the Palestinian and Lebanese peoples and secondarily, if possible, at the annexation of part of Lebanon to Israel. Contrary to what one might think, the Israeli army showed the greatest leniency towards the PLO leadership by allowing it to save its entire bureaucratic apparatus and transfer it out of Lebanon. Once it became clear that due to the internal situation in Israel, the Israeli army was unable to do everything necessary on its own, the imperialist propaganda, aided by the conciliators and demagogues in the PLO leadership, made it appear necessary to intervene with the armies of the imperialist countries, the US, France and Italy as messengers of peace. And today, we see how the Lebanese army that had lost all its morale, came back to life under the protection of the armies of Israel, the United States, France and Italy, carrying out searches, discovering « weapons and internal documents of the groups » with an audacity that is matched only by the Islamic Republic of Iran. But the positive point of this event lies in the fact that now, once again, the forces of the imperialist countries are themselves present on the scene, especially American imperialism, which had lost its morale for some time after the Vietnam experience, refraining as much as possible from sending forces to the crisis regions, and has once again boldly taken direct action. So if the Middle East Revolution manages to recover from the blow it has been dealt, the stage will be set for the « decisive struggle », i.e., confrontation with the forces that directly direct the staging of events in the Middle East. And it will be possible to teach the United States the same lesson it received in Vietnam. In general, the current policy of imperialism in the dominated countries has reached an unprecedented level of violence, and especially in the Middle East, this violence is of an unprecedented intensity. Imperialism has imposed on the peoples of Iran and Iraq the biggest land war after the Second World War. In Iran, in the name of Islam and by the hand of its mercenaries, it is committing unspeakable acts and it is more or less the same for the other countries of the Middle East. On the other hand, the imperialist policy is trying to control the course of events in the future, either by infiltration into the opposition organizations or by artificially forming so-called opposition organizations in these countries and making propaganda around them, especially under the Islamic cover. Therefore, the Revolution must be especially vigilant in these conditions. The enemies of the people must be recognized not only in the ranks of the forces that collaborate directly with imperialism, but also in the ranks of those who want to show themselves to be oppositional in appearance and must be denounced to the people now, before imperialism can deviate the democratic movements in other countries as it has done in Iran.

Anyway, it is true that what happened in Lebanon was a blow for the Revolution. But this blow succeeded at the same time in saving the Revolution in Lebanon and Palestine from a dead end where it had been for several years. Indeed, what would Mr Arafat have done with the guerrillas he had gathered in West Beirut if Israel had not attacked and driven them out? Would he have put them in the service of the democratic movement in Lebanon? Or would he have sent them to Israel to lead the armed struggle? As he had already stated many times, Mr. Arafat had neither of these intentions for the future. And if anything did happen, it was said to be beyond his control. The loss of so many means in Lebanon was a blow for the Revolution, but it must also be taken into account that under the conditions of domination of the conciliatory and even dependent rulers, these means were not as much in the service of the Revolution as one might think. Today imperialism hopes that with the help of the PLO and « political negotiations » around plans with no future, it will be able to divert the Revolution of the Palestinian people and subsequently the democratic movements in the Arab countries and suppress them definitively. And for this reason, the revolutionaries must proceed quickly to isolate this leadership from the popular masses and to create the leading revolutionary organizations.

It is possible that some considerations prevent this kind of attitude towards the PLO leadership, but we believe that if the revolutionaries in the region do not seriously criticize this leadership and drive it out, they will leave a fertile ground for the neo-colonialist policy of imperialism to attract the attention of the masses in the region through the regimes, personalities and organizations dependent on it, such as the Iranian and Libyan regimes, and thus divert their movement.

[French] translation by the Organization of Iranian Students in Paris, sympathizers of the FEDAYEEN GUERRILLAS OF THE IRANIAN PEOPLE.2

  1. Ed.: Al-Quds is the transliteration of the Arabic القدس (« the holy one ») designating the city of Jerusalem. ↩︎

  2. Ed.: Minor stylistic corrections have been made for publication on this site. ↩︎