Selected bibliography on the history of the CPs in the Arab East

Selected bibliography put together by the Khamsin collective on the history of the Communist Parties of the Middle East, with books in five different languages.

Submitted by Ed on September 6, 2013

Selected bibliography on the history of the CPs in the Arab East

Central communist journals

Articles on and by the Arab communist parties can be found in the central press of the world communist movement, in numbers varying from period to period. The main journals are:

  • The Communist International, Leningrad/London.
  • For a Lasting Peace, for a People's Democracy, Bucharest.
  • International Press Correspondence (from 1938, World News and Views), London/Vienna.
  • Labour Monthly, London.
  • New Times, Moscow.
  • Die Rote Gewerkschaftsinternationale, Moscow/Berlin.
  • World Marxist Review, Prague.

For the years up to 1935, the following bibliography is very helpful for locating the articles:

  • Enrica Colloti Pischel and Chiara Robertazzi, L'internationionale Communiste et Ie problemes coloniaux, Mouton, Paris and The Hague, 1968.

    Books on CPs of the Arab East in general

    • M.S. Agwani, Communism in the Arab East, Asia Publishing House, Bombay, 1969. Deals mainly with the period after the second world war.
    • Suliman Bashear, The Arab East in Communist Theory and Political Practice, 1918-1928, Ph.D. thesis (unpublished), London, May 1976. Forthcomming from Ithaca Press. A detailed account of the Comintern's views on the Arab revolution and of the early history of the communist movement, mainly in Egypt, Palestine and Syria-Lebanon. An Arbaic version published by Manshurat al-Qaramita, Jerusalem, 1977. Reviewed in the present issue of Khamsin.
    • Michael Contino and Shimon Shamir (eds), The USSR and the Middle East, Israel Universities Press, Jerusalem 1973. Al-Hakam Darwaza, Regional Communism and the Arabs' National Struggle (in Arabic), Maktabat Munaymina, Beirut 1963. The author, who was a member or sympathiser of the Movement of Arab Nationalists, writes from an Arab nationalist point of view.

    Walter Z. Laquer

    • Communism and Nationalism in the Middle East, Routledge and Kegan Paul, London 1956. Despite its numerous shortcomings, this remains the only comprehensive study of the communist movement in the area. Contains valuable information which must however be used with the utmost caution.
    • The Soviet Union and the Middle East, Praeger, New York 1959. Elias Murqus, History of the Communist Parties in the Arab World (in Arabic), Dar al-Tarli'a, Beirut 1964. A Syrian ex-communist writing from a nationalist point of view. Useful inasmuch as it points out some weaknesses in the policy of the CPs.
    • (ed), The Comintern and the Arab Revolution. The Anti-imperialist Struggle, Unity, Palestine. The Documents of 1931 (in Arabic), Dar al-Haqiqa, Beirut 1970. An Arabic translation of the documents published by Spector (q.v.).
    • Maxime Rodinson, Marxisme et monde musulman, Seuil, Paris 1972. A collection of essays. Of particular importance are 'Le marxisme et Ie nationalisme arabe' (pp453-526) and 'Les problemes des partis communistes en Syrie et en Egypte' (pp4l2449). The former is especially useful in tracing the development of the world communist movement's attitude towards the anti-colonial revolution in the Arab world.
    • Ivar Spector, The Sopiet Union and the Muslim World 1917-1958, University of Washington Press, Seattle 1959. The value of this book is in its translation of a series of documents of Middle-Eastern CPs from the early 1930s.
    • Bassam Tibi (ed), Die arabische Linke, Europaeische Verlagsanstalt, Frankfort 1969. Contains a German translation of the concluding chapter of Murqus' History.
    • Nathan Weinstock, Le mouvement revolutionnaire arabe, Maspero, Paris 1970. Gives useful background for an understanding of communist and other revolutionary movements in the Arab East.

    A guide to the literature on communism in the 1950s, in most cases inspired by cold-war ideologies, in the Arab world as well as in the West, is provided by the following article:

    • Jean-Paul Charnay, 'Le Marxisme et L'islam. Essai de bibliographie', in Archives de sociologie des religions no 10, July-December 1960, pp133-l46.

    Books on the Syrian-Lebanese CP

    • Dahir al-'Akkari (ed), The Revolutionary Press in Lebanon 1925-1975, vol 1 (in Arabic), Dar al-Farabi, Beriut 1975. A selection of texts, arranged in thematic order. This first volume covers the period up to 1946. Reviewed in the present issue of Khamsin.
    • S. Ayyub, The CP in Syria and Lebanon (in Arabic), Dar al-Hurriya, Beirut n.d. (1959?).
    • Jacque Couland, Le mouvement syndical au Liban 1919. Son evolution pendant Ie mandat francais de l'occupation a l'evacuation et au Code du travail, Edition Sociales, Paris 1970. Includes also important information on the development of the communist movement, especially in its connexion with the Comintern and the Profintern (International Red Trade Unions).
    • Muhammad Dakrub, The Roote of the Red Holm Oak. The Story of the Rise of the Lebanese CP 1924-1931 (in Arabic). Dar al-Farabi, Beirut 1974. Narrative of the party's early history, giving important background information and quoting many documents, but without much historical analysis or political discussion of problems. Appendix contains a long programmatic document of the Syrian CP, 1931, and the famous 1931 joint declaration of the Syrian and Palestinian C;Ps. Reviewed in the present issue of Khamsin.
    • Khalil al-Dibs (introd.), The People's Voice is Stronger. Pages from the Communist, Workers' and Democratic Press in 50 years (in Arabic), Dar al-Farabi, Beirut 1974. Selection of facsimile reproductions from communist and front press; covers mainly early history of party. Includes e.g. all five published issues of Yazbek's AI-Insaniyya of 1925. Reviewed in the present issue of Khamsin.
    • 'Abdallah Hanna, The Workers' Movement in Syria and Lebanon 1900-1945 (in Arabic), Dar Dimashq, Damascus 1973. Contrary to its title, this book does not concentrate on the workers' movement but rather gives a sometimes ideological, sometimes political and economic background for understanding its history. This may be useful, but there is little information of the workers' movement itself.
    • Qadri Qal'aji, The experience of an Arab in the Communist Party (in Arabic), Dar al Katib al-'Arabi, Beirut n.d. Memoirs of a former leading communist who became a nationalist at the end of the 1940s.
    • Nicola Shawi, Writings and Studies (in Arabic), Dar alifarabi, Beirut n.d. Writings of Helu's successor, 1938-1972.
    • Yusuf Ibrahim Yazbek, The Story of May Day in the World and in Lebabon (in Arabic), Dar al-Farabi, Beirut 1974. Short outline of the history of May Day in the international workers' movement, and memoirs of a founding father of the Lebanese CP on the formation of the party, concentrating on the first May Day celebrations in Lebanon, 1925. With historical photographs, documents and facsimiles. Review in the present issue of Khamsin.
    • The Lebanese Communist and the Tasks of the Coming Stage. Third Congress of the Lebanese CP'(in Arabic), n.p., n.d. (Beirut 1972?). All documents and speeches of the congress.
    • Questions of the Differance inside the Syrian CP (in Arabic), Dar Ibn Khaldun, Beirut 1972. Contains, among other texts, a draft programme of the Syrian CP written after its 1969 third congress which led to deep differences inside the party, and some speeches made in the 1971 national congress of the party which tried (in vain) to bridge the differences. These led eventually to a split in the party. The Struggle of the Lebanese CP through its Documents, Part 1 (in Arabic), Publications of the Lebanese CP, n.p., n.d. (Beirut 1971 ?). Documents of the second congress of the party, July 1968 (the first congress was held in winter 1943/44!). Contains political report of the CC with a critical account of the party's history between the two congresses.

    Books on the Palestinian-Israeli CP

    • Musa K. Budeiri, The Palestine CP, its Arabisation and the Arab-Jewish Conflict in Palestine, 1929-1948, Ph.D. thesis (unpublished), London School of Economics, London 1977. Forthcoming from Ithaca Press. Well documented study, with emphasis on the Arab side of party activity and the formation of an Arab national communist movement. Reviewed in the present issue of Khamsin.
    • Maher al-Charif, L'Internationale Communiste et la Palestine, 1919-1939, Ph.D. thesis (unpublished), University of Paris I (Sorboone) 1977. Concentrates on the policy of the Comintern centre on the Palestine issue. Stress is laid on explanation of documents, often without confronting them with Palestinian realities. Reviewed in the present issue of Khamsin.
    • Alexander Flores, Nationalismus und Sozialismus im Arabischen Osten. Das Verhaeltnis der kommunistischen Partei zur arabischen Nazionalbewegung in Palaestina, 1919-1948. Ph.D. thesis (unpublished), University of Muenster 1979. An attempt to understand the fate of the PCP under the mandate by taking into consideration the social, political and intellectual situation then prevailing in Palestine; with a study of the conditions of penetration of modern socialist thought in the Arab world.
    • Yehuda Frankel (ed), The Communist Movement and the Yishuv in Eretz Israel 1920-1948. A Collection in Documents and Sources (in Hebrew), University of Jerusalem 1968.
    • Alain Greilsammer, Les communistes israeliens, Fondation national des sciences politiques, Paris 1978. Covers the same ground as Nahas (q.v) but more throughly and with better documentation.
    • Yehiel Halpern, Israel and Communism (in Hebrew), Mapai Publishing House, Tel-Aviv 1951. See C.z. Israeli, below.
    • Jacob Hen-Tov, Communism and Zionism in Palestine. The Comintern and the Political Unrest in the 1920s, Schenkman, Cambridge, Mass. 1974. Written from an anti-communist point of view but thoroughly researched and documented, with emphasis on the dependence of local communists on the USSR. Reviewed. in the present issue of Khamsin.
    • G.Z. Israeli (= W.Z. Laquer), MSP-PCP-MAKI. The History of the CP in Israel (in Hebrew), 'Am 'Oved, Tel-Aviv 1953. This, like Halpern's book (q.v.), is written from a labour-zionist point of view. Both were part of an anti-communist campaign launched by the Israeli authorities in the early 1950s to counter the growing influence of communism.
    • Dunia Nahas, The Israeli CP, Croom Helm, London 1976. History of Palestinian and Israeli communism from 1919 to the present. Cf Greilsammer above.
    • Mario Offenberg, Kommunismus in Palaestina. Nation und Klasse in der antikolonialen Revolution, Anton Hain, Meisenheim am G1an 1975. Heavily documented account of the formation of the PCP and of its early years up to about 1925; with discussion of the crucial issues of Palestinian communism, trying to show the early internationalist positions in the history of the revolutionary movement in Palestine. Reviewed in the present issue of Khamsin.

    Books on the Egyptian communist movement

    • Taher 'Abd el-Haldm, The Bare Feet, The Egyptian Communists: Five Years in the Prisons and Torture Camps (in Arabic), Dar Ibn Khaldun, Beirut n.d. Describes repression in Egypt during the 1960s.
    • Anouar Abdel-Malek, Egypt: Military Society, Random House, New York 1968. Traces the changes which Egyptian society underwent following the July 1952 military coup, and contains much information on the role played in this process by the communists. The author himself was a communist at the time (i.e. the 1950s).
    • Anouar Abdel-Malek, Studies on National Culture (in Arabic), Dar al-Tali'a, Beirut 1967. Contains many of the articles and studies written by the author when, as a communist, he took part in the above-mentioned process of change, which cost him a long spell in the Abu Za'bal prison camp and his eventual exile in 1959.

    Rif'at al-Sa'id

    • History of the Socialist Movement in Egypt 1900-1925 (in Arabic), Dar al-Farabi, Beirut 1972.
    • The Egyptian Left 1925-1940 (in Arabic), Dar al-Tali'a, Beirut, 1972.
    • History of the Leftish Organisations in Egypt 1940-1950 (in Arabic), Dar al-Thaqafa al-Jadida, Cairo 1976. These are three volumes of the author's History which deals mainly with the communists and their forerunners, the early East-Arab socialists (Shumayyel, Antun etc.). The coverage is not evenly detailed for the various periods, but this is largely due to the fate of the Egyptian communist movement itself, which was sometimes suppressed and reduced to total silence and at other times was badly split.
    • The Leftish Press in Egypt 1925-1948 (in Arabic), Dar al-Tari'a, Beirut 1974.
    • (ed), The Egyptian Left and the Palestine Problem. A study of Documents (in Arabic), Dar-Farabi, Beirut 1974. These two books supplement the author's History by quoting extensively from the Egyptian leftish press. The second book concentrates on the latter half of the 1940s.

    Books on the Iraqi CP

    • Hanna Batatu, The Old Social Classes and the Revolutionary Movements of Iraq. A Study of Iraq's Old Landed and Commercial Classes and of its Communists, Ba'thists, and Free Officers, Princeton University Press, Princeton, N.J. 1978. A monumental study (nearly 1300 pages), focusing on the history of the CP but providing also a deep insight into the structure of Iraqi society and information on the CP's competitors in the revolutionary movement. The evidence on the CP is mostly from Iraqi police files, which seem to be quite a valuable source of information. Concentrates on the organisational aspects of communist history. To be reviewed in a future issue of Khamsin.
    • Rony Gabbay, Communism and Agrarian Reform in Iraq, Croon Helm, London, 1978.
    • Sa'ad Khayri, Fahd and the Marxist-Leninist Approach to the Questions of Revolution (in Arabic), Dar al-Farabi, Beirut, and Maktabat al-Nahda, Baghdad, 1974. On the Iraqi communist leader hanged by the government in February 1949.


    • John Batatu, 'Some preliminary observations on the beginnings of communism in the Arab East', in Jaan Pennar (ed), Islam and Communism, Munich n.d. (1960), pp46-69.
    • Joel Beinin, 'The Palestine CP 1919-1948', in Merip Reports no 55, March 1977, pp3-17.
    • Joseph Berger, 'La rupture avec les communistes', in Les nouveaux Cahiers no 13-14, 1968, pp34-38.

    Musa Khalil (al-Budeiri)

    • 'The Palestine CP, 1919-1948', in Shu'un Falastiniyya no 39, November 1974, pplll-142 (in Arabic).
    • 'Reply to the article "Death of the first Arab general secretary of the PCP" '. in Shu 'un Falastiniyya no 58, June 1976, pp197-200 (in Arabic).
    • 'Historical introduction to the development of the Arab workers' movement in Palestine during the British mandate', a series of articles in Al..Jadid, Haifa: October 1976, pp25-33; January 1977, pp4-9 and 42; June 1977, pp14-16 and 4041; May 1978, ppll-16 and 3640; August 1978, pp4349 (in Arabic).

    Jacque Couland

    • 'Mouvement syndical en situation coloniale: Le cas du Liban', in Le mouvement social (Paris) no 68, July-September 1969, pp57-76.
    • 'Le parti communiste libanais cinquante ans apres', in Maghreb-Machrek (Paris) no 68,1975, pp61-75.
    • Uriel Dann, 'A historical miscellany: communist life in Baghdad in the summer of 1959', in Asian and African Studies (Jerusalem) VIII, 1972, pp86-91.
    • Martin Eboll,. 'Communists tactics in Palestine'; in Middle East Journal (Washington) no 3, July 1948, pp255-269.
    • Alunad Farhan, 'The PCP was the victim of the twin nationalist extremisms', in Al-Katib al-Falastini (Beirut), no 6, December 1978, pp 1240 (in Arabic).
    • Emil Habibi, 'Was the PCP victim of the twin nationalist extremisms?', in Al.Jadid (Haifa), March 1979, p5f and 4649 (in Arabic).
    • Hani Hawrani, 'Observations on the situation of the Arab working class in Palestine during the mandate', in Shu'un Falastiniyya no 5, November 1971,ppl19-131 (in Arabic).
    • Hani Hawrani, 'A reading in the politics of the PCP. The journal Haifa 1924-1926', in Shu'un Falastiniyya no 58, June 1976, pp139-178 (in Arabic).
    • Amnon Kapeliuk, 'When the communists supported the Jewish state', in New Outlook (Tel-Aviv) no 9, 1962, pp85-91.
    • W. Lutzki, 'Der englische Imperialismus und der Oktoberaufstand in Palaestina', in Resistentia Schriften (Frankfort) no 11, pp27-35.
    • Yehoshua Porath, 'The National Liberation League 1943-1948', in Asian and African Studies (Jerusalem) no 4,1968, pl-21.
    • A. Schlichter, 'Der arabische Aufstand in Palaestina und die juedische landwirtschaftliche Kolonisation' in Resistentia Schriften (Frankfort) no 12,pp27-32;no 13,pp2840.

    Maher al-Sharif(= Al-Charif)

    • 'The first Arab Workers' congress',inShu'un Falastiniyya no 50-51, October-November 1975, pp293-302 (in Arabic).
    • 'The PCP and the August 1929 uprising in Palestine:, in Shu 'un Falastiniyya no 61, December 1976, pp216-245 (in Arabic).
    • 'The Palestine problem and the dicussions of the second congress of the Comintern', in Shu'un Falastiniyya no 70, September 1977, ppl19-143 (in Arabic).
    • 'A preliminary attempt to explore the conditions of the historical endeavour of the emergence of the CP in Palestine', in Shu 'un Falastiniyya no 80, July 1978, pp97-114, no 81-82, August-September 1978, pp212-241 (in Arabic).
    • Michael W. Suleiman, 'The Lebanese CP', in Middle Eastern Studies (London) III, 1967, pp134-159.
    • 'Ammar al-Talibi, 'The Palestinian and Jewish working class and their organisations 1917-1939', in Shu'an Falastiniyya no 15, July 1972 (in Arabic).
    • Tawfiq Toubi, 'A unity that stood the test', in CP of Israel Information Bulletin no 10-11,1978, pp13-26.
    • Fawwaz Trabulsi, 'The Commintern and the Palestine problem', in The PalestinĂ© Resistance. Reality and Prospects, Special publication of Dirasat 'Arabiyya, Beirut 1971, pp66-77 (in Arabic).
    • Meir Vilner, 'Fifty years of struggle', in CP of Israel Information Bulletin no 4,1970, pp842.
    • Meir Vilner, 'Twenty-fifth anniversary of the restoration of the unity of the Jewish and Arab communists', in CP of Israel Information Bulletin no 11, 1973, pp9-14.
    • Muhammad Hafez Ya'qub, 'From the history of the revolutionary movement in Palestine. National Uberation League in the mid-1940s', in Dirasat 'Arabiyya no I, November 1972, pp39-65 (in Arabic).

    'Abd el-Qader Yasin

    • 'The PCP and the national question', in Al-Ratib (Cairo) no 120, March 1971, pp88-100; no 121, Apri11971, pplOO-117; no 123, June 1971, pp143-155 (in Arabic).
    • 'The working class and the political movement in Palesine', in Shu 'un Falastiniyya no 56, April 1976, pp106-150 (in Arabic).
    • 'Reply to a reply', in Shu 'un Falastiniyya no 67, June 1977, pp213-215 (in Arabic).
    • 'The Arab CPs and the Palestine problem', in The Palestine Resistance. Realities and Prospects, Special publication of Dirasat 'Arabiyya, Beirut 1971 pp49-65 (in Arabic). .
    • 'The League Against Zionism in Iraq', in Shu'un Falastiniyya no 15, November 1972, pp158-166.
    • 'The Egyptian trotskyists and the Palestine problem', in Shu 'an Falastiniyya no 45, May 1975, ppl14-123.
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